Learning to surf

Greenough photo by Harold Ward

I was tasked with teaching someone to surf the other day

I have to say it took me a while to find a place to start

  • ocean swimming
  • finding waves
  • paddling
  • catching waves
  • standing up
  • turning

All of these basic topics take awhile to discuss and much longer to learn

I'm truly amazed that anyone surfs at all

And even though these items begin to cover the basic physical act of surfing there are maybe a thousand more items to know

  • don't let your attention drift from the waves
  • don't take off in front of someone else
  • where do the wind and waves come from
  • why does the tide change

In the end, I threw them a mat and their surfing experience took off like a house on fire

(No not my "good" mat)

But still so much to know

So if you have started someone on the surfing path,

what pearls of wisdom did you imparted to them?

Let me know in the comments section

Down erupting calm he falls

but what breath has put him there?

(the above is a snippet of a poem by Drew Kampion that was published in Surfer during the late 60's early 70's. My apologies to Mr. Kampion for what is, no doubt, an inaccurate quote of his work.

I just can't find the issue it's in without tearing my house apart and waking the kids up.

It's a beautiful poem

If anyone has the complete and accurate text at hand please let me know)


borntoloser said…
I've taught people from 4 to 67 how to surf. The key is to eliminate the many variables down to one- standing up. help them through the waves, help them turn around, push them into waves, tell them when to standup. If the board is big enough and the instructor can mediate between the beginner and the ocean, the learner will feel successful. Then the real educatin begins...

The only time I was teaching and the learner was not able to get up was last weekend. My brother in law to be was visiting from MN. He's something like 6'6 and 320 pounds. could not find a board big enough. He was using a 9'4 like a boogie.
pranaglider said…
Good plan in simplifying the whole deal down to just standing up.

I definitely didn't emphasize the standing up part...
Quiver said…
The way I teach people (who I think are serious*) the standing up part doesn't become an issue until after they've learned the "how to get out" and "how do waves work" and "how to catch a wave." I belive that if they come out with me on anything but a warm sunny day with small waves and STILL want to come back, then they wont want me holding their hand the whole time.

*I have used the borntoloser phylosophy more often than the above method because I understand that most people will never come back, no matter what thier experience.
Jamie said…
I once had a guy who was a 40-something triathlete offer me a sum of money to teach him to surf. I agreed, as most broke surfers would. I grabbed a 9' softop from my roomate's shop to do the teaching, and instructed the fellow to meet me at XXXX at sunup. Happened to be pretty good for the Outer Banks in the middle of summer that morning, about shoulder high and glassy rollers. I had been out surfing my mat for about an hour when he made it down to the beach. Apparently he had seen some of my antics on the mat before I noticed him, because when I got out of the water to start teaching him the basics of the pop up, he wasn't too interested in the board anymore. He asked if he could ride one of "those things". Naturally I had a few extra in the truck, and backup fins, and off went Mr. Triathlete like a duck in a pond. He never touched the board, and went home thoroughly stoked with his morning, money well spent.
borntoloser said…
I like Jamie's story.
Geppetto said…
Ask Drew Kampion: (dkampion@whidbey.net)
pranaglider said…
Jamie, it decided then, standing is over rated. Surfing on your belly like a reptile is where it's at!

Geppetto - good idea! I have to stop writing this stuff in the pre dawn. without coffee. I'll drop him a note and see if he's game! Thanks for the email.

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