DIARY OF A FIRST-TIME SURFER

DIARY OF A FIRST-TIME SURFER

I just had the most epic Thursday afternoon filled with surfing and great people but let me start from the beginning. 

I was picked up at the McDonald’s pickup point in Observatory by one of Stoked School of Surf’s vans and one of the coolest drivers I’ve ever met, Cavin. We drove to Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg where the waves were just right for beginner surfers like myself. 

 

Putting on my Wetsuit

Now let me tell you, I have never worn a wetsuit before. Putting on a wetsuit was the first challenge of my whole surf lesson experience. When the suit was less than halfway, I wondered if I should give up. Nonetheless, I persisted, and a few minutes later, I was suited up.

Once the suit is on, it feels a bit tight, but when you’re in the water, it becomes more flexible, so don’t worry too much. 
 

Warming Up

After the wetsuit challenge, I joined the other surfing newbies in the group on the beach. Wade let us run across the beach and do some quick warm-up exercises and stretches to help prevent injuries during our lesson. Caution, the suit gets warm.
 

Standing Up

Once we were warmed up, it was time to practice standing up on the board (luckily just on the sand for the moment). Wade showed us his method of popping up. For me, it was like doing burpees, and my arms quickly got tired after doing a few of these. 

After practising the popup, Wade took us through a safety briefing. He explained about the sharks, what the shark flag colours mean, and other safety tips. 

Then it was finally time to go into the water!
 

Carrying Your Board

Now facing the third challenge (after getting the wetsuit on and practising our popups), was carrying my surfboard. Wade showed us two ways to carry our boards. I have short arms, and the wind was strong, so I found that both methods were a bit tricky.

It took me a few tries, but I managed to safely get my board in the water without hurting myself or someone else. 
 

Surfing

When you see surfers in the movies or on television, they make it look like it’s the most straightforward task in the world. Let me tell you, it’s harder than it seems and your arms WILL turn to jelly after your two-hour lesson.

Standing up on your board in the sand, yeah I can do that. Popping up while on the water is another matter.

My biggest challenge for my entire surfing lesson was timing it just right to get on my board and be ready for the wave. I was either too early, or I was too late, and the wave tumbled me over like I was only a little teddy bear. 

I practised on my own as much as I could, but I was glad when it was my turn to get help from Wade. He helped me get on my board and yelled words of encouragement each time the wave sent me on my way. 
 

Final Thoughts

I guarantee you will hit yourself with your surfboard, you WILL have saltwater everywhere (inside and out), but I promise you’ll make the best memories that will stay with you until you’re old and grey! I absolutely LOVED surfing. Even though I was so bad at it, I had so much fun. Just being in the water and playing around on the board was heaps of fun.

Yeah, you’ll be hit by a few big waves when you’re not looking, but each time you’ll get back up on your board and try again, and each time will be better than the last. 

It was especially great how helpful our instructor was and how stoked they were to teach us how to surf. From driving to the beach to being dropped off back at the pickup point, I’ve felt welcome and treated as part of the team. 

STOKED FRIENDS BLOGS

STOKED FRIENDS BLOGS

Here at Stoked School of Surf we love surfing and sharing the surf lifestyle, with as many people as possible; and nothing makes us happier than when our surf students and friends are captivated by the stoke!

As we all know, the stoke is a very addictive feeling and over the years a few of our friends couldn’t resist the urge but to share their new found passion for surfing and the fun they had whilst learning to surf with us in Cape Town.

We have selected a few of our favourite blogs and fantastic videos made by our awesome surf students to share with you:

https://www.capegrace.com/blog/04/04/catch-a-wave-in-cape-town-with-stoked-school-of-surf

Written by Tarah Darge on behalf of the prestigious Cape Grace Hotel – Surfed April 2017

Joined a group ‘Experience the Stoke’ surf lesson and quickly had a friend convinced to join her in the stoke.

https://travelvids.tv/drone-footage-stoked-surf-school-muizenberg-beach/

Epic Drone footage in collaboration with www.thisngstodo.capetown and www.travelvids.tv showing off the beautiful Muizenberg waves during our first 2-Day ‘Stoked like a Local’ Surf Camp hosted in November 2017.

