I have a tank top that I wear for running that has the word “SURF” blazoned across the front in big blue letters. I bought the shirt for pennies at a thrift shop and I rationalized wearing the darn thing in the middle of winter in the middle of central Pennsylvania because I did surf (once) on the Gold Coast. Which makes me, if not a surfer, at least justified in wearing a shirt that advocates the sport, at least occasionally.
After camping the night before at the base of Wollumbin, and then hiking the mountain early the next morning, my mates and I decided to spend the afternoon surfing. I had never surfed before, but I am always game for a new adventure and I was ready to make a fool of myself trying.
The Gold Coast of Australia is known around the world for its surfers and their laid back lifestyles. We purchased some fish tacos and headed for the nearest beach.
Since I didn’t have a surfboard, I spent some time exploring and finding pretty rocks for a friend who admires them. When I came back, a friend who was resting said I could borrow her board. I hesitated for a minute. I had no instruction or advice about how to surf, but I had a surfboard.
So I lashed the board to my ankle, jumped on (after a few failed attempts where I flopped off the other side), and paddled my way out into the waves. I should mention that it was a cool, rainy day and that the ocean off the coast of Australia is always cold. In just a bathing suit, I was pretty chilly. I also found out pretty quickly that the wetsuits serve a double purpose in that they protect you from the buffering of the board, which gave me quite a few good smacks before the day was over.
I spent some time trying to figure out how to turn around in time to catch a wave, and how to find one that was moving quickly enough to buoy me up. Soon, however, I was cruising around the waves like a pro…on my belly. (It is actually pretty fun to ride a surf board lying down.)
I did manage to stand up once, though, in my defense. I rode a little wave for a few seconds, then lost my balance and crashed into the waves, arms windmilling and board flying up to smack me in the behind as an extra insult.
One thing I definitely learned from my experience, if not how to surf, was a new appreciation for those surfers in the movies, who ride in gigantic waves. I felt the power in a wave a tenth the size of the ones they rode, and was impressed (somewhat literally by my board).
I also learned that a surf board can beat you up pretty well if you don’t know what you’re doing. I had bruises all across my ribs the next day.
So maybe I earned the right to wear my “SURF” shirt after all. 😛