Learn­ing to surf at Yamba

The Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - CLAU­DIA TALON ● Clau­dia Talon is a Mel­bourne Univer­sity stu­dent liv­ing with fam­ily at Yamba over sum­mer.

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.sur­f­cam­p­dow­nun­ or phne 0447 693 863.

Photo: Surf Camp Down Un­der

WHEN IN YAMBA: Court­ney Ann at a Surf Camp Down Un­der event at Main Beach.

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