Today while working, I was a sharing with a parent of one of our young surfers what my first surf lesson was like. I remember mine like it was yesterday, but I thought it would make a good read..so here goes..
One of my favorite days of camp is Monday's, the Instructors go over all the 'must know' safety and procedures, they delve into the behaviors of our ocean and how to respect all aspects of her nuances and beauty, but hands down, my favorite part is when all our surfers get 'The Talk' about board surfing. They learn about paddling, position on the board, how to turn, how the board will behave in the water, and they get the first real glimpse of what it is going to be like out 'there' on the water. What is so fabulous about that first day is that I always remember my first day surfing, I was lucky enough to have a legendary Waterman do much the same for me.
Jeff Hakman, a famous Big Wave Surfrider and winner of more contests than I can name, was visiting from Hawaii and my Mom just went up to him and asked if he could help her young gremmie of a son (who wouldn't quit bugging her after I realized who was on the beach with us), unbelievably he said 'sure'. I was speechless and in total awe, I was being taught how to surf by Jeff Hakman! We went over all the stuff we teach and he shared stories, tips, thoughts about surfing and then it was time for us to 'hit the surf!'
I dragged my 12'6" 120lbs Dewey Webber surfboard to the waters edge, my head was filled with anticipation, excitement, fear, wonder and pure panic, but all I could think of was 'no worries' I had just spent over an hour on the beach with the great Jeff Hackman and I now knew everything I could possibly know about surfing and I was going to have the most perfect rides today and tomorrow I was off to Hawaii to win the next Pipeline Masters contest just like Jeff did.
Well, it didn't go exactly as planned...I don't really remember what happened, I think I drank a good portion of the Pacific Ocean, I had television-worthy epic wipe-outs, my arms were killing me from paddling, my eyes were stinging from all the salt water and I think I once paddled myself right off my surfboard while trying to catch a wave.
What I did remember, without a doubt, I had just had the best time of my life, I had 'surfed', if you could call it that, with one of my real-life heroes, my Mom was without question the coolest Mom on the planet, I had really no idea how to surf, my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing and Jeff Hakman was the coolest surfer in the universe. I never did win the Pipeline Masters, but for the past 51-years I have surfed all over the world, ridden anything that will float, and a few things that didn't, my cheeks still hurt almost daily from smiling and laughing and I am lucky enough to help other young surfers discover the joys of our ocean.
Surfing is a long, wonderful, exciting and amazing journey and experience and I love it!