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?

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