2/8/10: Byron Bay, Australia
Kool Katz Learn to Surf School exclusive guarantee: “Stand and ride a wave for 40 metres or your money back!”
How could we possibly pass up a name like Kool Katz offering a Namathian guarantee like that?
This morning about a dozen of us and one crazy psycho boarded two vans for the beach. No, the crazy psycho was not the surf instructor, although he was quite crazy. (He claims others dubbed him “the Steve Irwin of learn-to-surf” although I’m guessing he gave himself that nickname.) The 250 pound chain smoking 51-year old lady who would only talk about how we might get kidnapped or get our arms cut off if we stayed too long in Sydney – she was the one I’d keep my kids away from if I had any. Thankfully she decided she had a stomach ache and didn’t go out on the water with any of us.
After a 20 minute spiel on safety and the basics of standing up, we hit the waves (a bit of foreshadowing there). To start we would lie face down on our boards and the instructor would push us off with the wave. My first run began quite promising, as I stood up with no problem and surprisingly rode the wave a short way toward the shore. After about ten meters though, I realized the wave was traveling much quicker than I, and as soon I tried to lean forward to catch back up I lost my balance and crashed into the water. I hopped up quickly to look cool in front of the others, and CONK! – the board crashed squarely into my forehead.
I woke up in the hospital some unknown time later with a large knot on my… Just kidding. The board hurt, but I’m tougher than Mark Mcgwire’s left butt cheek so I shook it off. As it turns out, my time would have been spent more productively unconscious in an emergency room. I didn’t catch another decent wave for the entire lesson.
But that’s only one side of the story. My wife, on the other hand, turned out to be the star of the class. Every time I looked up she was standing on her board looking like the next Kelly Slater. I remember one run in particular where I saw her catch a wave and ride it for 20 meters or so. I was quite inspired to catch one of my own, so in what turned out to be one of my better runs of the day, I didn’t crash for at least four seconds. When I regained my bearings, I looked off in the distance and saw Zhou still riding her wave. It was at this point that she saw me, so you know what she did? She waved (no pun intended). She was so good that she didn’t need to watch the water in front of her, but instead could scan the distance for a mangled body struggling for breath and then wave at that person. I’m pretty sure after this Matt Stover missed a field goal, Peyton Manning threw an interception, twelve cars were burned on the streets of New Orleans and then Zhou finished her ride. It was funny because after the lesson she kept complaining to me how long it always took her to get back to catch another wave. No duh! Michael Phelps couldn’t swim that distance in under 15 minutes! Needless to say, I was quite impressed. Did you notice that I called Zhou my wife at the beginning? I had to take ownership of such a good surfer.
While Zhou was busy actually surfing, I was slowly becoming the master of the “I just stood up on the board but now the wave is way closer to shore than I am so that was a pointless waste, but at least I’m on the board, but shoot I’m not going anywhere now so I guess I’ll just lean backward and fall into the water” face. It’s surprisingly similar to the face defenders get when they’re guarding Lebron closer than Joey from Friends guards a ham sandwich, yet Lebron still nails a 32-footer on three consecutive possessions because he’s a basketball god and he does what he wants.
Can you believe that last paragraph was only two sentences?
Anyway, at the end of the day, I had an absolute blast not going anywhere, and Zhou had so much fun that she can’t wait to get back to Sydney where we can surf on our own. However, don’t think I didn’t forget about the guarantee. Kool Katz, I want my money back.
Pictures of the Day: These pictures before sunset seem like a good analogy to our day of surfing: Zhou = rainbows, Kevin = dark clouds.