The summer in which Spain learned to surf: “Buying a board and getting into the water is already reckless”


Saturday, 1 August 2020 – 14:26

The boards have been sold out in the stores, the schools have no places and a half Spain fantasizes about taking advantage of the summer to learn to catch waves. The idea is good, but it requires some precautions and tips

By pandemic or due to financial difficulties, that trip to Roma, a London oa New York it was canceled and summer vacations for many were shortened to two weeks, or one, or a few days at the beach. Positive thinking: take advantage of them. More than ever, this July and this August the sea is the scene of everything and, therefore, also of sport. The shame or laziness for jumping into the water to practice some modality have now been blurred with more days and more days on the sand. The sales of most stores, which have long been out of stock of surfboards, paddle surf and bodyboard, or the agenda of the nautical centers, up to courses and private classes, show that the boom is already a fact, but the professionals demand prudence. Despite the pleasure of the beach, the refreshing breeze, the fun on the shore, the sea is still the sea.

It is a habitat that we do not control. No one will go up a mountain on a foggy day without knowing the way, and the same thing happens at sea. Before starting we must do a course, know how to act in an emergency, learn about the currents, and then launch ourselves, explains Leti Canales, eight times Spanish champion of surfing and tenth in the world ranking. Buying a board and getting into the water is reckless. You have to maintain respect for the sea. Even if you see that there is no swell, in a short time the situation can change and, if you are a novice, it may be difficult to return to shore, adds Alazne Aurrekoetxea, world number nine in paddle surfing and professional in modalities such as longboard.

But wait, wait, wait. The world ranking of paddle surfing? Yes, of paddle surfing. Professional of modalities like the longboard? Yes, like the longboard. And what is all that? Well, there is possibly the first lesson to learn. After many years in which the only alternative to swimming was surfing, in recent times a considerable number of disciplines have spread in Spain that can be very attractive to the uninitiated. Paddle surfing or SUP, for example, consists of standing up paddling and does not require as much balance because the board is larger than in surfing and it is practiced with calm sea. Bodyboarding, another example, is based on catching waves with your chest glued to a board, so you only need to know how to row with your arms and have an almost childish instinct. For the longboard, yes, a specialty that involves surfing with an XXL board, you already need some experience.

There are plenty of easier alternatives to surfing. Paddle surfing, in fact, is the fastest growing in the world because in a couple of days you can stand up and paddle a bit. You learn four things about the sea, you get the hang of balance and that’s it. Then you also evolve fast and in a few weeks you are already going with the paddle to some cove. In a summer you take a runpoints out Aurrekoetxea, who also recommends bodyboarding to both adults and children and who agrees with Canales in a conclusion: surfing has a lot of appeal and a lot of difficulty. I still meet people who tell me that it is easy without getting into the water. Let’s not kid ourselves: surfing is a frustrating sport, there are other simpler modalities. I always recommend that my novice colleagues spend a whole summer testing if they like it before buying the material. If they are still motivated by the second summer, go ahead and buy an evolutionary table. Never in competition, which is difficult: it is usually another common mistake of those who start, advises the surfer.

Both Canales and Aurrekoetxea They are Basque, from the town of Sopelana, in Vizcaya and although they proclaim that their beach can be a paradise for professionals, they recognize that it is not the best place to start. The currents and, above all, the influx of bathers in summer hinder learning and, therefore, the first enjoyment. In Spain there are several places known for their surfing tradition such as Mundaka (Basque Country), Somo (Cantabria), Rodiles (Asturias), Pantn (Galicia), El Palmar (Cdiz) or Famara (Lanzarote), but both recommend lesser-known, wilder places, to start without stress. A surf school, waves of at most one meter and the desire is enough.

Then it depends on the ability of each one. There are people who get it the first time, especially children, but it is possible that the first day in surfing you will not even be able to stand on the board. If you like it, persevere. Then, little by little, achieve balance, disappear fear and be able to take broken waves, surf in the foam. With skill and motivation, at the end of the first summer even taking walls, beginning to experience the greatness of the sport, Canales adventure, which before the pandemic was at its best: he had been on the podium in a test of the World Surf League. In paddle surfing the evolution is faster and even more so if you have already practiced some displacement sport, such as canoeing. Then it is a matter of acquiring good technique, not pushing with your back and having fun, above all, having fun. With initial caution and patience in adjusting, summer can be pleasant, says Aurrekoetxea, eager to see the sea full of boardmates.

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