Monday, 11 April 2016

#49 - Surfing and Windsurfing (Manly Surf School)

Now, technically, this was neither surfing nor windsurfing.  It was stand up paddle boarding.  However, I dropped my paddle on several occasions, so I reckon on those occasions I was just surfing.  Also, at the time of doing the challenge, the category was actually surfing and windsurfing schools, and we did this with Manly Surf School.  Besides, look at the size of those waves in that picture.  You're not taking this away from us...

Catching some gnarly waves.  You should have been there yesterday...
So, the stand up paddle boarding (SUP) / hardcore surfing lesson that we took was with Manly Surf School, although the actual lesson was at Balmoral Beach.  You may hear people say that the reason for this is that Balmoral Beach is much flatter, and therefore better suited to paddle boarding.  This is absolute nonsense.  The waves are at least twice as high at Balmoral Beach as any other beach in Australia.  Anyone who says otherwise is just too scared to tackle the real waves at Balmoral.

We arrived at the beach shortly before 10am and found the Manly Surf School van in the car park near the beach.  After a short wait for some latecomers, we got started with some basic lessons on the beach.  Despite the malicious lies that some people spread about paddle boarding being 'easier' than real surfing, we still had to go through a good twenty minutes or so of instruction on the beach before even getting in to the water.  Once we did, we spent a few minutes getting used to steering the boards, before setting off on a convoy towards another beach around the other side of Middle Head.

It was fairly easy once you got the hang of it, and quite relaxing to cruise along on the water.  I only fell in the water once, and it was pretty easy to get back on the board.  There were a couple of instructors who led the way and kept an eye on things, although the stragglers at the back (us) did get left behind a little bit.  They did come back to check on us regularly enough though and we never felt abandoned.

When we reached the other beach, we simply turned round and headed back.  I guess the guys who were a bit quicker probably had a bit of time to swim around at that beach, but given that it was a 'clothing optional' beach, we were quite happy to minimise time there.  Strange that these beaches tend to be inhabited almost exclusively by men of a certain age...

The whole experience took about 2 hours and was a really peaceful and relaxing way to see the coastline from another angle an adrenaline fuelled thrill ride for only the most hardened of adventurers.

Have you been brave enough to tackle the real test of stand up paddle boarding?  Or did you wimp out and take the easy option of standard surfing?  Share your stories of gnarly waves and epic wipeouts in the comments below

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