Roaming and eating our way through Columbus and beyond.

Surf Lesson in Honolulu

{by alexis} Guys, I’m back! We passed ten or so days in Hawaii, and it was truly the trip of a lifetime. We spent most of our time in Kauai, but I’ll be sharing that with you in the future. For now, I want to tell you about surfing. No, really — we had a surf lesson in Honolulu! The Honolulu visitor’s bureau connected me with the legendary Nancy Emerson and her Nancy Emerson School of Surfing, who set us up with a private, two-hour lesson on the shores of Waikiki beach with Sasha Leitner, who doubled as our talented photographer!

First of all, you should know that when I say the legendary Nancy Emerson I am not exaggerating. She is a world-renowned surfing champion, stunt woman, and media darling, so we knew immediately we were in good hands. Nancy suggested we work with her instructor Sasha while we were visiting Honolulu, so we got up early one morning, walked a mile or so down the beach, and got ready to take a running leap into the waves.

But it isn’t quite as easy as all that. Sasha sat us down and gave us the most effective physics lesson I’ve ever had in my life. We learned about form, energy, and safety. I knew how to paddle, catch a wave, fall, and get back on my board all before even stepping foot in the water. This was especially important when it came to falling off the board — the water was shallow, and the sea floor was a jagged mix of sea life (I imagine those sea urchins HURT) and rock. The key here is the belly flop — spread your body out flat, and never kick down. I was a bit nervous before we got going, but Sasha reassured me that that awareness is necessary before you get your feet wet.

And so we jumped right on in.

You’ll notice the weather here is total garbage: this was NOT the Hawaiian norm in our experience. Look at every other day in the South Pacific — it’s all blinding blue skies and fluffy, passing clouds.

But the day of our lesson was far different. We had constant rain and gusty winds that made paddling a bit more difficult than usual.  In the picture below, the land behind Joe is Waikiki Beach. Notice that big foggy, triangle thing in the distance? That’s Diamond Head. It should be clearly visible on a normal day, so the fact that it’s almost entirely obscured should really tell you something. But we were not be stopped. Surfing we would go!

Would you believe me if I told you that it wasn’t impossible? It wasn’t! It was much more intuitive than I was expecting. Sasha paddled out into the waves with us, lined us up, and launched us into a incoming swell. The board just lifts and you’re off! After a few tries, I wobbled to my feet and got my arms out.

And yes, I crashed a few times — head over feet, flopping into the waves wasn’t so bad because I knew how to do it. I’m happy to report that neither Joe nor I sustained any injuries (other than toes with a bit of board burn), all thanks to Sasha’s effective lesson back on dry land.

Our proudest moment was when we caught our own waves without Sasha’s nudge. I paddled away from a wave, felt the surge pull me up and stood. Suddenly, I realized Sasha was cruising along beside me on her own board, instead of left back in the wake. I had done it — I’d caught my own!

Our surf lesson in Honolulu may have been the most fun I had while in Hawaii. I was totally taken by the hours we spent in the surf. Sasha was a great teacher — fun, firm, and encouraging. I can’t recommend surfing enough — especially if you get to do it on Waikiki with Nancy Emerson’s Aloha Surf Clinics!

Mahalo, Nancy and Sasha!

We received a media discount in exchange for this post, but all opinions are my own.



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