Saturday, July 31, 2004

Session 4.141: Manresa Beach Breaks!

This Saturday, we tried to resume the Beginner Morale Support session and so we recruited several people to come to Manresa. I though that it was actually a great choice of a location since this fairly mellow NW swells are working quite right at Manresa especially in the mid tide range. It really goes to say that tide and swell parameters are very closely related to the quality of the waves. When I arrived at 10:00 AM, the surface was glassy and then we got occasional chest level nice sets. As the day progressed the beach started to fill up with more water and there were less and less waves to ride. Then when the tide finally started to back down, it became like in the morning again providing more ridable sets.

Progress Report

So, what I have managed to do in the last 2-3 weeks is that the probability of taking off and setting up for a ride has dramatically increased, and this is with shorter length boards. What really helped me in the past 3 - 4 months is that I switched to a long board riding and also I even acquired a foam board, on which I practiced taking off on all sizes of waves from knee highs to 9-10 footers in South of Half Moon Bay, and because of the soft board, I was much less inhibited to go for the waves that I would not otherwise have tried. Also my paddling strength has become more tuned to dashing style paddling in addition to more endurance type longer paddling.

I need to work harder on faster movement on the short board. This is going to be the challenge for some time. Now I can take off on most of the waves that other good short boarders are taking off. So far that's good. But after the take off, I am still not doing the things that good ones are capable of doing. Mainly I am still not going back up on the wave, so there still is no good ups and downs. What I should not try to do is to really force this to happen for a while. I know it will going to look forced and probably ridiculous looking but I now need to develop this skill to come out naturally. Part of the reason that I am not doing this well, is because of the seer knee strength and speed of the movement that is needed. Probably that is not going to be enough as some upper body follow will be needed. Speaking of that though, I think I am still too stiff on the board. I cannot help it much as I try to do something, but I know, for example, my shoulder should be totally relaxed!

Friday, July 30, 2004

Session 4.140: Friday Evening. Crowded, Stoke 5

This morning, I did check but it was so flat everywere that I just headed straight to the office. But as the day progressed a new set of NW swells started to come in so we were hopeful, so I got out at 6:45 PM this evening, and boy it was crowded. Laura and Irene was also there.

I took the 6'6 out this evening since I have been riding 7'6 for the last everal sessions, and also the beach breaks were forming still closer to the shore. I saw a few good people doing good short board manuevers. With bunch of expert long boarders in the mix it was difficult to find a good take-off spot. I did catch several waves but in terms of the quality of the rides, it was not that great, they were short.

The problems are that I am still not fast with my moves to do faster ups and downs on the wave like other better people were doing. This is the area that I need to work on, however, I think I am making a gradual progress in this area, now that my take offs are much more confidnet in any size boards.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Session 4.139: Afternoon Glass Off? Stoke 5

Now I got a Ren replacement! It used to be that I would get a recruiting call from Ren late in the afternoon.... "Hi, Ren.... Um.... yes... I did. It was.... yes... yeah, was okay... yes.... me now? Alright, I will be there in 30 min." So I often put two sessions in a day. So it was Amanda calling this afternoon (well actually, I said I will so it is not so bad like Ren's calls).

Now I pull in and get back into wet wet suit and booties.

It is always amazing that even though the buoy reading has not changed that much, the wave quality has "gone down" and we were forced to surf on these near shore hip highs. But, again, I am telling you, there were some good surfers out there extracting every juice out of the waves.

I took out the Doyle to just enjoy and relax and I caught a fair share number of the waves too. I must report that with the added skill set under my hips, I can still make fairly long rides.

And this is something I wanted to write in this morning's WavLog, but forgotten. The overall length of rides have really been gotten longer in these recent sessions. I can tell because there are several people in line ups and I know they did not take the rides, and it is now always quite a bit of paddle back to get back to where they are.

As always though, it is always a worthwhile experience to get in the water, paddle around, enjoy being immersed in the overall nature, and come out all exhausted! Plus having a company is always fun!

Session 4.138: Stoke 7 This DP (Again). Continue Short Board Confidence

This morning the set were about chest to shoulder maximum. I almost took out the long board, but now I am in a short-board transition mode so I decided to risk it and took the 7'6. Though 7'6 is not really a short board, this is still a good training board for the style of riding.

Like many times in the past, when the sets get smaller, they tend to break faster, so it is actually more fun to surf with shorter boards than on a long board, which, in of itself is kind of recent discovery. Although it is also a lot of fun when a waves are mashing out but big like on the other day in M%a%!

So I caught a fairly large number of the waves this morning. And that brings me to the discussion of confidence. I started to commit and be able to commit to the waves much more recently, and being able to catch a much wider variety of breaking condition gave me much more confidence, and that in turn has given me a more confidence to challenge for even faster breaking conditions.  I must describe these kind of take offs though as it is a bit different from when taking off on a long board with early paddle in.  The closest description that I can come up with is like this. Imagine that I am in one of a huge diameter storm drain pipe that is above ground, and I am standing inside of it, and a suddenly someone opens a flood gate and lots of water start to come down the pipe. Suddenly the water hits my back and I get spewed out of the pipe at the same time I am now taking a fast drop down!

What I need to work on next:
My bottom turns are still very weak, the initial turn sucks, and so I am not climbing back up the wave with a finesse speed and power.

Next problem that I am likely going to run into is that I still don't change the upper body position much and this is going to become more important in executing more radical and faster top side turns. But I am not there yet because I still cannot climb up all the way back to the lip.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Session 4.137: Stoke 7 This DP

I was driving up The 1 and got a call from Arthur that it was small at the Linda Mar beach so we decided to change a plan and surf a bit further south. We were the first to arrive there, shortly two others have arrived too. From the cliff, the waves looked small but once we got in the water, it was not too bad.  We were greeted by two sea lions one was on the beach. Arthur thought that it was dead, but I told him, it is just resting. And as soon as we got in the water, it woke up raised the head up staring at us going into the water.

