Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I tried to surf

I tried to surf

I got a phone call the other afternoon that made me kind of glad I live at the shore. It was from a friend who said, hey wanna learn to surf this afternoon? I was like, this is cool. A little change of pace from the usual late afternoon, hey wanna go to Starbucks? Let's do it. I had written about Stacey Marchel, the surfing mom who gives lessons, and so now I was ready to give it a whirl. Never mind I can't even boogie board. I have been rowing for the past two summers at the Viking Rowing Club in Ventnor, and that has been great. Great exercise, great discipline, total focus, lots of quirky cool people, no cell phones on board. I figured, if I can row, I can surf, yes?

Then I discovered the pop up. Like surfing the web, you can't get anywhere until you get through the pop ups. Pop up, it turns out, is the whole key to surfing. It's the part where you go from lying on the board, feeling groovy, to ending up on your feet, feeling really groovy. It's not supposed to involve your knees at all, much to my surprise. It's supposed to be one fluid springy motion. So it's like, lying on your stomach on the board, lift up your head and torso, push down, spring up to your feet, and -- presto -- or, in my case, no presto, crash into shore.

The thing I like about rowing is that all of my strengths seemed to be needed. My legs are stronger than my arms, check. I can focus, check. I can work with a team, check. I can master precise instructions for finicky stroke technique, check. I can power ten when commanded, check! I can hide my smirks under a Phillies hat and behind sun glasses, check. Except for that one time I left the hat home and pissed off the instructor with my raised eyebrows.

But the surfing pop up. Wow. Upper body strength. Nope. Agility and spring. Nope. Limberness, Nope. Courage in the face of rough surf and high tide, Nope. Another mom who was clearly pop-up worthy and getting the hang of it (it was her third time out) said to me after I complimented her, "Well, I'm just very athletic." That kind of irked me. I'm very athletic too. Wanna take this over to the Jerome Avenue basketball courts and work it out over there? I'm just not pop-up athletic.

Basically, I need to go home and do like many many dry land pop ups, as demonstrated by this fine limber young surfer dudette in the video below. And then maybe I shall attempt again. Or maybe it's just getting over the pop up hump. And once you make yourself do it, get on your feet, you get that surf buzz everyone talks about and then you're hooked. But at least the water was loverly warm, at least low 70s, and I stayed out in the big surf longer than I have in years.

The one guy I'm sure who totally could surf, though, is Raul Ibanez. If you saw his falling catch the other night against the Cubs, and the scramble to his feet, then you saw perfect pop up form. Here's the video of that. Really, compare it to below.

Previously: Oh those wacky Stone Harbor shoobies

About this blog

Inquirer staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg has covered Philly police, city neighborhoods, Ed Rendell as mayor, the Jersey shore, Atlantic City, Miss America and the psychology of Eagles fans. She moved to Ventnor on July 3, 1995, which makes her a local, but not really.

Inquirer Staff Writer Jacqueline L. Urgo has spent every summer of her life at the Jersey Shore, and has lived there year-round for nearly 30 years, even fulfilling one of her bucket list dreams by once living in a house by the sea.

Since 1990, she has covered the waterfront for The Inquirer — from the Atlantic to the Delaware Bay shore — and some of the mainland in between. Along the way, she amassed an encyclopedic knowledge of this tear-it-down-and-build-it-back-up region, delving into the history and the hype of a place with a lot of unexpected stories to tell.

Amy S. Rosenberg
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com
letter icon Newsletter