The first time I went out on a longboard was in the honeymoon years. Not the actual honeymoon, but those times when you try to impress your hottie and do things he enjoys even if you are terrified/have absolutely no interest.
So he pushed me onto a wave in the shorebreak at St Francis Bay (at the time I had NO IDEA that the shorebreak is not your friend, especially those close out thumpers lining that piece of coast) In his defense I probably refused to paddle out beyond my depth. Anyway, it was the stuff of epic kookslams. The End.
About fifteen years later, I had one other outing in the longboard department and you can read about it here or just believe me that it was Kookslams Season 2.
But when my friend from Ocean Pledge, Diony, asked me to write about La Muse, a longboard event for women only, organised by women, I contemplated giving it another try. See, the ladies over at La Muse are very inclusive. When I chatted to them about what they wanted me to write, their enthusiasm spilled over. Their stoke, their love for longboarding and their desire for all women to have a go was palpable. One of last year’s competitors, Evette, persuaded me to get on a longboard one horrible day where the wind was too strong for SUP. She pushed me onto some foam and the outcome was more pleasing than the pounding shorebreak at St Francis. Also, thanks to a year or two of SUP training, I could actually make the paddle out.
Then Charmaine, one of the LaMuse organisers, reached out to me and met me at Muizenberg on a tiny, unthreatening day. She took me out and taught me how to paddle, where to position myself on the board, gave me a few tips on timing and voila. I staggered up and rode a wave.
She also introduced me to the other ladies in the water and they were super friendly and encouraging.
The main vibe I got from these ladies about La Muse is that it is inclusive. All skill levels are welcome. The stars will be shining in the Open Division, but they welcome even the sketchy among us all the way through the other divisions.
But someone (not a lady surfer) said to me that I could never learn to paddle out and pop up in three weeks. (AKA laying down the gauntlet.) SO I set about learning. There’s some dodgy paddling followed by some awful popping up, but I can kinda, just about do it in the right conditions. And then I entered the novice division. I thought it would push me to learn to pop up faster than if I just sat on the couch and thought about it.
However, a day later, I had entrants remorse and emailed them to say, seriously, what was I thinking, I have more chance of nosedives than noserides, I can barely stand up but you know what they said?
The emphasis is on having fun no matter what your ability.
So. I have been watching YouTube pop up vids. I have been practicing on the rug in the lounge. I have been lying awake at night an visualising it.
And now my three weeks are up. Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow I get to leave my comfort zone and see if I can catch a wave not already standing up.
But you know what they say?