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The Good Life

Learning to Surf

Going to Surf City.
By Larry Olmsted | From CBS Sunday Morning, May/June 2020
Learning to Surf
Photo/Adie Bush/Getty Images

The Beach Boys put it best: “Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world….You paddle out, turn around and raise. And baby that’s all there is to the coastline craze.”

Okay, it’s not that simple, but once you catch your first wave, the huge rush and inexplicable sense of satisfaction is like sitting on top of the world—even if that wave is just a two-footer. And to get there it helps to take lessons.

At a quality school like TropicSurf, an Australian company that hires the best instructors and bases them at more than two dozen of the finest luxury resort partners, it starts on the sand. You learn the theory: how waves break and currents work. But you’re also taught practical matters, like how to lay on the board, paddle out and time your swimming strokes to accelerate towards shore before the wave coming in from behind reaches you.

Most important is how to go from prone position to standing in one (hopefully) fluid motion. You can expect to fail before you succeed. But when you do, it’s like unlocking a door—suddenly you get to your feet with every wave, and soon you are riding and steering, albeit awkwardly. When it becomes routine, you graduate to smaller more maneuverable boards, bigger surf and more complicated maneuvers.

Taking up surfing is like starting to ski, only with less gear and more sun. Once you fall for it, you’ll want to travel to destinations known for world-class conditions, and at the very high end of the curve is helicopter surfing. But the keys to a great surf trip are the quality of your teacher, the surf and your accommodations.

That’s why TropicSurf has outlets at Four Seasons, Six Senses, One & Only, etc. in the world’s most reliable surf spots, from Mexico to Australia, the Maldives to Fiji, Bali to Costa Rica. They call it the “Art of Luxury Surfing.” In addition to five-star resorts, TropicSurf partners with several luxury live-aboard surf yachts and offers trips with tow-in Jet Skis, seaplanes and helicopters to reach the best waves. In Fiji, you can even try the favorite break of Kelly Slater, the world’s greatest surfer. Hang ten! 

Visit tropicsurf.com

Sport

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