Learn to Surf Without Fear

by Morag Sewell on March 19, 2010

Morag Leading the Las Olas Crew

Forward by Bev Sanders

Meet Morag Sewell, Head Surf Instructor at Las Olas Surf safaris for women.

A born leader, Morag’s quiet strength is evident upon first meeting her. I’ve watched Morag introduce many anxious guests to the ocean, always patient and focused, always coaching with ease.

Over a decade of training and on-the-job experience are her keys to her success, but I also believe she embodies the intuition of a caring mother. In any situation, she just knows what to do.

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by Morag Sewell

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

If you fall, it’s just water. If you aren’t falling, you aren’t learning.

These simple rules dance in my head as a code for life. They remind me to be light-hearted during every surf session- on the beach before paddling out, as I’m gliding carelessly down the wave, and when I ride the last one in. They say to me that surfing can be unique, spiritual, and that I’ll never stop learning from our Mother Ocean.

There are particular moments, dream-like glimpses of other events in life that I’ll never forget. They are the milestones, epiphanies, and pillars of my surfing career. Whether they are the wise words of mentors or the visual memories forever etched in my mind, they provide me with the encouragement and inspiration that has kept my passion for teaching, surfing, and adventure alive for nearly a decade.

So you want to try surfing? You’ve had dreams about it since you were a young girl? You have a subscription to Surfer magazine and seen Blue Crush 100 times? You live in Washington DC, but wear surf attire year round? Well, what’s stopping you? Afraid?

Make a move, you’ll never regret it, promise. How could you possibly regret something so fresh and exciting, a new challenge that gives you a unique perspective into yourself and your capabilities?

You have fears and that’s healthy, so let‘s talk about how to relieve those pre-surf jitters. Here are a few simple pieces of advice for stepping out of your safety net.

First things first. Pick a place you’ve never been, a destination you’ve always dreamed about. Of course, make sure there is surf. Next, take a lesson with someone qualified. I’m a firm believer in hiring the right person for the job. Utilize your teacher’s well of knowledge. Ask all your questions. Share your anxieties. It’ll help when you know exactly what you’re up against and what you can expect while in the water. Believe me, I’ve been there and can understand how you feel.

My golden rule: Relax. Remember it’s just water and you aren’t learning unless you’re falling.

Let go of any preconceived notions of what surfing should look like and what it should feel like. Lose the idea that there’s a specific place you need to go. Trust yourself and your instructor. Literally, go with the flow. Play. Surfing will always offer something new every time you paddle out.

I won’t sugar coat it. I’ve kiteboarded, windsurfed, skied, and mountain biked, but surfing is the most challenging sport I’ve ever done. It’s also offers the most liberating, healthy, and rewarding lifestyle and a joyful and free-spirited community.

So get out there. There’s a whole ocean to discover and a lifestyle to embrace. ‘Hang loose’, ‘get stoked’ and grab what’s there for you. The sea is a magnificent place, so share the experience with someone who has the same love of the ocean, your surf instructor.

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“There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” -Rumi

Morag began her surfing career in the chilly waters of Northern California. While earning a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the University of California Santa Cruz, she was able to also study surfing under the tutelage of world-class longboarders. Today, she holds a senior position as California State Lifeguard on the busy beaches of Malibu.

* Tell us your tale of overcoming fear in the ocean.  No big fish stories, please!

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