Thursday, November 25, 2004

Session 4.234: Now I can go eat as much as I want!

This morning looked non-promising, in terms of the condition, as I passed Montara nothing significant seemed to be going on, and when I descend the hill just before entering Pacifica, there is a good panorama of the beach where I can usually figure out the overall state of the things, and it also looked rather flat. But the buoy reading all indicate some good condition, 6-7 ft at 14 seconds, so I was still hopeful.

As I parked the car I found David and Ken changing, and that was great. I also met a recent addition to the Stokemasters, Jen. So there were some committed Stokemasters out this morning to make room for the turkey on this Thanksgiving day!

I was almost going to take my 9'0 foamy, but "heck, I rode it yesterday, so Fish today." So I took out my Surftech Fish for the rides today. I figured that if the waves do not pick up, I will sit way way inside and catch beach break sort of waves, and if I don't catch any, I would continue to work on the paddling.

Speaking of paddling, these days, I am feeling much more comfortable paddling with shorter length boards. Somehow, I feel I can stroke deeper and follow through each stroke all the way to the back, and I kind of like the feel of pushing the water using more parts of the body. On a longer board, I am paddling more like in a "digging" motion as the width of the board prevents a deeper stroke especially the front half of the stroke.

We started out in front of the parking, and caught a few, then I saw that the north end of the beach breaking better so I gradually paddled up north, Ken followed. Then there was a sweet spot where soft breaks were happening in a shoulder high size. These are just some of my favorite waves because they don't throw you yet, if you paddle hard for them, you'd catch and the wave will increase the size rather gradually. They are perfect for all sizes of boards!

I saw Ken picked up some nice ride. He also came a long way since I know him from his early days of surfing.

I had several great rides too with some very satisfactory turns. Moving forward, I would like to work more on;
  • More powers in turns. Digging the rails even deeper than today and gain more speed.
  • More accuracy. Sometimes, by trying to overpower, I would mess things up. Sometimes, I need to make a smooth transition especially when the power and speed is insufficient.
  • Smoother motion and links between each move. I think I still look awkward and stiff.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Session 4.233: Back at it this PM.

With an encouragement from Greg, I decided to ditch the work a bit early and at 4:00 PM I was back in the water again. This time though the tide was very low, and essentially the water was just a full of mess. I started to paddle a few yards from the beach. I was paddling OK for a bit then my paddling hands started to grab sand. I stood up and it was only ankle deep. So I walk some more, and finally I was down to the hip level that I was ready to paddle again. Then just one set after another of messy water. I tried to duck dive but it was so shallow that the water was kicking up a lot of sand. So my eyes started hurt. Trying to find and catch waves was another story. These were just true close outs not giving me any piece of wall to ride on.

Still, it was a beautiful sunset and nice warm afternoon. It was still nice to be back in the water.

Stoke 5.

Session 4.232: Still counting down for 250.

It was another great session this morning. I would put this at a Stoke Scale of 8! As I promised I did take out my Dole Foam, which my surfrider buddy Ed calls "The Equalizer" (but I do also have the real JC Equalizer too). When Greg saw that I did take the foamy out, he seemed to have surprised. Anyhow, it was not a bad board choice, and I had quite a few nice long rides with it. Since the waves were rather in good size and breaking farther out, I could just wait for the wave to break up a bit, and then I will catch the softer wave inside. The take off is really easy and then the waves do steep up as they get squeezed out towards the shore. I just watch how soon and which direction they form.

I also hooked up with Josh on the water. He is doing well with his SofTOP board and venturing to the outside. He looked like having a blast of time with a big smile on his face, and yes, that is the reason why we go surf to all corners of the world!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Session 4.231: Epic Surfing Experience Today!

The swells have increased a bit compared to yesterday, but the waves were not bad. When the swells are bigger and the period is longer, higher tide will soften things up a bit. This morning started out good for me. I was up already at 5:00 AM and did not have problem getting out of the bed. But still there is a moment of decision to either sleep for a few more minutes or not. I did get out of the bed, and started to prepare in a leisurely fashion. By 6:00 AM, I was getting today's ration of coffee and pastry, and as I drove by the Princeton Jetty, it was still dark with only a bit of light, and some people were already out in the water, but not much waves there.

Since I am pressed for time this morning as there is a company webcast that I had to produce at 10:00 AM, I headed straight down to the Linda Mar beach since it is only 15 minutes from work. Still I had from 6:45 to 8:00 AM of surfing, which is plenty of a surf dose for me for surfing on a school day. As it turned out, I wish I had a bit more time, or may be it was good that I quit when I had to quit.

