One of the all-time funniest things that has ever happened at the surf school occurred two years ago during work experience week. We had a young lad, let’s call him Rob, in for a week of work placement from a local school and we were showing him the ropes with regard to dealing with customers and the basics of surf coaching.
Rob was a really good worker and he was a delight to have onboard, but as he lacked seniority in the coaching room he would get the bum jobs – washing wetsuits, making the tea, packing the surfboards away – all of which he did without complaint.
Meanwhile away from the surf school a sub-plot was developing.
My father-in-law was an avid cyclist and had a collection of tandems of varying age and use-ability. He wanted one of them to be sent by courier to London for some friends of his to ride in a charity cycle race. All that had to be done was to wrap the bike in cardboard and the courier would collect it.
Naturally we let Rob package it.
The courier arrived at the allotted time and was dismayed to find that while the frame of the tandem had been wrapped in cardboard he wouldn’t be able to take the bike until every part was completely covered by card or wrapping of some description.
Rules are rules, he said.
Undeterred, Rob, covered every single part of the tandem in accordance with the courier company’s wishes. When the courier returned to pick up the bike he was initially reluctant to take it but he had to concede that Rob had complied with his request.
Rules are rules after all.
The bike was delivered in time for the charity ride and you can see the sterling work that Rob did in the photo opposite.
Now the point of this is not to ridicule Rob or even the jobsworth courier company but to make a point about the barriers and roadblocks that are put up, sometimes by ourselves but often by others, that stop us achieving our goals.
Rob, bless him, overcame the roadblock of company bureaucracy which we all come face to face with at times.
The courier overcame his misgivings and (hopefully) kept his job.
And my father in law never let blindness stop him from cycling (hence the tandems) or running – in fact when he was younger and still had a little bit of eyesight he would use road markings to guide him.
The road markings in the middle of the road – he would run on B-roads in the early morning when there wasn’t much traffic!
He also had a PhD in Physics (Low Temperature Physics and Super-conductivity since you asked) – think how hard the maths and the equations would be when you can only make notes and read them in Braille. He certainly didn’t let any roadblocks, metaphorically or physically, get in his way.
With surfing, especially in colder waters, there are plenty of roadblocks that you can let get in the way if you want to.
Too cold, too windy, tide not right, too much swell, not enough swell and the frankly laughable when you consider the nature of surfing: “….but it’s raining”.
So this weeks tip?
Just get in there. Don’t even bother checking the surf (or if you do don’t look too long, just make sure it’s safe). Suit up and run in there.
If it’s flat have a paddle and work on your fitness & paddling technique.
If it’s onshore and the conditions aren’t great just concentrate on getting the next wave. And the next one. And so on.
And the rain? I promise you, you’re gonna get really wet anyway.
The great advantage of surfing crumby waves is it will often be uncrowded so you end up with a higher wave-count and you will maintain your surf fitness for when the good swells do roll through.
So next time you want to surf but the forecast isn’t too good? Just rock up, suit up and hit the waves.
You might be surprised how much fun lousy surf can be.