Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Session 4.167: My Wife Surfs for The First Time

My Wife, Wendy, has surfed for the first time in her life. This is actually pretty remarkable because she would never go into the ocean in NorCal -- she says the water is too cold. But with the water temperture going around 70 degress out here, it is like being in a heated pool out here!

We went to Kamaole beach in Kihei. Unlike in NorCal the surf rentals are open very early in the morning. We were there at 8:00 and people are already out on surfing lessons and also we were easily be able to get a rental. So it was great to get the day started.

With very little swells this week, it was an easy introduction to Wendy, and also the floor is shallow for hundreds of yards so it is very comfortable paddling out as "no matter how far" you paddle out, you can always touch the sea floor.

That was good for me as I stand on the floor and then I can give her pushes.

She was able to ride a fairly long wave to the shore on her belly and she says that she will try the real surfing instruction next week!

One thing I learned about pusing is that I can cause her to pearl easily, so here is some tricks that I learned.

When pushing someone, be sure that the surfer is scooted back a bit further back, and also rather than just pusing straight forward, push the back of the board down as you push forward.

Maui Sessions 164-166

Session 4.164: West Maui (8/29)

The swells continue to be mellow as yesterday. Basically W wind swells hitting the NW part of Maui. As we drove up towards Lahaina, the waves looked more surfable. The first stop was a spot a bit further north of Olowalu and this spot was the first spot that was breaking up to about chest high. I went there and did not catch any, but saw more breaks further north, so I got out and then got back in. As I was paddling out there was a long boarder signaling me to paddle out further to the left and to paddle around. Admittedly, I was in a hurry to get into the lineup, so it was a correct advise. I never had this kind of situation, but I greeted the surfer and thanked him letting me know. This turned out to be a good spot and I caught two good very good nice rides. Most, actually all, people were surfing on long boards. Of course nobody was wearing a wet suit at all. But I was glad that with a bit of a confidence in riding a hybrid, I could surf just as well as the long boarders. I had a helmet and booties on so I am sure I looked like someone really foreign. But as usual, I don?t really care what others think. I have, however, got my first brush with the corral and got my first surfing scar in Hwai?i. Just a bit of brush with the corral and now I had a wide and big enough wound. It took me about 2 hours for it to stop breeding.

Session 4.165: Kalama Beach Park (8/30 AM)

The waves continue to be small. So I gave up on short boarding, and instead we stopped by at Kalama Beach Park in Kihei rented a 10 ft Softop to surf. This was a good choice as the knee high waves were breaking about 500 or more yards out. One thing that is different from most of the NorCal locations is that the almost the entire island is coral reef supported so the breaks happen quite a far away from the beach then they continue to roll almost all the way to the shore, so I paddle out quite a distance then when I take a ride, it lasts for quite some time. I had several of these rides. Based on the fun I had I traded in the JC 7?5 with a McTavich 9?1 board today. I think I am going to ride the rest of the vacation.

One thing that we noticed is that the used board market is fairly slim in Maui. May be we are still looking for wrong places, but most ?surf shops? that I have seen do not carry much used boards, and usually double as wind surfing stores. In terms of getting both new and used boards, I think that Santa Cruz seem to have much more in terms of selections and number of stores. These findings may change, as I explore more.

Session 4.166: Ka?anapali Area (8/30 PM)

One nice thing about surfing in Hawai?I on this trip is that I just drive around, if I find a break that I want I just basically get the board out, and paddle out. It is almost always the case that I can drive the car right up to the beach, or there are paved parking lots with showers. This is great. Bad part of Maui is that the development is taking over so that there are some spots that surfers are practically denied of accessing the beaches. Even though there are paths to get an access, there is a very limited parking space available especially in places like Ka?analali or Napili further notrth. There are public parking spaces available but they seem to look like some regulatory mandated spaces that the developers had to provide so the space are very limited and also they are in very obscure locations. On the other hands, there still are a plenty of choices and I could always find very uncrowded breaks along the highway.

