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Learning to Surf in San Diego

Learning to Surf in San Diego

 

I can’t say surfing is something I’ve always wanted to do. Sure, I’d seen it on TV and in the movies, but living in such a landlocked community, I had never given the sport much thought. That perception changed, however, when my aunt traveled to Malibu a few years back and made it her mission to learn how to surf. She returned raving about the experience. I knew it was also something I had to try.

As plans came together for travels down to San Diego, I knew being right on the Pacific was going to be a great place to take surfing lessons. From speaking with local San Diegans I learned that most Californians are self-taught surfers and only tourists tend to take the surfing lessons. I was not insulted because indeed I was a tourist. There was no way I was tackling large waves without professional instruction.

After doing some research on surf schools in the San Diego area, I booked with Pacific Surf School: a business with a great reputation and located right on the beach! I was doubly impressed when I foolishly booked the lesson twice. Customer service was friendly and efficient in providing me a refund. I also choose Pacific Surf School because they offered the opportunity to book a photographer to catch the action.

Learning to Surf in San Diego
Photo credit: Adam Barber
Learning to Surf in San Diego
Photo credit: Adam Barber

Admittedly, I was a little lost trying to find their location. A tent with no signage set up on the beach with surfboards and wetsuits. I approached asking if I was in the right spot I was greeted with smiles and open arms.

I was fitted with a wetsuit, and met my instructor Sam and photographer Adam. Our first lesson: respecting the shaka. Hawai’i is the home of surfing and the shaka (the hand sign with thumb and pinky sticking out). The surf lesson was covered quickly and we hit the water. Or rather, the water hit us!

Learning to Surf in San Diego
Photo credit: Adam Barber

The overcast sky seemed to have a rough effect on the water making it difficult to push through the waves. I put Sam’s instruction to the test when we saw a clean break in the waves. As she let go, I heard her instructions: out loud and in my head from the dry land practices. PADDLE! PADDLE! PADDLE! UP!

Learning to Surf in San Diego
Photo credit: Adam Barber
Learning to Surf in San Diego
Photo credit: Adam Barber

The first, or rather, most of my efforts landed me bowled over by waves and sitting in the sand. Surfing was harder than I expected! Luckily, I had a patient and enthusiastic instructor who made it her mission to get me standing on that surfboard. If I fell over or magically stood up, Adam was on the beach catching the action. From the triumphant moments I stood on the board and the embarrassing spills (we’re talking face first in the sand).

Learning to Surf in San Diego
Photo credit: Adam Barber
Yup, face plant about to occur…

I have a huge appreciation for the sport and its athletes despite not being the surf prodigy. It was a tough workout on the lower and upper body. I can’t wait to give it another go, but maybe in calmer waters until I get my bearings.

Learning to Surf in San Diego
Photo credit Adam Barber

Would you try surfing? Have you been surfing?

 

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