Sunday, October 31, 2004

Session 4.213: Waddell Stoke 10!

Got up this morning and checked my web site for the swell conditions. The swells has gotten several feet bigger and the period, now it is from NW at 9 ft at 14 seconds minimum. Plus there is a forecast of higher wind, so I decided to try Waddell Creek this morning.

First checkpoint is Pescadero on the way. When the highway goes through the high cliff area you can see if the swells are in, and if they are small or big. I was afraid of this, but the waves were rather big going at least 1.5 overhead. Shortly after, I pass the Pigeon point, and the waves were not too big there.

More anticipation of conditions as I drive down the coast. Finally I arrive at Waddell Creek, and a sign of relief, the waves were just perfect size and shape for me!

Surfing here was a lot of fun this morning. The sky was just crystal clear and there was hardly any wind, and the water was still warm. There were many good shoulders that were happening.

I took out the Equalizer and off I go paddle out.

Unlike the other day when I took out my long board, getting out was still difficult but with duck dive and the lighter board, I could make it out without a problem.

The waves were not hard breaking so it was a lot of fun to get in the shoulder and catch waves practicing turns. I really love the feel of the JC 7.5 board in this condition, because it allows me to catch waves confidently, and when I am up on the board, as soon as I shift my weight it really responds well by allowing me to do bottom turns and cut backs. It was just a perfect morning for my skill level!

As the tide came up the wave gotten significantly smaller, many people started to leave and by the time I was out, there were but a few cars in the lot. It was really nice sunny morning just to relax and look at the beach before heading back.

Stoke 10: Could not have asked for more!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Session 4.212: The Gate Keepers of Montara

I was going to do a quick morning session, and that's exactly how it ended up. With the note that the swell period was going in the neighborhood of 14 - 17 seconds, I strapped the Takayama DT4, a 9'0 long board, plus "just in case" a 6'6 Fish.

I drove up north from my house, saw the Jetty and that looked like already packed and with smaller waves. Could have been fun with a short board though. Arrived at Montara and decided to do a session there. The waves did not look that big from the road.

Contrary to looks, or my luck combined, when I tried to get out, the gate keeper at Montara was hard at work refusing me to get myself out. First door to open was the treacherous shorebreaks that broke numerous people's board and even surfers themselves. If I do not time this entry well, it can be very costly. There was a lull of the wave for a moment, I throw the board and leap frog myself and paddle like getting out of hell. But just at the moment, the waver in front of me started to inflate fast. "Oh, Shit!" I needed to make a quick decision to either quit paddling and ditch the board, or keep going. I decided to keep going, which was lucky and good for this time. The wave did not break and I went over the hump. Then, now I am fighting with the second gate keeper; the endless white waters. I was paddling and paddling but not making much progress, finally I thought I have reached the outside, but when I look at the shore, I was only 50 years out.

This was a bad choice of spot to get out, so I paddled back in, and as I hit the shore, I stand up and a very strong back wash almost literally knocked my booties off taking back to the shore break zone. Montara is angry and if I let it, it will just keep me in the beach break and pounce myself and board for as long as it wants. I kneeled down and using all the power I have I pulled out of the water, as soon as I felt no resistance from the pull of the backwash, I quickly run to the higher ground, as who knows, even a bigger shorebreak will take me right back.

I was walking up and down the beach for a better entry point, and tried two more attempts with similar results. So I said to myself, "I am going to check out other locations."

When I got back to the car, though, a thought of a more relaxing day started to cross my mind, and so I headed back straight home.

Should I have seen a few more people out there, especially some of my better local friends out there surfing the waves, I could have tried more and stayed.

I just got up from a long nap and it was good, and worthwhile, and I just finished writing this.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Session 4.211: Montara Sunset Patrol

What a busy day today with one emergency "fix it now" incident one after another... total of about four, when I came back from a morning meeting in Santa Clara, which, of course preempted this morning's down patrol! In fact, these emergencies were threatening to eat into the afternoon surfing too!

But, I managed to get out by 4:45 (for those wondering, I was doing the server migration until 9 p.m. last night!)

Having seen the beaches relatively flat and low tide all over, I have decided to stop by at Montara. There was only one another surfer, and it was David, a friend from my local surfrider chapter! The stoke level goes up a notch when I spot a familiar face out. Essentially we had the entire Montara to ourselves for this evening.

I have never been to Montara at this low tide and when the sand was out so far. I could walk 300 years out and it was still knee level. In fact, it was a bit of a challenge to take off, as I turn the board around, the back of the board stuck into the sand. We had several good chest high waves, but it was not that easy to take off. A bit more depth would have been better.

But one thing I was thinking is that I really like a lot just to be in the water and paddling around. I really like the invigorating feel of cold water, and no matter how I hard I paddle, I never get really hot.

It was a short session as the sun was going down really fast. When I got out the water the sun was just ready to drop below the horizon. I just stood the sun to go down as I appreciated the end of another nice day I had. It is still amazing that how quickly it goes down, and all because the earth is rotating.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Session 4.210: Confidence Building at OB

After the great session at Manresa, when I got home, I started to sneeze and then the my nose started to run. This was a bad sign, so I immediately took a vitamin C pill and also took a shot of Nyquil and went to bed. Monday morning, I was still feeling ill, but mostly felt like shook off the cold. I took it easy on Tuesday because of poor weather then Wednesday the swells have gotten bigger so I took another rest.