https://icarusparagliding.co.za/paragliders-love-surfing/

Written by Jacques Du Plessis of Icarus Paragliding – Surfer December 2012

Adventure tourism providers unite as we host Jacque and his team on their first ‘Experience the Stoke’ surf lesson and we try our luck at soaring through the Cape Town skies with the amazing team at: https://icarusparagliding.co.za

http://goingawesomeplaces.com/stoked-surfing-experience-muizenberg-south-africa/

Written by Will Tang – Surfed November 2017

Full time Travel Blogger Will Tang and his friend joined us on an epic morning ‘Experience the Stoke’ Surf Lesson in his search for awesome adventures around the world. Since then we have also featured in 2 of his amazing videos about his time in Cape Town:

  1. Top 12 things to do in Cape Town:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PINrrEF6X0A&feature=youtu.be

  1. Why I love South Africa

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZFrGcGm71k&feature=youtu.be

https://www.happybackpacker.de/surfen/surfen-an-kapstadts-straenden/

Written by Anja Knorr – Surfed November 2014

Anna, writer for the wonderful German travel blog: https://www.happybackpacker.de joined us for a surf lesson, was immediately captivated by the stoke and upgraded to our old 2-Day ‘Weekend Stoke’ Surf Camp

https://saltinmyhair.com/surfing-south-africa/

Written by Hanna Asmussen– Surfed September 2016

As members of this beautiful surfer travel blog www.saltinmyhair.com, Hanna and her friend joined us on an epic few days of surfing during their stay in Cape Town. They joined us over an amazing 4 days of sun and surf with 2 days of pre camp accommodation, gear rental and transport, leading into our wonderful 2-Day Surf camp. Safe to say that the stoke was definitely provided!

https://www.southafrica.net/uk/en/travel/article/bakkie-stories-episode-13

Filmed by South African Tourism UK in October 2017 – featured on www.southafrica.net South Africa’s Official Tourism Site.

This fantastic mini-web-show tries to capture the true essence of South Africa as Maya, Alice and Saunders roadtrip across South Africa, capturing the truly wonderful African culture, natural beauty and of course stoke filled adventures, such as learning to surf in majestic Muizenberg during our Experience the Stoke surf lessons.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IlaX2xmDQs&t=95s

Filmed by Youtuber Cody Jensen – Surfed May 2018

Creative entrepreneur, Cody Jensen and his friend joined us for an early winter Experience the Stoke surf lesson as part of their The Most Beautiful Day video for his truly fun youtube channel. This video captures the beauty of the South African landscape and the fantastic winter waves in Cape Town.

 

Each of these blogs, videos or honourable mentions, hold very special memories for us and our students who became friends whilst learning to surf.

We hope that our amazing friends, will inspire others to try surfing and to spread the shear joy and fulfilment that is the stoke.

SURF GEAR RENTALS IN CAPE TOWN

SURF GEAR RENTALS IN CAPE TOWN

So you’ve done a few lessons or consider yourself an intermediate surfer and think you have the backline sussed. Now you find yourself in Cape Town without surf equipment and the waves are pumping…there are several options available to you. Find the description below which best suits your surfing ability (be honest with yourself and rather downplay your skill level!) and then choose the option that best suits you:

1. Beginner surfer: You have had a handful of lessons and have yet to understand how to handle a surfboard in waves, you still need an introduction to surf etiquette, rips and currents, how to ride a wave left and right etc. 

  • We DON”T recommend renting out equipment but rather that you take a surf lesson with a qualified instructor for you to get the most out of your experience. You could otherwise find yourself frustrated…or worse…injured. Book our ‘Experienced the Stoke’ surf lesson now and get tips from qualified coaches before venturing into the surf alone.

2. Intermediate surfer: You can paddle out on your own, ‘read’ the surf, attempt an angular take off and ride down the line. You have a good grasp of surf etiquette and an  understanding of rips and currents. 

    3. Advanced surfer: You surf 3-5 times a week. Your default page when you open your web browser is a surf forecasting website and your work productivity is directly proportional to the swell direction and offshore winds. Your surfboard is an extension of you but since you find yourself in Cape Town on a quick trip or were unwilling to pay the hefty board fees to bring boards on the plane-you have an idea but no gear.

        • We recommend you hire a car for the day and rent gear from Vudu Surf if you’re based in the city or Kommetjie Surf Shop if you’re down south, and cruise the Peninsula for a spot that faces the correct direction for the prevailing swell direction and winds that day.
        • OR you sign up for our surf guiding service and based on the kind of waves and board you regularly surf, we will guide you to the best spot on the day of your booking.