We had chest high sets coming in but it was also fairly easy to get out. I had lots of decent and confident rides but had to keep adjusting the location as the breaks were happening at all different locations at different times.

We had both lefts and rights but I continue to prefer the lefts even though I am regular footed, but sometimes I am starting to wonder if I would ever catch any rights. Perhaps I need to go back to Santa Cruz and catch many rights.

I kind of like the fog covering the sky since I don't get bombards with a lot of sun's rays and so don't need to put on so much cream on my face etc. This is especially nice in the afternoon surfing as when the sun is out and directly in the west, it is very difficult to see the swells.

Looks like we are going to repeat this again tomorrow morning.

Towards the end of the session, the waves were starting to close out. I took off on just about every one of those too, but only to find myself surrounded by the soup of white water bouncing up and down violently while I basically stood still on the board. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Session 4.136: Back on DP! Stoke 8. Roundhouse by Oct 31!

Good progress is continuing, and I am really ecstatic about this.

I loaded everything in my car, including the laptop and even I put the piping hot water in the water canister so by the DP it is just at the right temperature. Looking at the swell size and shape on the way home, I thought it was "safe" to bring my 7'6 Person hybrid, so I only strapped that on. One of the advantages of surfing with shorter boards is it is so much easier to handle it.

Then set the alarm to 5:15 and went to bed. When the alarm went off, I promptly turned it off so as not to bother my wife's sleep, but as soon as I've done that, I was back in sleep and slept for another hour. It really goes to say that I have to be really committed to go to bed early. No more playing until 11:30 and expect to do a real DP!

nonetheless, I was in the water by 7:00, as all I had to was to just hop in the car and go. Ken was already committed and so was in the water! Also the tide was at the best level; medium incoming. It was just right kind of waves for the hybrid board.

Sets were breaking at around the high chest level today, and it was a lot of fun to continue practicing the "late start." By this what I mean is to start right when (and where) a lip is about to form, paddle real hard and almost jump into it. I have gotten a "taste" of this week and since then I have been starting to obsess with this type of start. When and if I succeed with it, I can often get higher quality rides that lasts longer!

Today I felt the continued improvement in handling the 7'6 board and this is a good sign that I am finally entering the realm of really riding shorter boards with an confidence, control and speed. The rides are no longer a result of just more or less a luck. Luck is also an important element of advancing, as by some pure chance, I do something that I was not able to before, and once I get a taste of it, I will go back for more with what I have just experienced. The second time I need a less luck and by the 10th or the 20th time, I can actually make that happen intentionally.

So today, I am going to revise my goal. I have a feeling that I am getting closer (thanks Ward for the daily encouragement!).

The Roundhouse by October 31st!
Perhaps our two week trip to Maui will let me get there, since I am going to do a 3-4 hour session every day!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Reflections: Of the recent progresses made, plus Surfing as Science

I am continuing to write about some of the changes that is happening to mysurfing in the past couple of months. This year has been one of the most significant time so far in making the progress. Actually if you arelooking at how I am surfing on some of the best waves I have caught, you might not see much change from the outside. I have not specifically takenoff on waves much bigger than the biggest one from last season, for example.

But what has changed is the feeling of being in "control." To even qualifyfor this further, I feel and I can control the ride significantly betterthan before. This means that I have a much better awareness of what is aboutto happen from the take-off to the finish, and I also can control with muchcertainty how to react to these changing situations. This actually is asignificant foundation for me to progress to the next level up. If notanything else, I am now much different "inside" than before when I amriding. This also allows me to focus on the ride itself, instead of beingfearful of many factors surrounding.One of the contributing factors into this is probably "look where you aregoing to."

In my past logs, I have written about the success stories onthis. But "looking where you are going" was actually a very difficult thingto do when I was at much earlier stage, and to be honest, I am notcompletely away from looking at elsewhere. It is very typical looking backand also looking at other newer surfers that they tend to really look downand look at the board too much when they take off. But even if I was toldnot to do so, it is a very difficult "habit" to kick because without lookingat the board, I would not feel where to land my feet. But that's like youare looking at your steering wheel to drive a car, and that's really not howpeople drive cars.

But by making myself look up even when I am on the board paddling in to takeoff, it started to allow me to become much more aware of what is going on ina "bigger picture" sense and so that had dramatically improved the panningaspect of surfing. In fact, with this much wider view into the route that Ineed to determine, I actually have more time to think about surfing. When Iwas not looking where I was going and just looking down on the board, asignificant amount of time was lost in grasping all of this. And when I mean"time" I am talking about events that are about to occur 2-3 seconds in thefuture.Of course, there is anatomical advantage too as we are using our inner earsto balance and unless my heads are perpendicular to the line of travel, mybrains will have difficulty determining which way is up and down, and bylooking where I am going, I would be in a better even posture!

What else? Well, I will find out more.

Surfing as Science

Can Surf Science exist as a rigorous academic career, and especially asscience? I truly believe it can be.

I have a scientific background in education, and I actually use everythingI've learned in my entire academic career to apply to surfing.

For example,- I use my understanding of meteorology to interpret surf prediction- And in order to interpret the information from buoy data to satelliteimages, I use lot of mathematics behind it. Not just simple algebra but alsosome statistics too.

