Surfing. It’s a mindset. The ability to throw oneself into the cold cold water, even though you are far more comfortable when dry. The mental strength required to squeeze your tea (or coffee) warmed body into a skin tight black tube and ignore the fact that you’re about to douse yourself in enough saline to clear your sinuses for a month — that’s hardcore.
If you’re already good at surfing, then presumably the mental speed bump is less — at least you know that, although wet and cold, you’re going to carve up a few waves and look good doing it.
When you’re a crap surfer (like me) going surfing requires far more mental effort. Squashing myself into a full length wetsuit is something I hate only slightly less that peeling myself out of one. I become enraged and shouty, tugging at the entire garment as it grips my ankles and refuses to let go. When you’re a crap surfer, you know all that awaits you is a single shining moment of glory as you drag yourself upright and shoot toward the shore. This is followed by many failed attempts to recapture that magic, your arms becoming more and more like overcooked pasta.
Meanwhile, dudes start walking down the beach to where the break starts. I’m not talking about sinewy young guys with straggly hair. I’m talking about the short back and sides or shaved crew — with torsos like T-bones, day jobs as tradies and upper body strength to burn. They’re often going grey, but this only adds to their cool. Vintage surf cred oozes from their dinged up old Mals. They don’t swagger through the shallows, they just stroll. These guys can do a push-up on a pinky finger.
My upper body strength is overcooked tagliatelle. Theirs is more your high grade teflon, or maybe carbon fibre. The guy that walked past me today even looked kind of bashful in his 1mm thick singlet top, tattoos decorating his sculpted shoulders. We nodded at each other. He looked strong. Me? A piece of seaweed. Watching him paddle out to catch a wave made me want to stamp my feet in frustration. He didn’t even PADDLE, he just put in a couple of gliding strokes and was suddenly where he needed to be. Like magical magic.
Then, of course, he did the casual swing from horizontal to vertical, and cruised his way down the wave until it evaporated, whereupon he jumped off and did it all again. My own efforts, in comparison, are like the flapping of a non-sea creature trying to get the hell out of the wetness by any means possible — namely, the surfboard. Like a cat that’s been dropped off a boat. Finally making it on to some kind of solid matter and instantly pretending that nothing whatsoever has ever gone awry.
My problem lies with my lack of upper body strength. Even when I do catch that one penultimate wave, the effort I’ve put in to hauling my 62kg into an upright position and balancing there for a few seconds wipes me out for the next 15 minutes. I think those big wave surfers should donate their jets riding lackeys to help the newbies like myself; those that have the passion but are handicapped by their lack of shoulder strength. Imagine how many waves I could get if I had a jetski pick me up after each wave and take me gently back to that sweet spot where I could just hurl myself on to the board, paddle thrice, and be upstanding.
That’s what is missing from my surfing experience. My own personal jets wave chauffeur. And an encouraging sponsorship deal from Rip Curl, obviously. When we were sailing over in Vanuatu we met Yani — a crazy hot surfer, who’s sister is just as good and sponsored by Billabong. I looked her up on Instagram [100k followers] — she is a riveting combination of hot babe and hot surfer and thus is occasionally to be seen in its bitty bikinis more beautiful than you could possibly imagine (all made by Billabong, obviously).
The only safe place for bikinis like that are under the airlock, skin-tight neoprene of a wetsuit — otherwise they’d be gone in the first wave. Then imagine how many more followers she’d have! (See that mindset I have? That is what would happen to ME on the first wave because I would fall off IT and it would fall off ME. I am the Celeste Barber of surfing… and sand dunes.)
There was a woman at the beach today walking along with a surfboard back from the break. She was wearing a black bikini. That was it. In addition, her bikini top was strapless. STRAPLESS. A bandeau. How could she ever think that might work out? But obviously it had. I wanted to applaud her as she walked by, but my arms were too floppy.