This is not surfing made easy—nothing makes surfing easy. But the rewards of wave riding, to Phil Edwards and anyone who takes the trouble to learn, make it worth all the effort. For paddling out, Edwards demonstrates the two styles in photographs 1 and 2. In either position, weight must be slightly aft to control the board—note how the nose clears the wave. Catching the wave (3) is the trickiest part. Edwards slides slightly forward, paddles furiously ahead of the surf until the back of the board cants up. "Now." he says, "you are not being pushed along by the wave, as many think. Instead, you are actually sliding down the hill." The next step is crucial.
Standing up on a surfboard can be a slippery business, but surfers apply a heavy coating of paraffin across the deck for traction. Edwards rides the front shoulder of the wave, then quickly rises (4) and pulls his feet under him. The idea, he says, is to stand centered—legs apart and flexed. Surfing's classic stance is a crouch (5), one shoulder forward. Either foot forward will do, although surfers say the left foot is proper, call the right the "goofy" one. Moving about on the board (6), Edwards is trimming it to pick up more ride. Simple physics applies here: standing toward the front will get more wave under the back; side stances will make the board turn. Hanging ten—riding with one's toes over the bow—Is considered hot surfing stuff but is nothing for a starting surfer to try. At this point, it is fun—not form—that counts. The stylish touches will come later.
After several rides, the average starter is ready to carve out turns. Edwards leans strongly right (7), placing his weight on the rear leg. The design of the board, plus its skeg (rudder) will take care of the rest. But all this is strictly preliminary to shooting the curl (8), a maneuver considered the absolute end by surfers. Riding close up alongside the wave, Edwards bends over and thrusts his head into it. "It gives you," he says, "a feeling of being locked in on life." Curl-shooting on the East Coast can be exhilarating, although the waves are seldom big enough—as they are in Hawaii—to completely envelop the surfer. But the effect is still strange, like shooting through a waterfall. Finally, most riders finish with a flourish—leaning back in a kick-out (9) as the wave diminishes. It saves that long paddle back out there.