Now it is Thursday morning already and I could hardly wait to go out. We had a clear night, and thanks for that, we were able to enjoy the full eclipse of the moon. But this morning, I open the garage and the moon was now pale blue, and my breath was white? Yes, it is now starting to be like the winter down patrol time. I was glad that I already had the wetsuit on. Now, I quickly fill the water bottle with hot water, and drove towards the Jetty. But I needed some Coffee first.

Intending on going to the Jetty, I stopped at the Coffee shop in the Albertson shopping center, instead of the usual Montara. As I pulled into the parking stall, a white pickup track was approaching to my car dangerously close. Gosh, is this guy drunk or what? The track stops and window rolls down, and it was Darin from the Half Moon Bay surf shop! "Hey! Good morning. Darin!" I was happy to see his face in the darkness and the cold of the morning.
"How was the video?"
"Excellent! Thank you!"
"Half Moon Bay isn't good, I am going to work, finish with bills'n stuff. You should go to the Ocean Beach, man."
"Uh?.ah? Yes? OK?"
"OK! Have fun, man!"

So this morning's destination was decided by this local surf shop owner.

As the sun started to burn the sky, I was passing by Montara, and the ocean was throwing bunch of "A" frames here and there as if it is sticking out and rolling bunch of tongues. "Wow, this is going to be some day!"

As I was turning left on Sloat, and the ocean was vibrant. There were more waves than Montara or Linda Mar, but a lot whiter with bunch of white water inside, and people were surfing much further out. I get out of the car, and I was trying to decide if I should get out or not. As I was watching the ocean, somewhat familiar feeling came back for the first time in a few years. My stomach and guts started to freeze up a bit. I remember I used to feel this way when I started to surf at Linda Mar without having other friends with me.

Still the idea of surfing at OB scares me a bit, and so it is obvious to me that the internal fear is trying to convince me not to surf.

But, I've handled this kind of stuff at Montara or El Porto, so why should I be afraid of it at this location. So I fully armored myself with a hood and a glove just in case I had to battle a long way back, and went in.

As I hit the beach, there was one surfer caught inside not getting out, and another guy totally gave up and came back in.

In spite of the cold air, the water was not cold, especially on my fully armored gear, and once I hit the water, all of the fear has gone out and smile has came back to my face. The water was rough, but I was handling it ducking over and through. It was not that over-powering like some time in Montara, and the 7'5 Equalizer was helping lead my way.

I continued to play this morning out carefully, especially not re-kindle the cold, and stayed towards the inside, caught some waves, but not much, but I was definitely using this chance to build more confidence in this type of situation. I was being pushed down South so I opted to ride, walk up North, and paddle out again.

So today, it was a confidence building day, and as such, it really worked out.

After leaving the water, I watched some good surfers surf the outside breaks, and went back to work, thinking with a confidence that I will be out there not too far in the future from now. That thought made me really happy!

Stoke 6: I wish I had more guts!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Session 4.209: Manresa Stoke 9

I stopped at Taqueria Santa Cruz (on Mission) for a quick lunch, since I have heard some good thing about this location. As I get ready to go, and I opened the rear hatch of the car, I did not find one important item. A Wetsuit! Darn it, I left it at home! Well, I can still rent one. So I went and had a couple of exquisite beef tacos.

I can highly recommend this place to other surfers to stop by.

Then Laura called up and told me that the Hook was flat. So I said "Waddell was happening, so I am sure Manresa will be good. I will go rent a wet suit and meet you at the Hook then we head out to Manresa." Also, on a recommendation from my wife's post, Nancy set her alarm clock back last night, only to find this morning that it was a false alarm! So she was hour late t get started. A typical surfing get together coordination, but we always have fun.

So I thought, if I am going to rent a wet suit, why not go to the source, so I stopped by at the O'Neill shop at the 41 St Ave, and sure they have a rental, but only "thirty two". I asked back the girl at the counter. Thirty two bucks to rent? And she said, not "three two". I have never heard people say "thirty two" before. But it turns out to be $10 a day and shop is open until 8:00. I knew that the water is luke warm 58 degrees today so I did not have a problem using 3/2. So I went ahead and got it.

Just as I predicted, Manresa was happening, and really nicely. The breaks were just like the OB on Saturday, just about shoulder high and nice soft breaks. With Santa Cruz being protected from the NW wind, the surface was glassy too.

Laura and I went in and immediately started to catch many many waves, and she was working on hang ten, while I was trying to prefect good take-off techniques. After an hour or so, Nancy and Amanda also arrived. They told me they have never been there. I am sure they will be hooked to this location.

The beach continued to produce perfectly nice shape and size for a nice Sunday afternoon ride with friends.

Today I continued to use the foam, because I was intending on going to the 38th and the Hook with a fully armored set up for possible collisions with other surfers. In retrospect, I should have brought the 7'5, that would have allowed me to do more of a short-board type rides. Laura did not bring her 7'6 either, so we were a bit bummed about it, because there were some good fast-enough sections and some short boarders were ripping good.

I really like the feeling of a successful take-off and then turning on the face of the wave. It feels like as if I am squeezing out some tooth paste sometimes.

