I clung to my board as another wave crashed over the back of my head, pushing my hair backwards over my face. My instructor yelled ‘Ok now!’ and gave me a little shove forward into the break. Obeying, I began to paddle out, counting the six strokes as taught before the wave crested under my board, propelling me forward.
Looking towards the horizon, I pressed down, lifting myself up and sliding my feet sideways, before slowly standing up. Victory was mine! The epic feeling lasted all of two seconds before I wiped out, tumbling off my board into the churning water below before popping up – a grin plastered on my eager face. Learning to surf might not look cool, but it certainly is fun.
Just an hour before, I’d been sipping on a cappuccino from Blonde and Beard, observing the waves in Muizenberg, a beautiful coastal suburb just 30 minutes from Cape Town, known for their accommodating surfing conditions. My partner and I had signed up for our very first surf lessons with Stoked School of Surf, and the butterflies that I’d awoken with were steadily growing as I anticipated the cold and potentially embarrassing experience that lay in store.
Shoring up my courage, we went down to meet our instructor and the team as they cruised up the beachfront with a stack of surfboards and all the kit we’d need for the morning. Will, our ebullient and effortlessly cool coach, handed us our supplied wetsuits and high visibility rash vests to change into, on top of our swimsuits that we’d been told to come in.
Feeling sleek and a little more confident in our stretchy wetsuits, we joined our group on the white sands of the beach for the warm up. Muizenberg, with its gentle, shallow break, is a hub of surfing activity, and learners both young and old populated the shoreline, all hoping to improve their skills.
Our group warmed up with a series of exercises and sprints across the sand that helped to loosen the joints and muscles that we’d shortly be needing for our venture into the ocean.
As we’d booked a one on one lesson, my partner and I split off from the group with Will, heading down to a quieter spot to continue with the nitty gritty technical stuff.
Will patiently demonstrated each step of the surfing process, teaching us how to hold and lie on our boards, paddle, get up, protect ourselves in the event of an (inevitable) tumble, and, most importantly, catch waves in the right direction.
It’s quite a bit of information to digest, and really there’s nothing for it but to wade in and give it your best. Luckily, Will was right there in the chest deep water, helping to position our boards, advise us on where we needed correction and set us up with some great waves.
And the water, though a bit murky, wasn’t at all freezing – a far cry from our Clifton shores. Our two hours of wild and exhilarating fun passed in a series of successful and silly attempts (my partner making it look all too easy with his ability to get up in mere moments). And while I’ll need a few more lessons, the moments where I caught a wave in perfect harmony with the motion of ocean made me realise just why surfing is so addictive – a ‘stoked’ feeling indeed.
Exhausted, we packed it in and headed back to the van to meet the others, where we shared our epic tales before rinsing the salt and sand from our hair and chilled skin – very ready for a well-earned, steaming hot plate of fish and chips.
Learn to Surf with Stoked School of Surf
Book private, group or package lessons with Stoked School or Surf by visiting their website or call them on +27 82 412 8781.
What to Bring
- Swimsuit/board shorts
- Sunscreen (waterproof or zinc)
- Warm sweater
- Bottle of water
Hanging Ten for a Bite to Eat
If you’re planning on staying for lunch, we’d recommend Live Bait restaurant – the best panoramic views of the Muizenberg beachfront.
Blog post by: Tarah Darge