Finally! I got back on a surfboard - albeit a 9ft Alder foam longboard - for the first time in 14 years. I'd arrived at Compton a little early, having finished work a bit quicker than I thought I would, but that was no big deal because I had work phone calls to make and also have something to eat.
The surf was around 4 or 5 ft high, with 11 second intervals and there were plenty of surfers, including bodyboarders, out. I grabbed a couple of photos from the car park.
To cut a long story and one or two kooky errors (kook ups?) short, it was harder than I remembered but, after being knocked down by deceptively powerful waves a few times, it all came back to me, especially how hard paddling for a wave is, and how hard it is to get out beyond the white water. I didn't paddle out today, I was just shattered wading out to chest height and catching waves from there - I still missed loads - and my feet got battered by the rocks (I have surf boots which I will dig out for next time). You may think you are reasonably fit - I can do 40 lengths of a 25m pool - but you have to be even fitter to surf properly. There's only one way to get fit to surf and that is to surf more. I got caught inside and rolled over by larger waves a few times, but I don't mind that.
The main thing is though...I CAN STILL STAND UP! I can't pop up as easily as I could 14 years ago but that is because of being out of practice for that amount of time, and it will come, but I can get to my feet although I fell off rather more quickly than I'd like. I also need more practice with balance but, again, that will come. It will be easier on a hard surfboard, rather than a foam one, as hard boards are more stable and I found the foamie rocked from side-to-side too easily. But today was about getting back onto a board, any board, and getting the feel of it again.
I really need a day where the surf is nice smallish summer waves, rather than the largish swell of today. It was mushy but powerful, not clean and all over the place. Even Chris, the instructor, described the surf as 'challenging' and he'd initially been afraid it was too large but, even so, it was great to get out there again. I am bloody knackered and my left shoulder, knees and back muscles hurt, my feet are sore from the rocks and my eyes are sore from the salt water (but I am pleased not to have stepped on a weaver fish) but it was worth it.
Where did I leave that stoke 14 years ago? Ah right there, there it is! I am hoping to go again next week, if conditions coincide with being able to dump work for a few hours.