Catching waves

I’m the worst surfer ever. Even for a beginner, I suck…

For the last leg of my Bali trip, I headed south to Kuta. Whilst Ubud is very peaceful and spiritual, Kuta is the opposite- loud and congested.  It reminded me a lot of Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast. Kuta, like the Gold Coast, is also one of the best places in the world to learn how to surf so yesterday I went to my first surfing lesson at the Pro Surf School.

Update 1: Here are some pics of the School and Kuta Beach
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How it works is you start at Beginner 1, and work your way up to Beginner 2 and Beginner 3, then you move to Intermediate 1,2,3 where you end up taking surf trips and stuff. For the beginner stages, if you’re not quite ready to move to the next level, they stick you in ‘sessions’ to practice more of what you learned in the last level (so S1 for B1, S2 for B2, S3 for B3).

Day 1

Beginner 1 started off with a theory lesson, where they told us about the boards (materials, length, width, thickness, names of the different areas of a board), the waves (white, green), how to get on the board, catch a wave (look behind you for the wave, paddle, paddle then get up) and control the speed. From what I understood, it’s all in the knees and upper body: to get up you put your arms behind your shoulders and push up locking elbows with chin up; to go faster you lean forward; slower you lean back; balance by bending knees lower; lose balance take the knee of the back leg down. They also explained how currents work and how surfers use them to gain speed and catch waves, and safety stuff like what to do if you lose your balance (back knee down on board or worst case fall on your stomach) or if you get caught in a current (don’t panic and go with it, then swim parallel to the beach and then back to shore), and how to avoid collisions with other surfers. It was a very interesting session, and I definitely learned a lot. We practiced a bit on board-shaped mats on the sand then it was time to hit the beach and catch some waves!

Everything in the theory lesson went out the window when I hit the water. My balance was so off and as soon as I stood up (for a whole second) I kept forgetting to bend my knees and ended up falling backwards three times. Then they changed my board to a wider one to help with my balance; yea that didn’t work, I just kept falling. The one time I did fall forward I lost my balance on the sand and heard my ankle crack. Two hours of practice later, I was not able to stand up so I was stuck into S1 for my second lesson (and a lost bet with my teacher- I have to buy ice-cream).

Day 2

Today was my second lesson, and my ankle still hurt a bit so I had to be careful when I was out there. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one who’s been put into S1 from my batch- there were two other people- so I didn’t feel like a complete loser…until they didn’t show up. Quitters! 

Before going to the beach, my teacher made me practice in the pool- paddling (I kept hitting the edges and forgetting the direction of paddling to turn), sitting (i fell off twice), turning (fell once), and standing (lost count of the times I fell). After heading to the beach and kept trying to get up and standing on the board for about 30 minutes, I finally managed to stand up and stay there- knees bent, arms up and not looking down to stay balanced. What a feeling that was! 
After that first time I managed to stand up a few more times, but there wasn’t enough consistency to move to Beginner 2 (I still kept slipping off and falling, or not getting up at all- weeeeeee!), so my third lesson will be another S1. My teacher say that I don’t trust myself, and that’s why I keep falling off. I say the waves have it in for me. Either way I will not give up!

So at the end of two lessons, I’m still very much a beginner- so I’m a slow learner, bite me- with sore muscles, a bruise on my backside, a twisted wrist and an ankle nearing the size of a golf ball now (I am taking care of it: ice packs, keeping it elevated etc. I’ve been through worse before). 

Can’t wait for tomorrow’s lesson!

Update 2 (2 Oct): Lesson 3 (or S1 x 2) was much better; I managed to stand up alot more today, and even got my board to turn once! I only fell a couple of times, and the palms of my hands are scratched up, but whatever- I’m just glad I’m out of S1! Tomorrow’s my last lesson: level B2. Woohoo!

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