- And as you know I write computer software to further help me insummarizing the data
- When I repair my board, my knowledge of organic chemistry has becomereally handy as I understand the polymerization process and how the catalystreacts at different temperature levels
- Understanding of the human anatomy is also important in understanding thesurfing posture, which muscles to use
- In terms of the dynamics of the motion of the board and board maneuvers,it is all about physics
- Understanding the fluid dynamics and modeling to produce even better surfboards or predict the waves, or even design an ultimate wave machine?

Other options also exist;I think that it is also possible to build your business career in thesurfing industry and some good education and training is necessary.

- Understanding the surfing industry as a business.  From owning a surf shop,starting a board manufacturing.
- Becoming specialized in surf travels.
- Pursue and develop better systems and methods of teaching or learningsurfing?
- Become an underwater or surf phographer or a movie maker even?
- Sports psychology especially related to surfing?

So, can this be a rigorous scientific or arts curriculum? I think it can beoffered in such a manner. We may not get a warm reception about this concepttoday, but I think that the time will tell. I have no objection to someonefully devoting their life and knowledge in the sport, and some should. Thiscan become a seriously respected career. If  you see someone at a surf shopwith that kind of devotion and knowledge, would you not trust the person'sadvise for your next purchase of a board? Would you rather get a surfinglesson from those who really have devoted their life to be an all-roundedwell-educated surfing instructor who can answer just about anything relatedto surfing?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Session 4.135: Absolutely Stoke 10 Ride This AM!

Back to the same place as yesterday, and overall the waves and set frequency has gotten smaller... but... I really had a remarkable ride this morning in one of the few big sets as once in a while still "monster" sets erupted.

I actually started out, seeing how small it was, on a Fish to see how well I can do in the inside. I tried it for a while, caught a few waves but nothing of significance. I also brought the Doyle and so I switched it. As usual, instantly the wider options of getting waves opened up.

These days, when I want to go somewhere in the beach, I use combination of paddling and also riding. Usually I start from the S end of a beach and try to ride one small left to another and then eventually I was able to wind up in another peak area where a lot of people were hanging around. A lot, to mean about 5 or 6 users in this case. 

When I got there, I caught several smaller ones but then this break from the outside started to form. By the time I was up on the wave it was easily 8-9 ft as someone else commented to me, and it happened really outside. I almost did not get it, the wave was going to go under me, but then with one extra kick with both my arms, the board picked up the speed. Now right in front of me was a beautiful plain slope, just like on skiing. As the wave built up more the speed picked up very fast and there was a lot of pressure on my feet when I was turning to the left. Then I saw the wave started to close out on the left, I made a quick wide cutback turn to the right. I was almost going to lose it, because when I turned to the right another face was closing right in front of me. Quickly I corrected to a straight down direction, then remarkablly the one that was coming from the right started to reform back into another mountain. I was already set up to cut to the left again, and I kept riding another 10 seconds.

I actually could have another ride that could have topped this one, but this is where if I had the Takayama, I would have made it. What happened was this. Another big one just like the previous one came after a while. When the wave started to crest, I actually took off on it, I got kicked up in the air as I was trying to land on the board that is already on the face. But I was out of control at that point and my feet and by board missed by a fraction of a second. Needless to say, I was very disappointed. If I had that one, I probably had a tremendous vertical drop, and then using that power, I could rally have cranked a heavy left back in to the face. A guy looking at me was wondering what happened on that because he knew I was going to catch it.

It was probably one of the longest ride I have gotten at this location, and I will not forget about this ride for some time. Well, never, actually, because I have written to remember this one!


Saturday, July 24, 2004

Session 4.134: Stoke 9! Many successes on Steep Take Offs

On most weekday dawn patrols, I just head straight to Linda Mar and then just try my best to surf whatever is available. On weekend mornings, I can be a bit picky, since I have a bit more time, I go visit several beaches then pick the best spot. This morning started out rather dismal as no real waves were breaking. I was rather becoming depressed and almost going to turn back and write a Stoke 0 report. But I kept on driving north. I pulled in at one of the beaches that I don't normally go. But today, looking over the cliff, the beach looked kind of quiet and the surface was all smooth like a lake. But you know you need to give at leat 10-15 minutes for sets to happen. So I anxiously await... then suddenly there were some few nice sets coming in. Wow! Then, I spotted our buddy Jason out with his red board, so if he was there then there was no reason not to go. I unloaded my Pearson Arrow 7'6 from the roof then opened the bag for the Takayama DT4. It was a long board day.

Jason was right. And the waves were some of the most fun ones that I have caught in my recent memories. They were not big but as usual, this place packs a lot more power than many other locations.

When shoulder level sets come in, they start to build slow but as they close in on the shore, they start to build up fast. Now I am paddling with much more power and speed into the waves. It quickly picks up the tail... now I am in the wave. A quick flick up and the I am up! Great, but the tail is still picking up really fast. I am pressing the back as hard as I can to stay on the wave, then the board is ready to really take off. Now with a bit weight shift to front and setting the rail the board does a real fast turn into the face of the wave! Success? The wave right in front of me is closing up. I can almost touch the wall, as a huge curtain of water starting to throw forward... I am being lifted up by the power of the wave again and I execute a quick cut back down the line!  It worked. I can't believe I did that. Then run almost all the way to the beach (since I still don't do a graceful pull out).

Fun!!! And with my stoke level pumping sky high with a big wide smile... Yeah! I want more of those, and paddle right back.

I did 7 or 8 of those today, probably the most I have ever done successfully in a session!

Now back to the regularly scheduled program...


Friday, July 23, 2004

Reflections: Why Am I So Obsessed with the Roundhouse?

