If you’ve ever thought you were too scared of the ocean to possibly try something you’ve always dreamt of doing then Grace Errington will prove you wrong.
Grace is one of our most committed surfers. When I’d met her she had explained that she was terrified of the water and didn’t really know why she was coming on a lesson, she just really wanted to give it a go and face her fears. She explained that she was younger she’d had an incident in the water that had really made her nervous. She’d tried stand up paddle boarding but had never let herself actually get fully in the water.
That first lesson the challenge for Grace was to simply ‘wipeout.’ There was no challenge to stand up or even get onto her knees, initially, it was simply to let go of the board in the shallows and fall in. That sounds possibly quite scary as I write it but I mean, letting go of the board in ankle deepwater and realising that you will be fine. This was Graces challenge. I remember whooping and cheering that first time she fell in and seeing the look on her face of pure happiness and stoke. There was definitely some relief there too, the realisation that she was, as I’d promised, absolutely fine.
As the lesson progressed I was able to set Grace the challenge of pulling her knees up towards her hands. She adamantly told that her hands would stay on the board and I agreed that of course that was fine. Once Grace mastered pulling her knees up I suggested that she might try and bring her hands up into the air and see if she could balance but that it was totally up to her, no pressure. Tom took a brilliant photo of the first time she took her hands off, beaming. I was therefore quite surprised, after what I considered an incredibly successful session, when Grace said good bye at the end, ‘Thank you Sally, I’m not sure I enjoyed that and I’m not sure I’ll be back.’ Honest as ever.
It took one night for the session to process in Grace’s mind and her achievement to sink in and the surf bug to fully set in. I received a message the next day that read something along the lines of, ‘I can’t stop thinking about surfing, when is your next session?’ I can honestly say that I’ve never had anyone say what Grace said after that first session but the latter is pretty standard, surfing gets to you. It’s an absolute challenge, it’s your own personal journey and there is always something you can work on. After a surf session, you go to sleep twitching as your arms paddle trying to catch that last wave, you mind surf the images of the waves you have in your head. You remember the cold, the rain, the rainbow, the offshore spray, the dumping wave and the rush of exhilaration as you battle through the next one. The glide, that’s the ultimate feeling and once you have that, you are most definitely hooked.
To be honest, you can get that feeling at all stages of surfing, on your belly as you catch a wave in, on your knees or when you finally catch a wave standing up. Surfing is infectious and teaching people that are genuinely stoked to surf is likewise infectious. Grace is hooked and she wants to get better. It’s a combination of this determination, the lessons and the photo feedback that means that Grace now, two camps down, eleven lessons in hand her own board and is riding beautiful green waves.
The conditions on our coastline vary so much and Grace is getting to know them all, she’s learning to come out back, she’s understanding surf etiquette, timings and the different types of waves to ride, she’s learning the lingo and she’s learning to be braver and challenge herself further each time. I’m loving the journey with Grace and rest of the girls I’m meeting through Yonder. I’ve said from the beginning that it’s not just about that first lesson. I want to help create confident surfers who know what they are doing and can have fun and accept the challenges each time they surf.
I try and run sessions when the surf is appropriate and try to explain as much as I can about the ocean and the waves without overwhelming you. There is so much you can learn if you’d like to but remembering the importance of patience and reminding yourself that the ultimate goal is keep it fun is key. If you have ever questioned whether you could try surfing, If you have ever thought you’d be too scared of open water or you’re not a strong enough swimmer or that putting your head in the water or falling off a board terrifies you too much, meet Grace, she’ll prove you wrong and come try and lesson with Yonder.