Know what made me a better surfer? A total and complete wipeout. I’m sure there’s some psychology behind that, but haven’t figured it out yet.
I saw the wave coming, positioned myself on my board, chest up, long strokes, paddling towards shore. I could hear the wave building behind me, coming closer, closer. I felt the powerful rush of the wave and was thrust forward. And, as if in slow motion, I saw the nose of my board dip further and further beneath the wave. I was too far forward on the board. In my head I thought, “Nooooooooooooooo……” and then felt myself flipping forward, over the nose of the board, careening into the force of the wave, spun around, upside down, hands over head to prevent me from getting knocked out by the board, thinking I was getting up, but heading down towards the ocean floor and finally sputtering to the surface. I righted myself, coughed salt water out of lungs and sinuses, and looked around. My board was floating several feet away from me. I was still in one piece. Our surf instructor was by me in an instant, asking if I was okay. I was, just torn up a bit. I rested for a moment on the beach, then headed out again. And was able to ride more waves in that afternoon than I had all week.