We did manage to find the public spot in Ka?anapali, and I did surf there. It was very crowded with surfing schools and other people, and it resembled more like a crowded weekend day at Linda Mar where people are paddling right into surfers lines while surf school instructors push students to take off on their 15 ft Softop boards. Once I realized what was going on, I just switched the gear and start having fun. The 9?1 MacTavich is a very nice board with a channel in front and it is very wide so it catches almost any waves. I think it is a good nose-riding board. One nice thing about this location is that my wife can kill time by shopping in their shopping centers and numerous hotel gift shops. Where else in the world where there are shopping centers and beautiful surfing beach? Though, probably the beach sand is being imported from other locations to please the guests. When I arrived, I was asking a local person about sand beaches in Wilea and apparently there was one but over time the sand eroded away leaving only the lava rocks.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Session 4.163: Report From Maui Day 1: Small

I got in Maui yesterday morning. After a lunch in Wailuku I went to rented a board. The board I got is a JC Equalizer 7.5 and I could not wait to get out with it. Then checked into the hotel and alas this Marriott hotel does not have an internet connection in room, and I have stopped using a dialup connection so after several tries I have decided that it was a fruitless exercise, so essentially I do not know when is the next time I will be able to upload my reports. Right now I am sitting in an Internet Cafe in Paia. I almost went to surf at Hopkia park but the wind got so strong that I decided not to do, and instead drive back around the stop at Paia.

Today, we drove from the southern tip of Wailea via Lahanina to Kapalua, through very narrow 1-car only lane at some point, came back through Kahului. Unfortunately the waves were small, and as a result of this or not there were not very many people surfing. Just before entering Kahlui, I found this small beach behind some residential area breaking so, I decided to give it a try.

Note that this is the first time I have ever surfed without any wetsuit on. And the water here right now is in the 70's and that's the warmest water I was ever surfed. It is nice. I can stay in the water indefinitely with just a rash guard and a pair of board shorts. In spite of the small wave the JC 7'5 (21 inch wide) help me catch the wave and there you can see an evidence of me surfing in Hawai'i water for the first time in my life! Finally also my rides are long enough that my wife was able to get several shots.

OK, back in a while. Hopefully the waves will pick up soon!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Session 4.162: Stoke 8. Some Good Rides Today

This morning we did a DP with Steve H. and I really had a good fun. We were definitely feeling this new NW swells, and this morning the buoy was reading about 5 ft 17 seconds so I knew there will be some good waves out there.

There were some fast closing sets but also there were some mush sets too, and I must still say that I love mush sets as I am still not ready to challenge those. I don't know how many people actually do.

The energy was abound in the beach so getting out was a bit of work but I like these kind of workouts, the only issue might be is that once I am out I am a bit tired to really push hard to catch the waves. I really should get out, take some rest and let others have waves too at the same time.

My Gold Fish 66 has worked really well on some of the waves and I was getting some good long rides with really a feel of being planted on the board. That means I am ready to turn harder.

Some of the problem areas that I need to work on based on the experience today are the following;
  • I should really make efforts to do even faster flick ups. Wipe outs are less but I often end up riding belly boarding as it is too late to stand up.
  • Once I do above then I should really set the initial turn faster so that I can set the rail faster on the waves. On long boards this is easier but for short boards it is still a challenge.
  • I should (and would like) to go for the waves. I know I can because when I do I can.
After the session I spoke with Arthur and he was at the OB with waves really huge.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Session 4.161: Need To Build A Speed!

I have been realizing pretty hard about how I lack the speed in surfing. This is going to be one of the biggest topic for me for the next month or two. Looks like I have to push the October goal of roundhouse cutback completion since I have not even done a satisfactory cutback on a short board yet.

Today, I was rather happy to report that I am still taking off on equal or more waves than even some of the long-boarders, and I can now muscle my way into taking off. I did not realize a couple of things. Number one is that I can actually take off by paddling really hard, even when I thought I would not be able to previously. Number two is that for short boarding, in addition to more precise wave selection, the take-off still require a lot of raw paddling muscles. As I started to focus more on short boarding this year, my muscles are becoming stronger than I have ever been in my life, and I am also happy about that too.