    Below is a list of places you can rent surf gear in Cape Town:

    City:

    Vudu Surf Shop offers rental options where you can drive around with the board for the day/multiple days. We only recommend this option for an advanced surfer who knows where to go and how to handle themselves in the Cape surf.

    Muizenberg:

    There are a plethora of stores on the beachfront but our pick is Lifestyle Surf Shop. They have a range of boards and wetsuits and as a family owned and managed business, the store assistants have a great approachable vibe. Please note that when renting you will be restricted to their store hours and surfing only Muizenberg as gear may not leave the beachfront area and is rented on an hourly basis.

    Big Bay:

    There are many places to rent gear along the beachfront. We don’t have any particular place we could specifically recommend however, just get down there and take a look at the quality of gear on offer before making your decision on which store to rent from. Also just remember to take store hours into consideration when planning your surf time.

    Kommetjie:

    Kommetjie Surf Shop is located down in the surf village of Kommetjie, 45 minutes away from the city area and on the way down to Cape Point. There are some good breaks in the area, but again only suitable for those who have an excellent level of surfing ability and a thorough understanding of surf etiquette. Don’t paddle out here if you’re still a beginner please.

    Camps Bay:

    If you’re staying in Camps Bay, are an advanced surfer and looking to rent equipment, we can offer board rentals delivered to your villa/hotel. Only call us if you have the experience described in the ‘advanced’ surfer section above. We do not rent to anyone without the skill level required to get themselves safely out at the city beaches (Camps Bay, Sea Point, Llandudno). These beaches ARE not friendly for beginner or intermediate surfers! Contact us should you match these criteria and we will bring the gear to you…

    SURF THERAPY

    SURF THERAPY

    Ask any surfer and they will claim that surfing is a cure for all. Anxiety, long days or a general overwhelming of stress can, easily, be overcome by spending a few moments in the water.

    This is due to the, almost, meditative qualities of surfing and the humbling force of the ocean! All elements of surfing help to produce a euphoric feeling, from something as simple as waiting for the next set, or controlling your breathing whilst you paddle, to actually successfully riding a wave! More than just patience and controlling your breathing, surfing provides a feeling of self-accomplishment, as do many other sports, which has the added benefit of boosting confidence by allowing you to set and eliminate goals at your own pace.

    Overall it is a fantastic way to allow one to come out of their shell and to gain confidence whilst allowing one to challenge oneself, even though the psychological effects of surfing are often brushed away. However, some much smarter and brilliant scientists and doctors around the world, that clearly have a better understanding of the effects that; the ocean and surfing, have on one’s physical and mental health have started further investigation.

    I recently read an eye-opening and scientifically worded article which stated that, although most sports do help boost confidence, surfing, amongst other activities which take place near a body of moving or frozen water, actually leave a longer lasting effect of serenity and accomplishment. Without delving to deep, it all had to do with the ionization of oxygen found near moving/frozen water. So any water or snow sports are actually beneficial to your mental state by charging you up with ionized oxygen leaving you feeling a stronger stoke for longer.

    In Cape Town, there are several great people and organizations that aim to use surfing for more than just the most epic pass time. These individuals and organisaztions are capitalizing on our mutual stoke for the ocean in order to enrich countless of peoples lives, through their various programs:

    Walking on Waves

    Waves for Change

    9Mile Surf Project

    Surf Shack

    Adaptive Surf Champs

    Surfing Rehab

    Over and above the psychological/physiological benefits and surf therapy uses, surfing in South Africa is also used for outreach community projects, in order to help those less fortunate to stay off the streets and to provide an escape from the harshness of their home lives or lack there of.

    After researching the various surf therapy uses throughout the world we have determined the following fields and the benefits of surfing as a treatment in these fields.