One interesting trick I have happened to do today is this. When taking off, I push the board forward just about when I am ready to flick up. I do this also so that the board is inserted to toward the wall of the wave. What this allows me is to let me drop into about-to-form hook, and the board is much more forward, I can stand up towards the tail of the board. This allows me to push the tail stronger for the remainder of the initial take off part, and allow me to set up for the initial decent without being overpowered. I was amazed that how sharply of an angle I can set the initial rail this way, and stay towards the top of the wave. It remind me of things I do in skiing where I jump off a small "cliff"going diagonally and continue to set the edge to the wall descending.

I am going to explore this method a bit more for upcoming sessions.

What a treat today. Stoke 9 for catching one wave after another.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Session 4.208: OB Rain Surf

With all wave measurements dwindling down in our area, I decided to head down to Sloat at Ocean Beach this morning. As usual, the first stop was at the Cafe Luca in Montara. As I approached the area, there was only one car parked in front. But just as I pulled in two cars ahead of me pull in. Then they both get out. "Oh, man, I am behind 4 people!", still I decided to go inside, and there were yet another couple waiting for a very complex order. So I was essentially behind 6 made to order coffee drinks. There was only one guy behind the counter. Given it would take at least 4 minutes per drink to make that would mean that I have to wait for 24 minutes for my turn! Gosh, I cannot wait for that long, I got surfing to do. So I headed to the next door convenience store for a coffee and a donut. That worked out fine, and I only paid half of what I normally pay.

Back in the car. Quickly looking at Montara, and it was happening. I almost ditched the OB plan and could have gone there, but I kept going... Linda Mar was not happening... Glad I did not tell people I would be there!

When I arrived at the Sloat, there were plenty of spaces to park and then there were some nice Manabu level waves... Chest to shoulder high break. Looked a bit on a soft side, so I picked the soft board, and paddled out. Contrary to the groomy outside, the water was welcoming.

Here comes, a nice shoulder high, already starting to break from the top, and I was positioned just right for it. The moment of go/no go decision comes as the tail starts to lift up. Yep! I got this one. I have executed a diagonal take off and I was ready to set a line. But as soon as I got in the line, the wave started to close out, I got lifted up fast. Whoa! I jumped off the board, and that was the end of the first ride.

I waited for a few minutes for the set to pass by, then paddled back again to the same spot.

Here comes another chance. Again, I slowly paddle for the shore as the wave start to approach with the familiar roar. Now I know what to expect. Similar to the last one, but now, I am crouching down really low as the board starts to set the line. As the board jacked up, I am pushing the tail of the board and also leaning hard against the wave. The board picked up a tremendous speed and now jetting towards the direction of Half Moon Bay. Now I am looking at the wave as I pass by a Muni Bus in the corner of my eyes. Wave is jacking up a bit, so I start to point the board more towards the bus, the speed picks up again, and now I am passing by the rest room... Still some power left ahead if I get through this section. I trim the line back down, then push the tail and pivot the board back up the line. I was so happy, I am now in the second wind of the wave. Finally I do the last cut back and point the board straight to the shore. It slowly rides on the white water to the shore.

It start to rain after a while. It is an interesting experience to see rain drops hitting the ocean. It is being like when I was a grom that I wanted to get out into the rain with a rain coat on and splash in the water. Now I am doing it, and really doing it.

Stoke 8 with a bit of greed!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Session 4.207: More Autumn DP Fun. Stoke 8

This morning, I have decided to be back on the usual dawn routine at Linda Mar. With an updated shower, it is a very convenient spot for me to surf. I was also stoked that Steve was going to be there too based on last night's Stokemasters message post.

As a part of the routine, I stop by at Cafe Luca in Montara. This is very convenient because the place is right by the highway on the north bound side requiring no turning around. Just pull in, grab a coffee and pastry, then continue on either to Montara beach or Linda Mar depending on the condition.

When I arrived at the Linda Mar beach, the light has started to come out. Since I am determined to go, I started to untie the boards. In a space of just 5 minutes, the sun pops up over the mountain and I saw there were some nice gentle looking breaks going followed by some. Another stoky session! So I was thinking. And Steve pulls up. It is always nice to see familiar people to come to surf!

The waves looked softer and not jacking up as much, and also breaking further out. It is a nice long-board condition. So I took out my JC Equalizer 7'5 board and put the fish back inside the car.

I headed out to the water, watch the waves and do some warm ups. I looked around to see where the waves were rippling, and found the spot. I paddled out and here came a good overhead size break. I took a ride and the first one went just perfect. Not as dramatic as yesterday at the Jetty, but I was making some big cutback turns to stay on the wave, and it was so nice and smooth ride!

I had 3-4 more rides like those, and then the break pattern started to change. The breaks became more frequent and a bit messier, but adjusting the position to the inside, I continue to have fun catching many waves.

Then I started to mess up on take-offs. Thinking that this is a sign of fatigue coming, I paddled in.

On the way to the office, I was very happy, and thinking about how my body got stronger and my mind got more tuned to the water better, there are so much more options opens up in surfing!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Session 4.206: Fun after a storm. Stoke 9.5!

What a stoky session I had, and it was at the Jetty. I have written about this WavLOG a few times that some of the best surfing I have done anywhere is at the Jetty. Today I had another one of them. In fact, this one was the best yet on my short boarding.