So, I can take off but good surfers I have seen can gain much greater speed than I do so even the waves are just hip high, they can climb up the wave, do a quick cutback and maintain the power and the ride for almost unimaginable period of time. And that's because they can add the speed to their ride much much better than I can do it today.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Session 4.160: So much variabilities

Yesterday in Santa Cruz, I had a real blast felling like I was totally in control and be able to surf more waves than the most people. Now a different location and a different break, I had hard time catching anything today and be confident. Faster and more powerful dumpers are really hard to catch, but there are others who are catchcing them so there is still some ways to go.

Session 4.159: Back to the 38th Ave + Reflections

This past week was some of the hardest surfing I have done this summer as the swells really built up for some time earlier in the week. So I wanted to do some relaxing surfing with friends, so I went to the 38th avenue with two of the Stokemaster members, Aimee and Luke. I went there knowing that there should not be much big waves.

I almost forgot about the fun of surfing at the 38th. Even though there were not much waves, when the set fire up there is plenty to surf and as usual once you are in a wave, the ride lasts for a long time and especially now that I can really control the direction and speed of the ride much better than ever.

I remember in the beginning, I could only take off straight down and go straight. This was not good because I got in the way of better surfers who are taking off and going at an angle. After 2 years I am finally in the group of people who will do that on a regular basis. I am even starting to advance to the point that I am including ups and downs over the face for more speed and more time on the wave. This is great, as one point the "inside" got really crowded but now I am confident that even if I take off, I can quickly turn so I do not hit them. Even if someone takes off right next to me, I can now adjust my turn or even out-run some surfers. These are additional dimensions of surfing, and it was really good to go back there and realize that I can start to catch waves like better people were doing when I saw them I started out surfing.

Another interesting stuff.

After the session we stopped by at the Freeline surf shop and I was looking at various boards but today was the first time that a 7'6 board looked really long. When I started out, I thought that 7'6 board was short and thought how do people ride those boards. I was looking at 8'6 and that looked like a 10 ft board. I guess if there are a lot of boards standing in a rack like that it will make them look like that but on the other hands, I think I now have a different and more real sense of the board length relative to my size. It was very interesting experience that I should note here for a future reference.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Session 4.158: DP Fun

This morning, I got some real surfing done, compared to yesterday. Lately the waves have been harder breaking than I have been used to. But the size has came down a bit, but when I get on the waves they are fast and fun! I tried the long boarding today, and definitely there were some challenging moments. Should have taken out a short board though. Edmundo from the local SRF joined after a while, and it is a real pleasure to surf with people who have been at it for a while. Also there was anoter local guy, who Edmundo says is the best surfers in the area and we were looking at him how he positions, he takes off and he just get so much speed out of his board even on smaller sections, it is amazing to watch just zig-zagging, doing u-turns, and carving S turns all over the places. Sometime to aspire to.


Thursday, August 19, 2004

Session 4.157: More with S Swells

So I did not want the repeat of yesterday, I went to a beach closest to my house, and that was not a bad idea if I knew to try on a lower tide.

In contrast to yesterday of while water battle, today was nice and clean and every few minutes A frames would form up to my height. But the difficulty of these is that they are still fairly powerful so I need to get in, stand up and turn much faster than those beach breaks that I have been practicing on. Well, the time will come soon. I just take those in strides.

A bit of sun was poking through the fog crowd and casing rays through the sky. It was kind of an erry scene like some medival religious paintings.

So while I did not get that many rides, I really enjoyed being there this morning.


Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Session 4.156: Upper Limit

The 20 second S swells started to hit us more, and I was a bit worried that we might get a bit too much power for my taste and that's exactly what has happened. Also going out on a lower tide was not a good idea. It just made the thing worse.

