I GREW up as a proud nipper on the Gold Coast. Tallebudgera and then Coolangatta Surf Club was my home every Sunday from September through to Easter for years.
It all came to an abrupt end when I was 13. Surfing became my first love and suddenly, ‘clubbies’ were the epitome of uncool. Like Adam and Eve, my eyes were opened to how silly those bright little caps actually looked. And the distinct lack of boardshorts? My other defected nipper friends and I realised our nakedness and covered up quick smart.
But the daggy look was only part of the equation.
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We came to resent those darn red and yellow flags. They were always put up right in the middle of a good sand bank so we couldn’t surf there. It was like the powers at be were working their cunning plan to force us back into the fold.
Then there was patrol. As soon as I was old enough, the pressure was on to volunteer.
This was supposed to be a bit of an honour but, as a teenage surfer, four hours spent watching the waves was pure torture. I couldn’t handle it any longer and officially hang up my fluoro cap, vowing never to return.
Fast forward fifteen years or so and my attitude has mellowed along with my resentment. I’m now a mini-van driving, parent of toddlers for goodness sake.
These days my surfs are over and done with well before the flags are up and when I’m with my kids, I’m actively hunting them down.
This season, wouldn’t you know it, I’m gonna need a big slice of humble pie. My kids want to start nippers and just quietly I couldn’t be more proud.
I’ve gained a bit of perspective over the years and I’m going on record to admit that there is no better place for our kids to learn about the beach than through the local surf club. I’ll even go so far as to say they are vital to the culture of the Gold Coast. It is where my love of the ocean started after all.
I’m actually thinking about volunteering for patrol. Four hours sitting on the beach sounds like bliss these days. Better than the chores waiting for me at home. I’ll agree to wear the stupid little cap but you won’t get me to budge on the boardies, they are staying on!
This Sunday, August 31, is Surf Club Open Day. Get down to one of the Gold Coast’s 19 surf clubs and check it out. You might even want to join me and volunteer for patrol.
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