I have officially stood up on a surfboard, while it was riding a wave. I say ‘it’ was riding the wave, because I was certainly not the one in control of things.
Jared took me surfing on Christmas morning, while it was still hot and the sun was shining, before the wind and rain came rolling in. After a few failed attempts to catch waves, he issued the command (“Paddle! Now!”) and I was off. As soon as my board caught the wave, I thought, “I have to do it. I have to stand up.” So I awkwardly gripped the board with my hands and got to my knees, all while I was wobbling and careening through the ocean. “Not good enough,” I thought. “On your feet.”
Shaking the whole time, I somehow lifted my body and was vertical. “Am I standing?” I wondered. Before I had time to decide, I drifted sideways like a felled tree and crashed back into the water.
Since then I have decided that yes, I was standing. It counts.
We went again yesterday morning, in the rain, and the water was smooth with beautiful crashing waves. There were male surfers everywhere, slick in their black wetsuits, heads bobbing up and down as they sat on their surfboards and waited for their waves.
It makes me feel really conspicuous as one of the few females out there, especially because I don’t really know what I’m doing yet. I keep waiting for them to shout, “Fraud! Get out of the water.” But so far, nothing. It’s when I’m walking up the sand dunes with my board tucked under my arm, wetsuit folded down to my waist, dripping saltwater, that I feel the most confident. We pass other surfers and they say hello. For all they know I could be awesome, the next Layne Beachley.
But at that stage, I was still going into the water, my inexperience ready to shine.
“I want to learn how to sit on my board and wait,” I told Jared.
“Ok,” he said. “I’ll hold your board.”
He held my board and I sat up, scooting down so that the nose was pointing out of the water. For a second, I felt just like everybody else.
Then I rolled over sideways into the water.
“It’s hard at first,” Jared consoled me when I emerged. “Try again.”
I did, with the same results. After a few more practices, I’d like to say I was able to do it, but I decided to go back to lying down on my board while facing sideways, so that I was ready to turn and paddle if necessary. Maybe next time.
I even caught a few waves, but stayed in a lying down position. There was no standing up this time, but there were some good waves. I know because I saw other people surfing them.
My arms and back ache today from the paddling, and I have bruises in weird positions, like behind my knee and on top of my thigh. But I love them. Something has flipped a switch in me, and I am starting to really love surfing, even though I have only had a fleeting experience of feet on board.