Rule number one: remember that you CAN do it

Something unusual happened when I peeked over the rail at my local break yesterday. It was little…and I was actually disappointed. I chugged anti-anxiety drops on the way to my break and had pumped myself up for a confidence-building-progressive surf. … Continue reading

Enjoy Bass Strait…

I arrived at my local break and chatted to a local. ‘You had a look at the beach yet?’ he asked. ‘Nope.’ I pulled on my wetsuit anyway. ‘It’ll be ‘right.’ He gave me the ‘you-are-such-a-kook’ facial expression and left … Continue reading

Boards make the surfer…or do they?

Boards make the surfer...or do they?

Boards make the surfer…or do they?

I first stood up on a wave on January 1st, 2013, on an 8’0 soft-top foam board at Smiths Beach, Phillip Island.

I went surfing again February 5th, 2013, on the same board at the same place. Then my life went downhill and it was a while before I could step out and go surfing again. October 2013, I went surfing again and decided that surfing would be my saviour from the darkness.

I got my surfboard November 28th 2013 but it took me until after Christmas to find the courage to go out and give it a surf. I’d wanted a surfboard and wanted to be a surfer girl for as long as I could remember. I finally had the board and a strange delirium took me over. I had such trepidation about actually getting out there on my very own 7’6 Mini-mal that it took me almost exactly a month before I actually used it.

That trepidation is playing out even now, with my second board, a 6’4 fun board.

On my 7’6, I catch waves. I can steer and do basic turns. But I get out the back on any day over 1.5ft and I get nervous. In fact, I get scared. I don’t even know why. On my 7’6 board, I am not confident to try for waves.

However, on my 6’4, I know I can get out the back without being too pounded by the impact zone. It’s lighter and easier to paddle and turn. So I paddle enthusiastically out the back, even on days when the surf is bigger than I know I should be attempting. It’s 8ft? No worries. I’ll give it a go. Worst that will happen is I’ll get dumped. And I do. Oh boy do I get dumped. And thumped. I mean, absolutely-annihilated-thumped but I am absolutely-fine with it.

I don’t know what it is. I take on a different persona when I ride the different boards. I know I can surf the 7’6 efficiently yet I am too frightened to try. I know I will wipe out efficiently on the 6’4 in big(ger) surf yet I don’t care. I tend to stay in the white-water on the longer board and only try little waves. The fun board has me paddling for waves I know I’ll never make, yet I try anyway.

What is this odd stage in my journey? Do I perhaps need an in-between-size board? Why is it that I have little to no confidence on a more stable board, but have all the charge (and little of the success) I need for the short board?

I do believe I am confused, but I’ll continue to take both boards out. Why not. What harm does it do to try and fail on the shortboard and be confident, while being a nervous wreck but pulling it off on a longer board?

Am I just a conundrum? Perhaps not. They do, after all, say that the board makes the surfer…but does it?

Turquoise Compass learns to surf with Island Surfboards on Phillip Island

The first time I went surfing was in 2007 in Nicaragua and the second time was in Tofino, British Columbia, Canada. Although I’d been surfing twice before, I’d never managed to stand up for longer than a second or actually ride a wave to shore. Falling off the board and being dumped by massive waves was more my experience. This is probably due to the fact that I’ve never been taught correctly or taken an official lesson (or tried on not-so-beginner waves). I have the type of personality that if I want to try something I just go for it. Full speed ahead. In most cases, this strategy has worked for me successfully. Surfing however, is an adventure sport that I just couldn’t master on my own. Finally, at thirty years old, in my turquoise dream destination, I signed up for an official surf lesson at Smiths Beach with Island Surfboards on the beautiful Phillip Island in Victoria. Shockingly, Island Surfboards had me catching waves in no time.
Getting ready for our lesson with our camp shirts on!
When Amy from Surf and Fitness Journey heard that I would be travelling to Australia and that I wanted to try surfing, she immediately recommended Island Surfboards on Phillip Island. It’s Island Surfboards who actually taught Amy how to surf and got her hooked on surfing. Now she writes about her surf and fitness journey on her blog. When I signed up for the lesson, Island Surfboards guaranteed me that I would stand up on my surfboard during my very first lesson (They’re really that good!). I was sceptical and thought that it would never be possible, but I took them up on the offer. I had tried time and time again and failed over and over again. It’s frustrating when you want something so badly and you can’t achieve it in the way you think you should. Yet this time, standing up and surfing on a long board became possible over and over again.
Calm water before the swell at Smiths Beach
After the beach dry land training, I went out into the water to practice paddling and catching the whitewash waves. After I was comfortable and successful at catching wave after wave, now the hard part…standing up. We went back to the beach for the second part of the lesson. We learned the process and sequence on dry land of how to go from lying down, paddling, catching a wave, to standing up (without falling off). We drew surfboards in the sand and practiced the sequence to ingrain the process in our brains so that when we got into the water we remember what to do. The three lessons I learned to master standing up were: 1. think about what you are doing, 2. don’t rush and take your time (you have the time to react), and 3. It’s more mental than physical. Surfing is about teaching your body to react in a certain way. These tips were invaluable and prepared me to go out in the water and test the theory I learned on the beach.
Island Surfboards
When I got into the water to actually practice all the knowledge I had learned, I was overwhelmed at first. Every wave that I wasn’t successful on made me more and more frustrated. The children who were doing the lesson with me were quickly up and standing in no time. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly jealous, even as I happily cheered them on. I was still expecting surfing to come easily for me as someone who is a stronger swimmer and used to being in the waves. Growing up by the sea (and in the sea) has made me have a love for being in the water. Once I let my ego go, I had to really think about what I needed to do to catch a wave. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I slowed down my pace to follow the instructions step by step. Slowly and surely I was determined to catch a wave.
During my time in the water, my instructor had to remind me a few times not to rush the standing up process. He gave me the guidance I needed, while still giving me the space to learn and explore on my own. Every few waves he would swim back to check in with me and to give me a few more pointers. There were times when I thought I would never stand up. Immediately falling off when trying to stand up on a wave is frustrating. Any surfer knows that fighting the whitewash waves out to sea is hard work. Surfing is exhausting. As much as I wanted to just give up and go suntan on the beach, I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I did that. In the end, all of my hard work and patience (or lack there of at times) paid off, because before I knew it (in less than an hour) I was standing up on the long board and surfing to shore. I couldn’t believe it! I actually surfed! Not just once, but four times that afternoon. Can I call myself a surfer girl now? Probably not, but I still surfed none the less and all thanks to Island Surfboards. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. They made all the difference for me, especially since I had tried a couple times before with no success.
What I Learned from My Surf Lesson
1. Not all things come easy
2. Be patient
3. Think things through
4. Hard work and determination pay off
5. You can do anything you put your mind to
6. Pick the right surf school
7. The instructor makes all the difference
8. Don’t give up
9. Ask questions
10. Accept constructive criticism and learn from it
About Jessica from Turquoise Compass
Jessica from Turquoise Compass is a teacher at heart, but her true passion is traveling (especially to turquoise beaches), adventure, and trying new things. She has been to 17 countries and she is ready to see more. She has completed over a hundred items on her bucket and encourages others to live life to the fullest, while taking advantage of every opportunity that comes. As you can tell, this hyperactive traveller loves visiting beautiful turquoise destinations.
You can follow Jessica on all her social media avenues:

