A longboard surfboard should be used for your first surf instruction. It doesn’t get much clearer or easier than that. The hard knocks school of life is typically the finest sort of education you can obtain, which is why I’d like to share with you a little but incredibly essential piece of knowledge.

My first surf lesson was on a fibreglass shortboard that a ‘friend’ recommended for beginners. Actually, he told me this when selling me the board and wishing me good luck. I was a sucker for sure. I’m 200 pounds (85 kilogrammes) and pretty tall, which is the polar opposite of my short fibreglass board.

There were a couple close calls and a gash to my scalp that bled profusely, and for anyone unfamiliar with Australian waters, sharks can be found. I was out of the water in a flash, clever, and enraged by my talents and the sport in general.

My wife felt sorry for me and paid for my first surf instruction at a nearby surf shop. The first thing they told me was that I would be learning to surf on a longboard. A enormous, 10-foot-thick softboard on which anybody might stand… Sure, everyone but me, I reasoned.

After my first class on the beach, the teacher took the group out and individually positioned us for the next wave. When it was my time, I paddled hard and was standing on my longboard surfing to the shore before I knew it. No, I’m not lying; I succeeded on my first effort.

After I explained my problems and pain with my shortboard to my instructor after the lesson, she remarked that was the largest mistake everyone does while learning to surf. They aspire to glide across the water like Kelly Slater. They had no idea that all of the pros began out on longboards as kids and transitioned to smaller, quicker creatures.

My first surfing experience would have been considerably better if I had understood this sooner. You don’t always realise what you don’t know.

Thank you to my wife for teaching me how to surf for the first time. I’ve never looked back since then. After the class, I did end up swapping my shortboard for a longboard surfboard.