My Surfing lesson at Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengre, Udupi.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an emotional attachment to the sea which I can’t quite explain. I love to spend hours on the beach and simply watch the waves wash onshore. I was fascinated with the idea of Surfing but assumed there were no Surf schools in India. I heard about Shaka Surf club from a friend of mine and was really stoked to jump on a surfboard and give it a try.
You can’t stop the waves but you can learn How To Surf! – Jon Kabat-Zinn
After an exciting experience of scuba diving at Netrani islands in Murudeshwara, it was now time to head for my first surf lesson to Shaka Surf Club in Kodi Bengre, a tiny fishing village near the temple town of Udupi, Karnataka.
Shaka Surf Club is run by India’s only professional female surfer, Ishita Malaviya and Tushar Pathiyan. They met at Manipal University, started surfing with only one board, and were bitten by the surf bug. All they wanted to do in life was to share their stoke of surfing with everyone! Today they run a successful surf school offering surf lessons to enthusiastic travelers and train local kids to be the next gen surfers of India.
After a short bus ride from Udupi, I reached the beautiful pristine beaches of Kodi Bengre. I was spellbound with the sight at Kodi Bengre, long miles of soft white sand, lush green coconut trees, clean waters and only populated by a handful of surfers catching the early morning waves.
Kodi Bengre is an estuary with the wild Arabian sea on the left and the pleasant Suvarna river on the right where you can go kayaking.
I sat there witnessing the impressive professional surfers steer effortlessly on giant waves, perform insane moves and tricks on their surfboard.
Surfing looks easy when you’re watching the pros, but there are a lot of surf basics you need to know before you paddle out by yourself.
- Word up
- The word “Surf” has an Indian origin from the word “suffe” which means “The Coastline”.
- Regular or Goofy Foot?
- Stand on your feet stuck firmly in the sand.
- Your Surf instructor will give you a push from behind to get you off balance. Don’t get pissed, it’s just to test your default stance.
- If your left leg goes forward, then you have a “Regular Foot” and if it’s your right leg, then you have a “Goofy Foot”. If you fall down, then your instructor is an A-HOLE!
- Watch this video to find out if your Regular or Goofy?
- Know your Surfboard
- Knowing the parts of the surfboard will help you understand the surfing instructions better.
- Find your Sweet Spot and Learn the Art of Balance
- A sweet spot on the deck of surfboard is the point where there is an equal amount of weight and volume on either side of the board, both forward and at the back.
- Place the surfboard on the beach, lie down on the deck of the surfboard with your legs on the tail pad and your body aligned at the Stringer line of the surfboard. The ideal position is at 1/3rd of the surfboard, not too far ahead near the nose.
- Maintaining balance on the surfboard with choppy waves is really hard at the beginning and takes time, patience and practice.
- Practice Paddling on the surfboard
- Lie down at your sweet spot of the surfboard with your back arched up to lift your shoulders of the board. Paddle with a smooth alternating stroke with your arms sinking halfway up to your forearms and fingers together.
- Paddling while maintaining board balance on the waves is damn challenging and also a killer shoulder workout. Feel the burn!
- Standing or Popping up on the surfboard
- Place your hands on the board, under your shoulders in push-up position with your legs extended behind you.
- Then, in one swift motion, push yourself up and plant your feet firmly on your board.
- Front foot should be facing forward, back foot facing sideways and knees bent in a low position.
- Practice Paddling and Popping up multiple times on the beach till you master it.
- Watch this video to learn the Pop up, Paddling and Entering the water :
- Get your Leash Strapped on and Jump in
- Once you are done with the beach practice its time to strap on your leash (leg rope) to your back foot and hit the waves.
- Fastening the leash will prevent your surfboard from getting away from you when you fall off and possibly hitting others.
- Walk or Paddle into the waves
- Walk your board out until you’re about waist- or chest-deep, then lie on the board and paddle straight into the waves.
- Safety Tip: When walking with the surfboard in water, ensure that it’s always on your side and never in front of you. Make sure the surfboard is angled perpendicular to the incoming waves to ensure it doesn’t hit you back.
- When a wave approaches, hold on to the deck or rail of the board and duck down under the wave.
- It’s a lot of fun!
- Turn your board and wait for an appropriate wave
- Sit back on your board and once you see a wave coming, position yourself in your sweet spot and get ready to paddle for the wave using long, smooth, deep strokes.
- When you’re in a good position to catch the wave, paddle like there’s no tomorrow and give it all you’ve got!
- The trick is to reach the optimal momentum to catch the waves. Paddling hard will ensure you catch the wave and ride it too.
- Awesome! You’ve caught your First Wave, now Pop up!
- Once you’ve caught the wave, perform a Pop up as you had practiced before.
- Keep your feet planted on the board, your knees bent, your arms loose, and your eyes looking in the direction you are going.
- You’re now surfing your first wave!
- Don’t be afraid to wipe out.
- If you feel your falling, jump away from the board and fall to the side or back of the board, covering your head with your arms as you fall.
- Most wipe out injuries happen as a result of the board hitting the surfer.
- Wiped out? Get back up and Keep trying.
- You’ll probably slide or fall off many times, but don’t be deterred.
- Some people can learn in an afternoon, while others take a few weeks to get the hang of things.
- Keep trying and you’ll eventually make it.
Surf schools in India
Here’s a list of Surf schools where you can learn to surf and be awesome!
Lonely Surfers, Vizag
Bay of Life, Kovalam, ECR Rd, Chennai
A Rising Tide- The India Surf Story
Watch this Awesome short film called A Rising Tide- The India Surf Story by Shaka Surf Club
In a country with a population of 1.2 billion and just over a hundred surfers, the film sets out to explore the journey of some of India’s pioneer surfers, their humble surf beginnings and their deep connection with the ocean. Through interviews with local watermen we celebrate the joy of riding waves and the aloha spirit of the Indian surf tribe. As the numbers of surfers in the country keep growing each day, we hope that these stories may never be lost and shall help create a deeper sense of surf community in India.
After an exhilarating and tiring day of surfing, it was time to head back to Bangalore. But not before a humble visit to the sacred and spiritual Udupi Sri Krishna Matha..