Many of the thanks goes to Greg, who wanted to demo my 7'0, which was the very first surf board I bought, and I was actually not going to ride this since I started to ride the 6'6 fish a while ago, but last week when he wanted to demo this, I rode it myself, and I did not realize the full potential of this board. If you read my previous WavLog, I finally figured out how his board behaved, and once I rode it fully, I was amazed how I could do turns much better than, say, any other boards I ever owned. But it took me almost 3 years before I could do this. So in a sense it is very good for me to know that I am actually and finally riding my very first board that I got.

So what was so significantly great about today?

First, again, I feel that I am finally riding my very first board, which was really a mistake purchase that it took me this long to fully be able to appreciate this board.

Second, for a short board ride, I had a significantly long ride. Now I've done a similar kind of a long ride this summer at Montara on a long board (and it was actually my Blue Doyle Foam) where I was just sticking the edge of the board and cutting back around to stay on a wave, I was not do the same on a shorter board. Sure, I had an epic time before on my Fish too, but they were much shorter rides.

And, another big stoke point is that I really felt in control from begin to end on this board and making some very satisfactory bottom turns, and I was able to accomplish not just one but a few more similar rides. In a sense that today was a big summary of all of the skills that I have acquired up to now from the take off to getting the best out of the wave that I have chosen to ride.

All of the experiences I got today gives me an added level of confidence that upon which I can build further skills, but today, I really felt that I have crossed the next threshold. Sure there will be more frustrating days ahead as I go for even more advanced skills, but that's one thing going for me? I am still an enough of a klutz that takes me a lot longer than to learn surfing, but a small step by a small step, I feel that I am starting to make visible progress, and regardless of how big or small of a wave I thought I did it, it really gives me a great sense of an accomplishment!

I can't hardly wait for the sunrise as I write this!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Session 4.230: Gotten Bigger!

20 More Sessions before 250 Sessions for 2004!

This morning was another one of the days where getting out was relatively easy, but once in a while some huge sets come in that are easily double overhead. I have seen this kind of situation happens when the period is longer than 15 seconds and the swell size is like 6 or more feet. Whatever the cause of this, there are some smaller sets that I can try to ride.

Again, though there are some people who can just ride those without any problems. My main problem is that I actually don't want to risk if I fail to take off. About the only progresses that I made to this effect is that now I can stick the board under these big walls through and get through to the other side without much problems. That's one more option I have been able to utilize more recently.

So I just try to stay inside and with this much power it is always possible to ride some reforming waves.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Session 4.229: Same Spot But 10 Times Better!

I was actually not planning on surfing this morning, but wanted to sleep in and relax a bit. But guess what, I did go, because I was woken up by a cell call. I was hoping that there are no computer disasters at work. I speed dialed the voice mail and the voice comes out "Manaboooo! ~~~ This is Jack. We are going to surf at 8:00, the waves are good…" So again, I take out the dried wet suit, turning the right side out, and putting it on. Now I am standing at the same spot as yesterday.

Glad I went there this morning, because the wind was on a rare "offshore" condition and the swells were not as big as yesterday, and I had some of the best riding experience since Tuesday morning. There were some good outside waves that better people in this local group of surfers are catching. I am still a bit timid about catching the outside ones, but I did try a few times, and when it works, it is really fun and amazing to feel that I am still on the board. I am really happy also as this kind of thing is starting to happen more often and more consistently, so that is a good sign that some of the waves that were previously impossible to make by me are starting to become possible. It is always interesting in any sort of skill requiring activities such as playing music or surfing that there is a long period when I try and nothing is seems to be happening to get to the goal. Then I some thing happens that allows me to do a bit of what I was intending to do. First time when it occurs, it almost feels like it just happened accidentally. May be it is so, but then my mind and body remembers it, so the next time it happens, then I would remember the exact same feeling that I had at the first time. Then next time on, I would try to get the same feeling that I had. Sometimes that same feeling does not happen for a quite a while, and sometimes, it start to happen consistently, and at that time, I would understand finally what was written in the surfing text books that I have, and also at the same time, that motion becomes a part of me.

