When O'Neill invited me to spend the weekend surfing with their pro surfers at their Surf Academy 'Cruel Summer' was stuck on loop in my head. I was going to fulfill my Blue Crush dreams and surf like Kate Bosworth circa 2002. Sadly my two days of surfing involved a few more wipeouts than planned.
I was taught how to surf by Swiss free surfer Céline Gehrut who has carved a career surfing colossal waves with photographers around the world. But how can you get into surfing if you don't live in Maui and don't own a wetsuit? Who better to teach us how it's done than Celine, the pro surfer from a land-locked country? Read on to find out her top tips for beginners...
1. 'The key is to stay calm and give yourself enough time to think about the different steps. There are so many new things that come together: the waves, the ocean, the new environment.'
2. 'It is important to learn about the ocean and the reefs. Give yourself enough time to learn about the waves and the timings of getting up onto the board.'
3. 'At the beginning it is very important that you surf in the lifeguarding areas if you are on your own. In England you surf within the black and white flags. If you are not used to rips you can get dragged out and be in a tricky situation.'
4. 'To learn you don’t need the best waves because you learn in the white water so the waves are broken. Cornwall is really good for learning and Costa Rica has good waves for beginners as well as world-class waves. But you can surf almost anywhere where there is coast.'
5. 'Upper body strength is important when surfing. So when there are no waves I go swim training to keep my upper body strength and mountain biking for leg strength. I skateboard to practice balance.'
6. 'Nutrition is very important to me, but because I surf so much my body knows what it needs. I have a protein-based diet, with vegetables, fruit and a bit of carbs. I avoid too much fat or sugar.'
7. 'A common mistake is that people want to go on their own and rent a board which is too small and thin and is meant for advanced surfers. It makes it hard to catch waves and get your balance. It is easier to catch waves on foam 8 foot long boards.'
8. 'Push yourself by surfing with other people. My boyfriend is a pro surfer so I learn a lot from him. If you surf in a group of boys you learn from them and push yourself harder. We also film each other which is also good for beginners as you always look different than you think.'
9. 'I first learnt to surf on a two week surf camp. It’s best if you can go for a week and surf every day. You are using different muscles, so you will get stronger and improve faster if you do back to back surfing. Even a weekend or a few days in a row is helpful.'
10. It is important to start with a surf instructor who can stop you from picking up bad habits, such as walking out into the waves with your board in the front of you which is dangerous as you can be hurt by the fin. Another bad habit is getting up too early; you have to wait at least three seconds so you get pushed along by the wave.'
Tempted to take the plunge? Check out O'Neill's surfing academy in Cornwall