Learn to Surf

Learn to Surf
  • Written by
  • Dyani Van Basten Batenburg

Bay of Plenty local, Lisa Willcocks, took a stand and waved goodbye to ifs and buts!

Life is busy. Verbatim. So, for mum, wife and full-time essential worker Lisa Willcocks, taking time out to enjoy a quiet moment is near impossible. Throw into the mix a lengthy battle with anxiety, and pursing a life-long surfing dream seemed a distant reality.

“For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to learn how to surf – always a New Year resolution,” explains Lisa. “However, the hecticness of life, plus my anxiety, has kept it on the back burner.”

Till now. Making positive headway into managing her anxiety across the past three years, and inspiring others to be more open about mental health – friends and community – with her story across social media channels, Lisa knew it was time to grab the board by the rope.

Sand man

Armed with a head-to-toe wetsuit which – “Was the warmest thing ever, I didn’t even feel the cold when in the waves,” explains Lisa – and soft top surfboard, the super mum first took at turn land surfing with her Waihi surf school instructor.

“I practised on the sand, getting my footing right. The hardest part was actually getting up on my feet from laying position – you have to do it in one swift movement.”

Finally, sand time over, Lisa and her instructor hit the water – baby steps and baby waves the focus.

“The waves were nice – nothing over my head, and because Waihi Beach is so sheltered, I didn’t feel daunted, it was all very manageable,” says Lisa. “What surprised me the most was the muscles I used paddling out. And, because you can’t kick your feet, your upper body is just going for it – I ached (in a good way) the rest of the week.”

Up, up and a wave

Paddling out was one conquest down – catching a wave was the reward, explains Lisa. “I really surprised my instructor because he wasn’t expecting me to get up on my board so quick. But within 10 minutes of being out the back of the waves, I caught one and managed to ride it pretty much all the way in.”

And, the surfing feeling? “Incredible. It’s really hard to describe that first rush that you get – but I was blown away. For me, just being able to get up and stay up was such a big deal, and my board felt really supportive,” says Lisa. “Because it’s a bigger, floatier board – a foamie – manoeuvring the waves is harder, but for a beginner like me it was perfect because I literally just wanted to get up and ride a wave in.”

Now, with more than one lesson tucked under her belt – and a new birthday surfboard to ride upon – Lisa’s intent on pursuing her surfing passion.

“After that first lesson, I just knew that surfing’s my something – great for mind, body and soul. Everyone should give it go – don’t let age, busy lives, or doubt get in the way.”

Keen to hit the waves?

The Bay of Plenty (and New Zealand-wide) – offer an array of surf schools to get up and riding with. Here’s just a few

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