First, the sun was out. Then I get in the water and it was comfortably warm at 58 degrees F, and the waves were nice rolling type spread out, breaking not all at the same time, up to shoulder high. Finally there was hardly anybody out there. Even getting out and ducking through waves were so much fun!

The first part of the sessions, I had some difficulties getting up on the board, but I worked on trying to get up faster, and that started to work. I said to myself, why I should keep being intimidated by these faster breaks, so I made very conscious efforts to take off no matter what. I tried to take off closer and closer to bigger break lines. I tried not to look back but focus on looking at both of my sides and also the front. As I did so, I started feel a bit more ease at taking off and the success followed.

Then there was even luckier break. I finally wound up in a spot where I could position myself right where the hook is about to form. With a bit of uneven but real hard paddling, and kicking of the legs, I swiftly get into the hook and the wave starts to curl up, as the tail of my board jacks up, I quickly get up on the board. ?Great, I am now up.? Even as I had a sensation of the speed, going down the slope and being lifted up all at the same time!

Once I got enough speed, I was able to trim back up the wave; not quite a big bottom turn. Now I am going down the line with wave closing out with a roaring noise just behind my butt trying to get me. ?No way, wave, I am in control!? I continue to trim the board so maintain the speed. Then just as if to ruin the fun, the wave starts to throw a close out right in front of me? A standard pattern, now I am used to this! On this ride, I still got enough speed and power, so with a slam the tail of the board, and with all the power I got I tilt and arc my body to the left and start looking for a new line?. And in just a flash, my knees are feeling a tremendous pressure from the board hitting against the white close out like my board reflecting a powerful Laser beam. The board points away from the wave, picks up the speed again, and I am quickly U-turning to where I came from, and continuing the smaller left ride all the way to the shore.

This did not just happen once but 2 more times after that.

Today was the best ride I had so far on my 6?6.

Stoke 9.5? wish I had more time!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Session 4.205: Fun before a storm

Sometimes surfing just before a bigger stormy condition comes, or a few days after that is a lot of fun. Waves are just powerful enough to provide good rides, but not so strong enough to smash my board and by body to the bottom of the ocean.

This morning, when I went to take the bi-weekly water samples at the Montara beach, where waves tend to get bigger sooner than other locations, it was already looking like overhead closeouts from time to time. Having not enough time on hand in the morning, I opted to surf in the afternoon. Nice thing about this time of the year is that the wind does not pick up strongly like in the summer time, but the bad thing is that the sun does sets a bit too early for me.

When I arrived at Linda Mar, there were some crushers going on at the north end, so I opted for the middle part. Even there there were mainly a lot of closed out sets, but once in a while they broke in a nice shoulder level sets. The usual strategy I use is that I just sit right in front of where waves close out, and then have it reform slightly inside. These are a lot of fun to ride, first of all because most people, for whatever reasons, don't ride them. They either wait way way far out, try to ride the waves from the outside, or they are way way inside just catching the white water. Taking off into these waves is really fun for me because I can catch almost all of them. I have been wanting to practice faster flick up, so I was really happy to have the chance to do that. I am still messing up a good many of them, or not standing up still fast enough, but a few has worked out really well. The bad part is that when people see me catching lot of waves, then they now start to paddle up my way. The good part is that it is reforming everywhere so I just take a ride, and wait these people to paddle up to where I was, and then I paddle up to a totally new section and fun continues.

As the time went by, the tide went up and situation started to become more mellow, and so I could paddle further out and surf into more real "walls". So overall, this session was a big success.

I used a 6'6 and that just works wonders when the situation is a bit messy like today for ducking through, and when I did get thrown, it is not over-powering to hang on to the board.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Session 4.204: Manresa Stoke 8!

I love beach breaks. Especially compared to yesterday (Saturday) when I was totally intimidated by bunch of experts at Pleasure Point in small take-off zones. Going to a beach means it is spread out, and I can travel up and down the shore to pick spots that I like.

Also this morning, the waves were more of a "mushy" situation, which, I must admit that I prefer to get into. I am still not that used to waves that just dump from the top of my head and then throw barrels. I know someday, I might only prefer those, but I have not gotten there. Even in these conditions, there are some steep ones but not so steep that I can really enjoy the thrill of dropping down while I am barely hanging onto the tail of the board finding the first turning point.

My wife, Wendy, was also looking at my performance from the comfort of a car (as it was drizzling outside), and commented I got some "jyozu" (good in Japanese) rides. So I was really happy. She was commenting me last time that I looked kind of stiff on the board, but this time, I looked more flexible. I made a lot of nice cutback turns and when these work out. At one of the rides, I did a "spray flying" cutback turn to avoid a surfer standing inside (at a good distance.) We were looking at some good surfers yesterday at Moss Landing together, and we were commenting which were good surfers so I know when she tells me I have improved, she is serious.

I was also happy to run into a group of familiar Pacifica surfers.

Manresa beach breaks are becoming one of my fun and favorite breaks now!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Session 4.203 DP @ Pleasure Point

We picked Aptos for our home during our annual pumpkin Getaway weekend. Usually we go to Santa Barbara to surf Rincon or Ventura, but this year we made a plan to go to Fort Bragg only to find out an increasing amount of Shark festivities there, so we quickly changed the stay to SC.

