what is it about surfing?

Yes, what is it about surfing that makes some people get up dead early in the morning just to catch that perfect wave? To love the water even when it’s cold and choppy? And what is it that makes beginners endure all of these involuntary  gulps of salty water just to maybe, maybe, be able to stand up the next wave. Ida Nord Larsson, project manager at UMG, has never been the one to sit still much. Now she’s found another reason to keep moving  that includes a board, a cool attitude and preferably some waves. And yeah –  a tight body stocking.

It all started in Galicia. Why?

My friend Lotti and I wanted something more than just sun and party and decided to give surfing a chance. Surfakademin arranges surfing classes around the world with Galicia as one of their destinations and for us it was an unknown territory. The nature in Galicia differs from the common, or at least our, perception of Spain.

What’s different?

First of all, we went in July and it was a lot colder than a regular Spanish summer. Instead of 30 C we had 22 C and the water temperature reached no more than 16 C. The nature is dramatic with cliffs diving straight into the waves of the ocean and the eucalyptus trees are just magnificent. We stayed near a small village, Cedeira, 200 meters above the water, with a view that reached a long way across the Atlantic Sea.

But wait a minute… cold water and surfing?

Haha. Yes, to be honest the temperature was a bit below what we expected. Nothing else to do but to put on a wet suit with long arms and legs. With the wet suit on, though, we were warm and didn’t pay the cold water any attention.

Ok, then. Back to the 200 meters above the ocean…

It wasn’t the easiest place to get to since it’s a small mountain village. We flew with Norwegian to Madrid and then with a domestic flight to La Coruna followed by a taxi drive. Some flew to Biarritz and went by car from there, and others came from Portugal.

 Just to go surfing… What entices you?

I traded skiing for snowboarding a long time ago and “surfing along” has always kept me curious. It’s not really the water itself that attracts me and it’s a time consuming sport: you paddle, wait for the right wave and then you have to catch it just in that very second. But when you do catch a wave it’s such a sense of freedom, and such a reward when getting everything right. However, it takes a lot of involuntary gulps of water to get there…

And the exercise. Food never tastes as good as after three hours of giving it all!

Talking of snowboarding… Some can hardly stand up the first day. How did you manage to stand up on a surfboard?

Well. First we gathered on the beach to learn how to carry the board, which is one part looking cool but mostly about avoiding the wax to melt in the sun. The wax provides you with grip and traction. Next step was jump ups, which I got a hold on pretty fast since I exercise a lot, and after that paddling. Then finally! we were allowed  into the wet.

Out in the water I managed not only to stand up the very first day, but also to follow a wave back to the shore. Keep in mind, though, that we’re talking small waves.

Concentrated, and standing! Photo by Ida Nord Larsson

It’s all about courage; it’s windy, big waves and a lot to control. Some got knocked in the head by the board and I fell of 30-isch times before catching my first wave. Timing is key. And strength, you have to be strong enough to endure the paddling. A strong body gives you a head start when catching a wave and when turning around before jumping up on the board. Now my goal is to stand up for longer periods. And a Hang tail.

Hang tail?

You climb forward on the board with baby steps, and follow the water by steering the tip of the board with your toes. It takes a lot of practice to get there…

And Lotti?

Lotti has a fighting spirit and always gives everything she can. She aced the jump ups but didn’t dare to let go with her hands and stand up. Instead, she jumped back into the water. Last day, though, she followed a small wave standing up. There’s a photo of her from this moment and she is just a big smile! I, on the other hand, looked fully concentrated; I think we can both agree on that we had different purposes with the trip. But Surfakademin has a standing up guarantee and they succeeded once again.

What was included in the trip?

Surfing lessons, wet suit, a board for five days and staying. We shared a big house with the coaches and some of the other participants, others stayed at a hotel. Lotti and I shared a room, but otherwise people stayed three to six persons per room. And we all shared two bathrooms.

Living together in lodge Golmar. Photo by Surfakademin

It sounds like a camp!

It was! We were divided into cooking teams and the nights were spent barbequing – mostly tuna – drinking wine and watching the sunset. And we grew really tight as a group.

I’ve been living like this several times so I had no problems at all. Those who felt a little uneasy got used to it after about two days. Living together really gave us the opportunity to socialize no matter social boundaries. Some people came alone, some together; some were really young and some a little older… These kinds of interactions are so worthwhile, and made the trip so much more than just about surfing.

Friendships like that are special, some fade and some last. Do you still stay in contact?

Surfakademin actually had a reunion not to long ago for former participants. I couldn’t come, but on the other hand am I going to Costa Rica on another surfing trip this Christmas. So yes, in some way.

It’s not all surfing. Lotti and Ida, third and fourth from the left, with new friends. Photo by Ida Nord Larsson

Is it all surfing?

Well. In Galicia, we got up early every morning to catch the best waves, which meant breakfast around 8.30 and departure from the house an hour later.

Often I got up earlier for a jog – the best way to enjoy the amazing surroundings. Surfing takes time and that includes getting everyone and their boards in the car, driving to the beach and when finally there – trying to squeeze into the wet suit. That alone takes 30 minutes… We stayed in the water for about three hours but if you felt tired you could always relax in the sun, have a coffee or an ice cream at the beach café. After a while we got really good at time optimizing, teaming up with two other girls, and enjoyed a shower back home before the others got back. We were often really tired and did nothing but rest.

No partying?

Ehrmm… The final night we went to La Coruna for some food and a night out. And drinks. We had so much fun but so little sleep that we were half-dead on the trip back home. But staying active gives you energy and Lotti and I were so pleased we didn’t go to… I don’t know… St Tropez once again. And while Lotti felt she had now tried surfing it really whet my appetite, hence the trip to Costa Rica.

And the surfboard? Buying a Chanel?

Hahaha. I know what you’re referring to. The lifestyle is so relaxed and more about how you carry than what you carry, if you know what I mean. But since you asked I’d rather go for a Bing. But first – a wet suit!

(Cover photo in this story by Surfakademin.)

by Catharina Holm

Destinations: Galicia, Spain

Escapes: Beach, Summer, Surf