    1. Poly Trauma – suffering from multiple physical and mental impairments from combat wounds. These injuries often affect multiple organ systems in the body and, in addition, the experience in combat can cause anxiety, depression and psychosocial impairment.
    2. Cystic Fybrosis – is a genetic disorder that heavily effects the respiratory and digestive system. Those born with Cystic Fibrosis produce extremely thick mucus in their lungs. This causes drastic coughing and difficulty breathing, and can cause life-threatening infections. Researchers in Australia found that the lungs of surfers with cystic fibrosis were much healthier than the lungs of patients who did not surf. They discovered that the saltwater mist of the ocean helps rehydrate airway surfaces, which in turn lubricates the lungs. This makes it much easier for those dealing with cystic fibrosis to clear their air passages and break up mucus
    3. Autism – Autism is a genetically inherited condition that has no known cause or cure. Children affected by autism frequently experience sensory overload as well as obsessive-compulsive routines that are difficult to break. Izzy Paskowitz, son of legendary surfer and doctor Doc Paskowitz, was one of the first to explore surfing as a treatment for autism, after spending years, seeking effective treatment for his son. Izzy and his wife, discovered nothing worked as well as something that was already an integral part of their family: the ocean. Surfing provided their son, relief from his symptoms that no medicine or therapy could offer. Time in the water forced him to abandon OCD routines, and the ocean offered a calming remedy from sensory overload.
    4. Depression & Mood – This comes as no surprise to anyone that surfs, as we already insist that surfing is a great way to lift one’s spirits, as well as the longer lasting effects of that euphoria due to exposure to the more positively charge ions that exist around moving bodies of water, as mentioned above. To further the scientific research behind this claim, in 2010 the British National Health Services started a pilot program. The program observed 22 participants dealing with mental issues from schizophrenia to psychosis from ages 12 to 23. After six weeks on the coast learning how to surf with the assistance of qualified coaches and recording the moods of participants, researchers found that at participants decreased in negative feelings and an increase of positive ones just in the time of 30 minutes of riding waves. In a similar study conducted at University of Iowa, by doctoral student Ryan Pittsinger, the link between surfing and mental health was researched further, while also providing comparison of the effects of surfing with other sports. While any kind of athletic activity causes the release of endorphins, which cause positive emotions, surfing, more than any other activity, causes feelings of tranquility and serenity. It leaves participants with a sense of accomplishment and a boosted self-esteem. These lasting effects also make surfing helpful in overcoming drug addiction. Many rehab centers, around the world, have now started to integrate surfing into their programs.
    5. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Over recent years PTSD has been brought to light in to the public eye and a lot of various research has been done to develop the best possible treatments. The United States Marine Corp has already incorporated surf therapy into effective treatment of PTSD and although involves other stress reducing activities, surf therapy provides fun and camaraderie for all the participants. 
    6. Community Outreach Projects – This is the most common use of surf therapy found around Cape Town and Africa as a whole. This is a very simple idea of using surfing as a community project in order to provide a safe environment that focuses mentorship, exercise and keeping disadvantaged people as far away from bad influence, whilst allowing them to set and achieve personal goals. It also has a similar benefit with the PTSD treatment, through camaraderie developed through the program.
    7. Adaptive Surfing – This is an amazing initiative that uses surfing to help those suffering with various disabilities. These programs provide physical benefits and can act as a form of rehabilitation from injuries.

    Each of the above has its own focus and goals; however, we have found that the treatment benefits are evident in all of the fields and include but are not limited to:

    • Multi-sensory environment provides opportunities for adaptive response
    • Improve and maintain muscle tone, posture, motor planning and balance
    • Facilitate higher cognitive skills through integration and assimilation of lower level skills
    • Develop play skills and leisure interests
    • Achieve a sense of mastery and well-being
    • Demonstrate volitional participation–the unique surfing experience provides an innate motivation essential for effective therapy outcomes.

    The fact of the matter is that all sport has  more than just physiological benefits and surfing is definitely one of the most fun waves to reach them. From simply reducing stress levels and boosting confidence, to amazing rehabilitational benefits for those with more specific needs. No matter what the reason, surfing is something everyone should try at least once, cause you never know how it might change your life.

    SUP IN CAPE TOWN

    SUP IN CAPE TOWN

    Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is a great way to get active outdoors. For those that are a little hesitant to immerse themselves more than knee deep into the ocean but have the desire to try an ocean sport, SUP is a wonderful option, especially flatwater stand up paddling. Beginner SUP boards are very stable and relatively easy to stand up on and paddle.  With a little guidance, you can be up and riding with confidence in no time.

