Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

When SurfWriter Girl Sunny Magdaug went to see Peter Heller, author of the surf memoir KOOK, at the OC Register’s Book Club Evening With The Author Event this week she had no idea that serendipity would strike.


KOOK book cover

And that the next morning she would be out in the ocean, getting her first surfing lesson from Michael Pless Sr., The Saint of Seal Beach, with Peter cheering her on.



Sunny grew up in Los Alamitos and spent a lot of time at the beach, but never learned to surf. So, when she was sharing Wahoo’s tacos with Peter and Michael (who’s in KOOK) before the author event, she was surprised when Michael made her an offer she couldn’t refuse – “C’mon and join us in Seal Beach tomorrow. I’ll teach you how to surf.”


Before she knew it, Sunny was at the M&M Surfing School van with Michael and Michael Jr. in Seal Beach, picking out a wetsuit and carrying a surfboard down to the water’s edge, full of anticipation and excitement.


M & M Van

DSC05199AMichael and instructor Jon Larkin didn’t waste any time in explaining what to do out in the water. But, first they had her lie on the sand on a pretend surfboard and practice how to lie on the board, push up and stand up, following Michael’s Seven Steps.

Sunny learned how to position her feet and legs on the board, how to hold her body, what direction to face…and what to do if she fell off.




Finally Sunny waded in with the board floating alongside her and hoisted herself onto it. Jon was in the water, guiding her to where the waves were breaking.

“Get ready! Get into position!” Jon said. He gave the board a push…Sunny stood up…Suddenly the wave was moving the board…And Sunny was riding the wave…It was awesome.



Michael and Peter were watching from the shore, waving and taking photos.


Michael Jr. was in the water giving kids a surf lesson. Laughing, he shouted to Sunny, “Don’t smile! It’s not fun.” But, it definitely was fun. More fun than Sunny could imagine.


Later, after the lesson, everyone gathered at Michael and Jill Pless’ favorite restaurant El Burrito Jr. across from the pier. As they all laughed and talked about the day, Sunny had a warm sense of camaraderie now that she was a surfer, too.


El Burrito

Still hyped from the day, she thought about what Peter had written in his book and felt the same joyful stoke:

“I was surfing! I saw green water at my feet. Then the wave broke around my knees and I rode the rough whitewater. I was frozen with amazement. I was yelling. I rode until the nose ground sand and the fins dug into the beach. A surge came behind and I toppled off into three inches of foamy water. I came up yelling, hands in the air. Did anybody see that? Oh, my God! That was so cool! The sense of speed! I am officially a surfer! Yay!”


Sunny was hooked…a real Kook!

Surf’n Beach Scene Magazine

SurfWriter Girls

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