How the bodyboarding changed my life... #Learning

Thursday, November 21, 2013
How Bodyboarding Changed my Life.  #Learning.

Fast forward to May 2008.
 A year of learning, being taught and experiencing things have passed since I’ve been introduced to the sport. It involves many good and bad memories (mostly good).
 I was still a complete kook, barely knew how to “bottom turn” on a wave but nevertheless I had fun and I was hooked. It definitely was harder for me than many people I know. I remember some guys who started the sport after me, being 100 times better than me after like 5 sessions. Not that it bothered me. I was so focused on having fun, enjoying the ocean, the beautiful scenery and the exploring that I was barely intimidated by anyone or anybody better than me – mostly, since I was a Free-surfer, which means I’m doing it just for fun, where as others was super competitive.

By June 2008, I realised that it’s about time to upgrade my equipment. I came across a special of custom boards from Mr. Alistair Taylor – one of the best bodyboarders in South African history and he is highly respected worldwide.
 I read a lot of good reviews from bodyboarders all around the world about his boards and received a lot of recommendations from the guys on the Sixty40 bodyboarding forum.
I ended up ordering one of his boards, with my own custom colours and design. It was interesting learning things just by filling in an application form. I had to research like half the application form, just to learn what “Rail Angle”, “Tail shape” and all those terms mean. 
ATD Order Form

 I received the board about a month later. 
Alistair was kind enough to personally deliver the board directly to my house. It was pretty cool meeting a guy who I’ve been reading about in Magazines and saw him catching huge waves on International Bodyboarding films like “Tension” and “No Friends”.

My brand new ATD

Unfortunately, at that time when I got my board, it was in the middle of the Sardine Run. This meant surfing was banned all over the coast. During the Sardine Run, shoals of fish swims across the coast for about a month and lure all the big, bad Sharks from all over. Shark activity is 10 times higher during the Sardine Run, than any other time of the year, which theoretically, means you are more likely to get attacked by a shark and therefore they forbid us from going surfing at public beaches. Of course we can still go surf at secret, non-regulated beaches, but is it worth the risk?

Rocky bay during the Sardine Run - 2km South of Scottburgh.

I ended up only getting my first session in by the end of July. My first session on my new board sure was fun. Waves weren't good, but it was mellow, lots of people out and my friends were all over me trying to get a glimpse of this new board and had lots of laughs.
I realised how different this board is from my old one. It had channels which allowed the board to “grip” onto the wall of the wave and maintain speed. It is a small yet critical feature which my previous board didn't have.  The first few waves on the board were rather weird, I was stunned by how much more buoyant it was compared to my previous board and as a result it was a lot faster. It was really amazing how much I have learned in a couple of minutes, just by surfing on a different board.

After spending a few years in the water, the most significant skill I learned during my surfing experience, was learning how to predict wind direction, wave size and weather based on satellite images and charts. I didn’t even have Geography as a subject, yet I would know local weather patterns better than most people in that class.
My non-surfing friends would be stunned, if I tell them at school “I’m going to go surfing at exactly 16:15 because a really good wind would be arriving at 16:05, so the waves would be really fun!” or something in that line. And before we know it, it has happened.

Don’t get me wrong, I probably won’t be able to judge any other place except of the KZN coast, as that is my local knowledge, but I got all this knowledge and skills from no other reason, other than the influence that this sport had on me.

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