Friday, September 12, 2008
Surfing is Hard
I think most people have an impression of surfing that is a bit ideallic. That any beach bum could do it, playing on the waves, carving it up.. how hard could it be. I think the truth is closer that you NEED to be a beach bum to become truly excellent at surfing, it isn't a great casual sport.
Unlike almost any other sport, surfing never lets you practice a particular skill over and over under the same condition. When learning how to mountain bike, you can always pick the bike up carry it back over the log and try again under until you master it. When surfing, if you don't nail your pop up and slip off the board, you instead have to fight your way back through the crashing waves and wait for another wave, who's circumstances will be completely different and only slightly relevant to your last try. It's a sport where do-overs are non-existent and persistence alone isn't enough, you just need to spend tons of hours in the water.
Until Joya arrives, I'm the one with the most experience, but that isn't saying much. Getting hammered for a month straight in Hermosa last December mostly just taught me how not to drown and maybe a bit on how to stand up quickly, but I still can't ride a wave worth a damn. And although Eric and Jen have much nicer conditions to learn the art, it is still a steep slope. In short, we all pretty much suck.
An atypical and highly successful two hour outing might involve us catching two or three waves each for a few seconds of riding. But for those three waves, we fought to catch a dozen more, were called off a dozen more and probably bailed on half a dozen as we were getting up. There isn't much positive reinforcement going on.
But I'm not complaining, being out on the water and splashing in the waves makes it all fun, and those few seconds you ARE riding the wave make it all worthwhile. We all look at the incredible surfers about and can only imagine what it must feel like to carve through the waves as they do, to fly off the lip only to land back into the wave, to slide down the face backwards after a cut back. To reach that level, I think you really do have to be a beach bum, but sometimes it sure looks like it would be worth it.