I’ve always thought about surfing, but honestly never thought I could do it. I’m clumsy. What if that little thing they put around your ankle breaks my ankle? What if I see a shark? What if a shark bites my board in half? What if a shark bites me in half? And thus, the endless thoughts that went through my head that made me never in my life want to surf.
Bali, alas, was different. The waters there are extremely warm, which means they are less likely to attract sharks. Second, the friend that I was touring Bali with wanted to surf. Me, having a bit of a competitive nature, did not want to sound lame and say I was too afraid to surf. If she could do it why couldn’t I? And I have to say, it was one of the best decision I have ever made. Instead of hiring surfing instructors, some locals we met on the beach the night before offered to give us lessons at a discount rate. WARNING 1: Check out the surf schools rates first. You want to make sure you’re not getting cheated. WARNING 2: It’s a toss-up on the type of surf instructor you get if you ask a local to help you. They are not part of a school or a work organization. If you’re like my friend, you can get lucky and have an amazing instructor. If you’re like me, you can get stuck with a sketchy man who keeps trying to fix your bathing suit bottoms. Bad instructor good instructor I don’t even care now because I ended up falling in love with surfing.
Crazy enough? I road a wave and stayed on the board my very first time and surfed for the next six hours. I couldn’t get enough. I began to envision my life as a professional surfer living on the beach selling my DIY crafts or photographs and sleeping under the stars watching the sunset every night. Not too shabby of a life eh? But then I realized my DIY crafts would never make me any money (since I am the least crafty person ever) I screamed seeing a crab on the beach the night before and I had zero money to buy a surfboard. There goes my dreams.
However, even though I’m not living a boho existence, I can still share my experiences with you all. Now that I believe that I’m the best surfer in the world and am ready to ride the Maverick wave, here are some tips I learned throughout my 6 hour experience.
1. Wear sunscreen and the proper swim wear!
Water temperature is a big factor. Luckily the water in Bali was WARM so bathing suit bottoms and a long, polyester spandex shirt did the trick. Make sure to put on waterproof sunscreen. You will get burned!
2. Surfboards What am I supposed to do on this thing?
We spent a good 45-60 minutes practice outside the water learning how we’re supposed to lay and stand on our surfboard. You want to try and keep an even balance between yourself and the water, the surf board just slightly below the water. If the boards nose digs too much into the water you have to move the location of your chin (your center of gravity) back. If you need to adjust, wiggle side by side inch by inch until you find your center. Too much weight in the back of the board is also not a good thing (to all of us expert surfers this is called corking). You cannot ride a wave if the back of the board is too much in the water. Move up an inch at a time until the board lies in the water naturally. This will provide high-speed and little drag.
You may want to paddle with both arms simultaneous but this will cause the board to speed up and slow down in the water and you will not be able to maintain this full on speed. Instead, paddle your arms like you are swimming the front crawl: one arm and then the other alternatively. This will provide you with a more consistent speed.
4. Standing on the surfboard
This is the part I thought I would be the worst at but in reality was easy it was one of the easiest parts to learn. Lie on your chest with your head up looking straight ahead. Put your hands on the board besides your shoulders (palms down like you were going to do a push up) Push your upper body up while at the same time you sweep your feet under you, laying them on the stringer (the line down the middle of the board) so your weight is centered. When you come up, remember to keep low (do not stand straight up or else you will fall). This ladies, is when doing multiple squats in the gym comes in handy. You want to be as low as your are in a squat position. Press your feet shoulder width apart and have your hands a bit higher than your waist. Always look up and not at your feet!!! Okay..reading that over it does not sound like the simplest thing. But believe me, give it a try, practice for a few hours and it’ll be worth it in the end.
5. Choose the right spot
Hopefully your surf instructor will help you with try. Your first time try to go to a more secluded area of the beach, incase you can’t stop or continually fall. You want a spot that is away from rocks or reefs
6. Never forget to wear a leash or leg rope tied to the surfboard
7. Surf with an instructor or a buddy if you’re a beginner for safety reasons.
8. Never push your board through the water fin first.
The fins were made to keep the boar pointing nose first. Pushing the board fins first can be very dangerous since it wants to go the other direction (and can end up being pushed directly into your face)
9. Don’t lose your board
This is one of the benefits of wearing a leash or leg rope. A rouge surf board in the water can be very dangerous to other swimmers
10. Relax and have fun!
The more nervous you are, the more tense your body will be! Try to stay calm, listen to your instructor and just roll with it.