Monday, March 13, 2017

Book Review: Surf Science: An Introduction to Waves for Surfing

"Surf Science: An Introduction to Waves for Surfing" by Tony Butt.
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This book is amazing.  I have such a better understanding of how storm systems create waves.  You don't need to be a surfer to appreciate this book.   Anyone who has an interest in how the ocean and weather works would be fascinated by this!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Review: Guide to Sustainable Surfing

"Guide to Sustainable Surfing" by Tony Butt.
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to maintain the oceans. It explains in depth how our choices of lifestyle, materials,  and consumption specifically impact the environment for better or for worse. This book had a strong impact on me, and has inspired me to make changes to ensure that I still have an ocean to play in.
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Book Review: Surfari and 50,000 Shades of Blue

"Surfari" by Tim Baker. Surfari follows Tim Baker and his family on a trip around the coast of Australia, searching for waves. Baker is a great surf writer and this was a good read. The only thing that made me sad was the tension between the desire to surf and family obligations.
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50,000 Shades of Blue is something if a companion piece to Surfari.  It describes in greater depth  some of the most special spots visited.  Read it after Surfari!

Book Review: Grab Your Wave

"Grab Your Wave: How to Start Surfing" by Jess Clark.

Despite the ubiquitous bikini butt shot on the cover, this was actually a pretty solid book. It actually helped me to get over some of my look nerves!

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Review: The Wave

"The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean" by Susan Casey.

This is a fascinating,  exciting book by a fantastic writer. It explores giant waves, from the perspective of sailors and shippers, scientists and underwriters, and most of all, surfers. A good amount of the book focuses on Jaws, with an insider view from none other than Laird Hamilton. Definitely a recommended read!

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Book Review: Surf's Up:What You Need to Know to Start Surfing Like a Pro

"Surfs Up: What You Need to Know To Start Surfing Like a Pro!" by Andy Bowman.

This book felt like the author was trying to get to a required word count for an essay assignment. There are a lot of words, but not much information. BAIL!

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Book Review: The Kook's Guide to Surfing

"The Kook's Guide to Surfing: The Ultimate Instruction Manual: How to Ride Waves with Skill, Style, and Etiquette" by Jason Borte, Matt Brown.

This is a cute how to start surfing guide. I worry about being a kook, so it really helped me to get in the right headspace!

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Film Review: It Ain't Pretty

I LOVED this film. I didn't mess around, I bought it instead of renting. So glad I did!

Ostensibly a documentary about the Ocean Beach Babes, it turned out to be so much more. The OBB's are a group of hard charging female surfers.

The film explored women's surf history,  the challenges of women's surfing, and the sheer bad assery of female big wave surfers. This is a film I will watch repeatedly. It made me stoked to be a surfer!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Book Review: Impact Zone and Turning Tides

Two cute young adult books about how surfing can make you a better person.

Book Review: Surfing Mavericks: The Unofficial Biography of Jay Moriarty

"Surfing Mavericks: The Unofficial Biography of Jay Moriarity" by Ryan August, LifeCaps.

Mavrericks is the gothic romance of waves. Dark, cold, rocky, sharky. And big. I  will never surf it, but I am fascinated by it.

This biography is the sort of book one finds in a school library. Short and simple, but a fun read about the short life of one of Mavericks' surf warriors.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: Surfing Tips and Tricks

"Surfing Tips and Tricks 2nd Edition: A guide to the realities of surfing for beginner and intermediate surfers." by Ben Bryant.

Vague and generic, for the armchair beginner surfer who imagines they will learn on a shortboard. BAIL!

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Review: Surfwise and Scratching the Horizon

The film Surfwise and the book Scratching the Horizon really deserve to be reviewed together. The film is a documentary about the Paskowitz family, a family of eight sons and one daughter, children of modern gypsy parents who raised their children on the road on a never ending surf safari. It sounds like a such a charming, romantic story- successful doctor goes back to the land (or ocean) to raise his children purely.  It's an interesting story, and well worth the watch, but it does prove the old maxim about dysfunctional families.  They did it with style!  What bothered me though, was the underlying attitude of the parents- they repeatedly referred to the sons, and didn't and don't seem to value their daughter as much. 

Scratching the Horizon: A Surfing Life is a memoir by Izzy, on of the sons.  It felt like a really honest book.  He did not shy from the darker moments on the road, but still imaprts that they were a family. He is unflinching in the struggles to move from surf gypsy grom to responsible adult.  Seems like he got their though.  He now runs an foundation that brings surfing to autistic children.  At least one success story came out of that family! 

How I Finally Nailed My Pop-up

I think the most frustrating thing about the fist surf lesson I took was attempting the pop-up.  I was really discouraged.  

I think the most empowering feeling was nailing my pop-up last summer and riding a wave into shore. 

The hardest thing about learning the pop-up is that you can read about it, and be told about it, and watch it, but a lot of it is just getting it. I went into surfing last summer understanding the concept of it.  I've read so many books and watched so many videos.  The first thing that helped, of course, was increased upper body and core strength.  The second was confidence.  I told my self that if I could do crow pose in yoga, I could pop up. 

My fist session I got some wobbly pop-ups, but didn't catch a full ride.  I already knew, however, that I was doing so much better that two summers previous.  What finally got me up and riding though, was my hand positioning.  I had been setting my hands more like I was doing a plank, or a push-up, or crow.  Once I moved my hands right under my chest, under my boobs really, I was flying.  

Now that I've nailed the pop-up, this summer's goal is to get my wave timing down.  I can't wait.

