Monday, May 31, 2004

Session 4097:Question Authority! Fun NW Swells at LM, Tail Weighting During Take-Off STOKE 7.5!

I have a few close relatives who just insist that whatever they have heard on the TV or radio is the absolute truth, and it is very difficult to argue them out once they get into that mode. I will hold off on the discussion on how dangerous this can become but I will now stay within the topic of surfing...
So, I think that people should just F the Forecasts sometimes and just get out. Most forecasts are based on computer models and also they tend to be based on 1 or even 2 hour old data. In that time, the tide and wind and even the swell component changes. So I basically go by the swell, tide and wind information on my StokeConsole page and I no longer really look at any other stuff. You will be amazed that your brain is still much better computer than most web sites. Besides we are dealing with ever changing nature (especially true with surfing which do change by the minute, unlike ski conditions). No machine groomed packed powder dudes! Instead, shoulder high left, followed by a big overhead rights and a period of nothing... 
This is also the reason why I do not do "go/ no go" forecasts because a good wave for one person is different for another (at one point I thought of doing it.) Plus most of these "go / no go" guys are expert surfers so their "go" is more like eating a big lobster dinner while my go is like a quick stop by at Just Wonton before a session.
Everyone, as a good surfer, should really learn to read the conditions for your own style of surfing. It is actually a lot of fun, especially when you guess is right on.
Today was a fine example where you could have had a Stoke 7 or 8 session at our levels. Great mix of hip to chest to occasional shoulder highs, sometimes rolling, and sometimes fast. I don't know who says junky, not surfable!
But to some extent I am thankful to those off-the-mark forecasts and also surfers who only believe in them... Without it, the beach would have been much more crowded when I got out.
Today I went back to my usual experiment mode and one of my latest quests is the "tail weighting" during take-offs. This has been going on for about the last 3 weeks, and especially when Jen pointed out to me that the tail fins were getting out of the water and pearling!
Today, I think had made quite a bit of progress on this area, and now I have to back compensate. What I have learned is that if I push the tail of the board hard during steep take offs, I do not pearl and do take off even when the wave face is basically closing out right on my back. The problem is that I stay on that mode too long so as I decent I am really wobbly. I know what should be done there. Shift the weight quickly to forward then the board should descend down even faster and can get ahead of the wave. Also it is a sign that I am pushing too hard to the back, so I need to learn to feel how much I need to apply given each wave. " It is a great feel -- feels like you are descending down on a wobbly wooden escalator that they used to have at the Emporium downtown or the Macy's in NYC.
 Well my quest continues!

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Session 4096: Sunday Fun Fun Waves...

So, I took Clio, Amanda, and Arthur to this secret spot this morning. There was only 1.5 other surfers there. This young guy was ripping and shredding with a short board, and about the half the time, I saw his father on his short board and he was ripping and shredding too... a surf family. After the session we spoke with the father, Tom, and he said that his son surfs every day, sometimes twice a day. No wonder...
Anyhow, asides from very strong side currents we had good amount of swells to play with and from time to time, we were getting 1.5 overhead dumpers that were throwing mini right tubes. Personally I had a Stoke 7 blast of time but looked like Arthur was suffering for too much partying last night. Amanda came all the way to the beach only to find out that she had to call back into her job. This was really too bad. Clio said that she fell a lot, but I did see her take some rides.
The Takayama DT4 worked out great, and also I also switched the board with Clio with her Vernor swallow tail 7'2 and that was a fun light board and caught lots of waves though not very long ones.
I have not surfed with Clio for over a month so it was really great to have her back to share the waves!
When I am all by myself that's when I get a bit more intense in all technical details. But, today I tried to "free surf" a bit more by just letting all the theories and stuff just go, so I was more relaxed about the whole situations. Plus I was 100% guaranteed my waves as there was nobody else in my section even all three of us are very widely spread apart. So it was a lot of fun waves.
So, this spot will remain nameless on my notes. Clio, Amanda and Arthur, you got that too? Your cars will be waxed if you write about it.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Session 4095: Clear Nice Day in HMB... Waves?