Meet Boardette


I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of my family aka quiver.

Meet Boardette, a 6’4″, 20 3/4 inch, NSP funboard or “surf betty”.


Picked her up on Friday night.



Surfed her first thing Saturday morning.



I can feel my confidence growing with this board already. Stoked!

Arms up with a resounding YES!

Go Nikki!

I love being able to wake up in the morning and check the ASP website for updates on the WCT. The Rio Pro is under way and Nikki Van Dijk has won her first round.

You may have figured out in previous posts that I’m really going gung-ho for this young surfer. It’s awesome to see a local on the world stage.


Nikki Van Dijk lost her heat but she won hearts

Nikki Van Dijk lost her heat but she won hearts

Nikki Van Dijk lost her round 4 heat to Carissa Moore at the Rip Curl Pro. Not that she didn’t surf amazingly. She just had one of those days.

She got the surfboard slap of a lifetime and will probably be sporting that black eye for the rest of the WCT and she also fell on rocks and was pummelled by the whitewash. In the interview she gave to the ASP afterwards, I really felt the urge to give her a hug. She’s worked so hard all her life to get where she is now. She still scored a 14.10 – a mightily respectable score (Dimity Stoyle won heat 4 with a score of 11.50).

I don’t envy the pressure that is on the pro surfers’ shoulders. Win. Win. Win. Surf well. Win. Surf well…but win (and also flaunt a Brazilian bikini so we can market you). You can see it all over Alana Blanchard’s face when she surfs in competitions. It pulls her under and she can’t often land a good score.

Sure, Nikki’s a rookie. But this girl is a champion. Mark my words.

She doesn’t even need to win for me to know that.

Go Nikki. You’re making Phillip Island proud.

Tough Mudder

I had a great weekend away with close friends. One of my friends decided to enter Tough Mudder and we all went along to support him. Tough Mudder is a 20 kilometre obstacle course that takes about four hours (on average) to complete. Watching the fit people tackle the course really illustrated to me how unfit I really am. I run 3 kilometres and I am done. There were people that were still able to jog by the end. How does one even get that fit? I feel like the more exercise I do, the more exhausted I get. Isn’t exercise supposed to work the other way around?

I am always so fatigued that just going for a walk or a run is difficult. I admire every single person that signs up for obstacle courses, marathons, fun runs and charity walks. I really need to work on my fitness. Surfing is great at keeping me fit but not for getting me super fit.

Chaos reigns this week. I have four university assignments due (all on one day) and I also have a niece arriving in the world on Friday which is astoundingly exciting. But I’ll still try to squeeze in some running or at least walking (surfing is a give-in haha) so I can work on being super fit like all those Tough Mudders. I’d like to say I was inspired to enter for 2015, but if I really wanted to be electrocuted I’d touch my horse’s electric fence for free! And all that mud? That’s winter here in Melbourne if you have an animal kept at grass. I’ll work on being fit enough to walk for 20 kilometres though!

Six spots to surf some time

Six spots to surf some time

These are some of my favourite surf spots. I do live in a pretty amazing place in the “arse-end of the world”! I would include Cape Woolamai and Bells but I’m not good enough to surf there yet. All in … Continue reading