8 September 2013
Be a hero – only if you’re ready to drown
It’s only the next day that I noticed all the bruises on my belly and on my hips. I guess that’s what happens when I relentlessly try to accomplish something physical until I actually get some results. After all, didn’t all those surfers seem to effortlessly glide on the waves near Ulu Watu in southern Bali, or off the coast of Nusa Lembongan, a small island an hour away from Bali? I had also quickly read a few tips online and watched a couple of YouTube videos, for I knew absolutely nothing about surfing. And as I generally don’t like to be taught – I’d rather observe and learn on my own – I hadn’t booked a couple of hours with an instructor, I had just negotiated to rent a longboard for $6 for my last twenty four hours in Indonesia.
So off I went, desperately trying to catch the big waves off Kuta beach, the well-known Balinese beach, before miserably crashing in less time that it takes me to blurt out “f*ck”, swallowing (at least) half of the water available in the sea, if not half-drowning. I had to tone down my ambition (and my arrogance) – I also started to become scared and avoided the biggest waves by plunging into them with my board – and realised I had to start practising on white-water, that is, after the wave had crashed, to get things right. I could only then consider gliding on actual waves – and even then, I only tried the smallest ones. I had never been confident in my suppleness, but, wow, I learned surfing the hard way. “Be a hero” they said, yeah right (I love the video and its music though). I guess I was closer to the surfer in Brice de Nice rather than the one in Point Break.
Oh well… I did eventually manage to cleanly and properly surf one wave (yes, I said “one”, you can laugh), after several half-successful attempts and many more litres of seawater inside my body (I’m trying to see the glass as half-full in my attempts, pun intended). I really need to remember the things I learned, at least for myself, for the next time I’ll go compete in the World Championships:
(i) put a T-shirt on to avoid the bruises resulting from rubbing the board as I hurl myself on it (if you've ever seen a seal hurl itself onto a platform, then you get the laughable picture);
(ii) start humbly practising in white-water;
(iii) paddling is useless for beginners, just push the board and try standing up on the board as quickly as possible and, most importantly, before the wave crashes (yes, there’s also a way of standing up and how to keep balance, basically bending knees, feet perpendicular to the board, and looking straight).
That’s all, folks, from your improvised surfing instructor, with a nod of my head making my strands of long blond hair – which I don’t have – fly in the wind.