Surfing 20110620

I started the day right by driving south down Bushard instead of west down Warner. I realized my obvious mistake when I had traveled a ways down Bushard. So I just headed to PCH and made a right turn. It was the scenic route.

When I got there, I spotted the blue tent near the parking lot, parked, and walked to the tent. There was a mix-up concerning my appointment day. I was sure I booked it for Monday at 10AM but Rick thought it was Wednesday at 10AM. He called the main office and in this case, I was right. After clearing that up, I filled out a piece of paper, and waited a moment. There's a bin to put all my stuff (shirt, keys, and glasses). I put on a wetsuit and an instructor hands me a 9' longboard and tells me to go and wait down by the flag.

The Lesson:
The instructor asks if I've surfed before. I told him I tried once before, but I would say no. So we walk over to find an empty place on the waves, and on the corresponding shore, he lays the board down and goes over popping up. He describes the three steps used to teach beginners.
1) Push-up position
2) Bring one leg forward, knee to chest in a lunge position.
3) Twist up into a low horse stance.
As you come up from 2 to 3, he mentioned to keep the knees bent. There's a line that goes down the middle of the board, it's ideal to keep the feet and body along that line. With experience, the pop-up doesn't happen in steps, but one smooth fluid motion. He then briefly talks about how much of the nose should be above the water. He seemed to mark off around 3 feet from the top. Too much and you waste energy paddling, too little and the nose will dive. As for paddling, though I didn't do much of it today, he did mention some surfers do both arms at once, but he finds stroking one arm at a time, like freestyle, is more consistent in terms of power. He also mentioned how to get over a wave. Just putting weight towards the back of the board and letting the nose go over the wave is one option. Then the second option is the turtle roll, but that would be something for another lesson.

After the little intro, it's time to try surfing whitewater. The instructor helps pull the board out and at some point I get on. He tells me to scoot back a bit. When he sees a wave comes, he turns the board around, nose facing the shore, and as the wave comes he gives a good push. All I have to do is do a pop-up and balance. I'm actually manage to stand the first two times and hang around there for a brief moment. Perhaps one or two seconds. I recall failing the third, and I don't remember how many more we did. But it wasn't so many waves before he suggested I try getting the feel for paddling. I tried that once, and then resumed the original learning method. On one wave, he mentioned that I had caught a real wave. Curran was a cool instructor, after such little achievements, he'd put his hand up for a high five.

After an hour was up, the instructor had to go leave for the next student. Though there wasn't a next student or something, and so he came back to help me out for another fifteen or twenty minutes. I was glad, because I had tried paddling out and wasn't feeling successful about it. I recall one wave which I was able to pop-up, sort of adjust during the wave, and then jumped off when the board came to a stop.

Various things during the whole lesson:
Arching the chest up and putting the weight towards the hips, or pressing down on the hips will help prevent the nose dive. Also moving back on the board will help prevent the nose dive.
After getting some comfort, the instructor suggested I play around with moving around on the board, namely shifting towards the center.
He briefly discussed waxing the board. With wax already on the board, you can just wipe up and down. But otherwise, a good round motion is recommended.
I asked about safety when taking a dive. He mentioned covering the head with one arm. Don't push off from the bottom to surface, you can dangerously run into the board.
It doesn't matter whether you choose to pop up from hands on the board or holding the railing. This came up because on one pop-up I noticed my hands were on the rails, but my left hand couldn't get any grip and so I couldn't get up. So I told the instructor and he said holding the rails is definitely an option, just apply wax.
Also, shuffle your feet on the sand to let the sting rays know you're there and they should leave.
One of the tips my instructor thought benefited him the most was when in doubt, always take an extra stroke (when paddling for a wave).

Overall, it was lots of fun and felt great. There were many falls, but the couple moments of success here and there makes the experience memorable.

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