The day after my first ever solo surf, I met up with Charlotte from Float Stories and her other half. We ummed and ahhed over surfing Fistral but it was a bit big so I suggested heading into Newquay bay for some smaller waves. Both Charlotte and I are self-confessed scaredy cats – comfortable out the back in about 2ft maximum but anything above that, forget it.
Still feeling proud of myself from my solo efforts, I was keen to keep the momentum going. I sensed that Charlotte is a much better surfer than me from what I knew, and one look at hers and James’ shortboards confirmed that. I usually get intimidated by better surfers but I wanted to learn from the experience and hopefully, it would encourage me to push myself beyond my comfort zone.
Nowhere to hide
By the time we got down to Great Western Beach, a mild sense of panic began to niggle. Some of the sets looked a little bigger than anticipated and there was pretty much no whitewater to hide behind. It was out back or nothing.
But the thing that really made me not want to get in was the line-up. Although there were only a handful of surfers, they were all really good. There were a couple of girls tearing up the waves and I felt I had no right to be there.
This was the first time I’d surfed with Charlotte. I’d been really looking forward to it and I didn’t want to bail so I nervously attached my leash and started paddling.
At first, I sat just inside but when it was obvious that a wave was going to land on my head, I paddled a little further out. And there I sat, and sat and let wave after glassy wave pass me by as I felt too nervous from a size and an intimidation point of view to go for it.
And then the line up got busier. By now, apart from the two girls who were incredibly good surfers, it was an all-guys field….and they were insanely good. Everybody in the line-up was a better surfer than me, and I felt I shouldn’t be there. Although I’ve never witnessed it, I’ve heard stories about people in the line up getting aggro around kooks, and the last thing I wanted to do was piss off Newquay’s elite surfers.
So I continued to sit. I took surf etiquette rules to the extreme and let waves go by completely unridden by anyone. I kicked myself as some of them were so manageable.
I wasted a ton of time just sitting there. Sure, it’s lovely to just sit out back sometimes but I didn’t go there to just sit. And by this time, the insanely good guys had caught loads of waves and you know what? They had their share of wipeouts.
Braving the line-up
I didn’t want to lose momentum from the previous day and I knew I would kick myself later if I didn’t at least try. I thought, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could just get one wave and sit amongst that line up?
So I thought f***k it.
I saw a set march in and watched as one of the insanely good guys took off. The other guys were further out and had all let the second set wave go. It didn’t look too steep so I turned and started paddling.
And I made it!
I didn’t bin it or look like a total kook. I turned around and looked back towards the line-up and no-one was taking a blind bit of notice. I fist pumped the air as if I’d just scored a 10 point ride, and enthusiastically paddled back out.
But this time, I didn’t stop just inside. I paddled right into the line up and sat pretty deep…and I didn’t care what the crazy good guys thought of me.
I began to feel a lot more confident, just from that one wave. I felt totally energised and full of adrenalin as I sat in the line-up, enjoying the feel of some of the bigger waves pass underneath me. I caught a handful of waves in the end, didn’t get to my feet on all of them but I had a damn good go.
Beyond my comfort zone
Whilst chatting to Charlotte I acknowledged that a year ago, I couldn’t even sit on my surfboard, let alone sit in the line-up and catch unbroken waves. I felt so proud of myself!
For the rest of the day I was totally buzzing and probably more so than on my solo surf outing. It reminded me of the day when I went to Watergate in shoulder high surf and got dumped on the head by a load of waves. The common denominator was being out back and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone
It seems that although I fear being in bigger waves and sat out back in the line up, I crave it at the same time. I just don’t get that same sense of adrenalin from surfing the whitewater anymore.
Something has definitely shifted in my mindset and it’s time to really push myself !