Even if you have been a select few fan of this BLOG who have been following my surfing stories that is unfolding, you might have been wondering why in the heck I am I so obsessed with this Roundhouse stuff? I have been wondering about this myself often to some extent too. So you are not along. Yes, I could have just forgotten about all that and just take relaxing fun days surfing without really challenging myself or endangering other surfers around me.

But today it became, once again, clearer to my mind why this is so.

This cutback is actually the culmination of basically all of the intermediate surfing techniques and if you do this, then this is essentially the milestone and the key to the door to the ultimate... The realm of the true advanced surfer.

Well, however, along the line, I have learned that there are some surfers, for for that matter on any activities, anyone who would argue why pressure myself to do anything. I just tend to run into those people who will lecture to the hell about why there are reasons not to do things rather than to actually do them. The question to those who ask the question is this. Then why would you do live? To me, to live is not to be buried and live the virtual deah until the true death hits you. I have learned from early on in my life that this is what other people want out of you. Most every one wanted me to live a "peaceful" life acting like most other average people not expressing or accomplishing anything significant in life and then die peacefully in the end. But accepting that is the same as accepting a virtual life-long death. But I have chosen not to be that way, and that's why I really love to surf and challenge myself to become a better surfer than every last damn session I get to do.  Unfortunately the gift of athletics is something that I was not given so it takes twice, three time or even more times to do what an average people might be able to accomplish in the same period of time. I have long accepted that so I actually even don't bother me that much. Besides it is not my goal, at least right now, to go to Wimea or Mavericks and do their thing, nor to compete in big professional contests, I am way way past the prime for any of those.

But, I also think that something like a Roundhouse Cutback is within a reach and and realm of a serious recreational surfer.

So what is it, and how this is accomplished and what should I need to get there?

What is a Roundhouse Cutback? It is a combination of bottom and top turns that will be performed on a wave face that will essentially allow you to look as if you are making a complete "U" turn on a wave back to where you came from in a big wide almost circular turn.  This is accomplished by a true mastery of both the bottom and top turns and various other skillful balancing and speed building technique.

To get there the following needs to be accomplished;
  • A very very solid take off in a powerful wave.
  • Then a very solid strong bottom turn.
  • A skillful top turn.
  • Then another good bottom turn.
It is actually as simple as that, but each of above move has to be executed perfectly in a smooth chain to execute a beautiful turn. Of course, I have not even mentioned about a wave selection etc. Also this is usually executed on a short board, though I would imagine a long board version is possible on a huge wave.

So where am I with it as of now?
  • Looks like I am starting to get to a more solid short-board take off.
  • I can bottom turn but I am not still strong to the extent that I feel that I am building up the speed. This will need some work.
  • That means that I am not getting to the top, so if I ever get to the top I can worry about the top turn part.
  • If I mastered the bottom turn then I ought be able to connect to the top turn.

Many of you may have noticed that I have also been stressing the bottom turn so much, but without a sold one of those the rest cannot exist as this requires a very powerful maneuver on the water. I am starting to realize that every element of this requires a much more power and speed to accomplish, and I am slowly getting there, but this is where I am fighting a bit of tendency within me, and of course that is a manifestation of nothing but a mental fear of succeeding. I have been down that path too many times, shooting myself in a retrospect.


Session 4.133: Catch No Matter What! Whoa!!! I can catch that?

This past week's discovery was that I still have not been paddling hard enough to catch waves.  Among many things that need to be done during take-off, I am now truly realizing that  the importance of out-running the waves from the get-go.

Like any other surfing discoveries I have made, this dashing-the-last strokes approach has helped me so much. And a small day like today has been a big chance to try it.

I have been noticing that on some smaller days, it was actually more difficult to take off because the waves are actually going down rather faster. Previously, I have pearled on these conditions. But now I know enough about this to (1) Take out a short board rather than a long board, and (2) Try to pull really hard with take-off paddling.

Initially, of course, I was not very successful at it, but the more I tried,  the number of success rate started to go up and now there are a few occasions when I had to say to myself  "Wow! I can catch that?" Like the ones that just crests and explodes at a shoulder level high... Of course that's not a big one by any standards.

Another change in take-off style that is happening to me is this. With a much more power in overcoming the power of the wave, I am often now getting a Jumping off the Cliff type feeling when flicking up. After negotiatiating the initial take-off, the board is already ahead of me, and when I flick up, there is so much momentum from the behind that my body is being thrown forward,  and my feet are swinging through my arms, and then I literally land on the board from the air that is going down.  Of course, this is still a small chest or shoulder high stuff, and I am excited about. But I am now starting to see the potential that I can actually start riding short boards for real!

Stoke 7 due to some good progresses. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Session 4.132: Back to LM!

Stoke 6 or even 7 today. People got to know by now that the Stoke rating is your own measure of how stoked you were. There are some people I know that Stoke = WaveHeight, and as far as I am concerned that's a Poser level than anything else. I can be just as equally stoked on a 3 ft waves as well as a 12 ft massive close out that is throwing me over the falls. Either ways, if I had a nice take off and a long ride (and it is both possible to have a 30-second ride on either ones), then that's a high-stoke day! So here is a message to posers and would-be posers. It is possible to ride and have fun at any wave sizes. You just got to learn how to enjoy them!

So why Stoke 6 today? Because I took off on move waves than the most people and rode a lot, and I took out both short and long boards and I just had a lot of fun riding both of them.

I just love these junky poor condition days, because there are still a lot of good waves to ride hidden between the waves, and I will never see those type of surfers ordering me and others where and how to surf stealing every dam wave from all other surfers.  The playing field is even. There is nothing to steal nor anything to be stolen from. This is where the true skill counts and not how floaty your board is. Of course, I got an ultimate LM assault vehicle made by Doyle if I ever have to use it. Though, what the point, so I would never do it.

