An absolute beginner's guide to surfing


Surfing in Muizenberg, Cape Town

How to get this right in seven easy steps

1. First, rent a wetsuit
It restricts your movement and makes even walking more difficult. 

2. Then rent a board
Pick up the biggest, longest, heaviest board because that will make things “easier”.

3. Walk it to the beach. 
Being the biggest, your surfboard also creates the most wind resistance. This makes it even harder to walk the heavy thing down to the beach in your restrictive wetsuit, especially without accidentally hitting a few people with it and possibly taking out some small children.

4. Wade into the water.
If you followed the first three steps correctly, by the time you are far enough out to catch any waves, you’re probably already tired.

5. Lie on the board (facing the beach) and wait for a wave.
“Waiting” sounds misleadingly non-active. Between gripping the board with your feet, maintaining your balance (as you are battered with crap waves) and craning your neck (to look for a good wave) it actually takes a lot of work. You also have to make sure that your balance is not too far forward or back because that could ruin things later. And, the longer you wait, the more you drift towards the beach (which is counterproductive). 

6. Catch a wave
When you see a good one coming your way, you have to start paddling like crazy with your arms so that it catches you. If you time it wrong, the wave will just pass over you.

7. Surf 
When you are confident that the wave has got you and your arms are so tired that they feel like they’re going to fall off, you have to do a pushup/yoga salutation/half-burpee thing - don’t ask me how I know what that is, I so don’t gym - to get from lying down to standing up. You also have to position your feet along the beam-thing in the middle (there’s probably a name for that) and maintain your balance the whole time.

At least that’s the theory. 

Whether you get it right or wrong, you then get to go back to point 4 and repeat. 

So far I have successfully made it up to point 6. (I know it's hard to believe, but that picture at the top has been photoshopped.) It turns out that doing the YMCA multiple times a day is actually not enough to build up the upper body strength required to complete this whole process. I did manage to kneel though, so that’s a win. I also didn’t get eaten by any great white sharks. I’m definitely going to try this again but first I’m going to do some pushups …lots of pushups. 


Matching wetsuits

My first attempt at surfing happened in Muizenburg, Cape Town. The people at the Lifestyle Surf Shop were very friendly and helpful. They even hooked my brother and I up with matching wetsuit outfits. There’s one for the mantlepiece, mom!



Read more about Cape Town here:



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Sharon Waugh

Sharon is a writer, cruise ship entertainment host and freelance unicorn wrangler, living it up on the high seas. She also likes to photograph a plastic lawn flamingo in exotic locations because it seemed like a good idea 10 years ago and 53 countries later, it’s probably too late to turn back now.

 Sharon greatly dislikes reading “travel blogs” by people who are just rephrasing press releases or composing lists like “15 ways to travel the world for cheap”, specifically formulated for SEO, with absolutely no evidence that the writer has ever left their bedroom. (This is not one of those blogs.) Sharon also dislikes bigotry and referring to herself in first person, apparently.

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