Big Question Marks

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Third Time's a Charm?

Today began in the best way imaginable — with a little surfing! While Adrian headed off to school, flatmate Julie and I decided to brave the waves before getting to our daily business. And even though our flatmates both own surfboards, I was happy to learn that we're all at around the same level in surfing- extreme beginner!

Adrian and I have hit the waves twice now since we arrived in Gold Coast, with varying degrees of success. On our first day surfing, we tried desperately to remember those little tidbits of surfer wisdom from our lessons in Coffs Harbour back in 2008. The waves here are a lot bigger than in Coffs and have a strong sweep sideways, meaning it's a battle to stay anywhere close to your original spot on the beach. That day, neither of us managed to stand, but we had fun flopping onto the board, beached-whale-style and riding the waves in on our bellies. Aside from mildly sore ribcages from all that flopping, we were ready to try it again. (Note: this is absolutely not one of us in the photo below)

We took a day to rest our aching muscles (we forgot that surfing is hard work!) and headed out again the day after that. We returned to the same spot, as it had a nice shallow sandbar that was pretty easy to paddle out to the first day. However, I'm not sure if the waves were bigger or how the conditions had changed, but it seemed so much more difficult that day. And while Adrian made it past the sandbar and even managed to stand up on his board (yay!), I found myself stuck in that horrible spot right by the shore where the waves crashed, unable to get past them and, to make things worse, kept getting whacked by my surfboard! A couple puffy knees (see left), a big purple fin-mark on my thigh, and a bump on the head later (lucky me!), we decided to give the surfing thing a bit of a break....

But nearly two weeks since that memorable day, my knees are back to their usual selves, so when Julie was pondering a morning surf, it seemed like about time to give it another go. I don't want to be developing some kind of ocean phobia when I'm only a month into our stint in Gold Coast, after all!

It was cloudy and a bit windy this morning, and we got to the beach and realized neither of us had any idea how to pick a good (ie. easy) spot. Finally, we just picked a place to jump in and were soon back on the beach in defeat, as the waves were huge! Not ready to give up though, we tried another plan- ask a lifeguard! We figured if anyone would know the waves, the guys who watch the beach would. It was a little hard explaining that we just wanted a spot with "very small waves", as most people here head straight for the giant tube waves that seem miles from shore. The lifeguard guy looked around and said it all looked "pretty ordinary" (eek, really?!) but after I repeated the words "beginner" and "easy" enough times, he got it, and pointed us toward a flatter spot down the beach where the waves were crashing further from the shore and some lady was riding a boogie board. Aha!

Turns out asking a lifeguard is the way to go, as neither Julie nor I got beaten up by our surfboards or swallowed gallons of water. It was a lot of fun! And even though we are still too terrible to jump up and stand on our boards (plus, swimming against the crazy sweep is really tiring!), we had a good time and at least rode few waves in on our stomachs. We agree it's definitely a way more fun type of exercise than going for a run, however, I'm reminded once again of having weakling arms - which are all wobbly now, and yet don't even have the power to push me into a standing position on my surfboard. Bah! But we'll see how Attempt #4 goes...