And when it is choppy like today, it is more fun to negotiate between the poppers.


Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Session 4.131: Improving on Short Boarding...

I got a bit busy with work this morning Actually, got stoked with a part of the project that was moving along, so I kept at it until noon.  So I did not get in the water well after 1:00 pm this afternoon. Due to the semi-sensitivity of this spot, let me just say that I was in HMB. This is after checkout out the super crowded Jetty. When the school is out there are a lot of people there... I almost forgot about it.  At this spot, though, unfortunately was closing out heavily sometimes up to head high, and for my skill set the only way to ride them is to shoot for the reforming inside, but still, sometimes, I would be forced to be sitting on the lip of a close-out set or being caught inside in a bigger set with nowhere to escape. The fun part of all of this was that I was there all by myself, so I could just try to get at them without hanging on to the board and all these etiquette stuff. But I had to be extra careful as these ponders were happening right at the chest level depth.  With a more focus on driving the paddles, I had a few remarkably good take offs into some of the waves, so I was pleased, but needless to say, they were more as a result of accidental luck than being intentional. But I am starting to see the potential of all this now... I am gaining more and more confidence on taking off into faster situations, so I am thinking that these are kind of good training. Last year, if I saw this condition, I would not have even stepped in, so I think there has been some progress.

Then Wendy and I went to see Riding Giants. It is one of the better or probably the best big-wave movie ever made. Very beautifully shot and also it follows the history and who's who of big wave stuff. I am not a big wave enthusiast, but my 10 Ft waves must equal to their 60 Ft waves. Every fear, the emotion, the contemplation, the preparation the hold-downs and joy after successfully catching a wave, I think almost every surfer can relate to.

Another thing about this movie, I spoke or shook hands with several of the people in the movie already in my short 2.5 years of surfing, so it goes to say still how small the actual surfing community is. Sure, there are million surfers who have bought a board or two, but if you are seriously doing this sport, thinking about it, and actively participating in surfing events, it still are not that many people. So that really made me feel that I was participating in the movie as an active surfer.

But I now must wonder what other audience who have never stood on a surfboard will interpret all this?

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Session 4.130: Manresa South + Good Mex Restaurant

We planned to spend a good chunk of a day at Manresa Beach today. A part of this trip included a stop in Watsonville to try the unique Mexican food at Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo and if anybody is going to spend a day or two of surfing there, we highly recommend visiting this restaurant. For more information, follow the link provided in this post.
Back to surfing.
It was a low stoke day as for surfing goes, as the waves were a bit firing, then started to mellow down as the beach started to fill in with the tide. I told Wendy that it will come back again in about an hour when the tide starts to recede again. I was right, and the beach started to fire up again, though this time, the waves were really closing out. I tried to ride a few on my 6'6 and I was successful on a few of the waves, but mostly it was so difficult to ride them plus it was tiring to keep moving up and down to find the right spot. Since yesterday, I have been back on a short board programme, and I am now starting to work on very fast take offs, which is really one of the keys in riding short boards successfully. Then comes faster flick up too. Once I am up on the board, I am a bit more confident in controlling the board, so I am really looking forward to really consistently taking off with the 6'6 board.
After finished with the beach, we stopped at Capitola for a snack. We were originally going to have a dinner at Sukeroku on Mission. We always pass by there after surfing, but we never stopped by there. But we were so still full from lunch that we opted for a drink and a snack. We parked over the cliffs and when we arrived at around 6:00 PM, the waves were firing and nobody was on it. I wish I could just paddled out from the pier and it is a bit of paddle out but I could have had some good rides! 

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Session 4.129: Nice Mellow S. Swells. Fun!

We had a nice mellow morning session this morning with Laura, Irene, Erick and myself. Plus Mike, Ed, Dana from the Surfriders joining. Great morning, sunshine and no wind. Gentle S. Swells are throwing chest highs on the N end of the beach with hardly anyone else around. I started with my Fish and glad to find out that I can still catch waves and stand on the board! I was very relieved about that one. I brought the Doyle Foamy and let Irene use it for a while. She was doing great too with it. Of course, Laura was catching one wave after another. I think I am now noticing that more active people are with the StokeMaster message board and focusing about the surfing skills, they tend to get better faster.
At the middle of the session I brought out the DT4 and I did not surf much with it. Then Irene stopped riding the foam so I switched to that, instantly I was taking big long rides on the mellow waves. It is really a fun board for these kind of slow and mellow day.
We were all smiling and going for the same wave together in a party-wave fashion and we all had a real blast, and it is one aspect of surfing that is really enjoyable!
We all went back to HMB and had Fish tacos and bunch of other fried fish items, and for me, over a Corona. What a good way to finish up a session!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Session 4.128: Amazed By How The Board Turns

First time back in the water since Sunday! I was expecting the S swells to work like a magic like a few weeks before August last year. But today, it was rather junky. But having said that though, there still were some waves I could surf on. And if there is any difference this year, there actually is a difference. I can actually do some intentional surfing even when it looked like some agitated mess out. Among these junky ripples, there were some "exploding in the butt" type waves just pop up suddently. It is kind of like a rocket booster igniting in the tail. If you catch those, it is short but fast ride... the fact of catching them just make you really happy as not everyone do or can catch those.
This afternoon was one of the days that I made a new discovery, and sometimes, these new discoveries are really educational even though they happen normally by an accident. This time I was amazed by how much the board is capable of turning. It is a nice reward for going out a lot.
At this beach, the beach breaks are rampant. And so just for a heck of it, I rode the wave almost all the way in and did a really hard turn at the last part of the break thinking that I would probably stall and stop. Instead, the board kept turning up and up and held on to the water. Of course, I was finally eaten by the wave and did not get through to the other side of the wave, but I did not know that the board can turn like that. I was really amazed. I am taking about not much more than 2 seconds worth of an event, but what I felt was significantly differnt kind of a turn then I have ever experienced. This must be how these good people can always pull out of the waves the last moment! 
Saddly though, when I got out of the water, my friend was frantically looking for his car. To make the story short, a theif took the car, moved it to another park entrance, look for anything of value, and then took off. According to the local sheriff, this same method was used just last week on another vehicle!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Session 4.127: Nice Sunday Afternoon Surf