For Saturday, I was determined to be pre-dawn at the 41 st parking. Still pitch dark, already the parking was half full. People are dedicated! As I walked out to the lookout point, I could still not see a thing, only hint I got was the decent amount of wave breaking noise. So I started to dress for surfing, and by then the sky was light enough that I could check out the breaks. After a few minutes of hesitation to either to go to the Hook or the 38th, I opted for the 38th.

Nice, no wind paddle out makes me feel like I can go so fast on each stroke, and I arrived at the inside break. I watched a few good long board people taking off but take-off spot was very small and already people were competing for the waves. Since I was on a shorter board, I decided not to wait in the inside and get in their way... or more like not let them collide with me. I started paddle out a long way to the Pleasure Point peaks. There, the breaks were stronger than the inside and of course they are bigger too. I waited on the side line for a bit to see how the situation was, but this spot was still small and even more intensely competitive.

So I watched some good surfer take off, and headed back to inside. By then the bay had filled in and breaks were happening much less, and that was the extent of Saturday.

I got a lot of workouts paddling all the way out and back though.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Session 4.202 Fog Surfing

A major software failure at work disturbs my dawn patrol routine this morning. The situation was so bad that I probably could have not had a time to even go surf and write today's session. Luckily, someone else figured out the issue just after lunch, and so that was nice. I wrapped up one more project and now onto surfing this afternoon.

I was a bit stoked about going to somewhere near by, but once I got out on highway 1, it was so foggy that I could not see a thing out. Went further up north and still bad too. I looked over Montara from the bluff top and still I could not even see whether any waves are beating right at the shore. If there are some shore breaks I would guess that there are some waves out there.

So I ended up at Linda Mar again (as usual) and this was foggy too, but a slightly less. In fact towards the end of the session it did clear out.

Today was basically what people call "ankle slapper" type day, with the tide really low at the time and also the swells really dwindling down.

So I thought it would be really fun to just ride those small breaks that happen closer to the shore, so I was glad I brought the fish board, it turned out perfectly great. I actually feel that catching these small waves are just as fun and challenging as catching the big ones, and with a more confidence under my belt, I can actually take off on waves that happen only on knee deep water and still be able to take off, make turns and have some rides and not trashing the board.

I really love catching small waves, because there are many things to improve. For example, it is a perfect place to try not to pearl and take off on an angle. It is also a good place to learn how to flick up very fast too. Since these are the areas that I am trying to strengthen, I was really happy to see this condition today. I had a few success and also few pearls too.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Session 4.201 (49 more sessions to go)

Some of you who have been diligently following my WavLog might remember about this year?s goal of nailing the ?Roundhouse Cutback? for that matter a nice clean and strong cutback action. Around in September or so, I even said that I might nail it in October. Well, looks like I need an extension. The good thing is that I think I am making the progress towards it, but the negative side is that I still don?t have gotten the speed to do it.

What speed, you might ask.

From my perspective, I am totally lacking speed on every aspect of surfing right now.

  • I am not still getting up on the board fast enough. This means that I am not getting a hold of the control of the board. This is not good.
  • As a result of it, I am not gaining enough speed to do stay on the waves etc.

So this is really the part of surfing that each of the building block must be carefully and completely built before I can build further skill. The main problems now are;

  • I am at is that the current physical limitation. To continue to move the skill up, I have but to train to get more power in paddling in and more agility in getting up on the board. This is easier said than done, because on a shorter board both of them require much more power and speed than, say, doing the same on a long board on a much mellow situation.
  • The fear is playing up again. I need to get into bigger and faster waves. While I have more success in this area, the chance of succeeding is still far and few in between, and I do often need to get sand in my ears and drink a lot of water.

So, I really need to build up toward that goal from Physical, Mental and Spiritual aspects.

Speaking of the Spiritual aspects of it, I also now come to more realization that good surfing is not about concurring the waves but make myself become part of the waves. What do I mean by this? At least I can articulate this today this way. I think that I am still forcing a lot of actions and these actions are going against how the waves shape and move. I am reading the waves not as good as I wish I could. But it is difficult.

This difficulty is similar to playing music. I am an armature Jazz musician, and when I practice at home, I got a chart with chords and melody. When I play I do need to read ahead many bars to figure out what to do. On the waves, however, it is like I don?t even know what I am supposed to play next. When finally I decide to pick the wave, it is like someone handing me a brand new chart saying, here this is the first 2 bars of the song, I will give you next bars as soon as you start playing. It is like looking at the chart on a player piano role. Hopefully, I can play that chord and figure out the lines as they come up. So sometimes I try to out-guess what will happen next. Once in a while this works, and the ride is beautifully executed, but more often than not, I just don?t pick enough clues.

And that comes to being very creative on the waves, and that?s something even more fun than playing Jazz, and it is really cool to see some of the best creative riders.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Session 4.200: Yeah! Out 200 times this year. On to 250.

This year's sub-goal for me is to get out 250 times or more. So I should be able to do it. Even though I have been out many times, my progress is still very very slow. I am envious of other Stokemasters members making good progress in just under a year! But I think as a result of taking up this sport I am healthier than ever... Physically, mentally and spiritualy!

Quite a contrast to yesterday, this morning was more fun to surf. When I opened the garage door this morning, it was balmy! There are not very many days like these.