Progress Report

As I try to advance my skills, I am starting to realize the use of the knees and hips. Lately some of the rides are becoming smoother, faster, and more powerful all at the same time. I think that this is largely attributed to utilizing the knees. Especially today, I really felt like I am now sticking on the water. Earlier when I was less skilled, I was able to ride but the rides were much bumpier because I stood just straight and not using the knees, but today, my knees are always bent a lot or some depending on where, and also I am sensing the condition of the surface both visually and also via feedback from both feet. I can either absorb bumpiness or if so choose, I would exert additional power by transferring the weight to the board. This seems to allow me to connect different sections of rides from drop down to bottom turns to cut backs more smoothly. Now I think I am getting ready to apply more power and speed to motion when necessary. These actions might help me to achieve the "Roundhouse Cutback" that I am trying for.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Session 4.228: Biceps Training in Half Moon Bay

I was originally going to Santa Cruz for an all-day session, but lately I have been having a bit of a less energy, and also I thought that there was not much interest from other friends to go there so I decided to stay up here in Half Moon Bay and do some surfing. So I decided to call a local surfer and also a Surfrider foundation buddy Ed to see where he would be going. He was undecided, so I said that I would check out the Francis beach and give him a call.

The Francis beach was actually happening. As I pulled up to the parking lot, I saw a huge white water closing down. I thought to myself, "Oh, man! Huge close outs? as usual, this place is hardly any good." I got off the car to have a close look, and actually off to the right of the close out section, there were some smaller sections breaking just about 5-6 ft high. Still it would be a challenging situation for me, but would be a kind of waves that I would consider going for. I saw one good surfer negotiating a fast drop off and skimming through the wall. Looked great, but many others were just outside and not catching.

I called Ed and this would be a big challenging, so we decided to go to a couple of parks up after he buys new gloves at the board shop. So instead of waiting for him at the park, I decided to hook up with him at the board shop, and that was fun. While he was making a purchase, I decided to go upstairs of the shop and decided to locate my "next" board. If there is any addicting part of this sport, looking at and thinking about getting a new (to mean either a used or a brand new) board brings additional stokes. Especially when Ed joined me and we started to talk about all sort of boards we have and wanting to have. We just pull out boards out of a rack one after another, look at the top, the bottom, the shape, color and all good fun of catching waves with that board runs through our minds? what kind of wave might be good for this board? I used to have this kind of board. It is not that we don't like all the boards we got, but somehow, different experiences we get from different boards are very exciting. I now carry several boards with me to a session, at least two, and it is exciting to do a board selection for the condition.

As we left the shop, Ed called another surfrider buddy and we are on to real surfing!


As for surfing, it was very tiring session. There was a plenty of white water to utilize duck diving skills, and also to burn our biceps, only to be eaten by closing out waters. In addition, there was a prevailing current going, so in just not time, we were all drifted down to the next state park. We just get paddle in, and walk up the beach and do the drifting surfing again! About an hour of surfing we all decided to quit. When I got home I was just exhausted. But even a day like this is a good day because I really get to learn more about dealing with the water, and definitely I am getting much more relaxed and comfortable even in a situation where there is a lot of current.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Session 4.227: Jetty

With a notions of Linda Mar possibly still contaminated, and also the swells getting bigger, I decided to try the old stand-by.

It appears that many other locals also decided to escape here since I saw my friend Jack when I was getting out and also several other somewhat familiar faces.

I actually wanted to try to have more fun with the 7'0 board that I spoke about in my previous post, but the I cannot underestimate how quickly the Jetty waves closes, so I was just pearling after pearling. One thing though is that I am now going for the waves whenever I can, instead of waiting for the best one to roll in, and the reward is that every so often, I get kind of take offs that I thought would have been possible, after being jacked up so quickly. It appears that the trick is to really push down the tail end of the board, then quickly push forward to set up for the first turn. Normally though that's where I screw up. The board just does not take off, then onto the tumble mode. These days, the "thrown over the falls" tumbles are sometimes fun because I now know what happens. It is almost amazing that if you do it right, like I can tuck my knees and then I can go for several tumbles. I was able to tumble about 5 times in a row in one of the wipe outs. You can really feel that inside the wave, the water is moving in a circular motion.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Session 226: Danger?

Today was one of the days that the condition and crowds were such that I kind of felt endangered and endangering at the same time. Please, all of this is what my internal mind is working and spilling it out, so if you are reading it, don't take it to such a personal level.