We planned to visit a location not much far from Half Moon Bay. I have previously never surfed there before so it was a bit of adventure. When arrived there was no surfers around though the condition was unexceptionally good about 8-10 ft soft-looking sets coming every 5-6 minutes perhaps. The fog has burned out and the wind was also mild, so it was set up to be a perfect day!  The beach was wide and there were south spots as well as north spots, with the N spots mellower.
We had a great sandwich from Zaballa House and then as I started to suit up, two other surfers were also getting ready to get in. I was a bit relieved because it is always good have some company than owning the beach totally to myself.
My wife was also watching and she wanted me to go to the S end of the beach where it was braking "big", at least big enough for my level. It was quite a bit of paddle out as the place it was breaking pretty far out. About 250-300 yards out.
Though I thought the waves were soft, it was far from what I thought. It got a lot of power and it was quite challenging to get into the wave. It would have been a perfect condition for the 7'6 (other two surfers were using shorter boards). But I underestimated it and totally expecting a mellow condition so I brought the foamy and the fish. Of course, though it was a lot of fun to ride the foamy board. But when I took one of the fast drop downs, and if I was on Takayama, I could have turned much faster and the board (it has a long tail fin) would have held stronger etc.
I was actually surprised that when I got off the board after a ride the bottom of this beach was a reef and not sand, though it has a beautiful sandy beach, especially on the far north end.
After several rides I took over there, I really got tired so I decided to try the N end which looked very mellow, and it was. By then I was really tired so I got out. Also the N end waves were getting smaller, probably because the tide was going down.
To top the session off, there is a bar right at the beach, so Wendy and I got glasses of the Pale Ale, then went back to the car, took a good nap facing the beach.
If it was hot it would just have been a surfing heaven. No crowd, good beer and just beautiful scenery!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Fw: Session 4.126 Friday Afternoon Session and 4.127 Saturday AM Session

This is the start of chapter 2. I am declaring this day as the official day of a shift in my surfing skills. What has changed really compared with all previous sessions is that I can have consistently have rides where I feel that I am in complete control from the start to finish of a ride. Exactly what does that mean? It means that I am paddling out to places where I am going to catch waves, then I can now select the waves and then after taking off I know where I am going to go and where I am going to wind up. Still, what is the difference between that and the past? One example is this. I am now planning the course rather than always reacting to the changes in the waves. Before, sure, I had some phenomenal rides but I was just lucky, and the waves worked out the way. Of course, there is still an element of luck, but I am now observing and calculating what will happen next if I kept going in one direction or others.
Session 4.126: After this phenomenal changes, I now decided that I should get back into learning short-board riding again (this is especially I decided not to compete this year). So I am back into the original plan of getting to the level where I can do a complete round cut-back by the end of this year. It was also a good excuse to go out since Ren, Nancy and Amanda were going to be there and also Nancy requested to borrow my foamy.
I pulled out the Arrow 7'6 for this evening because I have not ridden it for a while, and I was hopeful that there will be some waves that let me surf. Getting back on the 7'6 was so strange feeling again. I felt like a total beginner again but it is only appropriate that now I am in Chapter II of my surfing life that I should start over. But it was a mistake for the condition. There were not any steep enough waves and when waves were steeper, they were breaking right at the shore. I did take a few of these possibly dangerous breaks, and luckily did not break a thing. In the meantime older surfers with mega boards and Ren with her 9'0 were taking a lot of waves. Also the beach was so crowded that it became a totally opposite enlightening experience I had in the same day!
Couple of strange things happened on this day though. When I was getting ready to go in Mark found me. It is fairly rare to see him. Then when I have finished, Wardo pulls up on his red truck, and we shared about this phenomenal day, and decided not to compete and all the stuff. It is so fun to talk to him since he is a musician and a surfer and I really feel like we are in tune. Also he reads my log so he knows exactly what progresses I have been making. But sometimes I am spaced out.  At one point he asked "Did you do Roundhouse?" It did not click in my head. Partially because there is a spot in Linda Mar that is named Roundhouse. Also I have been doing the long-boarding for the last couple of months and I have actually totally forgot about this year's goal that I announced. I am very glad though and I am very encouraged that he thinks that I am going to "do it" this year! I sure hope so.
Session 4.127: Saturday AM DP
So, I promised Arthur that I am going to show up at LM at 6:30, and I did. He did too. But first thing he does is he drives up to me, roll down the window and tells me "I am going to bag it." He was not pleased with the waves he was seeing. So he went onto the OB.
My basic philosophy though is to ride all the waves given to me at all the time. I feel that it is an important skill to have because even if I am surfing in a bigger condition, I do sometimes connect sections when it is small. Also small waves are harder to ride, and I am starting to get a hang of riding both types of waves on a long board.
This morning, I brought the 7'6, the 6'6 Fish and the foamy. I first took out 6'6 and paddled around for a while. I did not take any significant rides. There was one guy with a short board and he was doing very well, so again, it is not like impossible. I just need to get there.
Though it was not fun to continue with the 6'6, so I switched to my Ultimate Weapon for Mash Destruction, and man, that was instantly so much fun. The waves were getting bigger as the time went by and I was catching some good waves and again consistently longer rides.
It was also a lot of fun comparing the rides between a "real" long board with foam board. Definitely the Takayama does have some speed and edge (literally speaking) to surfing!

