Surf’s up, so what are you waiting for? Natalie Cyra talks to Raglan surf teacher Andrew Lucas about the relationship between surfing and mindfulness, and why he thinks more Kiwi women are flocking to the water with a board under their arm.
What has your history been with surfing?
I was a teenager when I first surfed and I loved it. I would go as much as I could but living in Auckland, that wasn’t much. In my 20s I made surfing the focus of my life and I wish I had done it earlier.
I traveled all over the place surfing – Mexico and Japan were favourite stops – and then settled in Raglan for it’s consistently amazing conditions.
Surf coaching helped me travel and my obsession with learning eventually led to me creating my own coaching methods. Surfing’s not about competition or localism for me, it’s just about fun, progression and connection. I want to share that with others. Some say surfing can’t be taught but in my experience, anyone can learn with the right coaching and a little dedication.
Why do you think you are a seeing a rise in popularity for surfing amongst women in New Zealand?
I think it’s lifestyle reasons. Surfing has always been quite visible in media but it was for the “Extreme” factor. Advertising and platforms like Instagram now showcase more of the beautiful locations, the relaxed lifestyle and that connection with nature surfing offers. I think this appeals more to women. There has also been a rise of Yoga Surf Camps and Women’s Surf Retreats all over the world. Yoga and surfing truly complement each other and I think if you like practicing yoga, then you’ll fit right in to the surfing lifestyle.
Why is surfing such a good sport and method for being mindful and at one with nature?
Surfing really blurs the lines between being an athletic sport, an artform and a spiritual practice requiring intense devotion. You see sub-tribes of surfers and they clearly have differing perspectives on why they surf. Some love contests, some love the freedom of surfing alone in communion with nature, some enjoy the social side. But I think no matter your outlook, surfing stills the mind and puts you in a higher state of consciousness during the activity. The waves are moving, your board is moving, you are often in a pristine natural environment and once you’re up, the ride happens at speed. You can’t think your way along a wave and you can’t control what you will do on the wave. As soon as you’ve caught the wave, your mind is gone until you kick out. Also, wiping out is a great exercise in letting go! If you surf big waves and get held under, you need to relax and conserve oxygen – whilst getting rolled.
What would you say to women looking to take up surfing?
Do a bit of homework on the learning process and go at your own pace. If you have the right gear, surf only in suitable conditions for beginners, learn how to read forecasts and get taught the correct way to pop-up plus the correct stance – your progress will be inevitable. You can ride across waves within days and go on to become a confident and competent surfer within six months. If your boyfriend, husband or friends surf – take their tips with a grain of salt and don’t let them drag you out on big days. I see that happen all the time! Master the small whitewater waves first, then hunt down some small unbroken waves. Gradually push yourself until you’re riding bigger days. Lastly, beware of surf schools that teach you to pop up by balancing on your knees. Do that a few hundred times and your neural pathways will be wired that way. Very hard to unlearn down the track.
You can learn more about Andrew’s Raglan surf school, Up Surf Coaching, by clicking here.
Inspired by Andrew and want to learn to surf? We have one 3-day course with Andrew and Up Surf Coaching at Raglan to be won, worth $269. Email [email protected] with ‘surf’ in the subject line and tell us why you’d love to win!