Week 39: Surfing at El Porto Beach
“The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” – Phil Edwards
What did I do:
Living in Southern California for most of my life with the beach close by you'd think I'd have tried surfing by now. No sir! I go to the beach often for beach volleyball, walks, and an occasional bike ride, but never surfed. That all changed this week when we called up One Wave Surf for an introductory lesson. It was a 90 minute class at the El Porto Beach which is popular amongst the surf community for its underwater canyon that creates larger waves than neighboring beaches in South Bay.
Who was with me:
My fearlessly fun friend Angie! She's surfed over the years and was willing to join me on this adventure. I am so glad she did. With anything like this, it's great to have a partner in crime for moral support.
What did I learn:
Surfer Mike, our instructor, was so knowledgable. He has been surfing since he was 5 years old and teaching for the past 16 years. Mike taught us that before even starting, surfers take into account the temperature, the winds and the tide. Our conditions were acceptable but not ideal. It was about 60 degrees, with an on-shore wind. This is the worst type of wind for surfing because it pushes the waves to break out all over the place. Earlier in the morning we had very high tides. The higher the tide, the deeper the sand bars. The deeper the sand bars the less they can elevate the waves out. The tides lowered by the time we started surfing and we ended up with 5-7 ft waves.
Mike also taught us how to defend our bodies against the water by doing up-dogs and push-ups on our boards. Then he went over a series of pop-ups: one, two or three steps. We decided to go with the two step pop up once we got into the water.
The ocean is so powerful! I am not a great swimmer and having Mike close by really helped. The first few minutes I was completely overwhelmed by the power of the crashing waves, the push-ups and board were my saviors. I tried several times to standup on my board and on one occasion I actually did it but fell off pretty quickly. For the record, I think I panicked and jumped off.
Also, when you are surfing and riding each wave, you get hit with a lot of water and it goes everywhere. It's not pretty because sometimes your bodily fluids come out with it. But in the middle of the pacific ocean, does it really matter?
Would I do this again:
Omg yes! It was really really hard but I also enjoyed it. I felt so alive, having to pay attention and stay present the entire time. I was humbled by the majestic waves and thankful for Mike being by my side. At some point I lost my board and had to swim back to shore. That was probably the most challenging part. I had to keep telling myself to stay calm. I have so much more respect for surfers. I always knew it was hard but didn't realize how hard until I got out there.