Being one of the ambassadors of the ‘Making Waves Global‘ I was asked to share my passion for surf to inspire more women getting into surf by 2020. To be exact 1 million women globally! Since there is a lot to tell I thought it would be nice to kick-off with my very first surf experience and the lessons I learned that one day. 

It has been ten years now since I had my first surf lesson. Yes, quite late -26 years old- I know, but you are never too old to start in my opinion! It was after a two months rotation in the Northern part of Namibia with my friend/co-doctor to be. After an overland tour starting in Swakopmund all the way down to Cape Town having my first sky-dive (!!), watching the sunrise from Dune 45, having a pitstop in Solitaire for their famous apple pie and camping nearby the Sesriem canyon, we rented a car to explore part of the Garden route by ourselves. 

As we only had 1,5 weeks left before heading home, we decided to drive just as far as Jeffrey’s Bay and back via Stellenbosch so we still had time to visit Robbeneiland and the Tafelberg. Jeffrey’s Bay is one of South Africa’s famous surf destinations hosting the annual Billabong Pro ASP World Tour at Supertubes in July. This year the finals got cancelled because of a shark attack on Mick Fanning. Luckily he emerged from the attack unharmed but obviously too shocked to continue the competition.
We were going to stay there for four days. After all the studying and traveling, it was time to relax. Unfortunately it was already quite chilly in May, so no bikini weather. Nevertheless, we had a fun time at the hostel and we decided to give surfing a shot as we both had never tried that before. And some experience that was!

Surfing Bretagne

Photos taken by my husband*

These are some of the hard lessons I learned from my first surf experience:
1) never take your first lesson when it’s very, very windy: your first surfboard is huge! Yes it’s easier to learn your first take-off on it being it more buoyant, but walking to the shore while the wind bangs on your board taking you from left to right looking like you are drunk, and trying to keep it in control is no fun. Your arms already get tired by the time you need to paddle out/in.
2) a ripped wetsuit won’t keep you warm, period! Even when your surfing instructor says that you’ll be just fine. Although it was sunny, it was so cold when I finally got out of the water.
3) talking about wetsuits: don’t put on a wetsuit that is too big for you. While paddling, water can come in and make it really uncomfortable to move or paddle, not to mention leave you cold in the end.
4) don’t go for your first surf when you have a hangover. I was pretty okay, but my friend wasn’t. And it doesn’t help either when you are tired…like very tired after two days in a row with four hours of sleep.
5) and finally: don’t think you can easily master even a small wave in Jeffrey’s Bay as your first surf in one day. Those waves have such a power. I was lucky to even háve a first take-off (attempt 500 of that day though).

But even though the circumstances were not ideal, I was stoked and wanted more. So when I got home I took my boyfriend -now husband- for our first official surf lesson in the North Sea and the rest is history. I don’t get to spend much time in the water like I used to in the beginning, but every time I get in I instantly relax. It’s a feeling hard to describe and even though I am not good (I am still stuck in the greens and practicing on my turns to my frustration sometimes) it’s my happy place, a feeling like coming home.

*The photos are taken in Brittany during a surf camp, since there was no one to capture our first moments in Jeffrey’s Bay.

To be continued…

The post ‘My first surf’ was first published on ‘Have a Swim in a Calm Sea’.

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