Standing up on a surfboard is really not all that difficult – even when it’s on the water. I would suggest, however, that staying on it is the hard part.
Whilst in Byron Bay Laura and I wanted to take a surfing lesson (and even briefly considered the 5-day lesson tour which takes you down the coast as well), and we signed our lives away with ‘Soul Surf’ who did a combination package with kayaking (which apparently gave you the best view of dolphins). They, like many of Byron Bay’s inhabitants, were chilled out but dedicated hippies who had already mastered the art you have decided to fickly attempt.
Since the swell (i.e. the tide force, not a twee Americanism) was actually pretty rough, we all drove down to Lennox Head, and with about 10 other beginners, were shown how to lie on the board (it’s important to position your weight by using the length of your body for reference), and how to hop up – we were shown the quick way, and a more reliable 3-step method.
But no matter how much preparation you make on the beach, nothing prepares you for the wobbly experience of controlling a greased up sponge sliding over baby oil – all of your reference points are gone and most of your concentration wavers over to just trying to keep hold of the longboard beneath you.
They’re also tied to you around the ankle, so should you fall in, you might also get dragged along with the tide by your leg. The board was actually surprisingly easy to pull back, but once, while rattling around in the swell, it did pull me along somewhat unhelpfully as I bubbled around, trying to surface.
Laura and I both stood up; even at the same time, surfing in parallel. I can see it will take many hours before I could reliably paddle for waves, or look anything even approaching stylish.
We also saw a few dolphins swim by, their iconic fins rolling in and out of the water as they carved a route about 10m away from us.
I encourage anyone on the fence to give surfing a try; it was fun just throwing myself at waves, and if you have the aptitude you might end up looking professional, if somewhat fleetingly, after a few hours.