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Embracing the Wipeouts: My First Surf Contest

Surfing is often romanticized as a dance with the waves, a harmonious connection between surfer and the sea. However, my debut in a surf contest shattered my illusions of competitive surfing, battling both nerves and less-than-ideal conditions. Far from a picturesque victory, it was a humbling experience of wipeouts, resilience, and the unyielding spirit of surfers.

The day dawned with a clear sky, onshore winds, and unpredictable swells. The waves normally cooperative had transformed into a chaotic force, challenging even the most seasoned surfers. As a newcomer who's been surfing on and off for 10 years with prior competition experience through a different sport, this was still an intimidating experience.

Nerves gripped me tighter than the waves ever could as I paddled out for my first heat. The salty air seemed charged with anticipation, and my trembling limbs struggled to find their rhythm. The lineup was crowded with 4 other competitors about half my age all eyeing the perfect waves.

As the police siren blared, signaling the start of the heat and sprinting out from the beach. My lungs already gasping for air and 15 minutes to catch as many waves as possible, it wasn't going to be easy. My initial attempt at catching a wave ended in a spectacular wipeout. The saltwater engulfed me and the taste of failure lingered. As I resurfaced, all the other competitors each registered points on the scoreboard. The crowd on the beach seemed like a distant blur, as doubt crept in. Was I out of my depth?

Despite the disheartening start, the other competitors shared nods with each other agreeing we all have to deal with these awful conditions...2-3 ft, onshore winds, and a board breaking shore break. As I paddled back into the lineup gasping for air, thinking am I out of my depth, am I not fit enough for this, or is it all in my head.

The judges may not have awarded me any scores for my wipeouts, but at least I gave everything in those 15 minutes. The challenge I set for myself wasn't to make it to the next round, it was to overcome something totally new for myself. With 10 years of on and off experience free surfing, competitive surfing has a totally different vibe that I wasn't used to. I can't remember catching more than 2 waves within 15 minutes in my life.

In the end, my first surf contest was not about winning a trophy, but about embracing the competitive nature of surfing. The waves may not have tilted in my favor that day, but the experience has been etched in my memory. No matter what the conditions were the other competitors had to deal with the same thing and I will take this experience and improve on it next time.

My First Surf Contest
My First Surf Contest


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