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An appreciation of the ocean is revived through surfing

July 20, 2011

Narragansett Times reporter Kathleen McKiernan tests out a longboard at the Pier.

NARRAGANSETT – Surfing is one of those big bucket list moments that many dream of. While beaches like Huntington’s in California and Sunset Beach in Hawaii draw droves of surfers hoping to catch that big wave, Narragansett has its very own beach drawing local surfers, whether they are beginners or experts. With its commemoration of Environmental Day in Narragansett this Saturday, there’s no better time to appreciate those ocean waves or learn how to catch that first big wave.

With its perfect waves, the town beach is brimming with surfers with the help of Narragansett Surf and Skate, the local surf lesson shop that brings beginners to the town beach to check one more item off their bucket list. I was one of those surfers.

There’s nothing like catching that first big wave as you sour on top of it, seeing the ocean water skim beneath your board as the ocean water takes you smoothly to the beach. It’s an amazing experience as you conquer the extreme sport of surfing and those tumbling waves.
Or so I hear.

Although I’ve never surfed a wave like a professional, turning my board at a second’s snap inside a hurdling wave circling above my head, there’s no place better to get you riding that first wave than Narragansett Surf and Skate Shop at 74 Narragansett Ave.

On a sunny, warm Friday that marked the arrival of beach time, I decided to sign up for a beginner’s surfing lesson with Narragansett Surf and Skate Shop, the local surf shop that has all the finest brands in stock, including JC Hawaii, Chemistry, Oxbow, Hobie, LSD, and Bic Surfboards. Also, with local surfing legend Peter Pan running Narragansett Surf and Skate, this local shop is the place to go to learn how to surf.

Narragansett Surf and Skate offers year round one-hour surf and stand-up paddle surfing lessons for individuals and groups up to 100 people, seven days a week, which includes a surfboard and wetsuit.
As I went into the shop, down the street from the popular Rhode Island beach, Narragansett Town Beach, I was anxious to start my first surfing lesson. Inside the shop, I met my surf instructor Conrad Ferla, who’s been surfing for 21 years and Ben Messore, a University of Franklin Pierce student in New Hampshire and another beginner surfer, who like me would be learning for the first time. Just before the three of us left for the beach, Conrad gave Ben and me a couple of wetsuits from their stock of Hotline, West, Hyperflex, Body Glove, Hurley, and Ocean Tec Wetsuits, fitting exactly our heights and weights. The wetsuit felt snug and tight fitting and I’m not going to lie, I did feel like a bit of a superhero in the getup. As I stood with Ben waiting for Conrad to stock our rented surfboards onto his car, I began to get very hot and realized how well the wetsuits must work in cold water. I couldn’t wait to get to the beach.

Narragansett Beach, located in the center of town, is one of the few places in Rhode Island where surfing is allowed unbothered by other swimmers. Though the beach serves regular beach goers, it has a section specifically designated for surfers during the summer season.

Once at the beach, I carried my long board, which Conrad says is the perfect beginner’s board down to the coast.

“To start long boards are the best. They’re big, wide and easy. They’re good for local conditions and learning. As you progress, you can ride smaller boards. Long boards are good if you want to enjoy all conditions,” Ferla said.

On the sand, Conrad had Ben and I practice our surfing stance and this is the point where I got a first glimpse of what surfing would be like and how skillful or unskillful I would be at my new sport.

For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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