This morning as the usual "before work" dawn patrol, so I went straight to Linda Mar beach, though Montara looked like it would have been fun, and also I was thinking about going to Sloat should this has not been as good.

I have been using 7'5 and it has been working quite well. Today I focused a bit on the take-off part of surfing, and it was working great for a while, but as usual, there is ever present S->N current and I was getting pushed further up north as the time went by. The offshore wind flow also started more noticeably, and then there was this 2 x size wall starting to come my way and closed down. I felt that I was lucky to be able to paddle outside, but this being a low tide' and I have seen many "Surfrider Logo" waves that could have been a bit more mess if I was thrown out.

Scared a bit, I started to paddle toward the S end but the current was rather strong so it was a hard paddling feeling like not moving at all. Finally a smaller sets started to happen and I was able to ride the way back.

I rested at the beach a bit, walked towards the boat dock and caught some nice smaller rights. Probably should have just stayed down that way all morning.

Stoke 7: Wish the waves were bit less closed out.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Session 4.199 - "Braving" The Gray Whale Cove

I was up and ready for a Dawn Patrol (DP) but I was looking into some issues at work and one thing leading another it was already 4 PM. But I did have a good progress on work, and so I said I am going to check into the waves.

Checked out the Jetty then Montara, which did not look too bad, but I decided to try out the Gray Whale Cove (GWC) beach. From the top of the cliff it looked promising, and there was nobody there! The outside was sunny, balmy and it really was a nice fall afternoon surfing day, so I decided to go down with my JC 7'6 board.

This is known as the Nudy, or a nudist beach, and though I rarely see people without any cloths on, today there were several people out respecting the original spirit of the place.

I paddled out, but the current was so strong that when I looked back, I was approaching close to the rock on the S. end. So most of the sessions, I paddled out and do a ride then walk all the way back to the N end where there are some rocks.

As the time went by, the waves gotten worse and worse, and more and more white water started to rush in getting out very difficult. Also this place has horrendous shore breaks too. About half hour into the session two surfers showed up. One was looking at the waves for good 10 minutes and seemed to have left. Another long boarder finally decides to go in, and he had a real struggle.

Some of the rides I got were fun though as in this kind of a messy condition, I can challenge with turning skills to dodge all sorts of bumps that pop up. And sometimes, if a bump sticks out in front of me, I hit it and do a quick cut back action. When that succeeds there is a lot of satisfaction!

Well, it was so much work out getting out that after just over an hour of a session I was fully exhausted, and got back.

On the way out, the long boarder stopped by and shouted "You are so brave, it was getting scarely out there!" I understand that very well. When I was starting out getting out was such a scarely event for me. Come to think of it, I have had a bit more confidence in this kind of situation.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Session 4.198: SC Session Today; Stoke 9!!!

With a lot of NW swells pumping, I have decided to escape to Santa Cruz (SC) this Sunday, and as it turned out to be, it was an excellent choice. As we drove further South from Half Moon Bay (HMB) on The Highway 1, the better the waves looked. Initially around Pescadero, the things looked like at least 2 x overhead and really messy. It is a kind of waves that if I was to venture out, it would be difficult to get out, and then only to be held down under the water if I pearl into it or something.

As usual Pigeon Point usually gives you the preview of SC waves, and the area looked really great so I became very stoked, as we passed by there.

This afternoon, I stayed at the Sharks and a bit W of the Privates. This is usually the area in the summer it does not fire up as well unless there is good S - SW swells, but today, it was easy paddle out with nice shoulder to head size well formed sets. Of course at the hook people were competing for even a bit bigger waves. But why bother?

It was a really nice time riding the rights. Around here I tend to pick the lefts so riding the rights were really interesting and a bit challenging. But seeing and keeping the hook almost right in front of my eyes, were really "eye opening" experience. Ups and downs are becoming much better.

It is really now becoming "my style" to use the bottom turn to get back up on to the wave. I have seen other good surfers just staying on the lip of the wave, but my initial take off is usually more straighter down then with the bottom turn I climb back up. I enjoy the speed of the turn that way. As an added bonus, you'd be challenged to do a full cut back towards the end of the ride as finally the right side shoulder starts to close out faster than the left. If that works out then you'd be treated for another 5 - 10 seconds of a ride almost to the shore.

One problem area with the staged down is that if the wave closes out a faster, then I'd pearl. But this is another skill that coming into my repetoire, I can now take off at an angle if I wanted to. Only thing with this is that I need to read the wave a bit better to see if I am going to go down straight or turn. Often I judge too late because I am not looking at the oncoming waves enough times. I am still too focused on just taking off.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Session 4.197: DP Before the Classic. Good thing I am not in it!

For me it was a "business as usual" Dawn Patrol (DP) session. Since the HMB classic selected the Jetty, that's probably also a best bet for my own surfing. So I was one of the first ones to get in the water.

On boy, after I had to go through what I had to, and seen other people try basically the same, I was really glad I did not sign up this year. Only just a few people were managing to get into the wave. Everything was closing out big white break-your-board mess.

As the time went by more and more people arrived and paddled up to the lineup. The lineups separated into two and then three packs and spread out all the way from the breakwater to the traffic light and even further down. Meanwhile the condition worsened as the wave started pump more and more overhead closeouts. By the time before the contest started the place looked like the Hook on a bad day.

