Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm goofy

Goofy footed, that is.

Today I made my first attempt at surfing. The Housemate, who for the years he lived in Indonesia seems to have spent most of his time out catching perfect waves, took me to Waikiki to learn to surf. Waikiki, with its sandy bottom and easy waves, is a good place to learn to surf, especially because you can easily find surfboard rental places which, seeing as I did not have my own board, was a must. The board they gave me was huge--12 feet long and too wide for me to hold tucked under my arm. But I could get my arm around it towards the tapered front, and I managed to drag it to the water.

We had determined beforehand that I was goofy footed. Not sure what about my feet is goofy--they seem perfectly natural to me--but fine, goofy foot it is. I velcroed the strap around my left ankle, and pushed off into the water. The initial paddle out wasn't bad at all. Later on my arms started getting really tired, not so much from the fact that I was doing the crawl stroke, but from the fact I was doing the crawl stroke around the considerable width of the surfboard, which made me hold my arms out at a strange angle. The wide board also made it awkward once we got out to the waves and I had to sit straddling it. A lady is not supposed to sit with her legs so wide open. Anyway, the benefit of the extreme width of the board was that it was remarkably stable, which was really essential for a beginner like me.

The conditions out on the water were far from ideal. The swell was dying way down, and the water was frustratingly calm. As a beginner, I was very timid about catching waves, so I probably let twice as many good waves go by as I managed to catch. Still, that means that the whole time I was out there, we only had maybe 15 good waves go by. The other issue was that it's Waikiki and there's a surfboard rental place right on the beach, so it was really crowded. In some ways, it made me feel much better to have all these other beginning surfers around me falling off their boards, but it also meant that it was tough to find a wave with enough room for me. And with other beginners like me all over the waves, people weren't particularly good at avoiding each other.

Complaints aside, how did the actual surfing go?

After paddling out on the board and then turning the big old thing around--kind of like maneuvering the QE2--the Housemate and I waited for a reasonable wave to come along. I knew I was goofy footed, the Housemate had demonstrated the pop-up once to me (and unbeknownst to him I had been practicing it a bit in front of YouTube videos in my office that morning), but I didn't know anything else: Where do you stand on the board? I guess wherever you don't tip over. How do you know when to stand? I asked him this last one, and he just said "When you feel the power of the wave behind you." Um, great.

Suddenly a wave was coming along, and the Housemate was saying, "Go, paddle, paddle, paddle!" and giving my board a shove in the right direction.

"What? This one? Right here? Now?" as I start moving. As I keep paddling, waiting for the wave to catch me, I'm nervously mumbling angry words directed at the Housemate (mainly "frakker, frakker, frakker..."). And then I feel it. The power of the wave behind me. It has me. Without thinking, I place my hands on the board and pop up.

And suddenly, I'm standing. On the board. The wave pushing me along. Still standing. How the frak am I still standing? I don't know how long I was standing that first time--time may have slowed down in the euphoria of the moment--but I would say it was a good three seconds. Enough time to think Holy crap, how the frak am I still standing? But before long I started to feel myself tipping. I'm still kicking myself for not trying to stay on a second longer, but at the time I decided that rather than fall off the board, I'd prefer to jump off on my own terms. So I bailed, and plunged into the ocean, the strap around my ankle giving a little tug as the board pulled out of the wave.

I hauled myself up onto the board again, elated, and paddled back out to where the Housemate was sitting. He seemed just as psyched as I was. "Your first try! You're a natural!" I have to say, I was pretty pleased with myself. Unfortunately, as I said before, after that there were not many good waves. The other waves I caught almost all had either me crashing into people or other people crashing into me; I did manage to stand on each wave I caught that didn't involve any collisions, but that only happened about four times. We decided that I need to get my own board so we can go somewhere else with better waves and without so many people.

We stayed out until sunset. There were really no waves to speak of by the end, but the water was warm, the weather exceedingly pleasant, and bobbing up and down on the boards was soothing. As the sun dipped below the horizon, we saw a green flash.

Not a bad introduction to surfing. Not bad at all.

Sorry there are no photos. Maybe next time...


Sebastian said...

Christ, 'Goofy'... that took me RIGHT back to when I was 15 and my friends were all learning to skate. Ugh.

But I was right there with you, Eleni! I grinned like a fool when you popped up... on the board! Standing! Tears actually welled up in my eyes just now... hah.

I'm stupidly emotive like that... ugh. I blame the sleep deprivation.

Thanks for the board-akimbo imagery.

Eleni said...

It was kind of tough for me to figure out which foot to put forward. I'd never done skateboarding or snowboarding or whatever before, plus in dance, of course, you're expected to be able to do everything both ways. But I did have an easier time popping up with my right foot forward.

Haha, hopefully some time down the road I will have pictures--or video! (The Housemate has a camera that can be attached to the front of the board, even--yeah, he's intense.) Any interest in learning to surf yourself?

And uh, you're welcome, I guess. Bobbing up and down over the waves, straddling a 12-foot long board... Yeah.

Hezabelle said...

Fun! I bet you got ten times further with it than I would.

Eleni said...

Aw, if you gave it a try, you might be surprised! I sure was.