What search am I talking about, you ask? Well, gentle reader, I refer to my ongoing search for a sport that I am able to perform without doing either of the following:
- Look like a total ass.
- Do myself grievous bodily harm.
Inspired by a smoking hot deal I found on the Groupon website, the sport I attempted today was windsurfing at Windsure Adventure Watersports at Jericho Beach. As it turns out, windsurfing meets neither of my criteria.
Here’s the thing with the part of the Pacific Ocean that you find near Vancouver. It is cold. Always. Summer makes almost no difference. The only people who can comfortably swim in it are children, who — as everyone knows — are made of rubber; polar bear swimmers, who — as everyone also knows — are insane; and some Nordic guy at our lesson today who was bragging about how he loves taking ice baths. (Hey, whatever floats your boat, Nordic guy.) Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the Nordic guy was also a polar bear swimmer. At any rate, what this means is that for the rest of us, the answer is wet suits.
And this is where the looking like an ass part comes in. Now, on the upside, I was not alone for once. Everyone was wearing these outfits, so we all looked silly. Because the thing is, unless you have the perfectest of perfect bodies, you will probably not look so great in a skin-tight, neck-to-ankle rubber suit. And even then, you’ll probably want a custom fit. My husband and I agreed that if they’re going to go to the trouble of making rubber suits anyhow, they should make them with built in rubber six-pack abs. I mean, hey, if Batman can have one, why can’t I? (I rather like the sound of that. Might make it my new motto.)
The class was supposed to be two hours, with the first being on-land theory and the second for trying it out in the water. But I think that the smoking hot deal I mentioned meant there were a lot more people there for the lesson than they were used to. On top of that, it was the first time our instructor had given a class, and while he was lovely (picture stereotypical blonde tanned surfer dude) and clearly knew his stuff about windsurfing, he hadn’t quite got the hang of group teaching yet, so his explanations were a bit more mumbled and technical than would have been ideal and I think his theory talk went over time as well. All good though; they just made the class go over so we still got a full session in the water.
Now, the theory talk involved a simulator board and sail to practice with on land, so I think we all felt ok heading to the water with our boards. We got to the water, they explained how to launch, and away we went.
That was the idea anyway.
And for most of the group, it was the reality. I think it took my husband all of a minute to be standing on his board with the sail angled the right way and looking all impressive and like he’d been doing this all his life. Bloody Australians. I think they put something in the food. Meanwhile, it took me ten minutes or so to get onto the board. For those of you who have never tried this, you are supposed to take the board out to waist height water or so, push down the fin thing for stability, then hop your knees onto the board, gradually stand up, then slowly pull up the sail until it’s angled the right way and you can steer and stuff.
For those of us with balance issues, this is a lot harder than it may sound. (To me, it actually does sound hard, but then, I tend toward a strong streak of realism when it comes to my own athletic prowess.) The knee hopping thing just wasn’t happening for me. After trying a few times, I went with my own spontaneously invented method of throwing my body sideways over the board and then sliding my knees into place. At this point, I was the only one still near the shore, so one of the extra instructors who had showed up later to move things along was trying to talk me through it all. I made it to my feet. I got the sail up and turned around and in the right direction. Things were looking up.
And then I fell in.
But I did it again. I got back up. I got my sail up. And then I fell in again.
Repeat. Thank goodness for the wetsuit.
By the third fall, my board had drifted into shallow water and I landed on my knee in a way it wasn’t meant to land. It hurt kind of a lot. So I decided to sit on my board and watch everyone else for the remainder of the class. They were all very good. It looked like they were having fun. I was proud for them.
Myself, I had fun. Because I was able to get up at all, I consider the outing a success. (I had chosen that as my benchmark before we went.) But several hours later, my knee is killing me and I can’t walk well, so I think I have learned an important lesson. Watersports that involve standing on water are better left to sporty folk and miracle-workers. Going forward, I plan to just work on perfecting my already excellent dog-paddle.