O.k. So I got my first taste of surfing at the weekend and I have to say, it wasn’t pretty. Lets just say Chelsea Georgeson may have nothing to worry about, but the Victoria Coastguard may be concerned! I had imagined Point Break, or Big Wednesday. My efforts turned out to be more Fat Tuesdays!
For our surfing initiation we drove out to Torquay, arguably, the surfing capitol of Australia. Situated to the west of Melbourne, at the start to the great Ocean Road, it is home to two of the nations best surf beaches, Bells and Jan Juac. It is also the home and birthplace of surf behemoths Rip Curl and Quicksilver. So, what better place to stage my ritual humiliation than in front of surfing royalty!
As we strolled down to the beach grasping our surfboards proudly underneath our arms, Paul, our surfing coach mumbled something about low pressure working against a southerly wind. Had I listened, instead of marvelling at what a surfer stereotype Paul was with his sandy blonde hair, perfect torso, wide swimmers shoulders, rippling muscles and surfer dude good looks, I might have grasped that the surfing conditions were possibly as bad, or as good, depending on your surfing proficiency, as they could be. I was foolishly more concerned with Paul’s proximity to my wife and, of course, how cool I looked with a surfboard underneath my arm.
The Pacific Ocean is an icy 14 degrees at this time of year and although we had wetsuits, believe me, 14 degrees is still very f±*£ing cold! As I waded into the water I was prepared to say goodbye to my testicles for a very long time.
I’m sure watching me floundering on a surfboard is akin to watching the late Steve Irwin wrestle with a wild crocodile. Although, I may have made the surfboard look a tad more vicious and unfortunately, unlike Steve, I never managed to pacify the damn thing. Paul was patience personified and as I bobbed about in the freezing Pacific Ocean, waves crashing over my head with what, in my skill-less hands, was no more than a giant buoyancy aid strapped to my ankle, he cajoled me to try, try and try again. Then suddenly, just as Paul had been attempting to lift my spirits by pointing out what I wasn’t doing wrong I actually caught a wave, and unlike my numerous previous attempts, it actually felt like I was in control!
Because of all the metal in my back from previous injuries I was finding it difficult to get from kneeling to standing. Paul had talked us through the technique, but my bolted together spine just wouldn’t allow it. This time I decided to improvise. Instead of dragging my left leg forward and then rising to my feet, as I was supposed to do, I jumped straight up as best I could. Miraculously, I nailed it. I was surfing. For two whole seconds I was surfing! As the shock took hold I promptly fell from my board into the icy water, but this time, I rose spluttering from the water punching the air. I did it, I f±*£ing did it, I shouted! Paul looked back at me with his arms held aloft. It was dificult to tell who was more surprised, me, or Paul! There was however, one thing that was for sure, with that magical moment of imbalance I was hooked!!!
I may be crap, but with a lot, and I mean a lot more coaching, I’ll get better. There is now a corner of a far off apartment that will be foever crying out for a surfboard.
Oh, did I mention both my wife and our friend Kevin were markedly better at surfing than me? Probably not, as we don’t talk about that!!!