Surfing 101: a first timer’s perspective

Sarah Minkewicz, News Editor

I held on to the sides of the surfboard, and with the sun shining right on my back, I paddled forward, anticipating the impact of the wave. Before I knew it I was flying towards the shore.

I didn’t expect the waves to be so strong. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was expecting before I hit the ocean to catch some waves for the first time in my life.

“You’ll want to shuffle your feet when you enter the water in case there’s any stingrays or fish. That’ll scare them,” my surfing instructor in Cocoa Beach, Florida, said during my lesson. “Don’t worry though, if you get stung, you can just shake it off.”

I thought this guy was kidding, but he wasn’t. I didn’t have any problems with sea-life though, and I even saw a dolphin.

The instructor then went on to talk about how he was hit in the head with a board once and how there was blood pouring from his head and he needed stitches. He said I didn’t have to worry about that because the boards we would be using were made of foam.

That sounded better. At one point, I managed to get hit in the leg from a surfer, and although it’s now bruised, I didn’t need stitches. That’s a plus.

When we got out to the water, the instructor showed me what to do when a wave comes.

There are three steps to follow once you’re lying on your board. Step one: while holding the sides of the board, you do a pushup. Step two: you kneel on one leg while the other leg is back, preparing to stand up. Step three: you stand.

It didn’t seem that complicated when I was on land and I thought I could get the hang of it, but when you’re out on the water trying to balance yourself, things get tricky. There’s also nothing worse than wiping out and being tugged by the surfboard that’s connected to your ankle as more waves are dragging it.

I was paddling out to the ocean to catch a wave when I saw one a little ways in front of me forming. The wave already had a layer of white on the top and I knew without a doubt this was going to a big one. If I didn’t turn around then I knew I’d be pushed backwards into whoever was in my path.

“Abort the mission!” I thought to myself as I frantically paddled into the water with my arms to turn my board around so that I’d at least be able to see what’s in front of me. However, I wasn’t fast enough and the wave hit the board at a perpendicular angle, sending the board crashing into me. I must have done five summersaults under the water while hitting my head on my board with each flip. After I stopped spinning, I got right back up and went back into the water to catch another one.

When you actually catch a good wave, it feels as though you’re flying on the water and are unstoppable. That is, until you wipe out.

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