I pushed hard on the large button of my ghetto blaster as it clunked the cassette tape on to my beach motif bed comforter. It was the year 1983 and I was decked out in the hand-sewn, self-designed shirt and jams imprinted with palm trees and surfboards. Funny, now that I think about it but I had used the same fabric for the bedding and my clothes. So it was hard to know where I began and where the bed ended. Wow! Was I tacky or what? Talented but tacky!
"Look at that boy beater tank. Man, its way cool!" Mother and daughter are now fighting like teenagers over who gets what. Surf Diva gear and wear are designed by Coco, who is co-owner (along with her twin sister Izzy) of Surf Diva, the World's First Surf School for females.
Candy and I wanted a school that had experience in working with females and Surf Diva has been doing so since 1966. Because surfing is such an intimidating sport, especially to those who don't live near an ocean, we wanted to be taught by women and girls who remember what it's like to be brand new. We also opt for the private lesson so that we could ask our dumb questions in private.
Many of our "dumb" unasked questions were answered as the instructors cover the basics of surfing. Safety is the number one tenet kept in the back of your mind. Know when to hold or throw your board. Know who has top priority of the wave (the person closest to the breaking wave). Know what to do in rips. (Rips are waves that go straight out to sea.) Be sure to paddle parallel to the beach until you are safe.
But a lot of this we wouldn't face for we were learning in shallow water. However, it's always good to be in the know, you know? And most of all, they tell us, have fun. Surfing is all about having fun!
We're on the beee-uuuu-teee-fuuul velvet beach now and I think I've fallen into a Beach Boys song everything they ever sang about is now alive and kicking here in this state. I'm shivering in my wetsuit with its "heat reflective lining between the rubber and inside jersey, made especially for surfing the cold waters of the Pacific". For a normal person, this would be plenty of protection and would keep him or her warm even in the water but I, for one, have never claimed to be normal. I decide that it's too miserably cold and instead of risking hypothermia, I'll just take pictures and notes.
We practice popping up. Popping up is what you do when you've caught a wave and you go from the paddling position, lying on the board, to the upright standing position. This was easy enough. On sand, anyway.
"No, I've got a lot of recording to do. You go ahead and I'll get some great shots." I lied through my chattering teeth.
Both instructors go out with her. One takes her by the han, leading her straight into the surf, staying close to the beach. Most beginners go out too far, they tell me, and struggle because they are fighting the waves, the board, and trying to stay above water. It's easier to learn where you can still touch the ground and when you use the foam boards made for beginners, not the cool-looking fiberglass ones. Looking cool is not top priority when first learning.
They face the waves coming in and almost immediately a little set approaches. This wasn't what I imagined in my surfer girl dreams but it was a very ride-able curl peeling down the way. Candy throws herself on the board, feet lined up at the end, just slightly apart like she was instructed and started pumping her arms with all her might.
"Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!" I'm hooting and cheering her on. "There ya go! All right. Now pop up! Pop up!" My heart is thumping!
She didn't pop up. She popped down. Cupping her mouth with both hands, Candy explodes out of the water with much laughter. You could tell from the instructors' faces that they were just as excited as she was!
"Is it cold?"
"It's frreeeezing but you forget about it. C'mon!"
"Naah, you go ahead. I'll just keep taking some great shots."
She continues on. After several tries and much paddling, paddling, paddling, Candy is able to pop up on and ride the wave all the way in on her knees and gracefully comes to a stand still on the beach. Knowing how competitive I am, she gives it her best sales pitch. "If you're afraid, I'll go with you. I'll hold your hand."
Okay, that does it! I'm NOT afraid, you heathen child. I'm just cold! I told her men tally but maybe I was a little afraid. Regardless. The athlete in me just wouldn't rest until I could prove to her that I wasn't afraid.
"Give me that board!" I demanded and barged into the water, ready to hit it hard for all it's worth. Man, it's bitter, frigid Arctic-blasted cold out here, I thought to myself.
The perfect wave found me. I didn't find it. I threw myself on the board and oh, what speed! What fun!
"Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!" Candy and the instructors cheer me on and I could see all three jumping up and down on the beach.
Suddenly, I do a perfect pop up, completely surprising myself. I'm up on my feet with one rather very bent knee but I'm up and I'm riding all the way in. I've caught a wave and I'm sittin' on top of the world!
Candy throws her arms around me. "How did you do that, Mommy? How did you get up on your first try? I tried and tried but you just got right up? How did you do it?"
I wipe my eyes and nose and lick the salty water that was dripping down my face, smile, and say: "I told you, I'm not afraid to surf. I was just cold!"
From competitive coaching to lessons for the beginner, Surf Diva offers it all. Since 1966, Surf Diva has built a solid reputation of professional, educated, and passionate surfing instructors. Their team boasts individuals with sideline careers such as firefighters, paramedics, nurses, teachers, lawyers and snowboarders. They offer private lessons, a classes, special events, surf camps (to Mexico even!), competitive coaching, you name it! There are exceptional events for Girls Scouts, boarding schools, corporate and team events. Guys are welcome in some classes too! There's just so much to list. You gotta check out their website at www.surfdiva.com, watch a video, listen to music, and to see it all for yourself!
Watch a surf video? - naaah, you gotta just get in the water.
Feature and photos by Lena Hunt Mabra, Kansas City Correspondent.