The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Surf's Up!

by Steve Gajadhar

That’s me with my new surf board. Hard to believe I’ve been in Hawaii for 2 years and I’m just now taking up surfing. But I am, and there’s something to be said for that, right? Positive thinking and all that. Speaking of positive thinking, you need lots of it if you plan on learning how to surf. Surfing is the hardest thing I have ever tried to do.

Unlike Oahu, the Big Island isn’t exactly a world famous surfing destination. Our island has few surf spots and most of these are breaks over coral or lava bottoms = not too easy on the beginner who is going to spend more time in the water than on their board. The waves at the summer spots break fast, no gentle rollers like you get on Waikiki, the learners Mecca. But it is Hawaii, and the waves are definitely better here than say, Saskatchewan, so a learning I went.

First off there’s the paddling, lots and lots and lots of paddling. Imagine lying on your stomach and trying to look up at the ceiling, then crank your arms like you’re swimming and for good measure pull your legs up so they don’t drag behind you. Do this as long as you can and then try to pretend that there are sets of waves that are trying to push you backward and that you must paddle even harder to push through these waves to get out to the calm (relatively) waters where the rideable waves are. Oh yeah, and the ocean isn’t your floor, so the whole time you’re paddling it’s trying to throw you off your board.

Once out past the shorebreak, it’s time to practice sitting on the board. Surfing is lots of sitting and waiting. The sitting bit looks easy, but it’s not. Think of a waxed up, half submerged mechanical bull. I’m told this gets easier with practice.

Watch the waves, they come in sets and it’s generally the third one of the set you want, so let the first two roll under you. And don’t turn your back on the waves. It’s a bad idea to turn your back on the ocean. Turn, paddle (yes even more paddling) to gain speed, wait till you feel the surge, pop up, and poof! you’re surfing.

Now for reality.

After 2 times surfing, I’ve gotten to the turn and paddle stage. The poof! is a ways off I think. The surge doesn’t surge a guy of my size as easy as it does the little folk (90% of surfers appear to be at least 50lbs lighter than me). I get more of a sur without the critical ge. I’ll get it though, I just need to learn how to paddle better, there’s a critical short somewhere in my paddle technique that is robbing my paddling power. Then I can try the poof bit. I can say it though, and visualize it, poof! Hopefully all that visualization, sports psychology mumbo-jumbo will get me there…

Then I have to stay standing. But one thing at a time. It gets easier they say and I hope they are right. After all this, I have to learn etiquette and how not to piss off the people that can surf. Surfers are an understanding and patient lot, eager to teach newbies like me, so this part at least will be easy.

I’ll let you know when I get up and stay up. Maybe this weekend? Or the one after that. That’s why I’ll keep heading out there. The challenge of it. The sheer stubbornness that most of us have. I will learn how to surf, if only to prove that I can do it. Rocks and sharks be damned!


Blogger MelBell said...

Wow, what guns you have, Steve. You must be able to paddle like the wind!

Be careful out there! Can't wait to read more about the surfing life.

Tue Jun 12, 09:24:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Looks and sounds like you're having fun, Steve. You gotta try it, right? Thanks for the paddling and poof details. I feel like I'm there...except for the sun, the surf and the incredible air.

Tue Jun 12, 01:40:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

It sounds really fun! Seriously. But saltwater up the nose hurts so exhale whenever it's wet.

Tue Jun 12, 08:44:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Chumplet said...

Be careful out there, Dude! I saw Gidget last weekend -- surfing's a bitch.

Waikiki Beach has a live webcam. Does yours? You could make a date with us and wave. I mean with your hand, not the water...

Tue Jun 12, 10:07:00 pm GMT-4  

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