How Surfing Has Changed Me

Surfing is transformative.  It is so hard to describe to a non-surfer what is so magical about the experience of gliding over the water.  I've found that I have changed since I began surfing, sometimes in ways I never expected.

  • I am less anxious and more brave. Facing the power of the ocean, and standing up on water makes me feel as if I can do anything. I took my first airplane ride last fall and loved it. I think surfing helped.
  •  I am more invested in my workouts and fitness.  Getting fit for surfing is both motivation and goal.  
  • I don't care about being skinny; I want to be strong.
  • I am more patient. The experience of being in the line-up, waiting for a wave has taught me to relax a little when waiting for other things.
  • I have become more passionate about protecting the environment, and especially the oceans. 
  • I've become very interested in the weather. Weather = Waves!
  • I'm more relaxed about storms, since now I know that there may a swell as a reward.
  • I've completely lost interest in fashion magazines.
  • I don't care as much about fashion and makeup.  Sure, I want to look put together for work, but it's not a huge priority anymore.
  • I've become a very boring conversationalist.  I can find a way to work surfing into just about any conversation!  
I'm excited to see where surfing more will take me! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Wingnut's Complete Surfing

"Wingnut's Complete Surfing" by Scott Bannerot, Robert Weaver.

It's been said, and it's true. You cannot learn surfing from a book. You, however, learn about surfing from a book.  This is the best of the many how to surf books I've read.  I am a big fan of Wingnut anyway. He's a great freesurfer and an unabashed longboarder. Most books assume that the surfer's goal is to eventually to a shortboard, but this book really embraces the beauty and grace of the longboard. I feel like this book will help me to be a better longboarder.

The differences between a professionally written book like this one and an amateur self published one are evident. Well written,  with a conversational tone, fun stories and informative photos, this book is highly recommended to any would be longboarder!

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Book Review: Adult Beginner Guide: How to Surf

"Adult Beginner Guide | How To Surf" by Chris Anderson.

Some solid tips in this book, but not my first recommendation. There are better learn to surf books out there. It does have some good instruction on the pop up.

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Book Review: Easy Surfing Fitness

I "Easy Surfing Fitness: Become Fit, Lean and Strong in Just 30 Days" by Troy Adashun.

Basically the same book as Body Like a Surf Pro. BAIL!

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Book Review: Body like a Surf Pro

"Body Like a Surf Pro: Get Fit, Lose Fat and Catch More Waves Than Ever Before" by Troy Adashun.

Some of the concepts in this book are solid: eat clean, build core and upper body strength, focus on endurance and not bulk. However, some of the nutritional advice veers into junk science territory, and the advice doesn't really seem enough for a full book. BAIL on this one!

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Where I am now....

My plan for the winter was to continue building my upper body and core strength, and be ready to hit the waves at every opportunity.  On cyber Monday, I bought myself a 3/2 fullsuit.  No more rentals!  

I could not wait until women's surf night started up again. And then, the day I found out the exact date, I got home and found I had won an Amazon gift card.  I decided to do something impulsive with it.  I bought a board. I am now the proud owner of a 9 foot! 
It's not fancy and not custom, but it's my first board.  I spent all my birthday money (thanks mom, dad, auntie and gran!) on what I needed to get in the water- wax, racks, hood, booties, gloves and a beautiful 5/4 wetsuit.  As soon as I got everything I needed, the waves went flat. I am ready to hit those cold winter waves!  I obsessively check the forecasts, praying for a Nor'easter to hit a day or two before the weekend.  It's gotta happen soon!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Real Beginning....

I never did get back on a board the summer of 2015. But, at the end of the summer, my best friend and I looked at each other, and decided it was time to get in shape.  For real this time.  She became a Crossfitter (but that's her story).  I had as my motivation and my goal getting fit to surf.  And I did.

I started going to Women's Surf night at Surfari. I was nervous the first time I went.  I wasn't afraid of falling, or wiping out.  I was afraid of failing and being frustrated. That first night I didn't nail it, but I didn't fail either.  My on-shore pop up was strong.  Once in the water, I felt in control and confident paddling.  I wasn't nailing the pop up, but it wasn't because I wasn't string enough, it was more about timing and finesse.  My last wave of the night I got the pop up.  Staying up would be a story for another day. 

My A-ha moment

I knew that really getting the pop up would be like casting a Patronus...I would be able to do it once I knew I could do it.  The magic ended up happening in a SUP lesson.  Once I knew I could get up and stay up on the paddleboard, I knew I could get up and stay up on a surfboard. The next night, at surf night, I did it.  I had a few short rides, and then my last wave of the night I rode it all the way to shore.  It was a official.  I was a surfer.

Last summer was the best of my life.  Every week I felt more confident in the water and on the waves.  I went from the super gigantic beginner boards to the merely huge.  By the end of the season I could even manage a left turn. I'm a goofyfoot, so the right turn has eluded me so far.  That summer was just the beginning of my surfing life.

The Beginning

Three years ago, when I was 39, I set a goal for myself.  Send myself to a surf camp for my 40th summer. Surfing was something I had always been fascinated with, always dreamed of doing, but never thought I would do, but why not?

That summer I ended up winning a two day camp from Wahine Kai in Maine (sadly no longer in existence.) I was a year ahead of schedule! 

It was both wonderful and terrible.  Wonderful to be in the water on a board.  Terrible because I realized that I was not in shape for surfing at all.  I'm a good swimmer and am accustomed to the ocean, but even just paddling around I felt out of control.  And actually catch a wave?  Forget it.  I sort of popped up, once.  And promptly wiped out.

Yet somehow, it was an amazing, fun, exhilarating experience.  I knew I would be back....