We had a clear nice day with practically no wind this morning and it was fun but waves a bit challenging to get outside. We were looking for the good S waves but the W wind swells were also prevailing... a combined sea situation. But it was good surf with Laura and also planned a bit more about upcoming camping trip for us.
Today's StokeThoughts is on Wave Selections.
Tonight I was thinking about the topic of wave selection. Now many of us can take off and do basic surfing, and many of us are practicing for better technique, but one that is not written often about is the topic of wave selection. And what I mean by this are basically the following issues.
  • Can find and put yourself in a location where the break is optimum.
  • Can you pick the wave that will give the best ride. Often it is not the most powerful break in the set. But a good break will be the kind that will give you longer ride.
  • Once you are up on the board, are you assessing the change in the waves and correcting the course.
At my current point of time, I am not doing any of that. I can gauge where and when the waves break but that's about it and I am often overly eager to catch anything that breaks.  So I do get rides, and sometimes it is good, and sometimes it is not good, and often gotten eaten up or even a wave is a big fizzler. But looking at Jen's boyfriend, Paul, last week, he knows where to go and waits and only catches the wave that is good to go.
It is a part of the reason why going to Santa Cruz is kind of nice because breaks are more consistent in terms of location, the shape and the direction. If you see one break, then you can more or less just go back to where that has happened and then just wait for the next one to come.
On the beach break situations, while you could argue that there is some consistency over a sand-bar etc., but even then the waves can break in either directions etc., and it is often the case that I need to paddle up and down throughout the session.
Well, this is a rather deep subject so I will be touching on this subject now and then in more depth.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Session 4094: Stoke 5 at JTY & Reflections

Oh, well. It was fun but wish there were more waves there and less wind this afternoon. Also you know it is very shallow when you try to turn around to catch a wave and then the tail of the board sticks in the bottom sand, and it is a short board I am taking about! Then it got a bit too windy that when I was waiting for the waves the board was catching the wind. I saw a kite surfer down the coast so I know it must have been windy!
So that's my surf report for today. Now, onto the reflections column.
Every so often, I check the web site access log and see where the people are coming from, and quite surprisingly, there are many visitors from places like Ohio or Pennsylvania where I know there is not any known good surfing. Also, while I do not hear from that many people on this wave log, I know that people are reading them and also I know from letters that I get every once in a while that there are many people who just enjoy reading about surfing or life in California or whatever. Also in the supplementary material of the documentary "Surfing for Life," the producers were surprised to get so much interest in surfing from people all over the country.
So as a part of my daily column, I think I am going to start to write more about surfer's life and the culture... I think that there are many people who are intrigued by this and would like to live through the life by reading them. For many of us, we are very fortunate that we got the ocean within a driving distance and we can also basically surf year around, so I think that we should all pitch in and tell the story to the world, that this is how to feel like a surfer, and we get to tell the story from the perspectives of "run on the mill" everyday California surfers (unlike, say someone braves the Mavericks or professional surfers).
So if you wish that you were a California surfer, then I will try to do my best for you to live the moment through my stories. If you are reading this, be sure to ask me anything you want to know that you have a great influence in how the story will fold.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Session 4093: One more week to go for 100 days of surfing this year. Nice glassy mellow DP.

When I get up in the morning, I usually need about 10 minutes for my head to fully boot up (still boots up faster than my XP though), and I usually check e-mails and also my own StokeConsole page for any changes in the condition overnight. It is kind of amazing that there are people accessing my web site somewhere from this small planet that the site actually never sleeps. It is a small planet especially if we think about the swells arriving from one corner of the planet to another in just a matter of a week. Should our planet be much bigger, it could be that the swells might take months or even years to arrive, and a notion of overseas travel vacation can also be counted in months and years.
As for the condition, today was the continued downward trend that started yesterday.
This mooring enjoyed the solitude of just having lots of waves to myself immensely and being relaxed getting outside as it was rather calm today. These baby pop-up breaks are really fun to get on with the fish board that now it is becoming my favorite board.
Technically, I have been focusing on being determined to be taking off if I decide to take off and try not to backing off, which for whatever the reasons I started to become either more choosy or more timid lately. The take offs have become more committed, but then quite often I slip out of the board, so the getting up action need to be more fast powered, decisive and committed, and perhaps a bit more smoother. I have had lots of goofy waves have not been my favorite, so that's another hurdle too.
Today was the session number 4093, that means that I have surfed 93 days so far this year so 7 more days of surfing and I would have been in the water for 100 times this year. I actually had one double session recently so technically I only need to go 6 more times, and it is coming close to June so we are almost half way around this year. Hopefully I can put in 200 days or more of surfing this year, and also looks like, at this rate, I can achieve the goal of mastering a full "Roundhouse Cutback" by the end of this year. I just need to do it only once!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Session 4092: DP Continues with Good Waves!

