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surf lesson

How to get your surf stoke back

By March 26, 2017 Surf more, Thoughts
How to get your surf stoke back

I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later because everyone loses their surf stoke at some point…right? Or is it just me?

That’s right folks. I’ve well and truly lost my surf mojo. It’s taken a hike and it’s somewhere in the wilderness.

After a great start to the year, getting back into a fitness programme and going on about my winter surf goals, my stoke just woke up one day and said ‘nah..can’t be bothered with this anymore.’

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The next level

By August 18, 2015 Escape, Surf more
Photo courtesy of Checkered Photography

Photo courtesy of Checkered Photography

I think it’s fair to say that I have reached my comfort zone when it comes to surfing. I can catch waves, get to my feet (although not by the correct method) and ride the white water til the cows come home. I have fun, which is what it’s all about but I want to take my surfing to the next level and to do that I need some help.

I also want a different perspective. I think it’s great to mix things up a bit and you can learn so much from different people. I was keen to get the input from a female surfer who understands the issues that women surfers have especially with confidence.

For me there was no better person to do this than British pro surfer Corinne Evans.

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Plateau

By November 5, 2014 Uncategorized
Dawn patrol - some nice lines at Saunton on day one

Dawn patrol – some nice lines at Saunton on day one

Last week I spent 5 days in North Devon. It had been 6 weeks since my last surf so I was looking forward to an intensive few days of surfing.

Studying the tide times in advance, and taking the local ‘Eyeball’ surf report into account, we got up early each day to catch the mid to high pushing tide at our favoured break of Saunton. Here’s how it went:

Surf session one

Waxing the boards for session one

Waxing the boards for session one

We left the caravan at dark ‘o’ clock and watched the sunrise as we waxed our boards. We were amongst the first few in the sea and were greeted with about 3ft waves, fairly strong cross onshore winds which made things a bit messy. I missed the first couple of waves and thought I was in for a howler but I found my rhythm and got some nice long rides. The sets were coming through consistently and there wasn’t much time in between waves.

A slight rip made me nervous, and although the waves were allegedly only 3ft, they seemed a lot bigger. I chickened out of trying for green waves and practised in the white water.

As the tiredness crept in (due to lack of sleep and lack of stamina), I noticed that I got slower and slower at getting to my feet.

Surf session two

Session two - time to try the new wetsuit, more about that soon!

Session two – time to try the new wetsuit, more about that soon!

2ft and fairly clean. I got a little more confidence back so went for the green waves. I caught a couple but because I’m still using my knees to get to my feet, which slows me down, it also causes a moment of almost ‘what do I do now oh my god I’m going to wipeout’ panic and so I freeze on my knees. The result is actually quite funny watching it back on my action cam. There’s a look of ‘oh shit’ on my face before going under.

Generally, a better surf than the previous day as I felt a bit more confident. Stand up ratio is 8/10 today but I look slow at getting to my feet and my paddling still needs a lot of work despite the fact that I now raise my chest off the board. Still tired due to a disturbed night and my lack of surf fitness (which I’m working on and will take time) really shows.

Surf session three

Post surf, session three. Was knackered at this point but still smiling!

Post surf, session three. Was knackered at this point but still smiling!

Early doors again and three surfs in a row is really catching up with me. I’m knackered! 1ft, clean and fun today and this is the best session out of the three and sods law, I decided not to bother with my action cam. My stand up feels a little bit quicker and its a 9/10 ratio but its still on my knees. It’s got to be a real habit now and maybe I’m using the lack of upper body strength as an excuse. It’s easy to get to my feet using knees and I guess I measure a successful session as to the number of waves I’m up on my feet and riding them all the way to the shore line.

What’s going on?

I had a great time during this trip but when I think about how I felt when I was riding those waves, and looking back on the footage since, I didn’t get that amazing feeling of stoke like I used to – the adrenalin rush at the thrill of catching the wave and the amazing pure bliss feeling.

I came to the conclusion that perhaps I have reached a bit of a plateau and that I need to challenge and push myself to the next level. To do this though, I have a few things I need to do:

  • Give myself credit. I put way too much pressure on myself to be a half decent surfer and don’t look back at just how far I have come this last year, despite injury and personal set backs. My stand up ratio has dramatically improved, my balance is better and although I still feel slow at getting to my feet, eye witnesses tell me that it is much quicker than it was before. I also have to bear in mind my surf instructor’s words back in August at how far I had come despite being landlocked. It’s an achievement I don’t give myself enough credit for.
  • Keep up the fitness. My stamina levels are still really low and if I want to make the most out of a session, I need to do all that I can in between surf trips
  • Keep motivated. Living miles away from the coast is hard, and I have questioned if all the fitness is worth it for the amount of times I surf in a year. I need to keep in my mind how knackered I feel after just an hour in the sea, and remember that shortboard that I would love to be able to ride and prove a few people wrong
  • Keep the faith. Stop thinking that I’m too old/past it/landlocked/should have done it years ago. I CAN and I WILL do this!
  • Work on my confidence. I hold myself back in the sea. I am still wary of it and the recent tragedy in Mawgan Porth really affected me. Maybe its time for another lesson to help build up my confidence and look at ways at which I can take my surfing to the next level.

I have got my third session with my trainer tonight. It’s cold and its dark, and I’d rather stay in and watch a surf movie. But watching Kelly Slater surf isn’t going to help me to improve.

Time for another kick up the ass!

 

Breakthrough…

By August 5, 2013 Escape, Surf more
Stoked! Getting ready for our surf lesson with Pete from KingSurf

Stoked! Getting ready for our surf lesson with Pete from KingSurf

I have had in my mind for weeks now what I wanted to write in this blog post and so here it is…in all its glorious Technicolor truth….

