Friday, May 11, 2007

Surfing is a thrilling experience, and I highly recommend that anyone with a shot grab a board and a teacher for a couple of hours and head out to catch some waves. I spent a bit of time relaxing Monday morning and making arrangements, both for my surf lesson later that day and for my scuba trip later in the week. Once I was all ready, I headed down to Waikiki, the most surfed beach in the world, for a lesson at the Hans Hedemann Surf School. Hans was probably some big surfer back in the day, though when I saw him in the shop he was fairly portly (though I'm quite sure his grace on a board would make my face melt, nonetheless). I had signed up for a two-hour private lesson, but there were some other groups going at the same time, so we all went through some dry land practice first. In the ongoing war between the hemispheres of my brain (I write left handed, but bowl and throw a baseball with my right, though I can bat from either side and use a fork equally well with both hands, too) it turns out that I surf "goofy" (yes, that's the official term in surfer parlance), meaning that I put my right foot forward. If you don't know what foot you would use, try this test. Stand normally and tell someone to push you when you aren't expecting it. Just chat casually with the person and sometime in the middle talking, have them push you firmly in the back. You'll take a step forward to catch your balance, and if you're not thinking about it too hard, you'll step with the non-dominant foot. You can also base it on past experience with other sports, like snowboarding, skateboarding, tennis or anything that requires split-footed stances.

For us total beginners, the boards are huge, something like 10 feet long or so, which helps us be more stable and the like. You lay down on the board and paddle all the way out to where the surf is breaking, 100 yds or so from the shore. The hard part about surfing is that every time you attempt to catch a wave, whether you succeed or not, you have to turn yourself around and swim back out to the break point. It's kind of like skiing but without a lift. Most of the time in the water is spent waiting for a good wave to come and then swimming back to try for the next one. In all though, I probably made 15-20 attempts during my two hours in the ocean, and got up more times than I face planted. I enjoyed it tremendously, especially because I got it on my first try and the next few, while other people were still struggling a bit. It gives you that "I win" feeling, even though the other people didn't know it was a competition (Debbie knows what I'm talking about). My feeling, however, is that while surfing is fun to try, it would take a lot of time and effort to really get good at it, mostly because of all the downtime while waiting for waves. Perhaps a good simulator could speed up the learning curve, but out on the seas, it was slow going sometimes.

After my lesson, I headed back to Jeremy and Allison's place to shower off the salt. Allison got off work early (only seven) so we had time for nice dinner out at Dave and Buster's. Allison told me fun stories about the crazy people that somehow just end up in her life and we talked about all the fun stuff involved in planning a wedding, including needing to mail wedding invitations (that already come in their own envelope) in a separate envelope. Good times.

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