I'm on holiday, one week's camping on the Cote d'Argent at Hourtin. My biggest dream has always been to learn to surf and Hourtin Plage is famous for its beautiful waves. I've never tried before because I was always afraid of getting started. I've chosen the "Surfing Medoc" surf school, on the main strip of Hourtin Plage, to start my surfing career.
My teacher is Pierre, he was French champion in 2006 and 2007 in the "Master" category and came 11th in the world surfing championships in Puerto Rico.
We head off to the beach for two hours of grand adventure, laughter and discovery!
10 am - total immersion
I arrive at 10 am in front of the surf school where my instructor, Pierre, is waiting for me, along with a small group of eight people, all embarking on the same adventure. Pierre gives me my wetsuit and a surfboard ideal for beginners - then we climb over the dunes and down to the beach.
Feet in the sand, Pierre explains how the dunes resist the wind, and how they were formed. Then, using a diagram that he draws on the sand, he explains the dangers of the natural pools formed between the coast and the sandbanks.
After this safety review, it's time for the action!
10.30 am - a few warm-ups and we get wet at last
Warm-up exercises are essential for good preparation. We sprint, jump and stretch our muscles. On the sand, we learn the best position to ride our boards. Like this it's easy!
After a few more safety tips, we get into the water! At first, Pierre advises us to stay near the water's edge, with the sea at mid-thigh level. This allows us to be able to jump onto the board when a wave approaches. Lying on my board, I try catching a few waves. It's really easy! Pierre points out a good wave approaching and tells me to paddle hard. I catch it, and find myself being propelled along - I try to get up but I immediately fall off. But what a sensation!
Upright at last!
There's a great atmosphere in the water. Our group all seems to be around the same level and the same age. Everyone laughs when one of us takes a tumble. Pierre keeps the information flowing, tells us how to position ourselves when paddling, and pushes us from time to time. He's a really good teacher.
Now here comes a really great wave, Pierre tells me where to place my board, I paddle as hard as I can and let myself slide down the wave, I try to ride it... and finally I am standing on my board - if only for a few seconds!! All the others can't believe I've done it - first!
A moment of exaltation. I have only one desire in the world... do it again!
12.45 pm - and time for our reward!
The surfing session comes to an end and a hot shower is waiting for us back at the school. I liked it so much that I have decided to continue with a full week's lessons (2 hours daily for 5 days). Like that I'll have have the basics to continue surfing on my own during my next holiday.
The other students and I decide on a burger place at Hourtin beach for a slap up meal - richly deserved!!
2 pm - time to reflect on it all
After the effort and the overindulgence at lunch I have a lazy afternoon. On the program: beach, swimming, sunbathing, reading, racketball and ice cream.
This is what holidays are all about!