Alright maybe not barreled, but I did stand up on a surf board for the first time ever!
Two Fridays ago 91 people made the trek to Gerringong, a small town two hours south of Sydney, to try and learn to surf for the first time. We all arrived late Friday night to the laid-back-beach-vibed campsite where we were told the itinerary for the weekend.
The surf coaches split us up into two groups, one that would surf Saturday at 7 am and one that would surf at 10 am. The group that got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday got to sleep in for the Sunday session and vice versa. Believe it or not, everyone was down for the early group because they knew we would be going out for drinks on Saturday night. I got to sleep in Saturday so some friends and I ended the night with a walk on 7-mile beach; where we would surf the next day.
It wasn’t exactly warm when we woke up. I know Australia is known for its sunshine, but this particular morning had a wind chill close to (what felt like) sub-zero. Walking about a half a mile to the beach, Kavan and I pictured ourselves freezing to death once we got in the water, only one of being able to survive on the surfboard like something out of Titanic.
Once we got down to the beach we all (tried to) warm up and stretch out before a radical day or surfing. The surf coaches taught us the three steps to standing up on the board. First step is the “chicken wing”, where you bring your back knee up to the side of the board. Followed by “kick the soccer ball”, where you bring your front foot up to the front of the board and finally third, “stand up!” It’s a lot harder than it actually sounds.
After multiple tries, we were surfing! Paddling, standing, getting over waves, was a sure fire way of warming up. Out of around 80 attempts I stood up 20, which I’m happy about for my first time surfing. One wave in particular was my best, it wasn’t just white water in a foot of water either. This wave hadn’t broke yet and I rode it all the way in. I felt like the next Kelly Slater. It was the highlight of the weekend, too bad I didn’t get it on camera.
After a great weekend of surfing, camping, eating food and – of course – getting barreled, I would recommend surf camp if you’re ever in Australia. If you study at UTS they also include a hefty discount so make sure to look into it, plus you get a free shirt and trucker hat from Rip Curl! However, I wouldn’t recommend going in August; although it might be summer in California it is winter here in Australia and at 7 am it’s just a little too cold for my liking. I know, I know, I need to man up – but I can picture October or November being the ideal time to go.
Thank you for reading! And remember, you can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf!
Dillon Morgan is pursuing a bachelors degree in kinesiology. This fall he is studying functional anatomy, exercise rehabilitation and sport medicine at University of Technology, Sydney.