Sunday, 4 September 2011

A Day Off From Surf School

I took a break from my surf lessons today and after a hearty breakfast at Isabel's Cantina - the place was packed come 9.30am. They are such early risers these San Diegans; in New York we are more of an 11am brunch crowd - we took a bus to Old Town and then a cab to the Marriot on North Harbor Drive to pick up a hire car and then drove up the coast to visit La Jolla, Torrey Pines - where we stopped to relax for a few hours on the beach close to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography - up through fancy Del Mar, onto Solana Beach, through tiny Cardiff-By-The-Sea and finally stopping for a coffee and a snack at the Whole Foods in Encinitas before heading back to Pacific Beach for dinner at World Famous, which despite the popularity of the place - 45minute wait for a table - I thought was just okay. I much preferred the meals we've had at Cafe Chloe and Proper Gastropub in the East Village.

Anyway it was nice to take a break from surfing for one day as my whole body ached after two lessons, although the last lesson I had was fantastic, I really learned a lot. The school had assigned me to a different instructor on Saturday as I guess Ryder wasn't available, so I got Eli the lifeguard instead, who asked me what I needed to work on. After Friday's frustrating session where I could barely stand I was all about pop ups pop ups and pop ups.

Eli had a great eye for detail and gave me some good tips which improved things a lot, most significantly the fact that he didn't think I was 'goofy' footed, which is term used for surfers who ride with their right foot forward, apparently a less typical stance if you are right dominant, which I am.

"Who told you you were goofy?" he asked.

"Um, no-one, it's just the stance I defaulted to when I've popped up."

"Yeah, I don't think you're goofy, I think you're regular. This might be your problem. Let's try the leash on the other foot and pop up with your left foot forward."

I tried it and while it was weird after 5 lessons defaulting to having my right foot forward, it wasn't so weird that it necessarily felt wrong. He also taught me a different way of popping up which helped hugely. He said it's not about jumping up because that makes the board more unstable, instead I should "Push, twist, slide." So push up cobra-like on the board, twist my torso to the side I'm going to face while standing, but leave my hands on the board as I am twisted, it's kind of side plank-like, and then drag my front foot - my left foot in my case - forward into position between my hands and stand. Of course all that happens in about 2 seconds flat, but it really helped me to have it broken down like that when I tried to shift to surfing regular footed. I think the years of doing warrior ones in yoga make me want to default to having my right foot forward. The hardest thing for me is that you drag the whole side of your foot forward, whereas I want to lead with the ball of my foot. Eli's response to my doing that was, "were you ever a dancer?"

Apparently eleven years of ballet means that I lead with the ball of my foot, because my natural instinct is to be on my toes!! Hmmm!!

It was a very interesting lesson anyway largely because he had such a good eye for detail and was able to correct me more on what I'm doing wrong - surfing on the wrong foot, looking down at my feet too much to check positioning instead of forward towards the beach and not learning forward enough to weight down the front of the board, so many things - and I regained some of the enthusiasm I'd lost from Friday's lesson where I really struggled to stand, although Friday's instructor, Ryder, said that the conditions were really challenging even for more experienced surfers as there were 7-foot waves at Pacific Beach, much further out from where I've been learning the basics, but it's rougher water than I'm used to with strong rip currents and lots and lots of dislodged seaweed which gets tangled around my leash. Anyway I'm back with Ryder for my lessons on Monday and Tuesday, who is great, an incredibly sweet guy, although I did momentarily think about seeing if Eli was available again, but I don't think it would make much difference since I now know more about what I need to do, it's just practicing doing it.

My father on the other hand did not fare as well on his first foray into surfing. Despite being a strong swimmer and used to rough British seas he's pretty overweight and I think he underestimated how fit you need to be to surf, so he gave up on his lesson after about 30minutes vowing to get himself into better shape.

Exploring the USS Midway Museum.

A statue of Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous WWII victory kiss photo. I love that people's reaction to this statue is to re-enact the pose. You can see the couple of the left side trying it out

Watching the surfers and body boarders on the beach at Torrey Pines.

That's quite a large looking wave in the background. More advanced surfers were out there, but I could never manage to catch one of them in a photo before they wiped out.

Driving back down the coast along Highway 101

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