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Learning to Surf

I struggle to keep my salty stinging eyes open from the ocean spray. I feel the pull of the wave. I’ve caught it. Now all I have to do is pop up. I place my hands flat on the board and in one swift movement, I swing my right leg between my planted arms and keep my left leg stable in the back. I’m up.  Stay low, you need to stay low, I think to myself. I rode the wave in, and my friends cheered me on, this was the first wave I ever caught by myself.

My coworker Tyler Norgeot used to teach surf lessons at Nauset Beach but once Covid hit, his surf school got shut down. After years of asking him to teach me and him saying yes and it never happened, I took matters into my own hands. I bought my own board.

 My new 8ft Wavestorm board is a perfect board for people just starting out. The foam top makes it float easier and the longer the board the easier it is. I took my board out about ten times before ever actually catching a wave. After every surf session, I would go to work, report back to Tyler, and tell him where I was struggling. I would show him the videos I had my mom take of me so we could pinpoint where the issue was. Some of the issues I encountered were being too far up on the board (causing me to nosedive), getting caught and tangled in the leash, popping up before catching the wave, and not staying low. 

I ran into Tyler on the beach one day, and he offered to give me some surfing tips. The tide was starting to come in, and the waves were small, perfect for learning. He stood in the water with me, helped me, and talked me through everything. The wave was coming, and I started to paddle hard. He gave me a push, I stood up and caught the wave. The feeling was exhilarating, and I was instantly addicted. Any spare moment I had I went back to the water just to feel the rush of the wind in my face, the speed of the ride, and the inimitable feeling of gliding on water.

After my addiction to surfing sparked, I told my cousin about it and took him out with me. Soon enough he was hooked. He got a fiberglass 7-footer for his birthday; that was the first real (non-foam) board I ever surfed on. It was harder to balance on when you paddle and sit, but you learn to adjust. Bruises would line the insides of my thighs from how hard I would squeeze my legs together while sitting on the board. The thing about Fiberglass boards is that they really hurt to get hit by when you wipe out. 

Some people get discouraged by wiping out and getting battered by waves, but I love it. There’s nothing like flying off your board and knowing that the ocean will catch you. Those brief seconds of flight make you feel invincible. Many times, I’ve gotten caught in the whitewash and got washed up to shore covered in sand. I laugh and then get back out there. I never give up when it comes to surfing, I just get tired and take a break.

Surfing is extremely physically demanding. Just paddling out past the breaking waves can be one of the hardest things. You need to center your body on the board, keep your feet up, don’t drag them in the water, arch your back, always look up, and paddle hard. When a wave comes crashing you need to duck dive. To duck dive, you grab the edges of the board, take your entire body weight, and push the front of the board underwater to make it through the crashing wave. I still struggle with this. 

I plan on investing in either a fiberglass or epoxy board this summer once I get enough money. When it comes to surfing nothing will hold me back. Not the numbing water, not the sharks, not the huge intimidating waves, just being alone would be the only thing to stop me. I still have so much to learn, and I can’t wait to keep trying.

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