I have, and certainly other people, have been noticing that this NW wind swells (8-10 seconds) have been rather swell this week, we all had a lot of fun riding them. Compared to 17-18 second swells they tend to be both big and closing out, the NW wind swells of 5-6 ft working into Linda Mar can be just gentle and nice to ride at my present level of surfing.
This morning, I brought my old trusty 7'6 and also my 6'6 fish, and I have taken a look the beach and chose the fish to ride in the "inside" breaks. This is something that I have been preparing for... to ride the small summer waves on the fish. The set were breaking at about high-chest level, with a bit of SW wind making it offshore like condition.
It took me a bit of hunting around to find a good spot by then there was only 30 more minutes left for the session, but once I found the spot, it was a lot of fun to get jacked up by these little peaks, do quick flick ups then do lots of little turns to stay on the face. Rides are short but I am starting to jet across these small waves that are breaking really really close to the shore, like some people doing that last summer with their fish boards exactly on these spots. The paddle back for more, only  a dozen strokes and you are already back to the line up! If surfing at the SC peaks with a long board is like flying a 747, these session are like flying a Piper in an acrobatics mode.
So I think I am all set for these summer wind swell challenges. I am stoked and looking forward to more of these small conditions that other people hesitate to surf.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Session 4091: More AM Stokes

Back to the same spot as yesterday. The quality of the waves improved a bit today probably because of less wind through the night. This morning, we even had a bit of offshore condition.
I have been talking about how I came to love beach breaks more than the point breaks in SC, but today was one of the days that was a lot of fun to catch, read the waves and steer the board, and especially it is a very happy occasion when I say "the next wave, I am going to leave." and a good one comes and I catch a great ride. You all know what happens next, right? "Heck!" I was turning paddling back out again!
I really love (and also hate) the fact that these beach breaks make both lefts and rights. On the same spot, one time it is left and another time it is right.
I was also experimenting today on steeper take-offs with a heavy back weighting and on a few of the waves, I was so much tail weighted that I was quite a bit wobbly and stalling at the same time, and could not get into the forward weight fast enough to slide down the slope. Good thing is that I took off, so I think I am on to something.... surfing is fun but very very difficult!
So overall I will give today the stoke rating of another 6.5, well almost 7.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Session 4090: Yeah! Out 90 days already. Good moral booster this morning.

Well, it is probably the first time in Linda Mar in about 2 weeks at least. But this morning was fun to get back and paddle into endless white washes, the close outs to the calm of the outside where nothing happens. But I caught several reforms and that was great. The wind was calm, it was calmer than the forecasts, so that was great too. Wish the tide was a bit higher then it would have been a bit better.
This morning's thought was that I should stop comparing myself to other better surfers. I have started to doing that and it was not good for my stoke health because to be honest I am not going to become as good as the best people out there. Instead, I should really focus on enjoying myself, and by doing so I think I will probably get better faster...
Well, so I am determined to have some more fun tomorrow morning!
Just shut up and surf!

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Session 4089: The Hook and The Sharks

We had a fairly small take-off zone that were mainly focused at the 41 st stairs area, and the competition was rather fierce today though it was not that crowded. The 38th side did not look good at all. It was a nice day, but I had to wait for a longer time for some bigger swells to hit the Sharks cove area, and caught probably 5 or 6 waves only in a 3-hours session. So the message here is for me to really learn how to take off on all kinds of conditions. This is where my weakness lies, I think. Probably to build back the confidence up again, I ought to switch to long boarding exclusively this week. I feel a bit lost right now. I know I have felt this way many times in the past and often it is a good sign that there will be a breakthrough coming, but it is disconcerting every time to deal with the uncertainty as to how long I will be in this mode.

Session 4088: AM at Jetty, Jen, Paul and Ken

I planned to join Jen and Paul at the Jetty on Saturday morning. I also found Ken in the line up. I played by the breakwater with the Fish the first half then brought out the 9'0 in the second half. It was just a night and day contrast to see how Paul surfed his long boards, and I was just looking at him with an awe. He knows where to pick the waves and also takes off on just about anything, and then to top that off, he will do hanging as well as 360s and other stuff.
Jen was doing well too on her big 10'0 board that she says I need to try so I will try that sometime.
So, again, it is not the condition, it is the surfer that rips or sucks. I am hopeful that some day under the similar "poor" conditions, I will be able to do what he did. I've now seen the proof that it is possible. Should this have been a contest, he would have been the top person because nobody out there even came close!

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Session 4087B: Surfing For Life

This is the second session for the day. Went to the Jetty for the late late afternoon surfing. Katy joined me. This S. swell has not been working well in our area. The local buoy was definitely showing the period of like 17 to 18 seconds with 4-5 ft. We did get sets, but they were all closed out too. I guess it will require a bit more westerly angle. It is still quite a challenge to understand the art of surf forecasting.
One of the things that I have been experimenting is "Taking off no matter what." Because some good surfers seem to do. So instead of backing off I just try, and I have been able to do a little better. The key seems to be to hold down the tail really really and really hard. This is what Bill Morris writes about The Tail:
"Your board also has a tail that you don’t know about. As a wave gets very steep, and it looks like you’re going to just fall down the face, you can lean back on that tail and it will gouge down the wave face, gently landing you and shooting your forward with great velocity. You have a tail you can swing from, Surf Monkey. "  from
I got up a lot more on this type of situation (what happens often afterwards is that the wave crumbles up and no more surfing), but good people can pick a rail line and also get the speed so can still dash to left or right and continue on. So that seems to be a key in doing well with beach breaks, and the Fish should be perfect for it besides the penalty for a failure is much less than doing it on a long board (which can make the board fly off).