When I arrived at the beach there clearly were some big secions going at or close to 10 ft set height and they were also fast and closing out kinds. But there seemed to be some sections that were not that big, so I decided to paddle out on my 6'6.

Looks at the waves from the cliff and directly on it were totally different story, and no matter how many times I do this, I always get tricked into believing that things are actually bigger and stronger than what I thought it would be. So today was no exception, and in addition, each time I try to get out the more sets seems to come. So long as I am standing at the beach, it is between sets, but as soon as I try to paddle out, the sets kick in again! How aggravating!

I probably tried 4 or 5 times to get out, and even with ducking through there were just more and more stuff coming in so it was very exhausing to paddle and continuously ducking. The first 10-15 meters is the hardest. As I go out further, it gets increasingly easier. Well, that's usually how it happens.

But as soon as I made to the outside line, there was this huge at least 2 x wall started to form right in front of me. I barely made it further out and even did not have time to duck through. Forutnately, I turtled the board at the right time so I did not get thrown over.

So today, I really felt that it was over my limit and so I decided to take the next white water in. Even the white water had so much power that I had a difficulty flicking up, I did ride it though, and I rode back home safely!


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Session 4.155: More take off lessons today

The much anticipated S. Swells did not hit square this DP. So back to the usual beach! But we still had some NW left over up to hip high today. Did it stop me from going? Of course not. As I always say, "the size does not matter."

On a day like this, I choose to practice two things.

- perfect and smooth duck diving. I still need a lot of practice in this area because not every duck is perfect. Sometimes I get pushed back. Until I never get a push back, I need to practice it under some soup and under a bit bigger waves.

- Take off and more take offs. Small wave take-off means faster and more powerful take off then to carefully and accurately ride the waves, and 5 out of 10, I still don't execute everything fast and smooth enough that I cannot score long rides. I know it is possible to do so.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Session 4.154: How Depressing and inspiring At the Same Time.

So I went back to where I was yesterday. It was sort of OK for a while and I had took a few rides but then the tide started to go down or whatever, it became dumpy. So I was paddling up and down the beach in search of the breaks, but not too much. Then as I was getting out Jack rushed towards me from the shore. I told him, I will watch to see how you will do it. And then he goes in, he was doing just great. To make the matter worse, he wanted to borrow my Fish and he was doing even better! Man, how depressing but then I because also hopeful that these waves can still be surfed!


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Session 4.153 : Best Bottom Turn Ever!

We tried to surf at G this morning, but that was actually a mistake, there actually was really no good wave to ride but bunch of beach breaks that were steep and just bumpy. So moved further south, and the waves were much better. Should just have gone there in the first place!

Again, I took out the Fish 66 and playing in one section that was going just about high chest to overhead level.

Starting yesterday, my bottom turns are getting stronger to the point that I can now point the line up a bit more than before. Then today, I had a strongest bottom turn I have ever had. I had this happen once before, but this time, the move was a result of an intention than an accident.

What happened was this. I took off on a wave, and then I was hoping that the wave won't build up fast, but it did. So I ended up dropping down fast and straight. It was a right wave and if I kept going at this speed I would hit the beach soon, so I had to do something and so I try to execute a sharp right. I was expecting that the board would probably slip out under but that did not happen, instead, the board made a nice fast strong right turn and held on!

It was very fast turn and the the pressure on the knee was so strong, and I was also immediately be able to cut to the left and continued on by now, it was getting soupy so I just went down the straight line after that. I always want to do this, so looks like I really need to strengthen the knees even more to be ready to withstand the pressure that I need to exert. The whole point that I am trying to make is that I did not realize how much pressure can actually be applied to these boards over such a soft medium like water. Of course, when I wipe out or get pulled under I can feel the force of the water, but I did not feel this in the context of riding, and that's where I am actually half amazed and half happy about it.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

Session 4.152: More rapid take off practice

Today the waves were relatively small, and I took out the Fish. Stayed inside and did a lot of take off practices, not really minding about riding. But I had a few nice take-offs that resulted in a faster turns than I have been executing. Some improvement here!

