SURFING ISN’T AS EASY AS IT LOOKS ON YOUTUBE VIDEOS, AS KELVIN TAN FINDS OUT IN THE GOLD COAST.
Surfing isn’t as easy as it looks on Youtube videos, as Kelvin Tan
finds out in the Gold Coast.
My flight into the Gold Coast airport was a pleasure, as I enjoyed the extra legroom, having plonked myself down into a business class seat on a Scoot flight and slept like a baby throughout the night. Still, going through customs, waves of weariness came over me and all I yearned for was to reach my hotel room and crash.
But barely 15 minutes later, there was just no denying the sense of euphoria that swept through my veins as I stood in front of the roaring ocean on Greenmount Beach, with the waft of saltwater in my nostrils and sand between my toes. In contrast to most beaches around the world, Greenmount is located just minutes from the airport. You can see a steady stream of surfers hitting the water even while the planes are making their descent. I chose it as the beach to try to “hang ten” for the first time, as it’s the spot where the first professional surfing competition for the ASP World Championship Tour takes place every season. On top of that, some of my Australian mates who love the sport revealed that its waves are generally nice, gentle and rolling – perfect for a beginner like me.
Taking the advice of my buddies, I headed straight to Walkin’ On Water Surf School (www.walkinonwater.com) and found Jamo Borthwick, who has been operating on Greenmount Beach for over a decade.
After signing the necessary indemnity forms, he had me
suited up and ready in minutes. Together with 12 other tourists, we spent 30 minutes simply getting used to the key steps to catching a wave: paddling out with the surfboard to deeper waters, getting up on the board as the crest of a wave approaches, and balancing on it while trying to ride the wave back to shore.
Sounds easy? Not in the least. It became painfully apparent to me why most professional surfers have lean and trim bodies – just getting out to the ocean with the board is already a fantastic anaerobic exercise.
After wiping out on a couple of waves, I felt my heart pounding as I pushed and paddled my surfboard back out again, wondering to myself: How do surfers keep at this for the whole afternoon?
Perhaps one of Jamo’s trainers caught my tired expression. He gave me a typical Aussie pat on the back and said: “Head out there one more time, mate. Maybe this wave’s the one.”
Once more I paddled out, reminding myself of the key tips that would help me stay on the board: Pull myself up on it and lie flat moments before the wave comes, then rise up on my
“IT BECAME APPARENT WHY PRO SURFERS HAVE LEAN AND TRIM BODIES – JUST GETTING OUT TO
DEEPER WATERS IS HARD.”
knees as it hits, standing up only when I feel confident enough to balance. And keep my arms up for balance rather than at my sides, I mumbled to myself, looking backwards while holding onto my board, awaiting the incoming wave.
I could hear its roar as its crest approached. And with heart racing and ears ringing, I shoved myself on the board and paddled for dear life.
And as the wave hits, I leapt up with arms raised… and marvelled as my feet stayed planted on the board!
“Good one, mate,” my instructor bellowed as we high-fived after I cruised to the shore.
Good one indeed, I replied, and pushed back out for another wave.
There's no embarrassment in being a surf noob... yet.
Hamming it up for the camera while I catch my first wave after a dozen wipeouts.