I DID IT!!!!!! I stood up….not once, not twice, but about 12 times in total – I wasn’t counting in the end, but my other half was. And to top it all off, I was actually riding waves!!! I even managed to turn a couple of times, although purely accidentally!

Last week, me and the other half headed to Mawgan Porth where my surf journey began 3 years ago. The place where I had my first surfing lesson and now, after hard work and determination at the gym, I was treated to a private couple’s class with Pete the head coach at the brilliant Kingsurf.
Feeling tired after the journey from the Midlands, I summoned strength, determination and a resolve of ‘it didn’t matter if I stood or not’ and headed to the beach. Pete ran through the 3 techniques for standing up (straight pop-up, knees and army crawl) and having being told that going onto my knees didn’t matter, I decided to stick to that method for now.

After the first few attempts of trying to stand too quickly and raising my hands up in the air (instead of staying low and keeping the arms low), Pete pushed me onto a wave, I caught it and slowly but surely, stayed low and rode the wave in for about 20-30 metres. I was totally stoked and felt absolutely exhilarated. I was standing and recapturing that magical feeling that I had 3 years previously!!! I turned back to look at Pete and Ste (still standing) and shrieked with joy waving my arms in the air. I had done it!!

When it happened a second time, I thought, cool – wonder if I can beat my record of 3 times from the previous lesson? Imagine my amazement when it happened 4, 5 times, 6 times 7 times….!!! I started to believe that I could actually become a surfer. I cried with happiness and relief because I had done it.

So, what did I learn from the lesson? An incredible amount and I also realised that a lot of the things that I do when landlocked have made a tremendous difference. Here are my surfing mantras (well, they work for me

  • Make sure you have the leash on the right foot (I had it on the wrong foot – doh!). Why I thought I was a goofy foot I will never know – Im a regular foot (left foot forward on the board) which makes sense as my left leg was always my strongest when I was dancing
  • Stay low and don’t rush to stand up
  •  Once kneeling (if that’s your preferred method), use your fingertips to almost push up (and keep those arms low!!)
  •  Enjoy it!!! Even if you wipeout and swallow a gallon of sea water
  • Be patient and don’t put pressure on yourself to stand up
  • If you are going to surf regularly, get surf fit! I can’t emphasise this enough. The gym has made a huge difference to my stamina and I wasn’t even tired after the 2 hour lesson. 6 months ago, it was a different story
  •  If your balance isn’t great, use a bosu or indo ball, or, go skateboarding!
  • Practise your pop-up on dry land – ok, so this is not technically my mantra, but it has helped my other half loads and he was standing from pop up lots during the lesson. Tip – use a yoga mat and put a piece of masking tape down the centre to mimic the centre line on a surfboard (if you don’t have your own board). It’s something I will be trying once I have built up my upper body strength a bit more
  • Have a surf lesson, especially if, like me, you have been having limited or no success at standing up. The instructors can get you back on the right track and it can give you a massive confidence boost when you stand up! The guys at Kingsurf are amazing and I would recommend them every time!

 

So, I did it, I stood up. And if you read my blog regularly, you will know that I promised myself the amber nectar if I managed to stand up……my own surfboard!!

Find out more about that in my next blog post J

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Catching my first wave

By January 9, 2013 Escape
Kirsty Surfing!

First surf lesson

Cornwall, 2009. My husband and I spent a few wet and windy days camping on Bodmin Moor (why?!). The one day it didn’t chuck it down, we headed to Polzeath – the sun shone and it was a beautiful day. Whilst on the beach, I sat watching all the surfers and bodyboarders and it was then that the seed of an idea that maybe, just maybe I might try surfing someday started to grow. I was suddenly struck by how amazing it was –  being at one with the sea, popping up onto that board and riding the magic carpet. It was like a thrill ride and I wanted to get on it!

There was something about the whole lifestyle too. I had always loved the care free, laid back vibe of coastal surfing towns. Nobody cares what anyone looks like – you can walk through the high street in your wetsuit and flip flops and no-one bats an eyelid. It’s the norm. I loved the surf shops too, with the clothes that you can’t get back home, the smell of the board wax, the chilled out tunes peeling out from the speakers and the stunning arial cutback shots on the DVD playing behind the counter.

So in 2010, my husband and I stuck to what we love and headed to Cornwall for another summer holiday. Destination this time (no tents involved!) was Newquay – surf capital of the UK and what better place to take the drop?

With nervous trepidation, I booked in for a surf lesson. I had some idea of what to expect – a couple of hours body boarding the previous day had served as a useful and fun icebreaker. I was amazed by the speed at which I had managed to catch some waves and ride them all the way into the shore. I was exhilarated, but I wanted to try the real deal!

The surf lesson began with a safety talk – a bit about the beach, areas in the water to stay away from, what the flags meant. And then the bit that nearly sent me running back to safety – there has been some sightings of basking sharks the previous day! Harmless I know but I’m not sure how I would have reacted if I had been faced with a fish the size of a double decker bus!

After running through the ‘pop-up’ technique, it was time to hit the water and attempt to catch some waves. I was spurred on by the fact that Pete, the energetic and super enthusiastic instructor, had guaranteed that he would have all of us standing up by the end of the lesson.

It took a while, and the thing I struggled with most was turning the 8ft foam board around in the water and hauling myself onto it, limbs aching from the previous day’s bodyboarding. But the thought of that stand-up guarantee was at the forefront of my mind and finally, I did it! Not once, but three times in total and rode a wave all the way to the beach (and I have proof!). It was like nothing I had ever felt before. The fact that I had overcome my nervousness of the sea, had the lesson without the accompaniment of my husband, stood up on that board and ridden the magic carpet.
 
I had done it, and I was totally hooked!
 

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