Sunday, June 5, 2011
I surfed with Jules on Friday and it ended up being a really amazing day - the first great session of the season, and maybe my best session ever in terms of my learning curve.
I've mentioned before that the summer waves are just different from the waves any other time of the year: 4' in summer is more of a soft (not always gentle), rolling wave. 4' in the winter has teeth. It's hard to describe, but there's a difference. And when Jules and I waded into the water, I immediately said, "It's summer water!" and she agreed.
I had an early lesson (9:30) that day, and I was set on using Sally (my 10' board) anyway, but it ended up being necessary because it was really small - maybe 3'. (Smaller waves = bigger board.) It was hard to get used to her again, and I wasn't exactly graceful out there, but it did feel good to be on my own board. After a handful of attempts and a couple of rides on the inside, Jules and I paddled out.
The weather was beautiful - I didn't even use my 1 mil-ish rash guard. The sun was shining hot and it actually felt pretty good to be in the water (and not like risking hypothermia like it usually does). The waves were so small that it was really tough to find anything to dig into, but I made several attempts. And the waiting during the lulls was awesome -- just Jules and I sitting on our boards, listening to the silence, watching the birds and the horizon, waiting for waves.
The few I took out there were so crazy -- I know 3' isn't that steep, but it feels like such a big drop when I'm headed there face-first. I went feet over head on my first ride, and immediately felt discouraged. I told Jules that I just don't know how that will ever feel natural, how I'll ever understand the timing and be able to be on my feet early enough to go down even a tiny face. When I'm laying on the board, the minute the nose is lower than my feet, I freak.
I have to say, Jules was so patient -- not really with me, but with the process. Sometimes she seems like she doesn't have a worry in the world about whether or not I'll eventually get it. I'm ready to pack it in and Jules is totally calm. It's like she can see around a corner that is totally blind to me. She tells me that it just takes practice - doing it - and that eventually I'll be able to feel when to paddle, when to pop, where I'm at in the wave. And her confidence - in the ocean? In the process? In me? - did something to me that day, and I started going for it on more and more waves. We ended my lesson with me getting a few good rides, a few baby greens, and then Jules went off to teach another lesson.
I was pretty tired, and I had planned to get back to town early so I could get some homework done, but it was too beautiful to quit that day. Jules's bf paddled out, and encouraged me to surf with him. (You guys - such a cool guy and so fun to watch surf.) I got out for a few minutes to refuel and decide whether or not I should stay, and ending up going back out -- sans booties. It was that nice out. My plan was to get another few rides in with my feet directly on the deck until it was too cold to continue, and then I would go home. But it was so awesome that I ended up spending another couple of hours in the water, the whole time without my booties on!
My board didn't have enough wax, so I took some flying leaps off that thing, skidding right down it and straight off the front end. But I got bolder and bolder, and had more and more fun, and ended up going back and forth between the white water and paddling out. I got several awesome, long, curvy rides where I practiced balancing, scootching, and making micro-turns. That felt great. But the best thing was that I was just doing it -- I went for a ton of waves, maybe 1/2 green, and I wiped out over and over, flinging myself and my board all over that cove, from hell to breakfast. But it was awesome, and even in just the time I was doing that, I felt the process get more familiar. I felt less fear about the face-first thing, and slightly more comfortable and aware of the timing on green waves.
In the time I was out there screwing around, Jules actually finished her lesson and then paddled out with her bf and me. I watched them take waves when I wasn't trying myself, and it felt great to be out there with friends. Jules's bf eventually went in, and Jules and I hung out for another 30 minutes or so, just enjoying the hot sun and talking about how surfing can change your life. Yes, it can.
I don't know what to tell you. No monster green waves, no hanging ten, no major breakthroughs. But I really went for it and remembered again, for the first time in a while, that surfing can be such pure fun and that totally botching it over and over can be progress, too. All of that and no booties! It was a really great day in the water.