My surf journey

Westport, (South Island) New Zealand, February 2017

We were in a large, semi-smelly bus, filled with people looking for directions in life or just to find themselves. The guide peeked just above the front chairs and looked at the audience. “Who wants to try surfing? Because if you want to, you gotta let us know now, as you will have to go straight when we arrive. Sweet as.” I didn’t quite get that. If you want to surf, you can just surf, could you not? What’s all this bullshit about the moon and tides? You only had to care about tides when the high tide was about to wash away your flip flops and sarong, right?

Since my brother and I had watched surf movies from a young age and I quite liked to idea of me doing some aerials and barrel surfing, I signed up. Why not? Let’s try, can’t be so hard.

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, May 2019

Were my endless attempts ever going to work out or was I just going to paddle myself to death?
Was I going to make a ding on my brand-new board every time I would go surfing or would I learn to be careful with my board – and myself, given the substantial number of reef cuts?
When was I going to be able to catch my own waves like I saw in the movies and like the surf teacher two years ago was showing me?

I took off my leash when I realised that surfing might not be as easy as it looked and as I first assumed. I had tried it in Spain, Ireland, Bali, The Philippines, The Netherlands, and France, but I never really progressed.

…at least, it felt like that.

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain, March 2021

“You’re part of the experienced group,” he told me, with his curly blonde hair (originally brown I guess, but the sun had decided to change things up). I was a bit surprised. In my opinion, I was the worst surfer on the planet, with all my scars (thanks, Green Ball & Batu Balong) and panic attacks in the water. But he seemed to be confident, based on what he had seen earlier that week.

Migado, that happy feeling when I was on a wave, I would not change it for the world. I smiled from ear to ear. This was exactly why I had started surfing in the first place, embarrassingly almost four years ago. But I was getting there and I was not going up this time.

Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia, April 2022

The foam of the waves touched my perfectly pedicured feet. Not in a gentle or light way, rather rough and wild – exactly as Uluwatu was described to me. I hesitated since I was with my 9’2 custom-made board that I did not want to ruin after I had only owned it for 5 weeks. He looked at me with a smile that held a balance between friendly and stoked. I mean, of course he did – he had surfed almost daily for 16 years now. He was here today to take my Uluwatu virginity, as we had discussed via WhatsApp for 2 weeks now, and he appeared to be more excited about it than I was. “Just follow that guy and first go left,” he said, pointing at a surfer that was evidently more experienced than me, “and then we will paddle around the impact zone. You can do it.” And with that, he jumped on his board and paddled away from me, leaving me no other choice than to follow him.

The paddling around was lots easier than it appeared – which was a first in surfing, something turning out easier than it looks. He stayed close to me, making sure I did not accidentally drop into people – as most people here can paddle so fast, you won’t even see them coming.

I paddled for my life, making sure to not look down but to the left, where I was going (#goofysparadise), and to bend my back knee. I was riding the rails when I tried my first turn – which is not easy on a longboard. But I managed. I cannot put the happiness into words when I try to describe my first Ulus ride, all the way to the channel on the left, close to the cave where we had entered.

More waves followed, not all perfectly ridden but all surfed with an endless amount of passion. My waves were complemented with encouraging yells and exclaims of joy, both from him and me. It was there and then that I realised how much I loved surfing and how addicted I was to it.