When in Surfers Paradise, do as the locals do. Surf! This was our attitude one sunny morning when we headed out as a team for a beginner's surfing lesson with Get Wet Surf School on Main Beach, Gold Coast. Four out of six of us had never surfed before, so our instructor, Andrew, had his work cut out.
On arrival at the surf school we were handed rashies to wear and helped carry the boards down to the water, where Andrew gave us an on-land lesson on technique and balance. He was honest from the outset that standing up on a board is difficult, which was actually more encouraging than demoralising since we weren't so afraid of making a mistake. Andrew also said it's likely that by the time we hit the water we'll have forgotten all our on-land training - so really the only thing you can do is go for it!
After several rounds of hands, right knee, left foot, twist hips, stand up, we were (sort of) ready to go. The water was surprisingly warm which was a bonus, and the system was simple: Andrew stands at the 'launch point' and we take turns walking our boards out to him, him pushing us onto the wave, us standing first time and riding the wave all the way to the beach, then moving out of the way and walking back out to Andrew. Okay the third part didn't quite happen that way - but it did eventually!
The first wave I caught was a bit of a 'nope' situation; I got onto my knees then immediately back onto my stomach (I think it's more fun that way anyway), but over the hour lesson we all grew in confidence and were standing up for lengthy periods of time. Yes there was much seawater swallowed, many pairs of burning eyes, and some nice red rashes on our thighs, but the whole experience was immensely enjoyable and really empowering - I didn't have high hopes for my surfing ability but I surprised myself!
Andrew is a fantastic surfing instructor for first-timers as he pays attention to what you're doing wrong and gives you tailored advice each time you come back, so we all improved our technique and (hopefully) made Surfers Paradise proud!