Riding the Wave
by Ellie Webb in March of 2012

                  And then I was falling. Down, down, down I went. As the salty water filled my nose and mouth, I heard a shrill whistle blow.

                It was an absolutely gorgeous day in Maui, Hawaii. At approximately 90 degrees, it was perfect surfing weather. My family and I had decided to take a surfing class on our vacation, and I was ecstatic! As we walked down the hot sand to the shoreline, I saw that a few other families had started to gather. A long line of yellow and orange surfboards were propped up against a weathered surf shack about halfway down the shore. After a few minutes of waiting, the instructor strode out of the shack. He fitted us all with life jackets and boards, and we headed out into the crystal clear waters.

                The cool, wet, liquid stung a little on my sunburn, but it felt good all the same. The smell of sunscreen and sand mixed with the aroma of the salty, slightly fishy ocean. As the teacher showed us the basic positions and how to keep our balance on the surfboard, I couldn’t help but turn to gaze at what looked like a whale splashing off into the distance. Finally, after what seemed like ages of instruction, it was time to surf. We paddled out a little farther until we reached our designated spot. Now came the fun part, waiting. After about 20 minutes of chatting with the other surfers, we saw a tiny white crest beginning to form in the distance. Everyone seemed to perk up at once, and the instructor chose a lady in front to paddle up to the front. As the wave grew, so did the excitement in the group. The woman stood up on her board, and actually rode the wave for a few seconds! We all were amazed!

                The afternoon continued with people attempting to ride the waves, most falling off in the first five seconds or so. Finally, it was my turn. I nervously climbed onto the board and paddled. It was harder that I initially thought. The board was heavy, and the sun beating down like rain made me sweat. I could feel my skin burning. As the wave neared my board, I stood up, shaking. Then, I felt myself being lifted and pushed forward. I was riding the wave! Of course, my mom was clapping and cheering me on, “there’s my little girl!” The wind was in my hair, and a salty spray hit my face. But then, just as things were perfect, I slipped. It felt like time stood still. There I was, falling into the deep, dark ocean. My nostrils became filled with the salty water, and so did my mouth. I faintly heard the instructor blowing his whistle as I plunged. Now obviously, I was in a lifejacket, so I couldn’t have drowned, but it all happened so fast. As I emerged from the water, I was greeted by cheers from the others. It was an amazing and terrifying experience all at the same time and I’m glad to have done it.