When I got home, "Surfing for Life" (  has arrived from NetFlix so we decided to watch the program after the dinner.

The film was independently produced by David Brown and Roy Earnest and there are surfers that in 80's and 90's (in 2001).
The movie is about healthy and happy aging, which all of us are experiencing every moment. It was produced locally in the Bay Area and David Brown still teaches video documentary making class in Brisbane.
I am really glad I watched it, because the movie was shot really nicely in Hawai'i and the stories they were telling to the camera were funny, right-on as for the surfing itself, and really teach us how we should really keep stoked as we all get older. Many of the surfers were doing it for 30-40 years and in their younger days, they were surfing 25 ft waves in the North Shores of Oahu even before anybody knew about surfing in such big waves. Of course leashless and with one of these long long wood plank boards. Truly amazing! Many of them also made a lot of impact on surfing community such as preserving the beaches from over developments, and inventing catamaran boats etc.
As with many of the things I agree with, after watching it, you will get the message that you got to keep stoked and live in the moment. Looked like all of the surfers do, and that unites all of us.
All of the surfers looked very healthy, sharp, and happy. It is a very happy story about aging and the life each one of us got.
Big thumbs up on this movie.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Sessions 4086 & 4087:Importance of Keep Being Stoked

Last night, we finally met Ward. As far as our group of surfers goes, he is THE most experienced ones that hang around with us. He has been surfing for many many many years. I am so fortunate to have him, and it was so stimulating to spend an evening with him. People like them has so much depth and dimension to surfing or be it on any subject that we can talk all night and still won't be tired.
We talked a lot about surfing and we talked about Jazz and music (we both play music, though he is much longer at it than me too.)
To summarize it all though, surfing is still about the stoke. More we surf, we kind of get jaded a bit and we start to talk about waves not big enough or weather not nice enough... But remember the first few times you were out and you were so stoked that waves or without waves, it didn't really matter, you just went out and had fun, and in the end that's all what it count, not necessarily in just surfing but with anything we do.
So this is why I continue to Blog so 2 years from now, and I just don't feel like going out because the OB isn't breaking 2X, and when I feel like to yell at some surfer getting in the way, or when I catch myself paddling out looking awfully cranky, then it will be the time to get back with the blogs of 2002...
Admittedly this past week was kind of a blah period both in terms of the waves, kind of rides I have been wanting to get, and the ones I actually got.
This morning I went to Montara. The place is still scary in terms of the power it brings sometimes. The tide was super low in the morning, so whether that was the case or not, the waves were not all that great but I did have one nice ride with several cut-backs let me keep the ride. I was on the 9.0 Takayama again if I am on the board, it is certainly leading my way... "Come on, Manabu, ride me. I am going to turn you this way, and catch that little hook... you can do it!"  "Sorry, I cannot respond well enough to what the board is requesting me to do. The board jets out under me but the board was helping discover a type of the line that did not occur to me before.
Anyhow, getting back to the stoke though, this morning I just set the board next to me on the beach and looked at the surrounding and doing so was so fulfilling especially reflecting the issue of the stokes we talk about last night.  The beauty of the ocean and the background of the mountain. I also take water samples at this location so I know the water is safe and clean... a nice little reward.
It was very good to re-awake on the stokes department and that's all about living in the present moment!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Session 4085: Got a Taste of S. Swells at the JTY This Morning!

Yesterday after lunch, I went out and combed all the spots from Montara to Kelley. I was so disappointed to find nothing. This was like 4 days in a row that I did not surf. The only time I did not surf for that long was when I went back home in Japan! But it is even more amazing that the Pacific can become like Lake Erie at times.
So, this morning I was a bit skeptical, but I loaded the board and head out to the office with a stop at the Jetty or Montara. Surprise surprise, the Jetty was happening this morning. While the sets were few and far between they were breaking up to shoulder to head with good volume. I found Rick there and we talked a bit. The water was really cold though.
It was kind of fast breaking (like most of the time there), so I was in Pearl City all over. But it was a lot of fun to finally get back in the water.  Hopefully for those going out this PM, the wind is manageable (looks like it is).
I could see that swells were already building up gradually so I am sure we get a lot more to come.
In terms of my latest quest to get a foamy board, I am still going to do it, possibly this weekend in Santa Cruz. I am telling everyone, it is a *must have* in your quivers if you can afford to. For example, today, I would have taken off in front of this surfer standing in the water if I had a foamy. I was 85% confident that I can set the rail and not hit her, but just in case I wipe out, I have one less worry, and probably I have caught that wave, that would have been one more wave under my belt! (Though it was uncrowned today, so I would have taken out the DT4 even if I had the foamy).

