Can a beginner learn to surf with a shortboard?
To start surfing with a 5’10 shortboard is not easy, and if you look at it, starting surfing with any kind of board is not easy. Of course it all comes down to your background and ability to learn new things.
What made it easier for me is that I have boardsports background, snowboarding, skateboarding, kiteboarding, wakeboarding and some windsurfing. This means I have the balance and understanding in going sideways on a board.
After getting to Bali, Indonesia I took it easy for a day or two and then I took 2 lessons, just to have someone to see if I’m doing the basics right.
For day 1 of surfing I had a medium size softboard on the first lesson and I caught 5 out of 10 waves and one all the way in to the beach. And even if I was out for the first time, we went out into the real waves, not the beach whitewater where most people start.
So now I had some feeling and had some basic touch for being out on the waves on a board so for day 2 I had two sets of learning to surf. Around noon I went out alone and took my own custom surfboard by Pinguino Surfboards, out for a spin, I got up for just a second or two while paddling back to the beach, you can read about the first time out of my board and connecting to the souls of the sea here.
Later the same day I got me second lesson again with the medium size softboard to practice some more and again I caught most waves with the bigger board.
So now I had the basics down, had been out paddling with my own short board and it was time to start practicing.
For practice I chose a more challenging spot, Berawa Beach, which has only beach breaks and every wave break in a different spot and on top of that, the spot does not really have a channel to paddle out so even if I knew it would be tough even just to paddle out I wanted to do it this way so that I would learn to paddle and duckdive in more difficult situations which I knew would help me down the road.
Day 3, 4 was mainly fighting against the waves and trying to paddle out through breaking waves.
Day 5 I had big progress, I finally got through the breaking waves and was out for the first time waiting for some unbroken waves with my own board. Caught one but could not get up properly so I surfed the wave with my back foot in it’s place and my arms keeping me up where my front foot should have been and my front foot was just riding along.
Day 6 I had more progress, still getting out through the breaking waves without a channel was tough and on 2 first sets the waves were just throwing me all over the place and I sat on the beach for a while after getting back out for the third set, I got out, totally dead. Caught an unbroken wave but could not get up so I just bodyboarded all the way in.
Next step was to practice duckdiving both in the pool and through the rough breaking waves on Berawa Beach and more paddle and balance practice in the waves. This was what I did for day 7 and 8.
Then, sometimes you just know, even before you get out that it’s going to be a great surfing session. I had just gotten back from my adventure, Boldy go where noman has gone before. When I got back to my AirBnB place Villa Sungai (I will write more about this amazing place later), the owners where just about to go to the beach and said the wind was going down so the waves would be great. I said that I would just get my board and hit the beach.
When I got to the beach I just somehow felt good. I paddled out which was the easiest paddle through the waves so far, somehow everything just clicked. Then I saw a wave coming, which looked good, I tried to get it but it wasn’t big enough and I just kinda let it go, but then it happened.
It’s funny how I just felt it, even if everything happened really fast, the wave that was coming just felt good. I don’t know why or I can’t explain how I just knew it. I turned, started to paddle and just let go of everything and went with the flow of the ocean and just let it take me wherever it wanted me to go without fighting against it. In that moment I felt like I had connected with the soul of the ocean and my gut instinct told me to just take a couple of paddles and get up and I did.
I was up, I was surfing. I can still feel the moment and the feeling when I just let go of everything and the emotion that got out. I didn’t surf all the way with the wave, for that time it was enough to just connect with the soul of the ocean.
I paddled back out, I didn’t even try to catch anymore waves, I just sat there on my board and felt tears coming. That moment, I had done it, I had let the Big Fish take me on a journey that was just beginning.
It took me 9 days to catch a wave with my own board. You can read all about why this journey was and still is important to me in my earlier text, the Big Fish and the moment of eternity, and you will understand more why learning to surf has so much emotion in it for me.
Thank you for reading and I hope I have inspired you with my stories and I hope you come back again for more inspiring stories from Indonesia and my life.