Surfing, the surf culture, the sport, the people connected to this specific sub-culture, the codes of surfing, the clothing, the back to the roots energy around the surf culture are just a few of the images that come to mind when thinking about this amazing sport.
During the month of August 2018, we decided to take a trip to the canary islands, in Fuerteventura, to learn how to surf.
This is the beginning of the story of a 12 day retreat in a fantastic location nearby Corralejo.
We arrived on Monday 6th of August, after a chat with Nathan & Chloe, the owners of the Wave Rider surf villa to sort out the final details the day before, Gill came and collected us in Fuerteventura Airport.
The scenery is stunning, sand dunes, rocky formations, turquoise water, white sands, a touch of indian ocean in the middle of the atlantic, with that smell of holidays kicking in.
Reaching the Wave Rider Surf Villa in Corralejo really brought everything together. Chloe & Tamsen their 7 year old reminded me of the scuba diving years in Mallorca, seeing my now 17 year old daughter Sam running around and having fun on the beach, and we were shown around the house, the various spots and how the jacuzzi worked to enjoy relaxing evenings. We met Nathan later during the evening after he returned from a surf session with other guests of the villa.
Time to mingle, meet people from the wave rider surf villa, connect, and enjoy a good meal before hitting the pillow for our first surf day the next afternoon.
Day 2 – First surf lessons
Now to say the least, surfing is difficult, fantastic feeling but difficult, and as everything in life worth achieving, it takes dedication. a few days in now with 3 lessons, i’m slowly getting up, but it’s a fantastic feeling.
The wonderful thing about the classes are that we are getting to know the people a bit more, we see them succeed, get up, discover green water, overcome their fears, and to me at least, seeing them get up is as much of a thrill than me getting up on my board, it’s beautiful, it’s really a sharing and caring community.
Learning about waves, breaks, rip currents, reefs or beach reefs, the lingo of the sport, priorities on the wave, the position on the board, from James brown to Jackie Chan, and practicing it on land, then on the waves is just precious and I feel grateful to be able to do this with Sam and with the others of the group.
Growing into learning how to surf is not just about the surfing, although we might see it as a very chilled sport, which it is, preparation and finalising the surf session are just essential, and it takes personal involvement to help the group bind together.
The basic principles of surfing
Basic things such as trying to be independent about your own wetsuit, t-shirt, leash, suncream and water not to be forgotten are essential, not having to depend on Nathan, and have a full feeling of accomplishment.
Once on site, surfers help get the board off the roof, lay them flat facing the wind, and off we go for a surf session of 2 to 2.5 hours feeling our core muscles all the way. Nose dives, washing machine wipeouts, water in the nose, tumbling and back we go again, too forward on the board, too much on the back, forgetting to paddle, up ? no… face down, back again we go ! that’s all the challenge, and the pride when we get up even for 2-3 seconds the first time, an incredible feeling of achievement.
Closing the day
Time to go back to the wave rider surf villa, we collect our stuff from the beach. Pick up our boards, and we are supposed to help put the gear back on the roof. Giving the boards a good sand wipe will make them last longer, preventing large scratches, and with rubbing, the sand could damage the foam or the fiber-glass on more advanced boards. Hop go the boards on the roof, and we’re off back home. The final run is ensuring our gear is clean and ready for the next sessions. Everyone should come back and clean their wetsuit, their t-shirt and leash, as it’s part of the things you would do with your own gear, or a rental gear, to make sure you can surf with it for a while.
Rinse the sand off, store it to dry, and ready for the Jacuzzi or Yoga Session and a great meal either at the villa, or in town where a few great tapas and fish restaurants are available when you get out of the touristy strip.
Now, without further ado here is a selection of pictures from the first few days, and i’m looking forward to sharing more during the next few days.
Day 4 – Frustrated but keeping it up !
After 4 days of surfing, I’m still not totally getting up in white water. Frustrating as it may be, it took me a while today to feel happy with where I was. 43 years old, learning to surf, even though water is my element it is clear that I had for too long overlooked the building and maintaining of my core muscles. The push-off is really tricky, it takes going smoothly, even with 90kg pushing a foamie.
Be Gentle is the trick, one step at a time. Paddle whilst looking up, toes on the board, push chest up, back foot in position, front foot in position, glide…. (or wipeout in my case !).
The great thing was to see Sam get up on every single wave, and the others, christian, Iven, Janet get their waves, build their skills, and make it a great day.
The good point is that I have now figured out with the help of Nathan and another surf school instructor on the beach who saw me and gave me a few tips too, what the problems were… Now i’m trying to implement changes, but tomorrow is another day. Issue one – I’m facing the beach with my body, like a cyclist, and even my years of snowboarding are not helping. Issue two – I’m getting up too fast (even though i’m still not getting up according to my standards) – Issue 3 – I’m trying to force it. It’s like in trading… don’t force a trade, don’t force business on someone, and don’t force things to happen or they won’t. A life lesson from the ocean today.
A few more pictures to celebrate this ode to surfing and this new and outstanding experience.
Day 5 – Almost a breakthrough
For this 5th day surfing, Sam and I were privileged to share our session with Alex and Nathan. Back to El Cotillo, the northern beach with great winds and stunning waves. Whitewater on a long distance, extremely powerful waves today, with long surf thrusting along the shoreline.
