Go Surf LA
Santa Monica, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, etc
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Category: Fitness, Recreation
Company: Anyone (not afraid of the water)
Cost: $100/ ~2 hours (but I got mine for $48 from Zozi - and YOU can too for 7 more days!)
Quickie: Go NOW before LA remembers it's Fall and not Summer - plus, these guys are great!
OTC Tip: Wear lots of sunscreen (especially under your nose where the water reflection hits) - and if you listen to everything they say, you will be up and paddling within the first 30 minutes of your lesson!
Despite being absolutely in love with the ocean, I'm a bit of a paralyzed cat when it comes to handling the waves. However, since I'm a firm believer of forcing myself out of my comfort zone once and a while every now and then I enlist myself in an activity that requires me to take the tide head-on.
Since I live in LA for the proximity to the beach, over my excursions I've seen many variations of possible water sports (surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and kitesurfing, to name a few) - and for some reason, out of all of them I've always wanted to do stand up paddle. It's probably because it looks like the best of two worlds (surfing and kayaking) and you get work yourself out in to the middle of the ocean sans boat or swim cap and goggles.
Having purchased my Zozi deal earlier in the week, I called Peter to schedule my lesson. Despite aiming for Friday or Saturday, I appreciated Peter's insistence that I wait for Sunday since the waves were slated to be HUGE (oh my terror) throughout the beginning of the weekend. Finding it hard to disagree with anyone who has my back, I nodded to Sunday at 10 am.
As luck would have it, Sunday was a fantastic day. Hot by 10, I forfitted the offer of a wetsuit. I was also thrilled to learn that my group lesson was more semi-private (just two of us!) and after 15 minutes of basics (including how to handle the paddle and what to do if you fall off your board) we set out.
Next came the hardest part for me - the point of ocean sports I fear and reel back from every time - which is the entry. I'm not sure what it is, but the idea of heading in to the ocean at the face of crashing waves just freaks me out. No matter - Chris instructed me how to handle waves should they peak or crash right in front of me (crouch down low!) and with a huge smile pushed me forward.
He was right, of course. After the worst three minutes of the entire day, I managed to get myself through the waves and out in to that only slightly-ribboned bliss that us beach-goers, surfers, and runners can only reach by the cast of a longing gaze.
Next came standing up, which took me four tries (yes, I fell in three times and no, no shark bites!). After getting my balance, we headed out to the green buoy (aka chalet du sea lion) which is about a mile out from out starting point.
OTC Tip: Ask questions! Everything moves pretty slowly out there, so take the opportunity to have your instructor critique your technique. Also, do make sure to request a "speed demo" - if you get Chris, he's a competitive paddle racer, so it will be super fun to watch him crush through the water like he's the boat himself.
After a good hour and some we found ourselves much more steady, totally dry, and ready to head in. Much like a surfer, to get to shore you let the waves push you in - just be careful, you don't want any sneak attacks to send you awry.
I'll be curious to see how I feel tomorrow - I'm pretty sure my poor calves got the brunt of the strain from an hour and a half of balancing - but no matter what, I'm pretty sure I'll be going back. Thanks, Chris & Peter!