Chapter One:Welcome to Solar Blue
Blue Water beach wasn't exactly as shown on the website. It was bigger. It was jam-packed with people and bright blue waves smacked the sand viciously. There was a huge Solar Blue tent in the middle, large, colourful sponsorship flags flapping in the wind, loud speakers barking on poles and what they barked was that the next heat was the finale boys heat between the last two competitors 'Luke Johnson' and 'Mark Anderson'
Luke could practically hear his own nervous heart beating in his chest as he stood at the starting line. This was his finale chance of getting the coveted spot at the Solar Blue Academy. There'd been just over seven thousand hopefuls at the beginning, three thousand eight hundred and ninety two of them males; Luke Johnson being one of them, the first trials reduced this number to three hundred, one hundred and fifty males and the second trial cut this number to only fifty and those fifty were all at the beach today, surfing their lives out for one of six places at the school.
He turned to his competitor, a taller, more muscled, boy with shoulder length blonde hair and a tan. He was the stereotypical male surfer.
"Good luck" he told him. Mark turned to him, a strange look crossing his face, an intense mixture of anger and arrogance. Luke took a small step sideways.
"Just stay out of my way kid" he snapped "this spot is mine"
"Kid?" Luke echoed. Mark just glared at him.
The first wave hit him hard, sending his board straight back into his chest. The water was cold, even though it was the middle of January, but the air was hot and humid like the water had yet to catch up with the fact that it was a hot day.
Luke's teeth chattered with the cold, or maybe it was the nerves. What it was he needed to get over it quickly because Mark was already out there hunting for the best waves. There was a big set coming and Luke had to paddle hard and fast to catch the waves, he cruised down the back of the first waves and found himself with a front row seat to the Mark Anderson show.
Mark was carving it up out, doing things that most grommets dreamed off.
Luke looked down at his board, reminding himself that this was his lucky board, that this was the one he'd paid for all by himself that this was his lucky one and off he went paddling like crazy.
"I can do this, I can be a winner" he repeated in his head. His life was about the change forever.
The boarding house was not at all like he'd visualised, in his head the place was very structured, a place that inspired people to work hard but it seemed like the place was built for the sole purpose of relaxing. There was a pool, hammocks, a pool table inside and lush green garden, plus it was sitting right in front of the beach. Standing in the doorway to the house Luke felt like all of his dreams had come true; it was a little scary actually.
"You must be Luke" Mr Simmonds said appearing in front of him. Mr Simmonds or 'Simmo' as everyone called him was the chief of all things surfing at the Solar Blue Academy, although there was a rumour that there would be a new trainer that would be working with Simmo for the year, he looked laid back in his board shorts, sunnies and thongs but also looked rather serious like he used to wrangling a bunch of teenagers.
"I want you to meet someone" he said turning to call to someone he couldn't see "hey Mike! Get over here"
An older teenager with dark hair appeared behind Simmo, he too was wearing board shorts but they didn't make him look laid back at all, they made him look as serious as wearing a suit would. But he was smiling so Luke took that as a good sign
"Mike this is Luke Johnson the winner of the final place here" Simmon introduced. Mike smiled wider and stuck his hand out for Luke to shake but decided against it when he was the multitude of bags that Luke was holding. Instead he reached forward, taking two of the bags off him.
"Luke this is Mike Kruz, he was a student here two years ago and I've asked him to help train you guys this year"
"It's nice to meet you" Luke said smiling at Mike. It really was, knowing that Mike used to be just like them made him feel a lot better about the upcoming training.
"Come on" Mike said nodding in the direction of the stairs "I'll show you to your room"
As they walked towards the stairs Luke took a good look at other people downstairs. An attractive blonde girl was doing stretches in the living room, she caught sight of him as she straightened up and smiled brightly at him and he smiled back at her.
"That's Charlotte Monroe" Mike said noticing the exchange "but she's told us all to call her Charlie"
A girl with brown hair and cat like green eyes was sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of Nutri-Grain cereal with one hand and flicking through a surfing magazine with the other. A boy with blonde hair and blue eyes was sitting across from her scribbling furiously in a notebook.
"That's Gabriella Jones" he said pointing to the girl "and that's Jayson Baker" he added as they reached the bottom of the stairs.