Cross currents and a riptide were part of the conditions to help us learn something new during this new session.
Alex being quite experienced, with 12 years surfing experience, went out to catch some green waves, and his knowledge of surfing came in extremely useful as it took a lot of patience to catch beautiful waves in a nice way, whilst quite a few surfers were facing wipeout after wipeout, and boards were flying above the waves.
On our side, Sam and I really were privileged to have some 2 to 1 time with Nathan, correcting our movements, position, placement, and more. We started with a sand drill for my position and push-off, which worked better than the previous days. I am now getting to understand my mistakes, figure it out a bit more, and attempt as much as I can to improve my position.
My main problem is placement, legs towards the back of the board, and facing the beach, as if 10 years or more of snowboarding didn’t seem to help.
Sam is getting the grip of it and it’s beautiful to watch, catching those waves one after the other, getting in there even when it was really tough and strong, and asking for more. Really proud of her.
The other instructors on the beach are always really friendly towards beginners, sharing tips when they see a point to correct too, so it really makes it a beautiful experience.
On our way back, after chipmunk friday, we hit bakery saturday. A lovely french bakery with a nice latte, a nut, salted caramel and chocolate brownie and chocolate croissants in Lajares to end the surfing session, and back to the villa where we enjoyed the cleaning of the gear with a chat, and a relaxed time before most probably hitting the 38° Jacuzzi to soothe these well worked out muscles of ours.
Day 6 – The Green day
After a nice break on sunday, relaxing in Corralejo, going for a little walk and mainly relaxing in the Jacuzzi, enjoying a sleep in and making the most of doing absolutely NOTHING, it’s time to meet the new crowd coming in the villa and get to enjoy another day surfing.
I would not have minded going out tomorrow to be honest, it feels like something is missing when we are not surfing, the place is really made for that, and it gives a slight pinch when we can’t enjoy getting a bit of wipeout daily !
Today was an amazing day. We met up at the villa with Gregor, an instructor working with Nathan for classes, Gregor is from scotland, and has always been into water sports, nature and surfing, and his tution was outstanding.
We started off with some basic explanations for the newcomers, getting to know each other, then headed out to El Cotillo as the winds were allowing us to go there. Once on site, we found a crazy spot with nobody there, like we were 8 on a beach stretch, and seriously… that’s priceless.
Introducing the winds, waves, effects of sand breaks, and deciding together if it was a good spot (even if we all know it was going to take place here, it brings independence). and down we headed to the beach.
Basic check of the gear, checking the Leash, the fins, the board, and a warm-up before hitting the water with Sam whilst the others were learning the basics we had done last week.
Now… what happened… I GOT UP ! and sam pursued her amazing rides, and Gregor took us out on the green waves, you know those super cool waves ? yeah those… small ones obviously for our level, but he helped orientate the board, get us up on those waves and the feeling is just… unbelievable.
We paddled a lot, got a few wipeouts, got up a few times and learned to look at the waves, decide if we were up to taking one or if it was going to be too big for us, wait, paddle, paddle, paddle, recover from paddling, face the wave, and go, down we go, glide, and for sam a few attempts to turn.
The newcomers, Alex and his wife, Janire were learning to white wave and he took them on mini greens for Alex, so it really gave them a great kick for tomorrow.
On the other hand, Alex from England was enjoying a well deserved and beautiful session with Nathan, on a one to one, to close his trip and they were on another dive spot. The smile on alexes face when he got back said it all. He has now left the island and it is with a pinch that we said goodbye, but i’m sure we might, some day, catch up as the vibe really went through.
Enough talking… here are a few pics, once again no water pics as the Fuji X-H1 doesn’t have a UW housing, but I hope you’ll enjoy the series.
Day 7 – Pain kicking in
After 7 days of surfing, the body is starting to take it’s toll and call us upon reason. We are loving our classes, and for myself, know that I might need more than 1 week to achieve getting up or surfing, but for sure i’m pursuing, liking the feeling and appreciating what i’m trying to accomplish.
We discovered an amazing place today, Playa de Jarugo, in the area of « montana de las brujas ». A pristine, totally untouched beach, with the specificity as some others of « no mobile coverage », and no lifeguard. Meaning it’s a place where we sure must go with a team and people who know their stuff.
Short waves, beautiful but really hard to take, a nice rip current in the center, and a short period, fast repetition, breaking a bit out off the beach.
The body didn’t want to hear much from Sam, Myself and Janire, we really felt like it was really tough today. My arms were popping out of my shoulders, Sam could feel her back, and her arms, and Janire could not face the push-off. So we did more of a relaxed session instead of really risking serious injury by forcing it.
I was trying to paddle to get greens and whites, but things were not seeming like friendly to my way of surfing (ie. I suck but it’s ok… i’m learning, so not blaming the waves, it’s really me).
Rich from the UK was with us for a nice surf ride, Alex was doing his first lesson, and Alex from Russia & Jana his girlfriend were getting along and pushing their limits, and it was really cool to see everyone evolve around this area a bit more.
Then back to the villa, and a really nice meal in « la mamma » a great parrilla from Argentina.
Check out the new stuff, it’s getting closer to the water !