Written By: Lorenza Gil-Kabande
How can you get good at something that will be different every time you do it? I’ve always been intrigued by how surfers are able to play with nature’s waves to create their own fun. Even though I’ve lived in San Diego all my life and have been curious about learning how to surf, I’ve never really gotten around to taking classes. Jonathan Shimasaki, who has been sponsored by T.C. Surfboards, and has been surfing for over 5 years, was kind enough to let me ask him some questions for those who, like me, are curious about taking up surfing!
How long did it take you to learn to surf?
“No one ever really stops learning how to surf because there are always new ways to do things. Every day I go out to surf, I’ll think of different ways to do things like how to get more speed, turn faster, or put my foot on a different spot on the board. You just gotta figure it out”
What classes and/or equipment do you recommend to start out?
“It’s not really about classes... It’s about knowing how dedicated you are. You can go out (to the beach), pay for classes, and get a surfboard, but you have to be dedicated and stick with it…. I recommend buying a wavestorm (foam board) if you know you’re going to be dedicated enough. You need something longer to learn”
What are the best beaches to surf?
“There are no waves in Southern California” he joked, “...don’t steal my waves.”
How does surfing make you feel?
“I don’t really know how to describe it… it’s what people who meditate look for. It’s that certain spot where your mind is blank and you just kind of perform on instinct. It’s definitely a stress relief because it's peaceful but it's also like an extreme meditative state. ”
What scares you about surfing? (Rocks/Sharks/Stingrays)
“Getting hit in the face by kooks” he laughed, “I’m not really scared of sharks because there really isn’t any. But when we’re talking about stingrays, I’ve definitely stepped on quite a few but I’ve never been stung… I’ve accepted the fact that I will get stung someday but hopefully, it's not soon.”
What preventative measures do you take when it comes to protecting yourself from the sun?
“Well my wetsuit definitely covers my whole body except my face, hands, and feet so I don’t really wear sunscreen religiously. Regular sunblock tastes gross so I just rely on surf mud.”
What words of advice would you give to someone who wants to learn to surf?
“Don’t let your ego get in the way of learning. The ocean is definitely gonna humble you… that’s just the way it is. And when people give you advice- even though you might not want to hear it- take it to heart… you might be dangerous and not even know it... At the end of the day, surfing is about having fun and being happy, spreading the love and sharing the stoke.”
Hearing that there’s really nothing to be scared of the ocean definitely gave me that little push I needed to get out there and ride some waves. What he said about how learning to surf is all about dedication and hard work, resonated with me. I think this applies to everything you do in life; without dedication, the outcome will not be optimal.
There were certain aspects I did not know, and others that stood out. If I were to surf, I know that I would use the right gear to stay safe from the sun. Whether you decide to take up surfing or already surf, it is imperative that you take preventative measures when it comes to the sun. There is a lack of urgency for sunscreen and how important it is to take action on preventative care. There are numerous amounts of sunscreens designed specifically for people who participate in water sports. After researching which sunscreen is best for you, I encourage you to go out there and shred some waves!