To put it kindly – I am not a natural-born surfer.
When Lets Go Surfing asked if I wanted to head down to Bondi Beach to learn how to catch some waves I gleefully said yes, but as the days drew closer I began to get a little nervous.
I’m not sure if it was because Bondi has the reputation for being the place that all pretty girls in their bikinis hang out – one-pieces are more my style – or because of my five-days of surfing failure during high school – my friends are all surfers who could catch waves with ease whilst I was left gasping for air each time I fell off – but the nerves had well and truly set in when the day of the class rolled around.
As the Sydney sky turned greyer part of me was rejoicing that I might be getting out of the surf lesson.
Yep, turns out you can still surf even when the skies are grey.
The team at Lets Go Surfing were so kind and within seconds I was laughing and joking, almost forgetting my nerves about heading into the sea.
Kitted out with a large yellow board – the ultimate accessory to pair with the thick black wetsuit and bright blue rashie (that is Aussie slang for “rash vest”) I was ready to meet the rest of the class and catch that illusive first wave.
Running through the basics with Anna, our teacher for the afternoon, I quickly learnt that surfing is a lot easier than 15-year-old Nicole remembered. The hard part is to be confident and fast enough to stand up.
Learning about ‘goofy’ feet, the proper stance, how to stand up (yes, there’s a special technique!) and even how to paddle properly, Anna patiently took the group through everything we needed to know… and then we were let loose into the water to put it all to practice.
Heading into the water my nerves came back to me, but also a sense of determination – I got this.
Paddling out I delighted in being back in the sea as the strong waves broke against me and I looked out for the perfect wave.
Spotting about 5 metres out I jumping atop my board and began to kick like a crazy woman. The wave picked me and my surf board up and I was riding to the shore. As my arm muscles propped me up ready to leap to my feet I realised that I couldn’t go any further – and like that I rode into the shore, laughing about how much fun the simple action of riding a wave in was.
And willingly, I picked up my board and went back out to try it again. My nerves had been washed away.
Time after time I just couldn’t get to my feet, the inner sensible Nicole telling me it was unnatural to stand up on a moving platform, especially when the sand was mere inches below me and I witnessed another girls board catch her on the head.
Again I tumbled off the board, was dunked by waves, but through it all I couldn’t stop laughing.
Being in the sea, surrounded by great people and with a lovely coach (if you get the chance I highly recommend taking one of Anna’s classes!) at the world famous Bondi Beach is just fun regardless of the outcome.
Many of the other girls did stand up and, despite only meeting an hour earlier, we all whooped and cheered each others achievements or came to make sure they were alright when getting wiped out by a particularly nasty wave.
Despite being from different countries – Australia, Germany, the USA, England – learning to surf led us to becoming a tightly knit circle, even if just for a couple of hours.
One of the things I liked about the surf lesson was that there was no pressure, except by myself. We very slowly went through each step – learning to lay on the board and get accustomed to how it felt, learning to stand up on the sand and the correct position, and then trying it in the water. By the end of the lesson I was somewhat confident that I knew what I was doing each time I paddled out and was happy to catch waves without waiting for Anna to come and help me pick a good one.
Whilst Anna helped me in every possible way to help me stand-up for a wave it was just not my day, but I’m already planning my next trip to Lets Go Surfing at Bondi Beach and this time I will be standing up no matter how long it takes to catch myself a wave!!!
Have you gone surfing before?
Did you manage to stand up?
Lets Go Surfing
128 Ramsgate Ave,
North Bondi, NSW
Phone: (02) 9365-1800
Not sure if you’re ready to surf at Bondi Beach? Perhaps kayaking on Sydney Harbour is more your forte or cycling through Manly – you can do it from the comfort of your home.
Get a sneak peek of 5 of Sydney’s top experiences by using the new 360˚ video developed by Visit Sydney, and you can even put your head in the game!
This trip was made possible with thanks to Destination NSW and Visit Sydney.
A huge thank you must also go to Anna, Wacca and all of the team at Lets Go Surfing for arranging the tour and helping me fulfil my dream of becoming a Pro Surfer… almost!
All photography is courtesy of Lets Go Surfing and used with their permission!