Another girl was coming out of the girl's bathroom, fully dressed, towel draped over her shoulder, wet hair hanging down her back. She smiled when she spotted him and headed over.
"I'm Lucinda Tyler" she said grinning widely and sticking out her hand from to shake "but most people just call me Luci" he shook her head, awkwardly balancing his bags.
"I'm Luke Johnson" he told her "it's nice to meet you"
"You too" she said before bounding down the stairs, a spring in her step.
"This is you" Mike said opening the door of first room on the right side of the hall "you'll be sharing it with the two other boys"
Mike dumped Luke's bags on the only empty bed, the single one and left the room telling him that he would be downstairs if he needed anything.
"Welcome to Solar Blue" a boy called from the top of the bunk beds making Luke jumped, he'd thought he was alone in the room. They boy stuck his head over the railing and grinned.
"Hi my names Jordan Marks and I promise I don't snore" he said grinning as he climbed down from the bed "I'm guessing your Luke Johnson, I'm really glad you got in here and not Mark, I used to go to school with the idiot, I don't think I could stand living with him for a year"
"Yeah" he nodded "I'm Luke, it's nice to meet you, I'm from Melbourne but my family travel a lot, where did you say you lived?"
"Haven't yet" he told him "I'm a local, born and raised in this place"
The first night was spent talking and playing pool and getting to know each other, everyone sharing their story on how they got in when Luke he had his turn he gave them the brief version, leaving out the parts where he thought he'd passed out from the nerves.
At around nine o'clock Mike stuck his head into the room.
"I only have one thing to say: go to bed" he said.
Jayson sat up off the floor. "We don't really have a nine o'clock curfew do we?"
Mike shook his head. "It's not an order, it's a piece of advice, training starts tomorrow and trust me it's going to be a hell of a lot easier if you get a good night's rest"
They were all too excited to pay any attention to Mike's words of warning. They sat up gossiping until just over midnight. He wasn't sure about the others but Luke couldn't sleep that night as soon as his head hit the pillow a little voice went.
'This is your first night at Solar Blue, this is amazing, all your dreams have come true, this is so exciting….."
At exactly 4:34 he drifted into sleep. Exactly twenty six minutes later Simmo was charging down the hall banging on the doors.
"Rise and shine kids!" he was yelling "rise and shine!"
Luke groaned, pulling his pillow over his head to block out the noise. Some people were just way too cheery in the morning.
At ten minutes past five they were in the ocean baths swimming laps, the girls were anyway. The boys were up at the beach doing soft-sand jogs and short sprints on hard sand. They would soon swap over and they boys would be working with Simmo at the ocean baths and the girls would be up on the beach with Mike.
Simmo clicked his stop watch as they surfaced, Luci first then Gabby and finally Charlie.
"Good works Lucinda" he said nodding "you too Gabriella, you need to work on your breathing Charlie"
She nodded pulling her goggles of her eyes putting on a brave face. It really sucked to be last. 'It's only the first session' she told herself 'they'll be plenty of opportunities to be first place'
As they were sitting on the grass near the house recovering for their training session Mike rolled out a whiteboard. There were forty columns across with their names written down one side. Mike established the rules for the year, Simmo butting in occasionally. They would be in competition with each other throughout the year. At the end of the year there would be a finale comp and the winners, one boy and one girl would win a wild card onto the World Championship Tour. They would be sponsored for a year, surfing the world with the pros. You could feel a ripple of excitement run through the group as they took in the enormity of the reward. It was almost too good to think about.
Mike continued to explain how they were not guaranteed a place in the finale comp that they'd have to earn their place by gaining points. You had to have sixty to win and you'd earn them with comps, training, housework and school work.
"So based on this training, Luke and Luci would have five points, Jordan on four, Gabriella on three and Charlie…only one today" he said writing the points down on the board, even though he rubbed them off as quickly as they were put on it still made Charlie feel bad being in last place.
"Don't take it personally" he was quick to say "someone has to be last every week"
Mike had been right about the sleep thing, it was only eight am and Luke wanted to climb into bed and just sleep all day. There was no time for sleep though their first day of school was today and they had twenty minutes before they had to leave. Twenty minutes flew by and soon enough Mike was collecting them all from various rooms, passing bagged lunches to them and herding them towards the kombi.