Surfing isn’t standing

So you’ve booked some surf lessons and joined a group of 10 other students, all eager to fall in love with the sport while acquiring the physique of a Greek god.

I’m going to cut straight to it and tell you why you’re not surfing anymore. Or if you are the 1% that persevered, why after 10 or more lessons you’re still not surfing as you imagined.

It’s a misconception that standing up on the surfboard is surfing. To prove my point: the world champion

bodyboarder doesn’t stand, neither does a kneeboarder or paddle skier. What they do all have in common is the ability to navigate their way across the open face of a wave. This is the essence of surfing and the reason they all wake up at the crack of dawn on the coldest day of the year and paddle out in what looks like death-defying seas.

Yes, standing up on a massive soft top heading straight to the beach in the whitewash is exhilarating at first as there’s a sense of achievement. However, this is far from the essence of surfing and pretty soon, boredom will set in. You are also jumping the gun on the process of learning how to actually surf.

If done properly, you can get a true taste of surfing during your first lesson, whether you’re 6 or 60. In the right conditions with the right instructor, you could be standing in a short space of time, flying across the open face of a wave heading into a new chapter of your life.

If you’ve done a trillion lessons, I suggest you do the following on your own during your next session.

Pick a day when the wind is offshore and the waves are small enough for you to get out to the back. I recommend Muizenberg with nothing smaller than a 9-foot board. Now, when you catch a wave, don’t stand up! Instead, turn the board by leaning your weight over to one side. If you nosedive, it’s because you didn’t turn enough. Make sure you turn enough to stay between the top and bottom of the wave while navigating across its open face. Once there is no more open face, don’t keep riding in the whitewash but rather jump off, paddle back out and try again.

Only once you feel you have mastered this navigation, after 10 or more successful rounds, should you stand up. Turn the board lying down as before, and once you’re moving nicely across the face of the wave, do your pop up.

Remember: If you are too eager to stand up, you will just delay your progress. Trust me, to the other surfers, you look a lot cooler surfing across the wave lying down than standing up and going straight to the beach in the whitewash.

To book a group or individual surf lesson with Luc van der Walt, visit The Surf Guru on Facebook