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Turning the Corner

For the past month, I’ve been learning to surf on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). No, I’m not on vacation at a surf camp. I’m just going out to a local break about three times a week and getting out there. Today, I finally turned the corner.

It’s been somewhat of a frustrating experience. At first, when I was just paddling the SUP on relatively calm water (both in Half Moon Bay and in Puerto Rico), I was an instant success. In fact, I didn’t fall off the board during any of those sessions. Sure, surfing is a completely different experience, but for a short while, I believed the learning curve would be pretty easy.

And then I went out in the surf. I fell a million times. I got saltwater up my nose. I smacked my face and got a black eye. I smacked my face again and got a split lip. But I caught a few waves, too, and those moments are golden.

Doug’s been a rather patient coach. There are times when he tells me that I’m too far away from the peak, or letting the fog spook me. Sometimes I get tired of hearing it. But after I answer, “yeah, yeah” and dismiss him—I understand why he’s saying it. Then I move a little closer to the peak, or try to find my place among the waves and rocks that I can barely see in the fog. And each time I learn something new and get a little better.

So today, on one of those beautifully clear and sunny coastal days when the water is glass and the waves aren’t too huge—I finally got it. I found my place in the lineup and I charged the waves. I put my foot farther back; I crouched down more. I got the best ride of my life, and a lot of shorter rides as well. My board also bonked me on the head once, but there was no blood, so I went back out.

I’m not as good as many of the people who surf SUPs at the same spot, but it’s not a competition. I watch them, they watch me, and sometimes they give me tips or an “atta girl.” It’s enough to make me want to keep going out and getting better in my own time.

The learning curve may have been longer than I expected, but I’m having an awesome time.