Photos by Allison Hubbard
This semester, take a step out of your comfort zone and become a true Malibu resident by learning how to surf and paddleboard. Radfish Malibu is a competitively priced water sport business offering lessons geared mostly toward novice surfers.
Both surf and paddleboard lessons are $100 for two hours. Paddleboards are also available for rent — $60 for two hours and $80 for one day. Although the cost of lessons reaches into triple digits, the prices rival similar businesses along the coast. For more experienced athletes, Radfish Malibu also offers fitness training for paddleboard racing.
The founder of Radfish Malibu, Tony Stearnes, is journeying toward his 40th year mastering the waves along the Pacific coast. A California native, Tony is extremely knowledgeable about water sports and ocean safety unique to Malibu.
I took a surf lesson with Tony on Sunday morning. The ocean was a little rough for what was my second time on a surfboard. I was a bit nervous to take on the waves, but Tony made me feel instantly at ease.
After squeezing into a wetsuit, Tony had me first practice paddling and sliding fluidly into a standing position onto the centerline of the board. Once I got a feel for the board under my feet, it was time to head into the water. I wasn’t expecting paddling to be such a strenuous task, but Tony was right there with me the entire time, helping lift the board over any monsoon waves.
After a short lull, a perfect set rolled in. With a push, I paddled toward shore, attempting to stand as the board rolled with the crashing wave. Leaning back a little too far, I lost my balance and took a fall. I refused to let the ocean defeat me and gave it another try. This time I stood up perfectly centered, gliding on the water all the way toward shore. It felt like I was flying, free and connected. I wanted to stay out there all day.
Tony not only taught me how to find my balance on the board, but also how to read the waves and control the board by shifting my weight between my front and back feet. I experienced some wipeouts throughout the morning, but I felt completely safe the entire time. Tony helped me laugh it off and instilled in me a love of surfing.
Lessons take place at Zuma, Surfrider and Escondido beaches. Zuma — a 15-minute drive west from Pepperdine located off PCH — is the perfect place for your first day out on the water. It hosts sandy sea floors, and light wind conditions make it easy to practice balancing and gain confidence on the water. The best time to hit the waves is early in the morning before the winds pick up and riptides conquer the currents. Instructors are friendly and will meet you at the beach equipped with a clean wetsuit and sturdy board to get you out on the water your first day.
Surfing can seem a bit daunting at first, but if you love the ocean and aspire to feel a rush of adrenaline pumping through your veins, call Tony. You may take some rough tumbles, but persist through it and you won’t be disappointed. With Tony’s help and expertise, you will feel safe and soon be able to take on the water on your own.
Call (310) 433-1767 to schedule a lesson or check out boards.
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