It's been years since I squeezed into a wet suit and climbed onto a long board. Back then, I didn't catch a wave often but how hard could simulated surfing be, I thought?
I was blasé and bold, confident. I'd remember a thing or two, get points on the board and show the 13-year-old son how it's done.
He'd come along with me to test out the interactive surf "game" on a Monday morning when few visitors would be lining up at Puke Ariki to jeer.
The game is made by Whanganui-based firm Inc Creative and is built like an Xbox Kinect-styled game where you plant yourself in front of a large screen and grab a controller.
He got off to a reasonable start, choosing to surf the Bogworks break off the coast of New Plymouth, on a shortboard.
"It's quite sensitive," was his first comment after a low-scoring first round. The slightest movement of the upper body sent you flying through the waves. "Stand and turn your shoulders," was the game's commentary. "Not bad Grommet. Keep practising those turns," it concluded after he scored a reasonable 5000 points, and then 9000.
Time for Mum's moves. The Bogworks Break allows surfers to pretend they're close to town, the mountain in one vista, Paritutu in another. It's a challenging break, only appearing in big swells under certain conditions.
The other option is Rocky Lefts, the reef break round the coast, close to Puniho, I chose that spot, going for the longboard, and failing dismally. "Wipeout," and "failed re-entry" the commentary told me, as I clocked up O points.
Then I bent the knees, pretended like I was on a board and gently got it turning. My points soared to 3500 and then 7700 before I wiped out again. The games are quick, allowing "surfers" to try again and again.
It doesn't matter if you have no experience; no wetsuit is required or you don't have to brave bracing water.
Said the 13-year-old: "You will go really, really well for one turn and get up again and expect to be good and then you fail.
"But once you get the hang of it, it's really fun.
"It would be cool to choose another city or place to surf at. The game lets you pretend you're there," he concluded.
I'm not sure my widely inconsistent scores would improve if I cruised the waves in a virtual Indonesia, California or Hawaiian setting - but for a moment it's possible to believe.
Surf: Shaping Taranaki runs at Puke Ariki until May 4. Different events are planned as part of the exhibition. This month children can make surf name plates (January 21). In February people are invited to learn to surf with the Opunake Boardriders Club (February 1), tour a surf factory in Oakura (February 8) and listen to Surf Pecha Kucha (February 12). For further information visit pukeariki.com/Whats-On.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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