Train, plane, surfboard.. that's the plan !

We all experienced it. You want to surf, but the closest body of water is miles away. Let alone that this body of water is on top of a wave-creating bedrock, reef or sandbank that has all weather conditions working in its favor:

“One of the greatest things about the sport of surfing is that you need only three things: your body, a surf-board, and a wave.” - Naima Green

I am writing this for all kindred surf spirits out there that have grown up without a local spot to surf. Your doodles most likely look like mine:

doodle of a wave

There are only two things left you can do. You either go to the club of waves website and practice doodling ‬‬or you get yourself onto a train, plane and surfboard.

… You got it right …

picture of a train some crappy looking beachbreak

You have reached your destination ! ? ... [to be continued]

How to get to the surf ?

Surfing is a very personal experience...

“The cardinal rule of safe surfing is that one should never surf alone.” – William Finnegan, Playing Docs Games: The New Yorker 1992

You also feel the irony in that? Well, much as William states in his article himself, it’s that if you follow this rule to heart, you will miss opportunities of surf. Now we all know there is nothing as sad as a surf opportunity missed.

To be honest, I didn't always follow the rule myself. Who would really? You finally arrive at your destination, the waves are cooking right in front of you and you just want to rush in!

some awesome looking beachbreak

(Un)fortunately there can be a little voice in your head called self-preservation that can come up with multiple reasons why rushing in might not be the smartest idea in the world: unforeseen currents, rip tides, hidden reef or rocks, crocodiles (true story) and not to act all dramatic: tides that flatten the waves, changing winds that screws up your session, too many surfers or locals… the list goes on.

One should just investigate the conditions a bit more. Then again, you don’t want to spend your entire trip sitting on the beach, analyzing the surf while the next season - the next session really - the surf might look completely different out there already.

So get yourself to a surf hostel, find some surfers who are at the same level as you are and surf together to get to know the place while someone's got your back. Is your surf-level non-existent? Even better! Get yourself signed up for some surf lessons. You're in for a treat when someone can take you to a spot where you actually have a chance of catching some waves and get stoked about every little wave along the way. No idea what I am talking about?

Go out there and try for yourself. ; )

Reflection on an interview: Surfing South-Africa

TTRide: Did you have any previous surfing experience before your surfing trip with Ticket To Ride?

Dries: I surfed occasionally in Portugal, but I never really learned to go out back by myself. So I can say the answer is no, considering how much there is to learn. Before the trip, I never even started to touch the tip of the iceberg, let alone reveal the huge mountain underneath the surface that is surfing in its entirety.

Reflection: Surfing, being one of the more difficult sports to learn because there is no easy access to great waves all the time, is very much worth the practice. Like many say, surfing isn’t a sport, but a lifestyle. To surf is to learn what it is all about, inside the ocean and out.

surf experience = non-existent

TTRide: With regards to fitness, did you train before the trip to get yourself surf fit? Did TTRide give you and fitness advice?

Dries: I did go swimming and running. However, I believe I wasn't using the best approach. The trip leaders showed me how to improve my training schedule and it showed off in the surf. I am still following the same schedule every day if I don’t make it to the surf.

Reflection: This reminds me of a situation that I once experienced with one of my Portuguese instructors. We were on a beach and he asked the group of guys he was teaching: “Are you fit?” The group of fit, muscular chaps replied in choir: “Yes! Very!” Having a twinkle in his eyes, my instructor threw a wink at me and smiled like a little kid laughing up his sleeve. After the surf session ended, the guys were on the beach grasping for air. Looking amused, the instructor punched my shoulder. It was one of the most insightful lessons I would always remember.. Surfing doesn’t require a fitness you can pick up in a gym. It requires practice and commitment in the waves and water.

practice and commitment

TTRide: How was your first week learning the basics with the group? Was it an easy sport to pick up?

Dries: I think we all learned a lot in the first two weeks. Everybody happy and stoked about the early progress. Then probably all of us realised later in the trip that we'd stumble upon a learning roadblock with a steep curve to progress through. As our road-song always taught us though: you just gotta “keep your head up and your heart strong”. So we'd push through to the next level and the increased and shared joy was all the bigger afterwards. Well, let’s just say that’s why I surf.

Reflection: Pushing it to the next level sometimes requires lots of patience, though it is well worth the hassle. One of the great things about surfing; there is always more to learn! Whether it is about oneself, about the waves, about your technique or even life itself. In the meanwhile, never forget to keep enjoying. Remember what you are doing it for in the first place…

a very stoked Dries

TTRide: What was your favourite stop and trip and why?

Dries: That’s hard to tell. South Africa and Mozambique are so different. Let’s put it this way, I don’t think my trip would’ve been whole if I skipped on Mozambique.
My favourite stop.. Ehm, impossible to say really. Coffee bay, being stuck in the jungle and having that beautiful pearl of a beach waiting for some of the most beautiful/exciting surf sessions in my life! No, that was the point in Tofino!? Potentially it was that sunrise and sunset on the waves of Kitchen Windows at J-bay! Definitely the most memorable wave was with my buddy Aaron in Durban. Can I just answer the entire trip? How can you compare stoke? :p

Reflection: As a friend of mine once taught me.. Surfing is beautiful to boot. In what other sport could you just sit at the side of the playing field and watch it change in awe? I never saw a tennis player looking in admiration to his court.

my friend Troy overlooking the surf

TTRide: How would you sum up your TTRide experience?

Dries: One sentence: “Those were the best waves of my life!!” I think it changed my life. Surfing is a big part in my life, but I never had the opportunity to pursue it, living in a small town far away from the coast. Now my dream became my reality. I am able to put in those turns when I want; I can make the paddle out back easily and enjoy the fact that I’m now fit for it. I have new friends for life and memories that I will cherish my entire life. TTRide made me find myself. I feel better in my skin and I will never forget this trip made it so!

Reflection: Surfing is life.

Dries riding a glassy wave

A tribute post to Andy Irons

“I try changing my surfing, which is the absolute worst thing you can do.
Everyone surfs their own way. If I try to surf like someone else I look like a dork.” – Andy Irons

In loving memory of Andy Irons

This is one of those life lessons that perfectly translates to your life outside of surfing. Certainly when you have experienced it yourself during surfing.

For me, the moment when I tried to change my surfing is when someone told me: "Hey, man! You look like you could be a regular surfer." So obviously my mind goes wondering if I might be one of those surfers that has the potential to go both ways. The result: I get to the beach with my board, I strap the leash on the wrong side of my ankle and I give it a go. This resulted in me setting myself back for what was months worth of practice. I just couldn't do it. On top of that, it messed so much with my head that I started jumping up with the wrong foot forward. If there's a surfing position in between regular and goofy, it's planting your both feet in the middle of the board and face-planting your head on the nose of your board.

“If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein (also tribute to this guy.)

I am goofy and proud of it!

Surfing the Shamrocks - Part 1

Surfing the Shamrocks

It's Monday morning 5am. I'm getting up to catch a bus to Garretstown. The one spot I researched to have some waves and a surfschool that could hook me up with a surfboard & wetsuit to fit the conditions (It's October in Ireland and I thought it'd be a good time to put another country on the list of places surfed.)

"May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song. May each day bring you bright, happy hours that stay with you all the year long." – Irish Blessing

Writing in Progress. :) To be continued...