Not everyone will resonate with this but I know many will; the ocean has a draw to it, a pull that makes you want to gaze at it and be in it, smell it and play in it. The ocean, what a wonderful playground, and the people who spend lots of time in it and harnessing its power seem to be so cool, physically fit and in terms of surfers, totally gorgeous.
I was recently in Bali and I literally saw some of the most perfect people I have ever seen! The women were gorgeous! Could they have been any cooler? Yeah, because they walked around with teeny bikinis and well worn surfboards under their arms, oh and some rode scooters in their bikini get up, board hung on the side and beach hair flying in the breeze. Man, no fair. And then there was me. The awkwardly balancing a foam board that could float a tank on my head beginner ‘learner’ surfer girl.
To be fair to myself, I am pretty familiar with the beach, ocean and surfing. I lived in Cornwall, UK where surfing is a long established part of local culture and everyday life. I have been surfing quite a lot but just never enough to move forward a great deal. I love it, I really do. I’ve surfed in Cornwall, Costa Rica and Bali – I say surfed but you know what I mean, I’ve gone into the ocean with a surf board to play.
So as a beginner – and I am still after all these years, a beginner, I know not to expect too much. I know this in my heart, that these things take practise, but in my recent travels my head was getting pretty mad at the fact I wasn’t effortless carving my way to the shore with the casual stance and relaxed facial expressions of those around me. I was actually getting really pissed off at myself for ‘not being able to do it’. But some of the people I was with and the instructor – Rizzar, reminded me that it is like riding a bike, you need to practice, a lot, and get comfortable and the more frustrated you get the more fails there will be.
It’s true, when you relax into it, trust yourself, things go a bit better. Plus you can’t compare yourself to people who have been doing it for years. I deffo improved but the ocean does give you a sweet reminder that it’s in charge.
I actually thought ‘am I in trouble here?’ a couple of times. Can you drown when you have a board attached to your ankle? That is an actual question I am asking you. The waves at Batu Bolong were the biggest I have been in so far. To me they were massive! Nothing like actually shitting yourself as a blue wall comes towards you and it is just about to break and smash on your head. You hold your breath of course but you are in what feels like a washing machine, then you feel the heavy yank on our ankle as the board you’re attached to gets taken with the water. You pop your little head up, gasp for a breath, try and orientate yourself with which direction you are facing but you can’t see anything as your hair is stuck to your face – imagine seaweed head. You to start pull your board back towards you and catch your breath then bam! another wave breaks on your head. Repeat this cycle a few times and then tumble your way in. The instructor casually says you should have done x y and z to get out of that situation, which sounds easy enough in theory.
Both times I felt like ‘oh crap, am I ok?’ it was a reef break and the second time was at a beautiful beach, somewhere called Turtle Island. The water was really clear here, the paddle out to the break was long. When we were waiting for a set a Manatee bobbed up beside me and scared the life out of me briefly. It was really cool. The waves were neat and tidy looking; it was gorgeous. I had a few attempts but didn’t really nail anything then it happened again, the washing machine I cannot seem to get myself together scenario, but it was worse than before. Lets just say I have some reef scars on my ankle and I had bleeding toes. In the moments just before the first wave that trashed me my last thought was ‘oh, look at that!’ there was a turtle in the wave and just as the wave broke I saw its silhouette against the turquoise water. Beautiful.
So it sounds like a bad time surfing but it really wasn’t. I actually felt like I had some great days and felt the transition into actually surfing. Not just ‘wa’hey I stood up!’ and then fell off again but I actually felt in control of what I was doing. I even glided down the face of one wave and found myself starting to master turning. I realised I had that look on my face of pure joy, of feeling elated. I felt like had really achieved something. It felt amazing.
I had surfed.