    Cape Town offers several options for beginner stand up paddleboarding from paddling along city canals, to wave riding and then ofcourse flatwater paddling.  The latter is what we find the most fun simply as it’s a way to get a good workout and enjoy the scenery, without having to be concerned about the hazards of other SUPers/surfers in your way. It’s like a meditation as you paddle away simply enjoying the scenery above and below the surface.  In Cape Town every beach and bay has breathtaking mountain vistas and then ofcourse below the surface there are kelp forests, jellyfish, seals, dolphins and if you’re lucky enough you may even spot a whale. 

    Our favourite place to stand up paddleboard in Cape Town is in Camps Bay as it offers the option to paddle around to the beaches of Clifton or Bakoven. If you know the waters well and conditions are favourable, your mind can drift away with the gentle ocean breeze as you soak in the panoramic view of the 12 Apostles, Lions Head and Table Mountain whilst the Atlantic waters lap over your feet and the sun warms your back. 

    If an inner city paddle experience is more your kind of thing, then SUP Cape Town offers the option to get on the water close to the V & A Waterfront. You can rent a board and with a brief introductory talk you can attempt it yourself knowing that there are no rip currents or waves to worry about should you fall off your board. There is a short circuit route along a canal that runs alongside some fancy apartments with an area to enjoy a snack and drink afterwards. 

    If you’ve tried flat water paddling and challenging yourself in ocean waves is next on your list, then Xpressions down at Muizenberg is the best place to go. The waves at Muizenberg are gentle breaking so probably the best place to learn to SUP on waves in Cape Town. The break can get very crowded so we do advise paddling out with a coach rather than renting a board and paddling out on your own if you’re a novice.

    If you’re looking for an experience that leaves your body and soul rejuvenated whilst enjoying the scenery above and below the surface, a flat water paddle is probably the best option for you. When booking your SUP experience in Cape Town just be sure that wind and swell conditions are favourable and that your guide is familiar with the waters they will be navigating you through.  Alternatively, check out the SUP experience we offer and we will take away all those concerns so you can simply enjoy the paddle.

    LAURA’S SURF CAMP DIARIES

    LAURA’S SURF CAMP DIARIES

    Our intern Laura wrote a blog on her experience of January 2018’s 3-day ‘Stoked on the Southern Cape’ surf camp. Read below about the adventures she and the group had:

    ‘It’s safe to say that the past few days were some of my favourites of my time in South Africa. I had the opportunity to go on the 3-day ‘Stoked on the Southern Cape’ surf camp, which I obviously couldn’t say no to.

    We left from HQ on Friday morning to meet the rest of the group. The group was a fun mixture of nationalities and ages, which made the dynamics very interesting. Luckily we all had one thing in common, which was a great sense of humour. 

    We drove to Strand for our first surf lesson. I’ve been to Strand many times before, but the view with the mountains in the background keep taking my breath away. After catching a lot of nice waves, we took the scenic R44 towards Hermanus. After spending a few hours in Hermanus to see sights and have lunch, we started driving to Arniston, accompanied by great tunes.

    The first night at the beach house was a very relaxed one. Imagine a glass of red wine, Amy Winehouse in the background and a get together around the fireplace. Time for a good night rest to start the weekend with lots of energy.

    The next morning, we started with a surf lesson in peaceful Arniston. The fresh water woke everyone up nicely. Since it was quite windy in the afternoon, we decided to go for a wine tasting. After a couple of wines, we started practicing for the night´s beerpong tournament. Practice makes perfect!

    Back at the house, we turned on the braai and set up the beerpong table. Time to play! Blood, sweat and tears everywhere. An occasional cheer filled the room. After many thrilling battles, we all headed to bed, feeling stoked about the awesome day.

    On the final day, we first watched a documentary about plastic in the ocean, which we were talking about earlier that weekend. It is amazing to see people coming closer to nature in just a few days, by just spending time in it. After that, we hiked to Arniston´s secret cave, which only appears in low tide. Even there, the conversation about the plastic continued. It was beautiful to see how everyonce cared so much and how we together came up with little things we could do to improve the situation.

    We said goodbye to a part of the group afterwards, since they had to continue with their travels. They were amazing, so saying goodbye wasn´t easy. With the rest of us, we drove to Strand to catch our final waves. We left the water feeling completely stoked.

    Unfortunately, the weekend had come to an end. The places and the people made the experience super special. Can someone please press rewind?’

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