Friday, August 13, 2004

Session 4.151: Back to more fun!

It is always good to get together with other surfers that I know. This morning I met Jim Shang who has been on our Stokemasters, and also Ken who has been with us for over a year now!

The surf started out rather small this morning and I took out the DT4-90, as yesterday I took the Fish-66 and did not do that well. But this morning I caught a lot of good waves.

It was especially challenging on smaller sets when I had to catch and quickly set the rail to keep the ride. Also smaller waves are less forgiving for mistakes. For a few take-offs, I wiped out because I was not dead center on the board. So I need to gently stand up, set up for the initial turn. Again very gently. With a bit of careful planning, I can still enjoy a decent length of ride. I am really suggesting that people should not dismiss small days. There are always challenges to be had.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Session 4.150: So many different types of waves.

This morning the waves were really small to start with, but as the hour went by, the sets started to become bigger and also there were occasional period where lots of waves came in sets that made getting out a bit difficult.

Though the biggest challenge today was those waves that do not build up until the last moment and then they just crest and come right down. They are close out waves but it is very intriguing why those happens sometimes and other times they do not.

Today was one of more difficult days to take off. It was either too mellow to get started or too dumpy and closed out. Needless to say, there are still some people that manage to take off. Still amazed me.

These are the kind of days that make me feel like I am starting all over again!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Session 4.149: Dumpy!

Lots of white water coming one after another this morning, and so it was more of a duck diving practice than riding. Though it is important to read the waves and channels to successfully get outside.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Session 4.148: This week's goal - reading the waves.

This morning's DP was quick but sweet. Several chest high sets totally owned by me. When I am catching a lot of waves, a 90-minute session is a lot of work out!

Today, and this week, I am going to work on reading the waves better. I tried it today and already seeing some results. The ride quality and the length is contiuing to improve!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Session 4.147: Stoke 9 Today

The large soup mess stopped or at least calmed down today and also cleaner power was arriving at most beaches this morning. I was catching waves lefts and right, dropping down steep lines, riding long lefts, and having all sorts of fun both on short and long boards. With my old and new friends out at the beach and the sun poking through from time to time, I had so much fun. I will give it a Stoke 9, and if there was no crowd, it could have been a Stoke 10 day!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Sessions 4.146 A and B: Fighting the Swells

Session A:

The swell size picked up and also the direction has shifted more westerly than the past several days. I thought that M...... Should be just as good as two days ago, but boy was I wrong. It was a real work out to get out and waves closed out quite a bit so I only had a couple of rides and that was it. After several attempts to get out, I could not so I went to the far end of the beach and try to get out. I got out OK but then there were several large set came in and were just dumping too fast, so I tried to escape but it was too late, and I was thrown over. The board hit my mouse and cut my lip a bit, not a major issue but that's when I decided to get out.

By then Laura and Arthur arrived and also now the breaks were just going constantly so, so we all decided to go back to our old stand-by.

Session B:

There, we also had a lot of white stuff coming in so it was a real though workout to get out, and boy it was crowded at one point with only 4-5 ft between 30-40 surfers. I have not seen the beach that crowded in one time! Interestingly enough you could have spreaded out but most people seemed to have insisted on just being on a relatively small spot. I don't know why that happens actually as even some of the "locals" that I see often were just there, but not really catching much.

Already exhausted from part of session A, and also worked out some larger sets at session B, I decided to take my underwater camera and started to shoot Arthur and Laura surf. I am sending it to Shutterfly when they send me the envelope, which I have just ordered.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Session 4.145: Back in Action! Stoke 8

Today, I worked all of the morning, and go out during a lunch break at the low tide period. It was a good move. I was able to find a spot that was breaking about my shoulder level high, and today with a much more power than yesterday. There were only three other surfers out and we had a plenty of room, besides, I took the DT4 out so it really worked out great.