On the way back, some local surfers are joking to each other. "Why are you waxing the board, you won't stand on it!" He was probably right.

But, looking at surfers not fearing much better than I was, it was sort of assuring (sorry), and I think I am going to go for the next year's event. That's less than 10 months now. So watch this space for my progress.

Hope the wave gets better tomorrow.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Session 4.196

Today was supposed to be a big day. Well, actually it was yesterday in the late PM. This morning still got some power but not as bad as yesterday late in the afternoon.

I was planning on surfing at the Jetty, where when this kind of situation happens (10-11 ft at 12-17 seconds WNW), but after looking at it for a good 5-10 minutes nothing significant. Montara would be down-right dangerous because I don't know what will happen even if you paddle out in the relative calmness, sometimes there is a period that things get really messy.

So back to the usual Linda Mar again, and I actually had a lot of fun. Here things were closing out too, but when this happens, I just sit inside and wait for the white stuff to reform. When there is enough power like today that's the option that I use. I saw a lot of good people out there who have been actually taking off into these close out waves but then not riding at all. I do admire them to even think about taking off. For me, I take off on a relatively large amount of white water, but then they usually reform into ridable waves again, and having a lot of fun. I took a long board out and that helped out quite a bit.

Areas that I had a lot of success or practices are;
  • Picking the long board was a good idea. I had a better time today with it.
  • Faster flick up. Today I did a lot of very fast flick ups. This was helpful in getting in to a control on these unstable white water situations.
  • More successful take-offs. Faster flick up is helping in this area. Sometimes though the water is so strong that it gets between my body and the board separating me out as I paddle. In fact as I starting to go for bigger waves this started to happen a lot more on late starts. At one point though I just let that happen with just my hands hanging onto the board and then when the board gets into some speed I just stand up and that works. I want to see someone video this sequence because I think this will look as if I was completely buried in the white water and suddently I eemerge from it riding it out.
Some failures;
  • Sometimes if I am overly eager to turn, I get eaten by the wave. I have to be careful.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Session 4.195

Today was an interesting day in a sense that I know that the big wave front was coming in the afternoon, and in fact it did come (picture).

I had to fix my web site algorithm last night so I was up past midnight last night to do this, and so I could not get up early enough for a DP, but I worked a bit in the morning then arrived at a beach at around 10:30 AM on the way to the office.

Sure enough the waves were already bigger than yesterday, and at some point it was about the over head size break, plus it was a bit difficult to get out. But I was really happy about this because this is a kind of condition that more experts tend to prefer and they do get outside with a fair ease, still compared to me.

For me, on the days like this, I need to read the water a bit more, especially finding "channels" where rip currents are happening. This is the area that I am starting to understand it a better too. I am understanding it to the extent that I have a better luck identifying where this is occurring and once I am in it, I am very confident that even when bigger sets are coming, if I kept on paddling out I don't get smashed. It is actually very interesting, as I paddle out in the rip current, it is really rough with a lot of up and down motions of the waves, but the waves never really break up. They just bump up and you go over them.

Today, though once I made it outside, it was still really big. Quite often sets that's over my head come in, and I had to paddle even further outside just to take a rest. It is kind of nice that if you are on the outside enough, the waves do not break upon me.

But when it comes to catching the waves, it is not that easy. Sets do go up high but often do not form a nice hook to get going. And if I go inside the waves close out without really any chance to ride them. So I paddle out to wait and rest and when I am ready I start to paddle inside, and I hope to catch some smaller breaking waves. This often works and when it does it is just a lot of fun, as I just jump down the wave and then I can really do some fun bottom turn back. The new JC 7'5 just works really perfect for that kind of set up. I am really happy about it. As if I was using a 6'6 that would make it more difficult to take off. I think if I used the Takayama DT3 9'0 that would have been fun.

In fact, I should really strap that and the JC from this point on. Well, there will be this type of waves for the next few days, I ought to enjoy this while they last. (Something I would not have said a year ago!)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Session 4.194: More power, more focus, faster reaction needed!

This morning, we had a good shoulder level or so waves that I thought it would be fun. It was fun but it would be more fun if I can catch and get up on the board more precisely, and when I am among some of the better surfers, I am still behind paddling out. So all that indicate that I need more workouts!

The area that now I need to work on is to get up on the board faster than ever. Because I don't get up fast enough, I don't get to into control soon enough, and if I did, I think rides will be fine. I need to supplement the INDO board with just plain flick up on the floor practice.

I did have a couple of really solid turns at the bottom, some of the best ones I had so far. Somehow, after switching over to the JC Equalizer 7'5, some of these moves became much more defined than the past. This started to happen last week at OB.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Session 4.193: M Spot 3 ft 11 sec.

Many people think that why I never really tell where I surf. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that I do not endorse any specific spot. Just because I thought it was good, or for that matter, bad, it really should not affect your selection of a spot. You've got to know the spot, the swells, the wind, the tide and go for when it is best for you. Secondly, it should not really matter where I surf. I am not writing this as a surf spot guide. There are just many of the guides. The more important part that I would like you to read is about how my experience with surfing is changing over time. What I am writing here is my true honest-to-god feeling and knowledge about surfing that I do and as the story unfolds. I think I can articulate this better now than before.

So, in terms of today what did I feel about it?