Friday, May 14, 2004

Session 4084: Better than Expected, More on Phomy Philosophy

I predicted last night's StokeCast that it would be more flat today, I was not alone, Surfpulse also came to the basic conclusion like I did and sent out its reports., but it turned out this morning was good. There were some good shoulder highs to be had. Like I wrote last night I took out the DT4 (9'0) and I really had a lot of fun with it. Man when that board takes off it is just a quite a bit noticeable difference in how it handles as compared to the Velzy. The board loves to be in a bit steeper back break conditions and it takes you there to the end. A few times, when I though I screwed up a take off, the board has already taken off leaving me behind as I was not prepared to flick up. If there is a magic to this board, that's where the magic is. It literally comes alive.
Back to the Yellow Foamy thing I wrote. After I wrote it I got a few responses both directly to me and also on the message board. If you are curious as to who wrote what I will leave that up to you to go back to the board, find and read them.
I do, however, need to set a few things straight or make them more clear.
First of all, I am not frustrated because I cannot stand up on the board or something of that nature. The core issue is to be standing on the board much often and much longer since I am now at the point where I really need to nail down the turns and all necessary motions. It is quite a bit different roadmap-wise. I can now surf, and I need to get to the level of, say, the top 5% of most weekend lineups.
I might also have given people an impression that I will discard all 4 boards I have. The foamy that I am talking about will become my 5th board, and most likely on DPs I wont use the foamy that much, but on weekends or late PM sessions that's when I am going to bring the foamy out. This way I feel much more at ease in fighting to crowd. So long as I am not going to endanger people, I will be a bit more aggressive in catching waves that I am now.
I might also have given people an impression that I am not happy with the boards I have. This isn't true either. I love all of my boards. I can ride them well when I "happen" to get into the right waves and they are all essentially my magic boards. The foamy, however, will give me yet another option for crowded conditions, or otherwise there is some danger of damaging a hard board. So as such it has to be a foamy construction so I am really thankful that some of you have offered me your boards, but my goal is a bit different than just getting another board. I need a collision damage proof board in the event I collide someone or the board collides with me.
I have touched on this topic in the past many times, but when I took a lesson last year in SC from Richard Schmidt, the guy shows up with the Doyle board, Clio and I have the shiny Arrow 8'6 boards, he takes us to the Indicators and he can surf our socks off on his Doyle board while holding Clio's hand helping her make turns. She takes off, then he goes on to surf all the way to the Cowells.
From that moment on, I confirmed filmy that if a surfer sucks, it is not the board that sucks but it is the surfer that sucks. If nobody reading this believe what I am saying, that is really fine. I have actually seen many many other great surfers hanging ten on foamys in SC.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Session 4083: Stoke 3, so Philosophy Corner Today.

I was up since 5:10 this morning but I played with the computer for the work
stuff too much that I did not get out until much later. In fact, when I got
in the water it was already 9:40. And then I had to be in the office to
check out a customer situation that has been brewing hot for this past week.

As for the condition, it was just a lot of agitating sea without much in
terms of surfable waves, even compared to yesterday it gotten really worse.
Nothing was breaking that much so even duck diving was not necessary to get
outside, so that's about it. It was so bad that I hardly saw anyone doing
anything significant.

I know, my log has been becoming somewhat tiresome and so I need to start to
think about the new direction in writing, so I will be throwing in more
surfing perspectives I have from time to time.

Recently we have been talking about the "fear" of surfing in general, and I
have started to create a compilation web page of that information based on
the info people contributed. Most people responded with respect to how they
are afraid of permanent injury or death. I am going to touch deeper on the
issue in my logs. But one of the big fears that I have is actually not
catching enough waves and as a result I am not making good progress.

So, that brings up to the thought that I have been seriously considering
getting a foamy mini long 8'x board. The reason? Not catching enough waves
is extremely bad for me. And actually the root of this fear is not simply
about not catching enough waves, but that the fear is based on the fact that
I might hit someone with my board, or I might be hit by someone, or board
might hit me if I tried for bigger situations etc, and they all have
happened with fairly noticeable consequences.