Today was the first day that I have taken out the Takayama DT4 (9'0) in several weeks. The reason I did not was because the waves were getting increasingly smaller and also I wanted to still ride the foamy board for more time, as it just give me so much pleasure of allowing to take off when no other surfers are taking off (well, almost).

I took some mushy waves that were building more or less towards the outside and also when there were lower periods, I surfed inside a bit. Still the inside breaks were only 20-30 yards from the beach break line, so it was a bit hairly to take off, but now I have much more confidence in immediately turning upon take-offs so I can still enjoy a bit of ride then. Sometimes, these breaks can be fun because they get really steep fast, and throw small tubes.

Today, I was almost at the point that the wave was about close from the wall and I could have been inside of it, but unfortunately, the wave picked me up then dumped me, so that was not a success, but I have never yet been so close to the wall that my shoulder was almost touching the wall. If I had a bit more speed, I could have had it... may be.

If my Arrow 7'6 is a long board that thinks a short board, then the DT4 almost feels the opposite way. It is so light and highly manuevable that I can ride this more like a short board. Also, one primary difference between the 9'0 foam and the DT4 is that due to its weight, taking off is significantly easier. The only issue is that this board does require a bit more power in the wave for it to work. But once I am on the steep face, I can just push the tail hard and it just holds on the face. I am looking forward to extract more potential from this board as I progress.


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Session 4.144: The beach was filled up and almost no surf!

I should not have waited around too long. When the swells are small, I need to take the tide into account a lot more and then go. When I arrived at the beach, there was nobody surfing and with a few spots that looked sort of breaking. I took a foam board and went down the beach. Stayed there and going back up and down the beach in search of a break. I only rode 3, or may be 4 in the whole 90 minutes session. But I did catch a few so even in the worst of the worst condition, it is possible, I guess.

Stoke level 4.


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Session 4.143: Stoke 7 Caught Lot-o-Waves

This afternoon Steve and I hit a spot that is not the usual LM. I first went in with my 6'6. I was catching waves but I had to start from the way way inside so the rides were short and there is no way in the hell I could catch any air or get off the lips, so instead I swapped the fish with my old trusty Doyle and do more relaxed rides. It used to be that other local guys would see a surfer with a blue foam plus a helmet they will complement me for being so good for someone renting a beginner board, and create a 100 yard buffer zone to avoid me, but I think that they have now figured out what I am doing, so I cannot use "Hey, I just started to surf last week, and I don't know what I am doing so I might hit you." excuse any more.

It was really a mushy day but on a foamy, I can just go way outside and then start to paddle (or sometimes a bit more inside). The lineup moved all over the places so fast paddling with a floaty board was very helpful. So I am still really glad that I got this board for a day like this.

I also have been focusing on "look beyond" technique and I have been getting significantly longer rides as ups part of ups/downs are becoming more effective. Again, in a compact 90 minute session, I think I must have caught a dozen set of rides.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Session 4.142: DP Stoke 6. Taking off 110% of the time!

Though that the tide was too low and also the swells have dwindlled but with no wind out and esentially only 4 people were out on my side of the beach, it was fun. I actually had a late start and did not get to be beach until 7:30 or so, but in a course of an hour I caught dozen waves on my foamy board. I actually could have taken out the Fish but then I though looking at the powerlessness of the sets, I have chosen to go for the foam. It was at the lowest spot of the tide and since we are close to the New Moon, we really had a real low tide. But soon after, the tide started to rush in again and I had a few good shoulder highs.

In a short 1 hour session I caught so many waves, it was really amazing and fun!

I also am starting an advise I got from Wardo that I am now trying to look beyond where I am going, instead of just looking at where I am going. Not much success today, but I am getting there. So Wardo, watch me (this is a functional pun).

Since Sastuday at Manresa, I have aquired a new trick of take off even if I have not taken off. It is almost like a hot dogging take off. Sometimes I fail to take off on a wave, pearl or whaever, but while I am in motion I quickly get back on the board, paddle some more and take off in the soup. So I am now taking off 110% of the time!