This just in…surfing is ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of these guys who thought surfing was easy. I’ve been on many a beach and marveled at the size and power of waves – and looked on in awe at how guys were able to ride a piece of fiberglass on top of them. It doesn’t seem possible.

So, before I took to my first lesson at Hikkaduwa this week, I knew it was going to be bloody hard. I knew I’d spend more time at the bottom of the ocean floor than on top of the surfboard. I was right.

My first clue should have been the fact that no one else on the whole beach was surfing. And this is a beach that is known for its surfing.

The surf season doesn’t begin until December, but the waves looked reasonable to us, so we thought what the hell. With a couple brave, friendly Sri Lankan surf instructors in tow, we took to the ocean and gave it a go on a long board.

Here are the highlights:

  • It’s a struggle to even get out to the break. The side current is so strong that we try and enter the water at a couple different spots before we find a place that doesn’t sweep us straight sideways.
  • We get out to where the waves are breaking and we start trying to get up on the board. We’re not even attempting to stand up on the wave, just on the white water that the wave creates. I fall down immediately 16 times in a row. I look over a couple times and Trina is standing up, riding a wave to shore. I give her a clap and the finger in my mind.
  • On my 17th attempt, I stand on the board for 1.333 seconds. Good enough. Time for a rest.
  • During the rest, our instructors tell us about all the disasters and tragedies that have happened on the beach as if they’re telling us about a trip to the store. “Okay, back to surfing!”
  • We go back out and continue to get pounded. Salt water is pouring out of every orifice. I stand up briefly a few more times, but realize I’m going to need about 123 more lessons before I will get the hang of this. My balance is shit and I’m getting tired. I look over and Trina is thankfully giving the ‘enough’ signal.
  • On our way back to return our boards, a fat Russian man asks us how it was and why we weren’t standing up more. “What is so difficult about it?,” he asks. We politely make a joke and poison his vodka when he’s not looking.

That’s about it. We survived and will likely get back on the board again before our time in Sri Lanka is over. We might just wait for the season next time.

Shaun

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