So what if I had a foam board, then a lot of these worries will disappear
and I will go into the most crowded and rocky places and start "stealing
waves" lefts and rights, and if someone's fin would slash the board, I don't
really care (the board will probably just bounce other board off breaking
other person's fins etc, but nothing will happen for me, probably), I just
don't even fix it, and just keep on surfing improving the most important -
the time standing on the waves. Even if the board is to break in half, there
I have a boogie board to get back in! Beach assaults - no problem. Board
hitting the Jetty, no problem, I will go right ahead. It a bumper-car on the
wave (of course, I would be really careful about my body, I now know my way
around much better.)

Which actually brings back to the fear the most people have, though if I ask
they will *all* deny having; the fear of not surfing well on a "low
performance" board. But I now know that 90% of surfing is how good the
surfer is and it got nothing much to do with the board. If I cannot ride the
foamy board like a pro, then all the good features on a high end board will
go wasted. I really believe that, in fact I have gone through 6 boards
already, yeah I can tell the difference allright, but I don't think I am
hardly doing any justice to the creations of Bob Pearson, Randall French,
Dale Velzy or Donald Takayama, and I have to make myself do that now.
"Manabu Tokunaga rides Pearson Arrow exclusively." if Bob hears about this
today I will probably hear "Yeah, right."

No, I am not saying that I am going to get rid of all my boards. I will
certainly ride all of them. I am saying that I do need more opportunities to
perfect every basic turn and the body movement, the strength, and the rhythm
of connecting through the turns that are badly needed for me to move up to
the next level. Without them, there will be no floaters, roller-coasters and
snap backs., and that's where I am aiming, and I have the road-map to get
there, though I cannot run, only walk slow to get there. As an adult surfer,
I must carefully build those skills up perfecting one by one.

So later on this season you just might be seeing me ripping like a pro on
the 2 x OVH on a stupid yellow foam board. Wish me luck, would you?

But! Having said that tomorrow is probably going to be same story all over
so I ought to bring the 9'0 to see if it makes any difference.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Session 4082: Back in the water.

Good thing I did not make a commitment to go for 10480 days (or whatever it
is) of surfing (There is an article on Dale Webster finally finishing his
goal on this month's Surfer Mag.) Even I do not surf if the conditions do
not look fun. But checked the wind report and I was ready to go. Probably
should have gone to the Jetty, but I committed to meet with Jen and Ken so
there I was, getting ready to go in at 6:30 AM.

I am back on my Arrow 7'6 board.

This morning was still junky as there are a lot of short period local wind
swells coming in, paddling, ducking, paddling and looking behind, I am still
not making much progress. I hate that when that happens, then finally the
last white water, gets out to the calmness of the "outside!"

I am making a note to myself for the future, but in the past few months I am
definitely making some progress on short-board style turns. Still the wave
selection sucks and so is consistent take offs so I actually it is the take
offs that I need to really work on. As for the take-offs, I am getting in
much better shape and that allows me to apply a lot more power in take off

Only 4 of us out in the area I was surfing so I was really happy about that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

May 12: Still Windy

Sometimes, I wish it was still in winter. The wind is still on at 30-40 knots out there. NW facing beaches were all just a big mess and the Jetty was blowing hard too. Resorting to more INDO-surfing today.

May 10 and 11: Extremely Windy

Looks like the summer pattern is in and when the pressure gradient from the air mass is enhanced by the afternoon thermal winds we can get gusts of up to 50 Knots. Past two days, there has been so much wind out in the last couple of days. So I have stayed out of the water for a bit.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Session 4081: Back to SC

This morning Arthur called me up and wanted to an early session at Montara.
Yes, it was the S swells day today, but unfortunately the tide was in the
minus zone. That's a danger sign. I told him that if he finds it good there,
I will hook him up there. 30 minutes later he told me that the waves were
poor all the way from Linda Mar to the Jetty. So we decided to go south and
hit the best beach we can find. We stopped by just about every state beach
along the way, but did not find anything so attractive, so we ended up at
the 38th.

Arthur was riding my old Velzy 9 and he had a blast, while I had quite a bit
of struggle today to take off on rather fast breaks that were coming in,
plus the crowd. My version of the excuse is that I have been surfing beach
breaks for the last 2 weeks that I have totally lost the feel for the breaks
in SC. But it was very challenging today. Those short boarders who were
taking off were all good.

Well, more work needed.

Session 4080: Analysis of Fear

Saturday was kind of a mellow day for surf as it was in an transition period
from one S swells to the next. So not much to write about in terms of actual

Lately I am back in the mode of thinking about all sorts of fear we have in
ourselves, and especially relating to surfing, of course. This is probably a
start of a serious of logs that I will be making.

