Surfing Safari

On Saturday, I did something totally awesome.

No, not really.  First of all, that’s a dude. Get your eyes checked. Secondly, if I tried to do that, I would break in half. But I did take my first surfing lesson, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

The moms’ workout group I belong to organized a group rate surfing class with Hawaiian Fire. Ladies and gentlemen who prefer gentlemen, wrap your heads around that: surf instructors who are also firemen. Things were getting a little hot under the rash guard, if you know what I mean AND I THINK YOU DO.

First was an on-land lesson in form. Here I’m demonstrating the dorkiest way to keep your face from getting whitewashed if you’re paddling into a cresting wave–assume partial cobra position and let it flow under you. This is also how to get up–get into this position, and in one fluid move, pop up so that your feet are parallel to each other and at right angles to the midline of the board.  If you look at your feet or lock your knees, you’re going ass over teakettle.  (Not shown: me flipping the instructor the Buddy Christ after he congratulated being able to pop into position.)

Tom captured that shot moments before I went shoulders-first into the water, right above a reef.  I locked my legs, you see.  The instructor later said “Well…that was a nice flip, at least!”  You’ll also note that these waves are, at most, about two feet.  So my dreams of conquering the elements and subjugating the wild ocean under my board? Not so much:

It’s all I’ve got.

What really surprised me, and perhaps this is due to the size of the waves, was the amount of stability.  The board was very long and wide, and thus very forgiving of blunders.  I could correct my feet rather easily and found that weight-shifting didn’t automatically equal a dump into the ocean.  I was able to ride in a few waves this way in a non-dorky, non-embarrassing fashion.

By the hammer of Thor, look at me go!  I have conquered the SMALLEST WAVE EVER.

It surprised me how well the boards worked with the waves; I usually felt pretty stable.  What killed me was the paddling and the cobra-ing.  I now understand EXACTLY why hardcore surfers do not have an ounce of body fat.  It was the best arm workout I’ve done in my entire life, and my abs are still screaming today.  Once up on the board, you can see my thighs are really low in order to absorb shock and stay stable, and that can get tiring too.  It’s a phenomenal workout, to say nothing of the fact that even with the strongest, best sunscreen in my arsenal the backs of my legs are still medium-rare toasty.

Jokes about the size of the waves and the size of the board notwithstanding, I am so proud of myself.  I feel like I did something athletic very well for my first time, and that’s not a feeling I’m familiar with. Gotta start somewhere, right? It was exactly the way I remember skiing first thing in the morning right after a 1″ dusting of snow: refreshing, head-clearing…really, just the purest kind of joy.  And now I can say something that few people can: I have surfed in Hawaii.

I can’t wait to do it again.

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