Saturday, 11 December 2010

Wave Hunter

I’m very sad leaving Surf Simply.  It’s been this special sort of reality where I was surrounded by a group of incredibly funny and intelligent people (from the yoga instructor, to the surfing instructors, to the owners, and especially my fellow surfers), beautiful landscapes, lovely food and unlimited beer.  Although completely ignorant and innocent coming into the surfing experience, I am really proud to have done it.   

After my day of failure, I managed to get back on the board and had 2 great days of surfing.  When an instructor would ask “Christy, you reckon you want to try this wave?”  I fought my desire to curl into the fetal position and hide, instead immediately responding “I reckon Hell’s Yes!”   This new approach worked much better.

I’ve surfed for less than a week and have only just started to realize the enormity of the surfing world.  There have been loads of books written about surf philosophy and culture and I won’t pretend to understand or identify with most of it.   But there are definitely life lessons to be learned, and the great thing is that surfing isn’t a book, lecture or meditation.  You actually get to experiment and understand the physical and emotional impact of your surfing choices.  And here were my options:

1.  Cling to your surf board, shiver and try to decide if puking will make you feel better.  Do not bother trying to take a wave, they are all out to get you.  Think about how really stupid you are. 
2.  Sit and wait for waves to come to you, and when they look right, go for it.   If there aren’t any waves, hang back and enjoy the view, but it’s going to get a little chilly and boring.
3.  Keep an eye out for other waves and holler to your friends when you think they could have a good one coming their way. Cheer them on and think of how fun it looks when they get up.  Wish you were there.
4.  Hunt down waves both near and far with all you’ve got, even when they appear to be impossible to reach.  You’ll miss some, you’ll get some, and sometimes you’ll ride them all the way to the beach.

Although I don’t regret it, it was a bummer to realize that my initial reaction was the first one.  I quickly got to #2 and #3 which felt great, but what I really want is to be a wave hunter.  Paddling like hell, missing a lot of waves and maybe even losing my bikini bottoms in the process (which unfortunately did happen to me on the last day), but getting the most out of surfing.

Besides the fabulous instructors, there were a couple of amazing guys that I learned a lot from here.  There’s much to say about my French friend, Incredulous Gerard, and our unending arguments about gender and discrimination after way too much wine (for me that is, Incredulous Gerard happily argues endlessly, about literally anything, sans alcohol).  But I definitely learned the most from Dominick (I’ve changed his name, not to protect his identity this time, but because he fancied the name should I ever write about him in my blog.  I didn’t argue with his choice and am still not clear on the appeal, but it does make me laugh). 

Dominick’s approach to surfing was to grab it whole heartedly and take it on with careful calculation and gusto!  Whatever the waves were like, whether it was high tide or low tide, whether it was the first day out or our final surf, he always went for as many waves as he could, trying to improve his surfing skills.  I not only admired Dominick’s determination, but also learned from him how pre-work pays off (really wish I would have at least looked at the website or watched a surfing pod cast before arriving…much less investing time in physical preparation.  Surfing is one tough workout.) and how zinc sunscreen can be used as inspirational body art.  One of Dom’s tricks was to paint his face every morning with sun screen to represent a lesson for the day, ultimately looking like a crazed surfing warrior.  Dom never got discouraged and never gave up (who knows how he really felt, but his behavior didn’t change).  He kept hunting for waves regardless of how many he ended up missing.  Dom was the fastest learner, rode the most waves and was the most successful surfer and all of his fellow surfers are pretty gosh darn proud of him.

So I’m going to keep trying to get to #4 and will be taking another surfing lesson at my next stop – The Costa Rican rain forest where I will be on a 7 day yoga retreat referred to as “Yoga Bliss”  But until then I'm feeling stoked about my surfing experience (I really just felt the need to use the word stoked).

As it should be, there is no internet or phone when experiencing Yoga Bliss so I'll be off for a while and will miss you all! The surf school got some great surfing pics that I’ll post after making it through 7 days of yoga which at this moment doesn’t sound nearly as much fun as yoga with my fellow surfers.


  1. I really enjoyed reading all you blogs about your time at Surf Simply. It's so interesting to get that kind of insight. You've articulated it all so well plus some bits are laugh out loud funny.

  2. Hello Christy,
    Your blog was posted attached to the FB page at Surf Simply, where I am heading for my own surfventure in exactly one week. I loved reading your honest experiences and laughing at your wit and sense of humor. I hope you have recovered from the owees (really rubbing alcohol?) and are enjoying your yoga bliss time. I'm spending a second week after Surf Simply at another surf school and cannot wait! Many blessings, Lisa

  3. Fantastic. Think I'm going to have to do this before heading back to the US...whenever that is. Do they have surf camps in southern Africa? That aside, send me your mailing address and I'll sign you up for a subscription to the Surfers Journal, easily one of the best magazines out there. I used to subscribe and I don't even surf!

  4. You're a great writer. Also, could you send me your bank account information? I love surfing and want to give you some money.

  5. How good is this picture! Very stylish and dignified.!/photo.php?fbid=475078696297&set=a.475073091297.250719.45974556297&pid=5963275&id=45974556297