A couple of weeks ago the surf went pretty flat in Cornwall for a prolonged period. It can be frustrating when all you want to do is get out there and practice whatever it is you’re currently working on with your surfing.
For me, it’s water confidence which is the biggest thing that holds me back. Before my first surf lesson 6 years ago, I had never swam in the sea but with surfing more regularly and time spent in the water, my confidence is slowly starting to build.
To keep the momentum going and maximise my surf sessions, I made the most of the flat spell and paddled out at my nearest break. I nicknamed it a ‘kook session’ because to those who know what they’re doing, it’s probably a waste of time but for me it was invaluable.
Here’s four ways that paddling out on a flat day benefits me:
Increased paddle fitness
Since leaving my full-time job and building up my freelance content writing business, I can’t afford a gym membership so I need free ways to work on my fitness. What better way to build up paddle fitness and stamina than to actually paddle out on my board in the sea? It’s free, it’s in the natural environment in which I surf, and beats repetitive lengths up and down a crowded swimming pool.
Increased water confidence
As I’m still not confident in heading too far out to sea, I set myself an initial goal of paddling out a certain distance. I use a marker like a specific point in the cliff and then aim to go a little bit further out each time and build it up in small increments.
I still get a bit freaked out when I stop and think about deep water underneath me so by paddling out on a flat day, I can feel more comfortable without having to also navigate waves crashing down on my head!
Correct board positioning
Until recently, I really struggled to even sit on my board without tipping off it or feeling like I was wrestling to control it. I also hate the fact that I still wade out, rather than paddle out with my surfboard and stop pretty much at the point where my feet can still just about touch the bottom.
Flat days are an ideal time for me to practice sitting on my board, and go from a prone position and back again like I would after a paddle out to the line up. I also practice turning the board back to shore and getting back to prone position and pretending there’s a wave coming. The more I do this, the quicker I get and so when I do it when the swell picks up again, it feels more natural.
Practising mindfulness and meditation
The sea is the one place where can I switch off, empty my mind and just be in the moment, surrounded by mother nature. But I don’t usually sit still enough in the sea to let my mind rest for a significant period of time. There’s waves to ride, the line up to navigate, distracting shouts and whoops from other surfers, and people and surfboards to be aware of.
Sitting on my board on a flat day with so few people in the sea, I can close my eyes, do some deep breathing and a bit of meditation to help regain focus.
I can also just be, take in the sight, sounds and smells and appreciate how lucky I am to live so close to the sea.