A day at the beach: ‘I gawped as surfers carved along the huge waves. It was too late to back out’ | Australian lifestyle

0 13

I decided to take up surfing in my mid-30s. I had been invited to join friends at Gunnamatta, a stretch of beach on the Mornington peninsula in Victoria. I didn’t know it was the kind of beach that attracted major Southern Ocean swells – beloved by more experienced surfers.

It was one of those hot and still early summer days, the Eastern freeway busy as cars flowed out of the city. When I arrived, I stood at the top of the car park steps and gawped as surfers carved along the huge waves. It was too late to back out; I had already made the drive. As I tugged on my wetsuit, I looked around and marvelled at how surfers freely stripped off in the car park, totally unbothered if they flashed an incandescent bum.

I lugged my giant soft-top foam board down to the beach as I chatted with a seasoned surfer I had just met, appropriately nicknamed Maddog. He talked about how good the waves looked. He was using jargon I had only just started to wrap my head around – a-frames, lefts, rights, take-offs. As soon as we arrived on the sand he tossed his keys on to his towel, pulled his board out of its bag and was off, running into the surf. Maddog’s arms straightened as he floated his board across the whitewash and, with a few quick paddles, moved with the rip out into the lineup.

A rip? Something I was very keen to avoid.

If my toes ever left the sandy bottom, the fear of sharks, tangles of seaweed and drowning set off a cortisol rush. I was determined to stay in the waist-high whitewash ready to torpedo myself on to my board towards the shore.

“I’d finally stood up – only a few metres aimed directly at the shore – but I had defied the impossible.” Photograph: Ellen Smith/The Guardian

My girlfriends and I were all beginners and I was by far the worst. How could I ever stand up on this bloody board constantly moving through the ocean?

I tried and failed until freakishly, it finally happened. I pushed my body up with my arms as my legs somehow moved under me, landing in a wide stance with my bum jutted out. I’d finally stood up – only for a few metres, aimed directly at the shore – but I had defied the impossible. I unceremoniously fell off and screamed “I stood up! I stood up!” to my friends. After multiple high-fives with the ladies, I tried again and again. I never repeated my success that afternoon.

Exhausted and sandy, I made my way to the beach to flop down as the post-surf rush flowed through me. Eventually Maddog jogged up the beach, spiked the nose of his board into the sand and told us he had caught “a few fun ones”. He then pulled ice cold beers from the depths of his board bag, and casually said “You ladies want a frothy?” If this was a surfer’s life, I was in.

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.