Thursday, April 13, 2006

surf's up

I had been looking forward to trying Surfing at some point. Some of you know I have some experience in other board-sports and besides that a love of the water (especially the ocean), but this combination I had never tried. Whenever I visit a beach, I want to swim in the ocean, even if the water is cold.

I had heard, however, from several people who had tried surfing for themselves that it was very difficult and exhausting. You have a few factors, which I experienced firsthand: 1. you have to paddle yourself around a whole bunch to get in position, which tires you out surprisingly quickly, 2. meanwhile you're getting pounded by the waves, and 3. if you can catch the wave, then you try to stand up on the board and promptly slip right off, and you start back at 1. So where's the fun?

Well, I was very fortunate to choose Raglan, North Island, New Zealand to try it out,~> read more (with photos)

  because this area has very wide beaches with a very gradual change in depth out from the beach, and the waves break a good distance out from the beach for a large portion of the tide cycle. I was doubly fortunate to arrive on a day when the surf was very small. I didn't know this before I started, but small waves make it easier to catch them (at least with a learner's board), and it's certainly less work to fight them.

So, I took a 1/2 day surf lesson, where I spent about 4 hours out. we practiced how we were going to jump up on the board and stand up on the beach before we got into the water. When we got into the water, I caught the first wave and tried to jump up. For that split second, things were feeling good, but I had a thought of "I can't do this on the first try." Well, on the second try I stood right up and rode along. I was really surprised, because I expected it to be so much more difficult to learn. I must point out again, though, that I had wonderful conditions to start. Also, I have done a ton of snowboarding and quite a bit of wakeboarding, which particularly contributes. And on top of that, all I was doing on that second try was riding along, nothing fancy.

So, I was fortunate to stand up on just about every wave for the whole lesson. My instructor told the other students that it wasn't fair when someone like me was in the class, because I made it look to easy. Needless to say, I was very excited. I came back the next day alone and spent another 4 hours. The waves were much bigger that day, so I had to learn how to apply my techniques to these new conditions. I fell off a few times at the beginning, upgraded to a shorter board midway and fell off a couple of times again, then started falling off even more in the final 45 minutes or so when I was getting REALLY tired.

All in all, I had a great time! I even surfed near Kaikoura on the South Island when we were there much later in the trip. This area has no sand, only 6-36" rocks (not sharp, though), which was a challenge in itself. Make no mistake, I am still quite a beginner, but I feel fortunate to have a good start!

More photos here, including a neat sequence Tiffany took:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, great pictures! I am so impressed with you Andy, for trying something new. You looked awesome to me!
Love, Wendy

10:05 PM  
Blogger jskalet said...

yes tiffany, fantastic pictures, andy, will you teach me!!!??? dad

10:27 PM  

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