Surfer Girl

Why is it that guys come and sit right next to you?  This is something I’ve noticed more and more throughout the phases of surfing.  

First off you have the I don’t have a clue phase.  You have a massive board that you have to drag across the beach and bloody hurts when it hits you in the head (because it will), as you try to stay alive in the white water.  At this stage, everyone avoids you, and your board. 

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Then theres the green wave phase.  So you’ve done your time in the white water and you need small green ways to progress, which you still ride straight down the face as opposed to along the face.  You can get out to the line up on those smaller days which means you’re sitting with people who can surf.  It doesn’t matter what size board you’re on here, you can’t help but be in the way.  You end up too far in or too far on the shoulder and you just get in the way of other surfers.  Also you can’t duck dive at this point, so you throw your board because you can’t do anything else with it when a wave comes at you… so you get shouted at by surfers because its unsafe.  And if by some miracle you do catch a gleaming green wave, you head straight down the face of it, probably dropping in on someone so you get shouted at, or you went straight so you’re right in the impact zone, and in the way again with more shouting. 

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If you’ve stuck at through that and come out the other side then well done!  You’re on a shorter board now which you’re getting to grips with.  You’re starting to duck dive and nailing it 50% of the time and getting nailed the other 50%.  You’re sitting on the edge of the line up and taking any little scrap you can get and you can actually ride along the wave in a straight line.  You don’t get shouted at as much, winning.  This is a long phase, keep going. 

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Then you get to the phase where you feel you can handle yourself.  You are confident in watching conditions and are happy to go out by yourself, and know your limits.  You can surf ok, know where to paddle out, where to sit, catch the waves you go for, do some turns and little re-entries, duck dive anything within reason, never let go of your board, avoid people when on a wave and kick out when you need to, you’re in control most of the time, yay!  Welcome to my phase.  

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This phase seems to come with a groupie or two, or five.  Either I’m one of the first ones out and so I’m in the right spot so its inevitable that a crowd will form around me within 30mins of paddling out.  Or if its busy, I’ll go and sit off to the side of the pack and wait for the clean up sets which leaves me with a clean empty open shoulder to hop onto. Either that or I’ll go and sit in-between peaks and usually smaller waves roll through between sets that I’m happy to get, I’d rather keep busy and get 10 smaller waves in an hour rather than one big one.  The main thing here is that I don’t surf enough to feel super confident to sit in the pack and hassle a load of guys and really good girls… If I go and sit on my own I catch one wave and then boom, there are three guys right next to me within 10 mins.  I asked my friend about this and he had a pretty good reason.  If he saw a girl sitting on her own, catching waves, he would go sit next to her because its easy.  A girl stereotypically can’t be catching difficult waves and guys love to hassle girls (they do in my experience).  So its an easy option, waves to be had and only one girl to hassle equals lots of waves for the guy that sits right next to me. 

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So what do I do?  If its a surfer and they sit in priority, I paddle round them, if they paddle round me I just do it again to let them know that I know what they’re up to.  And if they drop in on me, I drop in on them.  If its a beginner, theres not much you can do apart from stay out the way of their board and shout when they drop in on you, or sit the other side of them so you can have the open face.  I went and sat on my own away from the pack in mediocre waves so I wouldn’t have to hassle; I hate this form of surfing but I hate that they think I’m and easy target more.  Its supposed to be fun!

I clearly need to get to the next phase which I’m guessing would be to grow a pair, sit in the pack and hassle.  Any advice on the next phase welcome…  Just leave a comment!  

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S U R F T R I P

SONY DSCSo I thought I’d write up a little surf trip summary.  We only headed out to Portugal for a week this time and we took our friends with us who have a little girl (nine months older than Ethan).  We rented a three bedroom house with a view of three different breaks which was awesome as we didn’t even need to leave our pad to surf check, major bonus when the rain was hammering down sideways.  The weather sucked most of the time, a bit of rain and a lot of wind (between 15 – 30mph) as its quite late in the year, but there was plenty of swell around so we were happy.  Actually some days, the swell was too big so we had to find sheltered breaks where the swell had to wrap around a point or headland… so we did just fine.

It was great having friends with us because we had buddies to surf with.  Usually, Jon and I take it in turns while the other one looks after Ethan, and sometimes its cool to surf alone but when its busy and everyones hassling, I like to have a wingman with me.  Also they’re long boarders and no one gets in the way of a long boarder… their board is bigger and hurts when it hits you, (they also must have caught about a million waves in the eight days we were there).  Also, Ethan had a buddy to play with and they kept each other amused most of the time which was great.  They played on the beach, in the house, in the cars, watched cartoons, ate meals together… they had loads of fun 🙂

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we went to Nazare and saw Garrett McNamara and team tow-in surfing which was crazy!  I have no idea what size the waves were but Magic Sea Weed was reading 18-28ft with only 4mph winds… whatever size they actually were, they were friggin huge.  Major surf trip highlight.

The food and drink was great, we cooked up lasagnas, chillies, seafood dishes, all washed down with Portugal’s finest beer, Sagres, and local Port.  Delishhhh.  We ate once the kiddies were in bed so we could eat, drink and be merry in peace.  We even had date nights!

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The surf was good.  We were really lucky and had some really great waves.  Jon and I had one surf out in the middle of the bay – no idea what the break’s called but its always bigger there than the other ends of the beach.  You surf check it from up on the dunes so it always looks smaller than it actually is.  It looked clean and plenty of a-frames so we paddled out.  I’ve had many different experiences here because its so open, the rips are all over the place, the impact zones are horrible and the waves are powerful (well, I think so).  This time we paddled out and there was only one other guy out.  I got a couple of lush rights, nice, chunky and powerful and way over my head on the bottom turn, epic rides.  On my third wave I cocked it up and ended up straightening out so I got stuck in the lovely impact zone which seemed as wide as a football field.  After a few waves on the head, I duck dived another one, the board hit me in the face (got a nice shiner on my cheek), bent me in half backwards then my board got ripped from my hands, I had no idea which way was up.  I opened my eyes to see which way was lightest shade of green and started swimming.  I was done after even more waves on the head, and aimed my board towards the beach and clung onto it as a wall of white water hit me.  Gotta love a good beating!!  Its the oceans way of telling you not to f**k up and also to let you know she’s still boss.

Overall it was a great trip, filled with loads of food, drink, laughter, surf and sleep, we all wish we had gone for longer.  Roll on next year Portugal! 

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