FUN IN THE SUN
Learning to surf at Yamba
I NEVER thought of myself as a city kid. Even when we lived in Melbourne, we weren’t in the city but the eucalyptus-lined Peninsula where the sea was a tamed bay of beach box houses and gentle breaks.
But I remember coming to Yamba for the first time, surveying the waters, and finding the surf set-up intensely more thrilling than the cold, flat waters of home.
My grandparents’ next-door neighbour was a big lanky guy who’d go off for an afternoon surf while I crawled under the wire fence and played with his daughter. I was a Melbournite kid hooked on surfing from the beginning.
But, I have something to confess. It is embarrassing and, perhaps in Yamba, a dirty secret. The truth is this: I don’t surf. I have never surfed. And the worst part? I’m one of those people who sometimes pretend that they do.
Last November, when I was in a dingy hostel in Prague, I decided it would be a good idea to pretend that I did surf. The next bad decision came moments later when, as I was professing my love of surfing to an Englishman, another Australian joined the conversation and I had to make some lame excuse about needing the bathroom.
Couldn’t they have shown up after I’d wowed the Europeans with my impressive tales of surf and sea triumph? Apparently not. They wanted a chinwag with me about boards and surf breaks. I had to escape.
There is something beautiful and elegant about surfing. Local beaches just wouldn’t be the same without the men and women who dance on waves and make it seem effortless. And while I’ve always wanted in on it, I’ve never taken the plunge.
But last Saturday I took my first steps into the world of surfboards and wetsuits and early surf rises. Surf Camp Down Under coach Shayno Sutherland ran the 6am girls’ group lesson I attended, and despite my morning fatigue, it was well worth it.
We suited up and learnt the basics in the sand and headed out into the water. Shayno was funny and patient and helped me catch waves. Of course, surfing is much harder than I could’ve imagined, and while I did swallow a ghastly amount of salt water and my muscles ached by the end of it, I was pining for another round.
“Teaching people to surf is truly the most magical feeling in the world. You can be having the worst day and as soon as you are on that wave, everything becomes timeless,” Sutherland said.
“Surfing is a way to challenge yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
“Traditionally, surfing was a heavily male-dominated sport, but the girls’ classes (we) run are a great opportunity to not only increase the number of female surfers but empower them as well.”
“I can surf!” I said brightly as I got into the car after class, but my sister just looked at me and laughed. “You need another lesson,” she said. In short, I’m still very much a “kook”, and Surf Camp Down Under has not seen the last of me yet.
To find out more about Surf Camp Down Under’s lessons and surf-giving charity events, go to www.surfcampdownunder.com or phne 0447 693 863.
WHEN IN YAMBA: Courtney Ann at a Surf Camp Down Under event at Main Beach.