The sun had barely risen and a smog bounced off the sea cliffs with a spray-like haze. The sun peered through the mist like an orange orb. The green water washed into the beach like vertical walls exploding as though they’d been smashed with a wrecking ball.
My coach grinned, both excitedly and apologetically, ‘There’s a bit of a freak swell here this morning.’
I shrugged, trying to mask the dread I felt in my gut, and replied, ‘We’ll see how I go.’
We paddled out and sat out on our boards beyond the line-up while he explained how to spot the perfect wave. We paddled horizontally along the beach. A swell rolled under me, seeming to rumble before it had even broken. It hadn’t broken and yet the surface of the water dropped so far that I felt some vertigo.
‘That’s a big one!’ I called out.
‘Lucky we’re so far out; those guys in the lineup are going to be pounded!’ came my coach’s cheeky reply.
‘This is freaking me out,’ I admitted but kept paddling through the choppy water.
‘It’s absolutely huge out here…you’re doing well just being out here. It’s very intimidating.’
We watched the rest of the freak set roll under us before we put ourselves in the line-up to catch our waves. I’m not going to lie: I did some spectacular nosedives and got smashed and pounded. But you know what? I’ve never felt as confident out there in the water as I did today in the big swell. I think I can owe that to the awesome coach I had. He was encouraging and informative – also super friendly.
After I did a few cycles in the rinse and “got my hair wet” I was over my nervousness that wiping out in big waves would hurt. Was I held under? Yes but only for mere seconds. Did I drown? No. Did I eventually catch waves without nosediving? Yes. Did I have fun? Yes.
My coach kept apologising and expressing his regret that the unbroken waves were so mammoth today, but you know what? I’m really glad that the swell was huge. It was taking me out of my comfort zone to even go in the rip and paddle out to the line-up, let alone doing it when the swell was up! Now I know I can go out and I can handle it.
Here’s to catching more mammoth waves and nosediving a few hundred more times!
If you’d like to check out the surf school I had my private lesson with, head over to http://www.islandsurfboards.com.au.