Saturday, April 15, 2006

Surfing 101

"Excitement is in the air." -- Chowking Fortune Cookie

Walking around Waikiki beach in Hawaii, I found myself in front of a stand which offered surfing lessons for $30.

While $30 is chicken feed for most Americans, the poor Thirdworldian known as Soloflite was vehemently resistant to paying this amount. Truth to say, I enjoy watersports a lot-- windsurfing, wakeboarding, kayaking... but one thing I havent really tried was surfboarding and I had hoped to learn it while i was in Hawaii.

So torn between stinginess and excitement, i decided to just play it by ear (and Chowking's advise) and asked the girl manning the stand about who would be the best teacher in their group.

"That'd be Gill over there" She pointed to a well-weathered Samoan guy wading on the beach. "He's like a legend here. He started surfing when he was ten and he's like fifty now. He even taught Frank Sinatra how to surf!" she continued with reverence.

Ah yes. Good ol blue eyes. What a reference. Too bad he never was known for surfing... Still, if the surfers see him as their Yoda, he can't be half bad.

So I walked over to Gill, who was coaching some young-uns and asked him a few things.


"Thats uncle Gill. Anything I can help you with?"

"Yeah. Im considering a lesson. Can you give me a good reason to take it?" Yes, I talk like this.

"Man, you are in Ha-Wa-Ii! You come here and you no surf, you miss the whole point." Words of wisdom from ther surfer Yoda.

"And would it be worth my Thirty bucks?"

"Well, if you want to learn, learn from uncle Gill. You're surfing in one hour or I give you your money back. But then, ive been doing this for over thirty years and I still havent given anyone a refund."

"Good enough. When's your next lesson?" I asked.

"I just finished my last class. Anytime you're ready."

Just then I noticed a couple of scantily clad japanese girls lining up at the booth where I just came from. (Yeah, I do notice these things a lot)

I quickly elbowed Uncle Gill. "Oh yeah... Make sure they sign up for the same class."

"No you worry! I was just thinking the same thing." And with that he rushes off to the shack telling the girls the same "You are in Ha-Wa-Ii and thus you must surf with Uncle Gill" stuff he told me.

I liked him already.
Now, for those unfamiliar with how surfing is different from WINDsurfing, here's a quick primer.

Both sports use a board. Windsurfing boards have a Sail and uses wind power to move you around very fast, depending on wind speed. Surfboards dont have sails because it expects you to ride on waves .

It is at this point that i would like to note that waves are usually larger when the water is SHALLOW and there are some stuff (like corals and rocks) forcing the water to break.
This of course means, that in general, because of those waves whacking you into shallow rocks and corals, making mistakes while learning to surf is going to hurt. A lot.

Of course, I only realized this vital piece of information just as we were starting the lesson.

After successfully getting the scantily clad japaneses girls to join us in our class, Uncle Gill gave us all surfboards and demonstrated the proper positions. Once we were all sure of what to do while on the surfboard, he started the lesson in earnest.

Uncle Gill was a good instructor, and within the first couple of tries I had the whole surfing thing figured out.
1. paddle towards a "good spot" (in my case, next to a scantily clad japanese girl)
2. wait for wave. (or flirt with scantily clad japanese girl)
3. paddle.
4. paddle harder.
5. when on the wave, Stand up.
6. surf/Try not to fall off
7. Fall off and hurt yourself on the corals. Rinse the blood off and repeat.

Good surfers dont usually reach #7, but ironically, mediocre ones can reach it without even going thru the other six.

Once I got it, I talked to Uncle Gill again.

"Okay. I was standing up. What's next?"

"You surf."

"I did. You saw how much paddling I did to get back here?"

"Oh yeah, sorry was distracted by scantily clad..."

I cut him off before he was distracted again. "Well? Whats next?"

"That's it. You're a surfer. Uncle Gill Certified." He even pats me on the back.

Pause. "That's It? I paddle 10 minutes to surf for 1 minute?"

"Yep. And if you want, you can try bigger waves. Much further from the beach though"

"More paddling?" Emphasis on More. And Paddling.

"Much more. Why do you think surfers all have big guns?"

"How about all these cuts and bruises from the corals?" I pointed to my knees, my legs and feet which were by now a bloody mess.

"You get used to it."

It was then that, Soloflite the surfer vowed never to surf waves again and to reunite with his board and sail in Anilao...

And so whats the moral of this story?
It's hard to flirt if the chick doesnt understand english.