You cannot camp at France’s west coast and ignore the hundreds of surfers. So far, I have been fine watching them admiringly, enjoying the views at well defined muscles and that was it.
This will change now.
When sharing my holiday plans with Jan (thank you!!), he advised not only several spots and villages but additionally came up with the surfing question. And slightly, the question became a plan: If not now, when else? Furthermore, it is such a logical next step, after the skateboard lessons that I took in spring time.
So here I am, forcing myself into my old neoprene wetsuit, facing my first surf lesson. Without rational reason, I am even nervous before it starts, but this will pass as soon as we begin. Vincent (sprich: “Wönssong”) does not only own the Alternative Surf School at Vieux Boucau but also happens to be one of the top 5 surfers across Europe and is willing to nudge me into the waves. Oh, I love working with the elite.
For a well reasonable price (5 lessons, 90 minutes each = 155 EUR) Vincent shows me how to face the waves, how to handle the board and how to change between lying / face up for the cobra / standing and falling on and of the surfboard. He knows well how to structure the training and works like a wave dompteur.
We start slowly with little waves and I enjoy it instantly. It is fooling around with the waves like children do, but then advancing to the next fun level, using the green-blue water for acceleration towards the beach. I hardly notice what happens, but suddenly…
Slightly an hour has passed when I have the first, totally unexpected success: I manage to stand up on the board and ride with the wave for at least 3 seconds. It is so cool, that I jubilee a loud “yee-ha” over the beach, being instantly less cool probably. I don’t care, it is just soooo great!!
Afterwards, I am full of adrenalin, endorphins and all other positive chemicals that flow through my vanes. Obviously I spread around good mood, for when I get back to the camp site, still fully dressed in my neoprene suite, the workers from the construction site next door give me some admiring whistle. Everybody that crosses my path will be told about how fantastic it is to learn surfing. I welcome the muscle soreness and look forward to my next lesson tomorrow. Out of the blonde nothingness, a song line comes up:
The tide is high but I’m holding on
I’m gonna be a number one
I’m not the kind of girl
Who gives up just like that
Did I mention that I might welcome the muscle soreness? Stupid idea… On the second day the water playing fun continues, now more and more often on top of the surf board and riding along towards the beach. However, I have the slight doubt that the steering wheel has some kind of defect with an obvious tendency to the right part of the beach. Might be due to uncontrolled weak muscles from my side anyway, but who am I to discuss such technical topics?
I am happy that Vincent slightly takes over the hard parts like pushing the board against the waves, offering me water taxi service and whatever else it takes to ease the training. Consequently I can focus on the core exercises like jump on the surf board and find my inner and outer balance on top of the ocean.
Today, my shoulders and arms feel much better. As long as I do not try to lift the arms, that is. The sky is bright blue, no wind disturbs the sun and the perfect beach day comes up with gentle waves of just the right size fort today’s practice.
Already the first round is good enough for pictures of the 2016 surfer queen: I manage to get on top, stand up and ride the wave until I reach the beach.
Further highlights follow when I manage not only to stand on the board and let the waves carry me towards the beach, but also to control and change directions left or right. If I trust Vincent’s statement (and sure enough I do trust my surf teacher), this is not very common on only the 3rd day.
Meanwhile I become more and more familiar with my surrounding: Vieux Boucau is less famous than Hossegor, but it has a pretty good atmosphere: the surfers all know each other and respect each other, people are friendly and beginners will receive encouraging smiles from other surfers. Moreover, the village contains some older / original parts and thus the place is more than just a tourist hot spot with a beach (once your are here, be sure not to miss the markets).
Perfect beach weather welcomes us back at the ocean with neat little waves. Today we will go “outside”, in French: au large. It means that I do not start on the sand bank, but beyond in deeper water. From there, the hardest part is to estimate the right wave and the right timing for standing up. All the rest is crawling and paddling and waiting for the perfect wave. And a quick jump. Theoretically.
Due to perfect conditions, we stretch today’s lessons up to nearly 2 hours and I enjoy the sensation of speed and playing with waves on a slightly longer board (however, no real long board yet, but approaching higher aims). Minute by minute I look less silly on my surf board than on the pictures we had taken on day 3, while Hector now claims to be a “Surfmobil” just as all VW Bullis around.
At least one surf day is yet to come, but already now I am proud and enormously happy. I enjoyed every second of the new surfing experience and, last but not least, it proves once more that you can do whatever you want to – any time, any place. Just do it.