Up early and into the giant breakfasting room packed with cheap perfumes, loose chests and phlegmy coughs. If this is what I’ve got to look forward to I need to do all I can to preserve my fading youth. I decide to stroll to Fistral Beach and take a look at the young surfing. Helen told me that 30 years ago it was just concrete and a shit tea shop. I’m greeted by the vision of two ouberous like mermaids acting as gatekeepers to the beach. I’m liking this place already.
The concrete has gone and there now stands a huge wooden multi layered balconied building full of smart beachwear shops, open air bars and fine eateries.
I pick The Stable and am impressed with not just the amazing space but also the great staff and the perfect coffee they serve. Though the inside is amazing I choose to sit outside and watch the folk surfing.
After my coffee I set off to explore the lower levels. I turn the corner and find the Fistral Beach Surf School.
I pop in and ask if I can have a 1 on 1 lesson. The wonderful Jenny checks on her wooden computer and sets about calling in a private instructor for me.
Now to be really honest I’ve never had any desire whatsoever to surf. I’m thinking it’s a reaction to the ageing process haha. Either way I’m booked in and I’m gonna hit the waves. Not just any waves mind you – Fistral ones!
So the wonderful Coco arrives to instruct me. He’s like a young Michael York but French. Brilliant blue eyes with blond hair and moustache, Helen and Val please stop swooning now. Haha. Poor guy has the patience of a saint to deal with me for over two hours but he is a wonderful teacher.
So before you can even hit the water you have to learn the many stages that lead to standing on a board and riding the waves. The first stage is getting yourself in the right place on the board. Your feet need to be over the tail and pulled in to grip the tail slightly. Your hands are under the chest with the elbows up. This position is called Chicken Wings.
Next you have to push up extending your core upwards and arching your back. However you need to keep your pelvis in contact with the board. AND very importantly look ahead at the horizon. Do not look down. It’s like spotting in ballet. It assists balance. This position is known as Prone.
Right so before we go any further we need to learn to mount the board, paddle and feel the dip in the board’s nose to execute Chicken Wings to Prone and ride your first wave. But as you might know waves come in odd patterns. So we waded out and Coco taught me to read the sea. Watching in the calm for the green waves forming in sets. These turn into white wave as they swell and break. These are what you need to ride on.
The first wave I rode to the beach was totally exhilarating. It’s better than the thrill of a funfair ride. This is you, rumbling in on nature. It felt soooo good. And this we repeated to get balance and familiarity under my belt.
So back to the beach to learn the next step in the routine. Prone to Kneeling. This will allow me to attempt riding a wave on my knees with my arms outstretched.
Woohoo. Crucifix position. On my knees praising the waves that carry me. Thrilling. Really making my entire body tingle with the sheer joy of achievement. So now it’s time to study the final stages to standing up on your board. Yeah I know. That’s sounding a little too optimistic. But I press on with the next stages. Coco drills me on how to go from kneeling to standing. Remember to keep looking at the dunes on the horizon. Kneeling to fingertips next.
Now this is the tricky bit especially with a belly. The left leg (my choice of leg – can use either) needs to sweep forward and the foot turn inwards to prepare the body to balance when standing.
Right then. One more stage. Standing! The back leg must draw in and angle the foot outwards. Legs remain bent to brace the board and the arms one forward and one side on to complete the position.
Then Coco make me repeat these moves over and over to begin to join them up as one complete action rather than a series of small stages. Then it’s back to the ocean to stand up and surf. Yeah. Easy on the sand.
Go on. Stand!
Argh! Whoops. I so wanted to show myself I could do this. But it is totally exhausting. Even walking out with the board to wait for a wave is tiring. But I kept going. Over and over again I tried and fell from the board. I kept leaning back and the board’s nose went up and I went off over the tail backwards.
Exhausted I could no longer push my body up, even to the Prone position. So it was off to the giant Haviaianas flip flop shower.
Once the sand is washed off it’s a quick trip to the showers in the changing rooms. The cleanest loos and public showers I’ve ever seen.