The Great Mums-Only Surfing Adventure

I had intended to arrive at the beach early so I could lean on the hood of my (mum’s) car and feel the sea breeze ruffle my hair.

I was going to pretend I was a real surfer. A lean fit sun-tanned 20-something surfer chick.

But my plans were foiled. Carlene Sherwell had also arrived at our meeting point early.

She shouted my name before I made it to the front of the car.

And so the great mums-only surfing adventure began.

Carlene’s son Josh, a fit sun-tanned 20-something surfer dude, was going to be my instructor. I tried not to calculate whether or not I was old enough to be his mother.

Robbie Sherwell surf school

Today’s surf lesson was a mums-only class run by Robbie Sherwell’s XL Surfing Academy at Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Robbie is, in fact, a distant relative in a tangled in-law-ish way. My uncle is his cousin. But the Sherwell tribe is huge and members often forget who’s who. So whenever I claim my tenuous link to the Sunshine Coast Sherwells there’s always a bit of frowning and head-scratching and vague nodding.

Robbie Sherwell’s surf school is a family affair. His wife Carlene and son Josh are also surfing instructors. However, today Carlene was out with a kickboxing injury. So it was just me and Josh in the class, wearing matching surf school rashies.

The hour-long Mums Session runs Monday to Thursday, starting around 9am (depending on the tides). Carlene set up the sessions so that mums could drop their kids off at school, then scoot down the beach for a surf lesson.

The session started on the sand as I practiced going from the stranded-on-the-stomach paddling position to the glory of standing up on a surfboard. Whoo-hoo!!! Look at me! I’m standing up!

We then adjourned to the water. After weeks of wild weather I’d hit upon a sunny day with calm surf. Whoo-hoo!

We got the board out past the breakers. Whoo-hoo! (Shut up. It’s harder than it looks.)

And then we tried to surf into the beach. Josh holding the back of the board and pushing me onto the wave. Me hoping like hell that my bum stayed in my swimsuit and that he wasn’t looking at the back of my pasty thighs spread out on the board.

Obviously, thinking about how I looked rather than the stomach-to-standing sequence meant I fell off a few times.

But then, after several attempts, during which Josh did not snort or snigger (or gag). I could concentrate on the actual surfing. And suddenly I was standing! Did you know that surf boards float like enormous pieces of styrofoam? No? Well, neither did I. And this fact surprised me so much I prompted fell off.

On our next run I had more of an idea what to expect when I stood up. And I rode that bad boy surf board all the way into the beach, til the fins got bogged in the sand. WHOOOO-HOOOO! I surfed!

I stood up two more times and then Josh announced the hour was up because he could see his mum waving at us from the beach.

The great mums-only surfing adventure was a total blast. Unfortunately the following day was Friday when the mums session doesn’t run. Otherwise I would have been out there again. Because at A$35 a go, you CAN afford more than one session.

We carried the surfboard up the beach and back to our cars.

Josh and I posed for photos next to *our* board. Unfortunately, while he looked like a fit 20-something suntanned surfer dude in the pictures, I didn’t. So I decided not to publish the picture of me. Because in my mind, at the end of my surfing adventure, I looked like this:

Image from's Flickrstream.

Image from’s Flickrstream.

That’s certainly how I felt – fit and exhilarated and very professional-looking!

Robbie Sherwell’s XL Surfing Academy offers a range of classes for people who want to learn to surf on the Sunshine Coast. The details are here.

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11 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. budget jan says:

    Oh, you shouldn’t have told us the photo wasn’t you! Good you standing up and riding it into shore. I know it is not as easy as the surfies make it look. I took photos while my (athletic) husband and son had lessons, and they assured me it was not easy.
    budget jan recently posted..Fantastic Friday Elk near Jasper

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