Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Finally I got wet!

No it didn’t rain while I was out of the house. I went surfing to Torquay. “Torquay what’s that?” that’s probably what you’ll ask yourself but Torquay is like Wimbledon for Tennis, Monaco for the Formula One. Actually most of the well known surf brands, i.e. Quicksilver and RipCurl, have their roots in this little town 80 km southwest of Melbourne and one of the most famous surf spots, Bells Beach, is located there. To get there, you take the train from the Southern Cross station in Melbourne. One thing the Deutsche Bahn should consider to copy from the Victorian train service: The announcer calls out every stop like it was the list of the participants of the final of the Soccer World Cup, “Footscraaaayyyy, Newpooort, Werrribeeeeee, Coriooooooo, Geeeeeeelong….” and you might scream “Woohooo” or “Yeeeeeehaaaa” after each single name.

After arriving I Geelong you’ve got to take the bus to Torquay for another half an hour until you arrive at the Queensland Surf Coast.

First thing to do was to buy a wetsuit and I found a really nice one in one of dozen surf shops on the Surf Coast Highway. It’s an O’Neill, mainly grey and black with yellow strips on the side. After getting a wetsuit all I needed was surfboard. Jess and I went to a local surf school where we could rent it for the day and in addition we could put our valuables in lockers. I got a longboard and she selected a shorter board with a soft-top. With the surfboards under the arms and dressed in wetsuits we marched to the sea and already felt like surfer though we haven’t ridden a wave ;-). After a 15 min. walk we reached Jin Juc beach were we met Sylvain and Frank again who went directly to the beach because they had already bought wetsuits and surfboards. After taking some photos we headed down the beach and into the chilly water and paddled out to catch a wave. Though the last time I surfed was on my Portugal trip in 2004 I succeeded in getting up in the white water and the next wave I tried to catch an unbroken wave. Though every successful ride motivated me I had to pay tribute to the forces of the oceans and had a break to get something to drink and grab something to eat.

After the break I went back into the water but was only one or two times successful in getting up and soon was exhausted. Especially paddling out to the line-up is tiring with a bigger board because you can not duck-dive through the broken waves and you are always pushed a few meters back to the beach and it seemed as the waves were getting bigger two (the bigger one were about overhead on the face).

The most thrilling moment is, when you finally paddled through all the whitewater to the line-up, sit up to catch your breath and looking satisfied out over the ocean but instantly turn pale because a big set (2m+) is coming towards the beach. Normally those sets break earlier and sometimes wash a big number of surfers back to beach. One of the teacher in Portugal said “Look to the horizon and when it’s trembling, paddle out as fast as you can…”. As a beginner you normally try to get the smaller ones therefore you wait closer to the beach and when you forget to pay attention you get a free ride in a 100% natural washing machine.

Since the waves got messier we went to Torquay’s main beach and try to get some nicer waves but unfortunately only a few waves were good and as inexperienced surfer it was too hard to catch those waves.

At quarter to five Jess and I had to bring back our surfboards because the surf school closed short after that, but before it did, I took a hot shower there (wonderful after a few hours surfing in cold water) and put on some warm cloths. We went back to shore to watch the sundown (as it is winter time here the sunset is at 17:30) where we met an older man with a body board who told us that everywhere he goes he tries to catch some waves and makes photos to show his grandchild (I guess he didn’t know that Australians call body-boarder ‘shark biscuits’).

By the way a funny story was on the news a few weeks ago as some people have seen a kangaroo getting into the water and swimming a few meters towards the open sea until it got attacked and eaten by a shark. Better not try jumping around in Australian waters ;-) (actually it was somewhere on the surf coast).

At half past six we took the bus back to Torquay but I remember hardly what it was like cause I fell asleep shortly after I sat down and so were the others. Unfortunately the announcer wasn’t as enthusiastic as the one at Melbourne Southern Cross Station but nevertheless we arrived an hour later in Melbourne.

Next weekend I arranged already next surf trip so came back to read about this!

(Unfortunately photos are only available on StudiVZ, just go to my page and select under my profile-photo the link to 'linked photos')