No problem with gaining speed and catching a wave but poor balance while paddling and not getting what sea is saying to me – these are the most important conclusions from my Hel peninsula surf trip.
It wasn’t suppose to be that way
I was supposed to surf at least in six months time after my last surfing trip to Spain. And surf more. Work responsibilities, finances and other factors I couldn’t do nothing about lead to a situation that I could only manage a short surfing trip to Hel peninsula – a capital of polish surfing. What we saw after arriving there was promising.
I knew there will be much to work on and I was very curious how will I perform after that long break. Of course, during that year I did what I could to be well prepared. I changed my fitness routine, which I described here. I started to swim regularly and I spent a lot of time watching WSL contests, tutorials and surf movies to observe and learn from the best.
The Baltic Sea is great for learning to surf, especially in late summer. The water temperature is about 18 degrees Celsius and the waves varies from 2 to 5 feet. Since the Baltic is „closed” sea there is no typical swell but storms formed in the open sea and the wind do their job.
These conditions were great to test my Hurley Fusion 302 wetsuit. It did a splendid job. I’m really happy that I decided to buy it, especially that I did it online without visiting a surf shop.
I surfed for two days. Each day with different surfing instructor.
The first day – fighting to keep the balance
I surfed with Maciek from Akademia Surfingu. The sea was rather calm with 2-3 feet high waves and 4 seconds period. I took 8.6 feet board and paddled out the back.
It occurred that I have problem with balance while paddling. I just couldn’t find that perfect body position and wasn’t calm lying on the board. Maciek said: you need to do more yoga! And that is the first conclusion from this trip.
Sitting there and watching the sea proved that I also have problem with reading the waves. Whenever Maciek said “look, the set is coming” I needed couple more seconds to see it and judge where I should be to catch a wave (I need to point out that I have a great eyesight). Of course, when you live by the sea you can learn this faster. It’s all about the experience and time in water. That’s the second (obvious) conclusion: be more often in the sea/ocean.
The second day – I paddle with commitment
I surfed with Krzysiek from Learn2Surf. The conditions were much more inconsistent. The waves were very choppy, there were no regularity and we had to catch mostly white water waves. Like this one:
It occurred that my power training helped. I was able to catch many waves and wasn’t tired fighting the white chops. Krzysiek drew my attention to the fact that I need to catch bigger waves since I weight almost 200 lbs. I had the same problem in Spain.
He records our training which is great because now I can see that I still need to work on my paddling technique. There is something wrong with the way my right arm paddles 😉
After these intense two days I formed these three thoughts for the future:
- Put more weight on yoga training (I need more stretch and balance),
- Take surf trips at least four times a year (spending as much time as possible in water is crucial),
- Add paddle training to my surfing fitness routine – I already have an idea of how to do it away from the sea but I will write more about it in the future (after I’ll test it).
And last but not least: my dog John caught his first wave during that trip. That was awesome! We’re very proud of him. Now we know he’s a real surfing dog 😃