So in terms of fears that we have within ourselves, I think we can classify
them in to various categories today and then later on I would like to
develop more thoughts on each of the category like how they happen and how
they can be mitigated. I am listing them in the order of most severe to less
(in my opinion).

The fear of losing life
The fear of getting hurt or parts of your body functions lost.
The fear of getting in a fight with someone (may link to above)
The fear of losing friends or jobs
The fear of looking bad to others

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Session 4079: Fun Friday Afternoon at Linda Mar.

With the swells getting smaller by day, I was a bit worried about the
condition at Linda Mar this afternoon. Did hook up with Ren. It was a fun
hot afternoon. I have started in front of the shower area which had several
nice gentle chest highs and then I migrated to the north gradually.

Last 2 sessions, I have been taking out my Arrow 7'6 hybrid board and it is
really fun to catch lots of waves with it.

Technically though, I am starting to understand where I am presently having
problems with and where a bad loop is occurring.

Like many people have written in the Yahoo Group, I too am afraid and timid
to take waves in crowded condition. So in order to avoid that I try to go to
places and time when I do not have to deal with it, but that often means for
me to take less favorable location or conditions. One very encouraging thing
is that after looking at some good people rip on these crummy beach breaks
at El Porto, it is still possible to do some good surfing in conditions that
I thought is not really possible to have some fun.

I am of the school that unless I know exactly I am doing, I don't venture
out to situations that I know it will cause problems. In the beginning I did
not know what these situations were so, I was unknowingly venturing out to
situations, but I have learned quite a bit about understanding my own
current limitations are. Of course, a part of the problem I am running into
it might be that I now need to push that barrier a bit to move up to the
next step.

I also have this nightmare in my nightmare library that plays every so often
that I get swept away with a strong side current and then a big wave come
separating me from the board and I am swimming and swimming and can never
get anywhere in a place like Montara.

Great thing that is happening in the last few months is that I can turn the
board more radically, especially on shorter boards, than ever on more
conditions. I have been really happy about this.

Couple of bad things that I need work on are takeoffs and wave selection.

In terms of take offs. I still need to be able to take off on conditions
that other better surfers are capable of. I still not have not quite gotten
a secret magic of it, but I think there is something that I need to do well.
I think that it is a combination of lots of small skills that need to be
built up. One of the things that is unveiling is the importance of strong
strokes at the right time. These kinds of breakthrough usually come as a
"surprise." Just yesterday, such a change occurred: I was able to take off
on a wave that I thought certainly I would not, but I kept on paddling
harder than usual, and it worked. Another area is the weight distribution
during the take off. This is the area that weight changes very quickly in a
period of 2-3 seconds and on a precarious position of being on a prone
position on the board... center weight for the initial paddle in, forward
weight during the initial down slope then back weight when the tail lifts,
flick up, back weight and quickly to forward weight to go down the slope....

Wave selection is another area now I start to pay good attention to. Of
course, this is the area the "share the wave fear" plays pretty poorly
because to some extent people tend to gather where the waves are good, and
all the good ones will be stolen by expert long boarders followed by expert
short boarders. What has been helping though is that I just get out after a
couple of rides, and then from the beach I am trying to take more attention
to where the good spots are or might be. It is also often easier to identify
good waves from the shore but not from the lineup so I am trying to get a
feel of when it will be good waves.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Session 4078: Montara this morning.

Montara is kind of a place where it looks great from the highway and as you
get closer and closer to the water it looks worse and worse. But I gave it a
shot. Main problem this morning was that there is so much reflection waves
that they are colliding with incoming ones. So I catch it, and get going and
then come to an immediate stop. There were some spots that where the water
was colliding so hard that they were creating very tall plumes of upward
splashes. It is hard to get out with strong inward and also sideshore
currents etc. It is kind of a place that I really would feel not very
comfortable surfing all alone, especially when I arrived, one by one,
surfers started to leave (I am hoping that I am making some sort of a
reputation that eventually the word will get out to Santa Cruz and the same
thing will happen when I get there.)

This past week or so I feel I have been stuck again. I know I keep at it it
will be better again. The waves, my attitude etc., are all working against!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Session 4077: Back in Pacifica!

