Ever since I was a child, surfing has been a dream of mine. There is something undeniably exciting about witnessing someone ride through the tunnel of a wave, the deep blue of the ocean surrounding them and a look of sheer thrill and adrenaline on their face. So, when I discovered YUSurf, the university’s very own surfing society, I leapt at the opportunity.
YUSurf were holding taster sessions on 8th and 15th of October, and I attended the first of these. Obviously, the dreams I have of a tropical beach were never going to be recreated in England, but this provided an excellent starting point. Once we’d collected some of the society’s own surf gear from York Sports Centre, we piled into cars and began the journey to Scarborough.
When I told my housemates I’d be going surfing in Scarborough in October, they all looked at me like I was mad. I’ll admit – once I arrived at the beach and felt the cold wind blowing, I started to doubt my sanity as well. However, once in the warm security of my wetsuit, all those anxieties went away. Society members guided new members, such as myself, to the beach, gave us a quick lesson in how to pop-up on the board, and then we were in the water.
Prior to this, I’d only ever paddled in the sea, and that was in the relatively calm waters around Cornwall. The North Sea is a completely different beast. Once I’d gotten used to the faster paced, wild ocean, however, I was away. Surprisingly, I found the hardest thing wasn’t staying on the board, but rather learning when to catch the wave. There is certainly an art to knowing when to get on the board and start paddling; too soon and you miss it, too late and you get a face full of salt water.
There truly is nothing like catching your first wave. For me, it came after several failed attempts. I could see everyone around riding in towards the shore; a few of the more experienced surfers standing and almost gliding all the way inland. But just as I was beginning to lose hope, it happened. I laid on my board. I paddled with my arms. Then I was surfing. The wave came underneath me, and carried me all the way back in towards the beach. For me, it felt like I was flying, and when I reached the sand my face ached from smiling so much. As cliché as it sounds, it is truly an incomparable feeling when you are completely in sync with a force as powerful as the ocean, no matter how brief the moment.
The strange thing about the sea is that you lose track of time. We were in there for around two hours, but it felt simultaneously like an eternity and not enough time. Reluctantly, we left the sea to dry off and go home.
This was definitely one of the best Saturday afternoons of my life. What made it even better was the people involved: the society members are welcoming and friendly, and don’t patronise you even if you’ve never surfed before. Though surfing is a more solitary sport, there is a real sense of community within the society.
I couldn’t recommend surfing enough. It really is a wonderful experience, and one I think everyone should try at least once. It is difficult, and you may not get it straight away, but once it clicks there’s no stopping you.
And now I’m one step closer to those dreams of surfing through a tunnel wave.
YUSurf holds weekly and bi-weekly surf trips throughout the year, and is having a trip at Easter.