The Surfing Addiction

Adapting well to the surfer lifestyle. Complete with surfer dog

Surfing is a tough sport. It takes strength, stamina, and the patience of a wildlife photographer.

Paddling out to where the waves are breaking is among the more challenging aspects of surfing. You’re stiff and dehydrated from baking on the beach and your eyes are just starting to adjust to life without sunglasses. You move against an onslaught of breaking waves trying their best to intimidate and drown you. But with the leash wrapped securely around your ankle, you continue to find the surface with a mouthful of sand and a nose-full of salt. You soldier on, reassured by the knowledge that millions of people are full-on addicts of this sport – there must be some pleasure to be had.

As a beginner, my underdeveloped shoulder muscles ache by the time I reach any surfable area. But I know that this is just the beginning of a lengthy test of arm endurance. I constantly have to fight the current that wants to sweep me to the other end of the beach. I fight to stay in position, trying to catch the right wave at the right time while also staying out of the way of the leather-faced surf pros.

I try my best to be friendly with the more experienced surfers. After all, I wouldn’t mind being integrated into the chilled out, surfer lifestyle (and become a leather-faced pro myself).

I wave, they take one look at my rash guard (cotton t-shirt) and extra-long rental board, and give me a look that says “stay out of my way”. But I’m sure this negative attitude is isolated because how can someone who uses “rad” and “tubular” in their daily lexicon be unfriendly?

The next challenge is watching the waves and knowing which ones are worth the effort. You have to check for oomph (whether the wave can power you forward) and curl (whether or not you’re in the right spot where the wave is going to curl). On average, every 15 minutes I find a wave that is right for me. As it grows behind me, I lay down on my board, look straight ahead, and paddle like my life depends on it. As I feel the wave catching the board underfoot, I push down, find my centre of gravity, and stand up.

Most of the time, I’m either too far forward, too far back, or the wave is just not right and my moment of surf glory/ecstasy ends within seconds. On those rare occasions, however, when I find my balance and ride a wave all the way to the beach, you wouldn’t be able to smack the smile off my face.

And it’s those moments when I understand how this sport, through all the struggles and effort, can be so addicting. After an hour of being beat up to get that one good ride, I’m all the more “stoked” to get back out there and try for a second.

Surfing happens in the most beautiful settings.