4 days of beach breaks in So Cal, and now I am back in Pacifica. Felt like
another afternoon in El Porto (without the power plant, but no fog and warm
weather) One of the things I need to start thinking about is actually wave
selection. Putting myself at the right spot and only paddle when the wave is
right. One difference here is that should this have been So Cal, there would
have been at least half a dozen surfers that will look surfing in these kind
of junky condition and they are all over the places paddling and placing
themselves at the right spot every time!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Session 4076: The Final Day of Industrial Strength Surfing

Well, last night I was taking the shower and a news come out. A "rare" shark sighting at Will Rodgers park, complete with an LAPD helicopter shot of the shark swimming in the ocean. In So Cal, everyone takes the beach seriously... machine beach grooming, surf conditions posted on chalk boards, hourly life guard patrol to an LAPD helicopter patrol. Even forgot to mention from yesterday that at the Seal Beach, when a couple of boggie boarder got into the inside of heavily surfed zone, a life guard pick up truck came right up to the beach, shouted to them from a loud speaker to get out of the area for their own safety.

So back to the sharks, that essentially ruined the plan for Malibu. Oh and by the way, when we were at the Seal Beach as you already know and there was a chalk board that indicates the "Grunion" counts. This is not something I have ever hard of up in NorCal. I thought that this is some sort of Groms Re-union at Seal Beach. But the news happened to mention that the shark is looking for Grunions. So I understood that this is some sort of fish.

So to protect my ability to surf again in Nor Cal, I got out to El Porto for one more day of Industrial Strength Surfing. My wife got some video so when I get around to it I will post some clips from it, but man, these beach breaks are difficult! You think our stuff is fast, theirs is just as fast. But that's just me complaining. We just need to learn to just shut our mouths and surf because there are better people doing just fine with all possible championship shortboard actions to stay on the waves!

Still my take-off sucks big time so as a result I cannot get on to these waves quick enough. This is right now the major drawback for me that I really need to work on because other better dudes are taking off on the same waves that I think are really fast breaking. Fear, yes... skills yes, the age (I won't admit to that one yet.)

Well, at least I have horned my skills on beach breaks so I was able to have some fun on my short board. I am getting better bit by bit, so by December of this year, like I said I will, I think I can demonstrate a big round cut-back.

Tomorrow, I will be back in the sprit of NorCal surfing, bright and early.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Session 4075: Fight with the waves at the El Porto Continues This Morning

Woke up this morning, walk down the 34th and surfed El Porto again. This was Sunday and a bit more S swells out so there were more people out, but again, between the Manhattan Pier and the El Porto Jetty, people were all spread out.

Like Amy told me, yes, this is more of a short board territory (but there were a fair share of long boarders too). Today, it still was very much like the Linda Mar on a spread-out day. About shoulder high but lots of close outs. The only difference between here and Linda Mar is that we got fairly big shore breaks that made getting in and out more difficult. So it is more like the entire beach is like the N End of Linda Mar.

One difference here compared to our Nor Cal beaches is that they got this huge sand plow vehicle that they run in the morning to flatten the beach. I have never seen anything like this in NorCal! Good thing that I did not leave a back pack on the beach. They would probably have ran it over. Another difference is that there are lifeguards that patrol the beach on pickup trucks with a huge rescue board. Except for Manresa, I have not seen those guys in our area.

On these closed-out days, a strategy I use is to surf on reforms. I was able to get several educational (but no long) rides by just waiting for the waves to close out then ride on the white water. Most of those reform back to about chest high breaks, so I was able to rip a bit on my Fish. I am part happy that I know how to deal with these, but on the other hands, I wish I had better waves.

Most people here were surfing with the "Sea Gull" style wetsuits with a few men surfing with just a board shorts and a rash guard. The daytime temp is getting up to 90's and so it have been hot for the last two days. I have only seen a few young women surfers on short boards. But there were some few groms that were really good.

At the end of the session, I did not realize how far S I was carried out. When I got up to the Highland Street, I could not tell which way to get back. I had to walk about 4 blocks N to get back to the motel!

Tomorrow, Monday, we will try to hit Seal Beach or Huntington.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Session 4074: From El Porto, LA County

I am writing this from the Sea View Inn in Manhattan Beach. I am riding on someone else's wireless network in the neighborhood, but it is working (thanks whoever).
As it turns out this small motel is located right at El Porto, so I just walk down three flights of stairs down the hill to get to the beach and there, it is the El Porto!
The swells have not been so good today, but in spite of what I thought of the LA area it is so wide spread that the place was totally non-crowded. I am telling you, it is less crowded than in HMB. I am amazed. But the sets are not holing up and just fizzling out at the moment. It is a bit choppy today with a bit of onshore condition going.   I was able to rip a few but not much, and not very many other people were ripping her either.
But it was nice, and the water was 60 F... still requires a wet suit but no booties or gloves required. The main reason we are here is to see Wendy's friend's play, and that's tomorrow so I will set up a quick session in the morning. Of all the places we have been to (except for camping) this is the first place where I walk from the hotel to surf. It is kind of cool. Manhattan beach area is really nice too.
Hope all of you are having fun in NC.