Can I learn to surf?

When I was a kid in San Diego, I always wanted a surfboard. Never got one, though. When I moved to the desert I had my motorcycle and snow skis to occupy me. When I moved to L.A… I don’t know what I was doing.

I destroyed my knees skiing and in a car wreck in high school. It’s a bit of a process for me to get up off the floor. I’m also rather top-heavy (i.e., fat bastard). What are the odds that I could learn to surf? Probably pretty low; but with a longboard I might be able to do it.

Not that I’m going to try; just curious if it could be done.


You don’t have to pop up like a pro surfer everytime - you can feebly crawl up on the board and still have time to get up and steer a bit and have a hell of a time.

As for being top heavy - the only real problem with being out of shape is that the paddling to get out into the waves can be a real bitch.

Best bet if you really want to learn.

  1. Go rent a big foam funboard. Also get a wetsuit if the water is freezing. When you get to the beach attach the leash from the board to your back foot. If you don’t know which one is your back foot - attach it to your right - you can figure it out later.

  2. Look for waves that are breaking far out from shore. You are looking for powerful whitewash.

  3. Wade out into the whitewash with your board. Do not let it get parallel to shore as a wave will take it and smash it into your face. Keep it pointed out into the open water.

  4. When you are a litte more than waist high in the water - wait for a break in the waves and turn your board around.

  5. As a broken wave approaches you, jump onto your board propelling it forward (towards the beach).

  6. Paddle to pick up speed.

  7. When the wave hits you - it will grab your board and start to plane out. Let this happen.

  8. Now try to stand up - don’t go halfway (i.e. to your knees - it just teaches bad habits). Just slowly, and maintaining your balance, try to stand up.

  9. You fall or you ride.

  10. Repeat as desired.

  • Peter Wiggen

I’m a strong swimmer.

‘Funboard’? You’re talking about a real board, and not a boogie board, right? Back foot would be my right, because I’ve lost part of my kneecap and the patellar ligament on my left. Right has to be aft for shock absorbtion. When I was in L.A., I was good without a wetsuit for an hour.

A bit of a problem up here. (No longer in L.A., and Birch Bay isn’t exactly known for its surf!) Maybe I can take a holiday in Hawaii and try it out.

50’ish pudgy woman here, who finally got surf lessons on Maui two summers ago. I always wanted to do it and finally did with one of those “learn to surf TODAY” schools. Went with my husband and two kids. A couple of times was good enough for me, but hubby and the kids continue to surf. If couch taters like me and MRSIN can get up on the big foam boards so can you. Go for it. Whats to regret, but not trying. :slight_smile:

I can’t pop up to save my life. (I think my legs are wrong) - but I do know that Tofino on Vancouver Island is a great place to surf.

You will need a wetsuit, though. The ocean is colder there than it is in LA.

Wetsuit, hell! I don’t go into the waters up here without a dry suit! :eek:

Yep. Big foam board about 8 feet long - made for beginners. Makes it much more pleasant if you fall and the board smacks you in the head.

That means you’re regular foot.

Sounds like a plan. You know I think they do have some surfing up around that area (that’s WA state right?) But I don’t know anything about it. I do know that it would be supercold and you would need your dry suit!

Anyways - good luck if you do try it. And again, re: OP, the answer is YES!

  • Peter Wiggen

It’s really not that cold. Just coldish. Wetsuits are fine.

Plus, since you’re in Birch Bay, it’s close.

I went diving off of Nanaimo last year. Plenty cold enough for a drysuit, for this SoCal ex-pat!

Think: “Nike shoe slogan” and just do it.

You stated that you’re top heavy, but a strong swimmer. Paddling out takes a lot of stamina…you’ll likely feel out of breath before your arms give out.

You didn’t give your height and weight in this thread, so I will just tell you my experience with board size… I am six foot tall and 200 pounds. My favorite board is a 10 foot Yater. I have surfed boards as short as 7’2" but I find that the effort to get the shorter boards “in the wave” takes a lot of the fun out of surfing.

Take the advice of PeterWiggen- Learning on a foam-top board is a good thing. (Taking a shot in the ribs from a fiberglass hard-board HURTS)

Most of all…do not judge your ability to learn from one or two experiences with surfing; Surfing is a sport that takes a long time to master, patience is paramount.
(Don’t worry, you can have fun right off the bat, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t jump up and “Hang Ten” your first few times out in the water.)

You’re not far from Tofino, as long as crossing the border isn’t an issue?