Friday, 30 May 2008


Surfing is one of those sports that very few ever really master. Like golf – we’re told ‘you don’t need to be good at it to enjoy it’. I have even used this phrase before, but do I really believe it? Of course not and if anyone says they do, they’re lying. I think it takes a very special person to enjoy a sport that they are truly terrible at. Either that, or they have the patience of a saint.

Like most people I remember my first wave, as if it were yesterday. It was in Hayle on Gwithian beach, on a very dark, damp day with my parents and sister huddling around a windbreak in true British fashion. I had spent hours trying to get to my feet, slowly making progress and each time feeling closer and closer to becoming a stand up surfer. Even more vivid, however, was that feeling of total frustration and utter desperation. “Learning is meant to be fun”, said my Dad as I was almost in tears.
But then- that moment, the split second that remains in a surfer’s mind forever. Whether you trimmed along the wave or simply caught the white water, you realised your dream and the so-called surfing bug had manifest itself.

A wise man once told me, (in fact it was a motivational book neatly located in my downstairs toilet) that ‘Life is hard. Its gives you the test first and lesson afterwards’. Never a truer word had been spoken (or in this case printed). In the case of surfing, I believe this to be very true. How many people do you know who bought or hired a surf board, failed miserably on their own and later asked a friend for advice or booked into a surf school for lessons. Well I see it every single day.
So why do we do it? Why do surfers spend countless hours, regardless of skill or ability, plodding on without advice or tuition? If you were a rugby player, cricketer or football player, you would have a coach. Even the old boys who think they know everything, that every sports club has, will seek advice from the coach. Now swiftly back peddling at the risk of people thinking I am purely plugging my surf school, I am a great believer in ‘self critique’.

Whilst in Australia a few years back I spent a fair amount of my time on the infamous Gold Coast. Ridden with phenomenal surfers as well as a majority of ‘improver’ surfers, I noticed the amount of cameras and video cameras recording the day’s action in the water. At first glance you would probably dismiss this as the media frenzy of surf photographers that line any beach where the likes of Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning and Dean Morrison frequent. I have no doubt that many of them where there for that exact reason but on closer inspection, I noticed they were the friends, Partners or parents of the average everyday surfer. This free and relatively easy method of coaching can be done by anyone with a video camera and has helped the Aussies become one of the greatest surfing nations.
Go on give it a go. Find a family member, friend or partner and give them a camcorder. Stop wishing you were a better surfer and do something about it.