I was on the air for 14 hours, on the ground for 6 until I found myself in the water. I have always loved the beach. It is that one place on earth where I feel most alive and truly at peace. I could swim for hours, gaze at the horizon from dawn til dusk and lay down as the sun’s glorious rays gently caress my skin and the sea breeze playfully kiss my face. You could say that it is my element.
A day ago, my friend Eunice, a fellow beach bum invited me to pack our bikinis, head to the beach and learn how to surf. The answer was easy as breathing. As I have said, I love the beach and surfing is one activity that I really want to master.
I was coming from Sau Paulo, a world and time zones apart from Dubai. I have no time to adjust my body clock and I couldn’t care any less after all I’m headed for the beach. At the beach, time becomes a distant memory. Its only reminder is the changing hue of the heavens but other than that, time seems to fade in the background.
I awoke bright, early and fresh which is surprising since I slept only for a few hours; must be the jetlag phenomenon. Eunice arrived and we hopped on a cab and made our way to Jumeirah Beach which is about 20 minutes away from my place. From there we will quickly pop by Surf Dubai to meet surfer dudes J No, to meet our instructors.
Just a little intro about Surf Dubai, it was established in October 2005 by Scott Chambers and according to their site, he holds a degree in BS Surfing Technology. Surf Dubai is the first and the leading surf school in the U.A.E. If you want more info please visit their site www.surfingdubai.com.
As we entered the Surf Dubai villa, we met Clint and he would be the one to show us the ropes. Unfortunately, the waves were quite flat so we can’t really go surfing. Luckily, there is such a thing as stand up paddle surfing (SUP) which according to Clint was perfect for the kind of waves on that day.
Stand Up Paddle Surfing is an ancient form of surfing with Hawaiian origins (Hoe he'e nalu). In the 1960’s in Waikiki, SUPing is done to take pictures of tourists learning how to surf thus earning another nickname Beach Boy Surfing. SUP is now an emerging modern sport. What used to be a strategy of surf instructors to monitor their students is now a trend. One of the many reasons is that it is an excellent method for core workout. The other reason is the sport is very easy to learn especially by women. Women having a lower center of gravity make them more skilled in SUP.
As it is super easy to learn, our instructor Clint said he didn’t even need to be in the water with us. He gave us the theory and it’s up to us to put it in practice. The first lesson of the day is to carry the board and paddle towards the beach. The villa is just a few meters away from the beach. At first it seemed easy enough but a few steps with the board and the paddle made me feel like it is a Herculean task. With each step, my load just keeps getting heavier and it was a definite sweet relief when I finally got to put it down.
We finally headed towards the water, Clint told us to guide the boards until we reach where the water is flat and calm then, get on the board on a kneeling position at the center point of the board, gauge your balance and slowly stand. Your stance should be feet apart, back and shoulders straight, look forward and balance with your hips.
Paddling properly is a wee bit tricky. Basically, we all know how to paddle but doing it the right way takes time and practice. When paddling on the right, the right hand should be in the lower part of the paddle and the left hand is on the top grip and vice versa. As you paddle, keep your arms straight and twist your torso. As Clint said, paddle with your torso as this is where the real workout begins. As for turning there are three ways which is side paddling which just means paddle on one side to turn on the opposite side. In simpler terms paddle left to turn right and the opposite. Back paddling; just drag the paddle backwards on the either side. Lastly, the Big C. Just make a big letter C on either side of the board to turn.
Clint was absolutely right, it was easy enough. I was able to stand on the first try J and found myself SUPing. Eunice was doing great as expected. She had experience surfing in Portugal and Bali which I am so envious of! One of the many great things about SUP apart from the great workout is when you get tired you can lay down on your board, relax and just go with the flow literally! Eunice and I tried to paddle as close as we can get to the Burj Al Arab since it is both our favorite icon in Dubai. Eunice being the hardcore beach babe that she is (surfer girl and a licensed scuba diver) brought her underwater camera so that we could have a photo-shoot as we paddle surf around the Burj Al Arab.
I like the feeling of learning something new. The words “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” resonates in my head. I was just in awe; being in the middle of the sea, on a board and gazing in the horizon where the majestic Burj Al Arab stood. Ah, life is good! J