Surfing Chronicles: From beginner to “poo-man” stance and beyond.

As some of you may know I started teaching myself to surf a year ago. And today I watched this great clip on YouTube by Ali Abdaal on blogging: (Don’t worry the title is a bit misleading, I’m not concerned about the money, but the idea behind what he blogs about)

Blogging for interest’s sake:

In this clip Ali talks about the experience of when he had the idea of starting a blog. He discusses how he was afraid about the repercussions of creating a blog – things like future employment and what people would think of the work he published. Similarly I felt the same sharing many of his fears but what I found out was that when I eventually did decide to start this blog I used it as an outlet to express myself.

I use this blog to allow myself to communicate thoughts and views on things I am going through. Things that are hard to grasp and conceptualize in my head, but that I can come here to pour out into words, whatever they may be. Things that you dear reader can share and hopefully use in your own journeys.

And I realized that over the years this blog has become a place I can come to when I need refuge. A place to unwind, to think, but also to share. And looking back on the things I have written here, I’m truly grateful I kept up with this writing that even though I shared similar fears that Ali did when he started out we both found something meaningful in being able to share our thoughts.

But through the years I have also gained insight from writing here. In the video Ali shares his mindset about what he did when he started his blog, after overcoming his trepidation in the beginning. He started his blog documenting about the everyday things and what interested him in the day to day. And I think a lot of the writing I put up here is personal to me, but at the same time I also want to add more to the content I post here. There are things that I want to share that interest me, things that I want people to read about and go, ‘Hey! I would love to try that!’ or ‘That’s pretty interesting maybe I should read that book or play that game.’

So this post is me blogging about one of my interests and I thought I would start out with my new found obsession that being surfing.

Which as you can see I take very, very seriously…

Boards, boards boards:

So I’ve been living in Bali now for more than a year with my girlfriend and having grown up near the ocean I’ve always been involved or surrounded by the sea but have never been able to get the chance to surf. So when I moved here I decided now was the time to take the plunge so to speak and try not to drown in the process!

Over the months I have been teaching myself to surf slowly, progressing from mini-mals (a surfboard that’s in between a long and and a short board usually longer than 7ft but smaller than 9ft as seen below ala Green Guppy. You never forget your first I tell you!) to a shorter board.

The Adventures of Veronica and the Green Guppy -batteries not included.

I have now progressed to a shorter board that I find fits me really well. It has more volume which basically means from what I can figure out is that its harder for it to sink and makes paddling way easier. It’s funny when you start off surfing you get thrown all these new terms like stringer and volume ect. But most of that stuff still makes no sense to me, I just get in and hope I don’t drown, easy right!

Look at her! Isn’t she just so pretty! I named her Luna aka the best board ever, aka a thicc bodiced board who knows how to turn on any wave aka the fishiest fish ever.

Sunsets and not drowning:

So in the beginning I started surfing Kuta beach which for those of you who don’t know is a lekker beach to chill on that is generally swimming friendly and good for sunsets. Starting here really helped me get my bearings for popping up and getting the feel for waves. If you ever visit you can easily walk along the beach with a number of local instructors to choose from, or if you don’t want an instructor you can rent boards and leashes at reasonable prices as well.

You jelly? You’re jelly.

Also if you get the chance head over to a beach bar called ‘The Deck Bar’ they are the best! Super friendly, cheap beer and coconuts and if you’re lucky they may even teach you some great swear words in Bahasa -you know the essentials-

The Deck Bar… Do it!

Not drowning but with more pizazz:

After a few months I progressed to Berawa beach where the waves are a lot more curved. This was quite a challenge because the placement of your feet becomes more important as you pop up. I found that repetition is the best teacher here. Eventually your body starts to automatically move to where it needs to. Another good tip is to pick the waves that you can look at and feel comfortable with in size. If you arrive at a beach and look out at the break and think nope nope nope, then chances are you probably aren’t ready for those sized waves yet.

Berawa Beach notice the position of my body.

As my confidence started to grow I started to appreciate just being in the water. A lot of surfing can be very anxiety inducing. Many people out there are very intolerant of beginners especially when you are trying to figure out what priority is and who has right of way.

It’s the little things out there, cool fingers and the soft swishes of waves, its own kind of peace.

Tips on how not to piss off the locals:

Even now, a year later, I still hate fighting for waves because there are too many people in the water, so it just becomes a free for all. Best thing you can do in the beginning is ask questions when you are in the line up and be careful of your positioning when a wave is breaking. Getting in the way of someone trying to catch a wave really pisses people off. But it happens so if someone shouts at you don’t let it bug you. On the flip side if someone has caught the wave and is riding along it, it’s their responsibility to move around you so if they hit you that’s on them. The only time you really could be in trouble is if you’re dropping your board when a wave comes especially as a long boarder. If you find yourself surfing on a longboard please keep in mind who is where, because if you don’t then well I hope you have cash to pay for medical fees because there is nothing more dangerous than being behind a long boarder who drops their board going under a wave! Seriously… nightmares. Like final destination log falling off the truck nightmares!.

Progress in the ‘Poo-stance’:

So finally we get to where I am now. The biggest tip I can give from this experience is to get someone to film or photograph you during a few sessions if you feel like you can’t get any better, it really helps. Being able to critique yourself and see how you stand and move are the most useful things I’ve been able to do moving into more ‘advanced’ surfing maneuvers. This is me last weekend in Medewi. -A wonderful surf spot up the west coast of Bali-

Heyyyyyyy it’s me! Look at me go! Go me go! Woooo!

I realized having watched myself how proud I am with the progress I’ve made. I’ve taught myself up from white-wash up to 5-6ft waves and in doing so have found a hobby I would be happy doing any week for the rest of my life. But there is always more to improve. I now find myself critiquing my pop up and stance and find myself losing power as I bottom out the wave. So if you are like me and are unsure what to do I found these handy little vids that I’m going to try out this week.

Check your pop up, you might be lagging or even chicken winging!

This one discusses pop ups and why you might be lagging as you go down the face of the wave which I find myself doing frequently.

Ahh yes the infamous poo-stance.

And finally this video talks about stance and how to generate power when you pop up on your board. It’s all about compression and how you move your body when standing. And having never seen myself on camera before I never understood how important moving during your ride was, hence why I ended up in the stance so aptly name poo!

If you need good tutorials How To Rip and Kale Brock are really good resources on YouTube. I would highly recommend them.

Goodbye and thanks for all the fish:

I hope you enjoyed this post of me sharing something really close to me. I hope you read this and thought, “You know I could do that!” And most of all I hope you read this and gained something from it, even if it was something small.

Because this post is more than just learning to surf. What I really want to show in this post is that having surfed at least once a week for the past year is that it really is indescribable being in that water. You may catch a lot of waves, you may even catch no waves in a session, it doesn’t matter, being out there and appreciating the ocean and the things you can see are worth a paddle out every time. I’ve seen turtles, sting rays and fish jumping out of the water right past my face and every time I go out I have no idea what to expect but I do know I can’t wait to get back out there.

May you be blessed with good waves and all the sea turtles you could ever see!

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