Friday, July 09, 2004

Session 4.125: Stoke 10!!! Finally I can Surf!

I had an incredible morning. Not only I repeated the left rides from all the way in the S end to the N end of the beach, I was able to get small waves to surf on 8-ft waves on the N end barely scraping the wall with my hand, and to top that off, I was able to keep cutting back starting on a left wave then to the right wave. Everything I did went perfect. I was taking off on a almost-ready-to-crash walls. I was able to command the board to where I wanted to go accurately.
This was the day that I was waiting. I've been in rides like these before but they were more as a result of luck and I was not controlling nor planning the rides. But this morning, I was able to take off when I wanted, and take the board to where I wanted to go. 
So I think I can surf, and this is the start of really learning how really to surf. My progress have been slow, had two emergency accidents, and lots of things but I am finally getting it.
So after I had this remarkable experience, I was thinking about whether to compete or not at the HMB surfing classic or other events. But it came to me that why should I need to work so hard or show my surfing "off" to other surfers and friends, when I can just get up in the morning and continue to have fun surfing myself, and also start focusing on other fun things like playing Jazz with my wife or getting back into building surf forecasting web sites etc.
Then the whole weight on my shoulder have came off and I took several more rides in "prefect" control.
It has been quite an adventure up to now, and I am really glad I took up this sport and met many many friends. Now I think I am in the Phase II of surfing life. I am really looking forward to it.
So onto soul surfing!
Thank you everyone, it has been a blast!
This is the final post to the StokeMaster group of WaveLog. This feature will continue to be available on the blogger though, so if you would like to continue to get read it, you can download an XML news reader. Instructions to get my XML contents are available by clicking the XML Logo on the left menu bar.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Session 4.123 WED evening glass-off and Session 4.124 THU DP

4.123, Wed 7/7: Taking advantage of the fact that Wendy takes a class on Wed nights, I put in the second session with Ren and Amanda. The wave surface was surprisingly glassy in the S end of the beach and also there were both big and smaller breaks. There were some really good surfers out. I surfred with Ren and Amanda for a while then I moved further north to see what it would be like.
I have not seen Ren surf in a while as she stopped coming to do the DPs with me, but I have seen quite a bit of improvements in her surfing. At one of the rides she showed me a nice and wide cut-back and that looked really natural, and as usual she was catching a lot of waves on her 9'0. She is doing great and have made a great progress. Her friend Amanda caught one nice wave too. Looking forward to see her progress next year!
It is somewhat ironic that "goofy footed" Ren was taking lots of rights, and I have been taking almost exclusively left rides lately on my "regular foot" stance.
We know we are having fun when we keep surfing until it is so dark that we cannot see the waves coming, but last night it was almost like that.
A nice 123 session on lucky 7/7!
4.124: THU 7/8: After a night, a morning comes and I was at it again. But over night the swell has gotten a bit more powerful and so we were getting a lot of close-outs and lot of crested "C" waves that are very difficult to take-off from. But on the other hands these waves have so much power in them that if you just sit in front of the break line many of the waves reform nicely inside so I opted to ride as many of these reforms as I could. My rides are consistently becoming longer and line selection is becoming easier in the past several sessions. I am really happy now to be able to enjoy all sorts of conditions. Now that I think about this, I do not stall in the middle of a ride as much any more as I keeping the speed and angle at much more confidence!
Good to see you Ken.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Session 4.122: Windy (SE) But Stoke 9. Surfing Surfari from Taco Bell to the Rock!

I have never done this before!
  • Ride 1: Started left of Taco Bell, Took a left ride that ended by the shower.
  • Ride 2: Paddled back out to the Shower. Took a left ride that ended by Crespi
  • Ride 3: Paddled back out to the front of Crespi. Took a short left ride. Now I though it might be possible to "ride" all the way to the very N end.
  • Ride 4: Paddled back where I left off then I am at the edge of the "N" end. Success!
  • Ride 5: Paddled back out now I am paddling really close to the rock, now I am determined to complete this tour, I ended up in the very north corner of Linda Mar, no more beach left.
As I went N, the waves went from close outs to mushier but bigger rides.
So I am giving Stoke 9 today!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Session 4121: DP@LM Stoke 5

