How many days in a row could you surf? 7? 14? How about 31? Rebecca and her mates took on the challenge of surfing every day for a month during lockdown. This is what she learnt.

Surf’s Up Dude!

It’s day 24 and the rain is coming in vertically. It’s horridly cold as I pull on my damp wetsuit in the Freshwater car park and anticipate the chaos that the southerly swell has brought in. My already-shrivelled hands, that I can barely feel, undo the roof racks holding down my surfboard.

The only saviour in this early morning frigid escapade is that in a matter of minutes, I’ll be fully soaked from the ocean anyway, so why bother fighting it? And they said 31-days of surfing would be easy.

In August, I took on a challenge with two friends to surf for 31 days straight, regardless of the conditions, the weather or my own willpower. In part, it was to combat lockdown blues. But it also turned out to be a hilarious and humbling experience, having to face whatever Mother Nature decided to dish up that day – for 31 days straight. And when the surf report says 14-16ft, you can hear the thunderous crash from the car park as the waves bang against the shore.

This is what I learnt.

Read more: Surfing Slang 101


Surfing isn’t an Everyday Kind of Sport

When I told a friend about this challenge, they stared straight at me and said, ‘You know surfing depends on the conditions right?’.

I laughed. I was well aware. As a perpetual novice, I was all too familiar with going out in the wrong conditions and taking five steps backwards. Then taking months off, and inevitably having to start the steep learning curve again. 

Read more: How To Read The Weather Like a Pro



Throughout the month, I experienced some of the calmest mornings. Mornings that were so calm I was hunting down beaches for any semblance of a wave, only to join the groms surfing the shoreline as I rode my board into the sand. 

Then there were the days that the southerly swell graced our shorelines and you could see the whitecaps for miles up the coast, rearing their way around the headlands towards the shore. Even just sitting in between sets, the ocean would send a monster wave barreling towards us, as you madly paddled toward it to avoid being crushed by its weight, catching air as you went over top. 

Yet despite huddling in our beds some mornings, exhausted, as rain or wind banged against our windows, or losing feeling in our feet just walking on the cold sand, in we went. Day after day. And with it, the confidence to face whatever glassy morning or furious waves the ocean threw at us – sometimes literally – that day. The more furious the better, as we recounted every tumble, somersault and head-knock of the day with a post-surf coffee. (Possibly the best part of this challenge?) 

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Surfing is hard, even if everyone around you makes you think otherwise

When you’re surrounded by amateurs that look like professionals and seniors that grew up in the waves, it’s intimidating to join the ranks and put yourself in the huddle waiting for a wave. Weekends are the hardest, when you’re surrounded by an army of surfers and trying to find a laneway to cruise down, with boards flinging all around you. 

So try putting three adult expats in the waves everyday. It was quality material for a bloopers reel – not a highlights reel. There were days you’d think we were having a boxing match with the waves rather than trying to surf. 

Even on my final day of the challenge, despite having gained some semblance of skill over the month, I managed to hook another surfer with my leg rope. When I came up for air, I couldn’t figure out what I was dragging, only to find I’d captured a middle-aged Irish man on the other end. I promised him I’d take up fishing rather than surfing from here on out. 

But for every tumble and knock, there was a beautiful green wave that one of us would glide down and remind us why surfing was so darn fun. And it was obvious, because we’d ride it all the way to the shore, knowing full well we’d have to paddle all the way back out. 


The joy of being in the ocean every day and that perfect final wave

By forcing ourselves to surf every day, it also meant we reaped the reward of getting into the ocean daily. And when your pure focus as you dive in for the day is on getting past the break, letting your arms weaken with every paddle and feeling that first rush of cold water run over you, there’s a stunning serenity that comes with it.

Not to mention the serenity of paddling out at sunrise as you watch the sun crest above the headland and turn the water’s surface a pastel pink hue. (Now that’s just magic!) 

Getting consumed by surfing also led to an addiction of getting a perfect final wave before leaving the surf. But waiting for that final wave was never a two-minute task. Try 30 or sometimes, on extreme days, up to an hour, for that final, satisfying glide to the shore. An addiction that only grew stronger the longer the challenge went on. Unless on one occasion, hanger got in the way.

Read more: Surfing By The Light Of The Full Moon Is Sublime


So, would we do it again?

For one of us, the 31-day challenge turned into 63 days and a severely bruised rib cage. But to her credit, she’s still surfing, loving it and has far too many boards in her quiver to count. 

And while we might not be surfing daily anymore, and admittedly getting pickier about conditions, the reasons not to surf are getting harder to find.