First, the waves were kind of junky. Junky to mean that I did not find good waves to ride. And "good" is a relative term. What's good for you may be bad for me. For example, if the wave is 10 x overhead. That might be good for mavericks people but not for me.

Did I catch any waves? Yes, I have taken off on a few, but I did not ride them all the way through.

Why didn't I? It was either too fast for me or closing out for where I chosen to ride. Though this always happens to me, looking from top of the cliff the waves looked ridable before and after the session.

Did I have fun? Most definitely.

I had fun because I got a tremendous exercise especially at one point getting out became a bit harder and so I really got a sense of more accomplishment by actually getting to the outside. I was also by myself, and that often I like to do. There in the middle of the ocean, I can really detach myself from various attachment to the "real" world. It is a good place to contemplate a lot of things, or just simply learn not to think about anything but surfing. That's actually difficult as many thoughts will occur and you have to tell your brain to shut up, and just surf.

So, I am now back typing this, and I can't hardly wait for tomorrow morning's session! Addicted? No, I don't think so. I think I have chosen this to be a part of my daily life.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Session 4.192: First Time at OB. Stoke 9

Well, my contemplation for to surf or not to surf the OB is now over. I finally did it.
But why was I hesitating it? I have heard so many things about how it is difficult to get out... a lot of current. It is not a relaxing surfing etc. Of course still those days and condition exist and when that happens, I should really not venture out but get back to LM or the Jetty for a more mellower situation.

To get to this point there were a couple of things happened:
  1. Darin at the HMB Board Shop suggested that I should start going there at Sloat.
  2. Wardo hinted me and to us that we should.
  3. Jim, one of the Stokemasters member said he wanted to go there this morning.
  4. I have survived (note I did not say I surfed) some bigger days at Montara (9 ft, 13-14 seconds that's big enough for me) .
  5. I tried all other breaks like El Porto to Rincon, so other than the psychological barrier there really is no other reasons to hesitate.
Well, as it turned out I really had an excellent time today. I was a bit afraid of the current so I took out the JC Equalizer 7'5, and that worked out great.

Unlike the waves at Linda Mar or the places in Half Moon Bay, this morning, the shoulder level sets were holding out rather nicely and ride were some of the longer ones I have taken in a while. The board really worked out great letting me do several cut backs for me to stay on the wave, and these types of manuvers are still new to me so when they work out they really give me a lot of satisfaction.

In terms of Ups and Downs technique that I am still trying to get really good at, today I was able to do aim much higher up than before and cut back down. As I get better at this, the up angle is really getting steeper. Today, I would say it was about 20 desgrees up and 45 degress down may be.

But even today the current was strong that if I am not watching out, I could easily be taken from Sloat to Vicenti in no time. In fact Jim told me that he was carried out there. I was aware of this so when I finish the ride (all lefts), I walked back the board to the S end of the Sloat parking. With paddle out, a long left ride and the current, I can easily end up half way to Taraval!

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Session 4.191: More small day, BBQ Event

Today we did our second Stokemasters BBQ event at Linda Mar, which was a lot of fun with a relatively warm and clear night, and also we got this down since the last time so it was not as stressful.

Many of the core Stokemaster friends did also come to paddle out with us, and it was also great to see so many people. Just a year ago, I did not know any of these people but they are now all my friends for surfing.

As for surfing the waves were small and close at Linda Mar just like yesterday and probably even smaller, but practicing taking off on a short baord was really fun, as I got more and more success at it. The timing and the power of it has been really improving giving me more chance to take off when others are not. Also I started not to mind the crowded condition not like before, as I built up more confidnce in turning at various part of the ride from the very start to the end. I used to think how all these people get to take off, but now I think I am gradually getting there!

Friday, October 01, 2004

Session 4.190: Small Wave Fun Today

I was going to go out yesterday, but a buddy called me in the morning telling me that waves were trashy, so I was going to go in the PM. Somehow, in the PM I did not feel like going, so I worked on updating my web site and started to work on some of the new infrastructure changes.

But, by the time I was ready to sleep, I really felt that I should do a DP. I packed everything and ready to go and went to sleep. It was a bit hard to get up at 5:30 AM, but I was back in the DP mode again. The first hard thing is getting out of the bed, the second thing is when I open the garage door and feel the cold air still dark outside. Luckily this morning it was not cold and that made me happier.

Driving by the Jetty... flat... Montara... kind of flat... But when I drove by the Gray Whale Cove I saw the swell lines cleanly coming with the clean surface. That's a good sign that we are going to have a glassy DP.

Arriving at the Linda Mar, the N end looked closed out a bit, so I decided to take the 6'6 and decided to go there, then I saw the S end breaking a bit more gently, so I flip-flopped and went to the S end.

The first half of the session, I did not catch much as the waves really did not break, but as the time went, some bigger breaking sets start to happen. Also Greg saw me and paddled up to me. Then shortly after that some good breaks started to come, and were breaking close to the shore, so going with the Fish was a good call. I started to catch several waves.

Some good things started to happen today.

Today I felt that I have a more options to take off. During paddling in for the wave, I was able to take off to the left, right or straight and these smaller waves gave me a lot of chance to practice. When the waves are close to closing out, having these options are helpful, and with more confidence built around this technique, I can start to utilize it for even large or faster situations.