Once a wetsuit is on it seems to shrink. Getting it back off to make adjustments was difficult but after some contortionist moves I was out, it was turned around and worked much better with the zipper on the back. The next problem was actually getting zipped up in back. I will just say that I have a greater appreciation for my wife and all women who zip up their own dresses in that impossible spot between your shoulder blades.
If the front of the suit had included a white chest I would have looked like an Admiral penguin as I waddled out to meet the surf crew. A couple Velcro straps later I was completely fixed in my suit. To their credit my surf friends all stifled their laughter. I passed my glasses of to a friend who had already been out and was now staying on shore and staying dry. It made seeing the surf more difficult but it meant I wouldn’t see the smirks on the faces of people walking by me on the beach. The first part of my lesson took place on the beach where I learned where to position myself on the board and how to jump to my feet as the wave grabbed my board. Later I realized Andrew was being very generous at this point as it was extremely unlikely I’d ever get to my feet and in my case I only got to the point of trying to get to my feet a couple times out of several rides on several waves.
We walked out and I got pounded by the surf on the way out. I looked over at Justin who was sitting on his board the cool way surfers do as they scan the horizon for the next big wave. I asked him, “When do I get to learn how to sit like that?” He said, “…um, not sure.” He was being nice. The truth was, “Probably after you learn to actually lay on the board without rolling off before the wave gets here…”
Andrew stood beside me and steadied the board as we waited for a set of waves that would bring one good one I could ride. Finally it approached to the cry of “Woohoo!” from the crew. I learned “woohoo” means – “here comes a good wave, don’t miss it!” Andrew told me to start paddling and I did. Then he shoved me forward to keep me in front of the wave that was swelling and grabbing the back of my board. I felt a bump and all of a sudden a rush and my board was zooming ahead. I struggled to get up and get my feet under me and in a split second I was under the water next to my board being pounded by the wave I’d just been riding. At that moment I drank the first litre of sea water I would swallow that day. If drinking salt water has any health benefits then by the end of the day I was destined to be the healthiest man in Canada.
The next couple hours were a repeat of this process – over and over and over and over.
I can honestly say it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time.
Getting out of the wetsuit proved harder after it had gotten wet. The water had also created a new scent to the suit as it now smelled like the urine of a 100 men who’d surfed before in the same wetsuit. I was exhausted and struggled, flopped, flipped, slipped and banged against the change room walls. The grunting, groaning and laughing I was doing to get out of the suit was probably R rated for those listening outside my little change room. Eventually I got myself out, dressed and said good-bye to the crew and headed out to meet the elusive Donna.
There were pictures but I’m hoping my team of lawyers will be blocking their publication. They are already talking to the guys at facebook to make sure their publication is banned there. Let me just confirm I looked like a doofus but there was no doofus anywhere in the world having more fun than me that day.
I WILL be going again and I can’t wait for my next chance to hit and be hit by the waves.