I started thinking about learning to surf while I lived on Vancouver Island. However, the need to finish a thesis and my lack of natural insulation held me back at the time. When I arrived, bound thesis in hand, in Oz, with its warm waters, it seemed like time to give it a go.
When starting on any new activity these days, I think about maximizing my current set-up. As a less-experienced monopod I would try to make whatever I was using at the time work for whatever – biking, riding horses, climbing – but I’ve since learned that it’s far easier to think about the mechanics of application early on. I gleaned enough from watching people surf to realize that a foot fixed at 90 degrees was likely to get in the way when stepping through, and that balance was going to be critical. My solution was to take a shower foot (looks like a flat-bottomed plunger), get Evolv to put sticky rubber on its bottom, and voila, a beta-edition surf foot. Worth trying. And hey, it turns out that a foot without toes is better suited to walking in sand, too – an unanticipated bonus.
Of course, it is rare that a well-conceived plan unfolds smoothly. The sticky rubber surf foot worked great when I was on a foam board learning, but as soon as I stepped onto a wet, waxed, fiberglass board it would slip off like the board was, well, made of glass. However, after a couple of goes I was able to solve this little hiccup by putting a neoprene sock over the plunger foot.
There remains the ongoing challenge exposing an object held together by various bits of metal and adhesive to salt water. The adhesive is okay so far, but corrosion of the joints is an ongoing concern. Although they’re made of stainless steel, they seemingly hate the salt. As a stopgap, a few squirts of canned waterproofing protectant-type stuff helps a treat, as does an immediate post-surfing bath and regular cleaning and lubricating. I have hopes of seeing the release version of a dedicated ocean dweller in the not-too-distant future.
It’s easy to get discouraged by the potential for failure, and the fear that the mechanics just won’t work, a similar experience for mono- and bi-pods all over the bell curve, I suspect. As someone without much athletic… aptitude – it takes me quite a while to learn something new. I’ve decided to focus on learning to do things that I find innately compelling. The power of the ocean is palpable, and being immersed in it is totally consuming. The other side of the coin for me has always been the activity of running. I don’t run. I wouldn’t say that I’m unable to run, but I didn’t run after my surgery and when it came time that I was strong enough to do it again I needed to totally relearn the motor pattern. I’ve often thought it would be a good thing to do, but let’s face it; something being a “good thing” is never sufficiently motivating. I think I’ll stick to surfing, and hopefully stick to my surfboard too, for the next while.
Above are photos from a recent outing down the south cost. Please note that they do not portray with any accuracy the standing up success-to-failure ratio, and that the final photo below illustrates the stance most commonly assumed.