I took a two-days of rest this weekend. After a hard surfing at the Francis beach on Saturday, my arms muscles got fairly sore, so I wanted them to rest a bit. Yesterday, we drove to Bolinas and saw the spot for the first time, but even then I did not surf. It was a nice spot though and I am sure I will be making a surf trip there. If I am going to go there again, I will drive up to Petaluma on 101 then get in from Pt.Reyes Station side. My past Motorcycle trips have really helped me to become familiar with this area... Speaking of that, we saw relatively major MC crash accident on the Hwy 1 after we left Bolinas. The chopper guy's leg was all broody and skin turned out. Not a nice scene, but glad that I quit riding and switched to surfing. MC accident is inevitable if you ride and when you go down, you just hope that you will live.
Getting up at 5:30 in the morning is, no matter how stoked I am, still difficult. I just lay in bed for 30 minutes and get out, check the wave condition and see if anyone posted more messages on StokeMasters as I wake up. Then I actually take a shower to fully wake up. Strange this ritual may be, as I am going to get wet again in just 30 minutes or so, I just don't feel clean without shampooing and washing down with good amount of soap. If I do not take a shower now, I will not be taking it for the rest of the day.
I like surfing after a big holiday or even a weekend. No matter how good the condition is, there just isn't anybody out there. Today, the total head count was no more than 5 from my vantage point. But it is definitely summer surfing with 9 second swells and also the water has actually gotten to 59 degrees! There was even one surfer with just a board shorts and a rash guard!  I think I am going to try that outfit on a hot day this year, probably in Santa Cruz at Cowells or some place like that.
The remainder of this month, I have determined to surf accurately. What I mean by this is that I do not necessarily do it more aggressively, but focus on taking off when I commit to take off and keep longer rides each time and no matter what type of the waves I am surfing on.
Lesson learned today is that I still am not good at looking at the direction I am going to. It is actually a difficult posture to hold, as I would not normally stand side ways and look to the left or right. If I was trained as a dancer, that might have helped more. I guess this is why Yoga is also important part of balanced surfing diet.
I still catch myself, looking at the board, looking towards one side of the board or the other, and actually this looking forward thing has a profound effect in surfing performance. Looking up and looking forward seems to cause better upright posture in surfing, which is needed for better weight control. It even seems to help catch faster breaks... in fact by looking forward, what I thought of faster non-makable waves were actually fairly mellow and took a couple of nice rides.
More to come...

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Session 4120: Francis Beach... The HMB Closeout Classic... Stoke 4

Sometimes, the Half Moon Bay Surfing Classic Competitions are held at the Francis State Beach, so this morning, I decided to surf there if there is any surf at all. When I arrived there were two shortboarders out.  The set breaks were breaking anywhere from shoulder to about 10 ft range, and they are faster than the times I have been here in the past. On top of these bigger sets, there were bunch of small white breaks that happens closer to the shore, but we might have this type of condition at the competition, so I decided to go out and try. Should this have been a competition, I would certainly have come the last place, since I did not have any real decent rides.
So I jump into my new Xcel suit and now I have gotten used to it that it does not take much time to get inside. I am very happy about that because for the first couple of times, I was some doubt that if this suit is actually practical, and you have to be a contortionist to really use this suit.
The way the sand build up on this beach is fairly unique compared to most other beaches (except, Montara is similar); there is a pile of sand away from the shore then the sand drops down about 10-12 ft to the edge of the water. So as I was standing on the beach, I had a nice vantage point from where I could survey the whole situation. So, finding a easy channel to get out was easy.
Today, though, surfing was very difficult, as the waves are coming in bigger sizes and breaking really hard in close-out sets and even the soups were so big and messy and staying soupy all the way to the shore. Often I wait until huge sets break up then ride the reforms that happens in the inside, so riding those was also difficult. So I opted to try my best to actually ride on these bigger waves, but I was not very successful in the following regards.
Today I actually did not pearl on these bigger waves, in fact, I actually managed to take off on several of them, but on a majority of them, the board just slipped under me forward. I think I know what the problem is. I am not going to forward weighting fast enough. It is a bit difficult for me to do though because in order to take off I have to push the tail harder, so I need to work my knees out. Though it is a bit more scary, taking off on these faster and bigger waves are fun. I got to execute moves so much faster, I go really fast, and I need and I can utilize the power to make even more powerful turns.
There was so much water moving in the beach that it was difficult to get back out and in a 90 minute session I got so exhausted that I had to quit and go home. But I was glad that I did venture out, and this season, I made enough progress to the point that I can feel comfortable getting out when the waves look kind of mean.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Session 4119: Size does not matter!

As predicted there was much less swells energy in the ocean this morning, plus an extreme low tide getting ready to go up. Initially I was in the middle break and there the waves were breaking about hip high. As I wrote before these small waves were very difficult to catch and continue to ride even with my floaty board, and if I am not careful sometimes it is very easy to pearl.
I find these types of waves quite a bit of challenge to ride. I would almost prefer overhead size waves because they are so much easier to catch and ride. The small waves need a very careful and delicate riding style and any attempts to force a ride will wind up in a wipe out. It is more difficult to balance. But, I still need to maintain and gain some speed. I was actually very stoked to get a couple of very very long rides.
Towards the middle of the session, more substantial breaks were happening towards the north end of the beach so I stayed there and got a few more powerful rides so my appetite completely filled... and then was the time to go to work.
Stoke 6.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Session 4018: Sotke 7.5, But Still Not Bad! 100-seconds per hour sessions now regular!

People must have gotten really picky lately since there were not very many people surfing this morning, or may be they have all switched to kiteboarding or something. Just for a change and with a sign of small S swells, I checked out HMB but was not anything I would enjoy catching.
Last night when I pulled into my garage, I have decided that tomorrow would be smaller, so I took down the DT4 and put the foamy back on. Then before the bed pack tomorrow's office cloths in the duffel bag and packed it, put the computer in the bag and put both bags in the car, set the alarm to 5:30 and went to sleep. This works out much better since I tend to be crankier in the morning so I want to make my take-off preparations as simple as possible.
In spite of my thinking though we still had some occasional good overhead breaks this morning.
I was thinking that for the length of rides I am getting in recent sessions, a minimum 100-seconds per hour of surfing is now in the realm of things. Probably more. I should have Wendy come with me and have her clock how many seconds of rides I am getting. When the competition time comes though the better surfers will put in 100 seconds easy in a 15-20 minutes heat!
On not directly related to surfing, Cafe Nona's will be opening a bakery in the same shopping center! That will be great since he makes such a good apple pie and other good stuff. It is related to surfing to the extent that we will soon have a very attractive alternative to my post-session coffee and sweets. I told him to make sure that he is open by 7:00 and he said he will, so that will be perfect!