Learn to Surf

Kids of all ages can get the hang of catching a wave.

Roberto Gonzalez

For anyone who didn’t grow up near the ocean, learning how to surf may seem like a pipe dream. But if you find your way to Florida’s Atlantic coast, you’ll discover a beach culture that has been a proven training ground for surfers young and old, including 11-time Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour Champion Kelly Slater. 

Surfing is about becoming one with nature, or at least that’s what New Smyrna Beach’s Jimmy Lane of Jimmy Lane Surfing Academy (www.surf-lane.com) teaches his students. “If you lose your fear of the ocean, it becomes a great place to escape from any worries on land,” Lane says. “The ocean is your classroom, and the waves are your instructors.” People who are more comfortable around the ocean are often ahead of the curve when it comes to learning to surf. 

Roberto Gonzalez

Having the confidence to catch a wave and feeling comfortable falling off the board (“wiping out”) are the most difficult hurdles to overcome, says Lauren Holland. As the owner and operator of School of Surf in Cocoa Beach (schoolofsurf.org), she says, “It’s pretty easy as long as you believe you can do it.” She also says that students need some degree of strength and flexibility. “You have to be able to jump up from your belly to your feet and have the strength to pull yourself back up onto the board if you fall off.”

You don’t have to be a kid to catch a wave. Whether it’s a one-day class or a weeklong camp, you can expect to easily pick up the basic fundamentals of board control and situational awareness that will allow you to stand up on a wave during your first lesson. 

“Everyone has the same ability when they’re just starting out,” Lane says.

Most surf students Lane and Holland teach are under age 18, but both are seeing more adults sign up for their classes. Lane has even taught a 90-year-old to surf. For novices of any age, Lane recommends using an easier-to-control board of 8 to 10 feet in length.

Mature adults shouldn’t feel self-conscious about wanting to learn since private lessons are available. Once you feel the rush of exhilaration from catching your first wave, you’ll be hooked as a surfer for life.

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