Being Endangered Bit:

This is the time that I thought people who kind of know how to surf can be dangerous. I was paddling out to make it to the line, and I was a bit late to get in to the line. Admittedly, I should really go further to the right to really paddle out of the way. But in one time, a woman long boarder starts to take of. If she cuts a left, it would have clearly been in a collision line to me. I don't think that she really cared if I was there or not. A good wave, so what the heck, just take off. Fortunately, she was not good enough to make the take off, so I was saved and relieved.

Then another situation occurred. I was paddling way and way around this surfer's line and out but suddenly he decides paddle to his left and as he did it, a break started to happen so he starts to catch it. If he did a left, again, it would have come darn close to my position. Again, I don't think he was aware of the immediate area. Needless to say I was frustrated.

Endangering possibly too:

Well, may be I was too harsh to feel that way because two of the take offs, as I took off, I just had to spray surfers off because they were paddling out to my direction. I actually did not see them. Because the sun was so bright and shining on the water and I did not even see they were coming my way. Of course, if you ask me, I would have paddled around so that I won't get clobbered by an inexperienced surfer like myself. Should I have seen them paddling out, as it would be normally, I would not even have taken off.

Otherwise though, it was a lot of fun as the waves have gotten a bit bigger than yesterday to about shoulder level at the threshold of closing out. At this kind of waves, a successful take-off means a lot of power.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Session 225: T minus 25 sessions. Fun.

This morning, I promised two things. I will show up at the Linda Mar beach, and also will surf my 7'0 Nev, that I can demonstrate the board to Greg, who might be interested in getting it. So I put the wax back on it last night and strapped it on top of my JC Equalizer.

I was up by 5:15 this morning, so I just got out of the bed and then played with the computer to check the forecast etc.

Compared to the session I had at OB yesterday, the waves were gentle and fun level at Linda Mar. This beach really throws some fun waves for relaxed fun surfing for all levels of surfers, and we were getting probably up to chest high rolling breaks with some good 3-4 minutes between sets. I paddled out with Greg, with the 7'0 so that at some point we can swap the board and he can give it a shot.

Well, as it turns out, I had a blast of time on my Nev. Actually this is the first time I was able to set some really solid lines with it. But asides from it needed a bit more effort in taking off, the board feels very similar to how the Equalizer feels, especially when I set the board to turn, and also taking off in an angle was super easy with the board so light and shorter.

I think that this is a good indication that I can now ride shorter boards with more confidence and control, and I was thinking about this;

As I progressed in my surfing skills, the perceived length of all the board had gotten longer. First time, I ever been on this Nev 7'0 board was actually my first day of surfing, which as many of you know I was talked into getting this board. I could not even stay on the board prone, and when I was sitting on it, I immediately fell off of it. Later on I got an 8'6 and actually even on that board I fell off when try to sit on it (and it was 22.5 inch wide board!). Now I can sit on a 6'6 just perfectly still, and the 7'5 looks almost like a long board. In fact, I take 7'5 when I think I need a long board.

This morning, I took off on a remarkably many number of waves all on 7'0 and also on Greg's fun board too. But the fact that after switching back, I felt at home.

So I decided to hang on to this board.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Session 224: Ocean Beach Sloat Session

The album from this session can be found at:

With a note of "dwindling" WNW swells, I decided to venture out the "OB" again this morning. It was still at a bit intimidating level. When I say I am intimidated, I am speaking of a fear and respect for the location, where so many people tell me that the OB is a difficult spot. Indeed it is, but the case like today, I can tell that I am slowly, but surely overcoming this fear. Today, there still was enough power in the wave that there was a modest amount of outgoing rip currents, and of course, the ever present side currents that changes with the tide.

So when I go out, the thing that I am most worried about now is about whether I can get back in easily. The size is, at least, no longer much of an issue, if I can handle the beating at Montara, I should be able to handle that. Also, the waves were not that pounding to me, and so far, I have not been pounded for the conditions I got out. Though, I am sure that for seasoned surfers at the OB, a condition like this is probably grom stuff. In fact, it should be, because when I was paddling out, there is this expert woman surfer passed right next to me as just being relaxed and having fun as she looked, while I was a bit more stiff and uptight in my paddling strokes.

I did play safe and caught some overhead size breaks that were inside, and that was fun just to stay a couple of feet ahead of closing out waves with lot of trimming and small cutback actions.

I saw the real lineup that was out about 300 yards out. Actually I did not intend to go out that far, but there was a period when bunch of large sets came in, and then a huge rip opened up right where I was. So I ended up in the outside. It is always amazing that if you are far out enough, it is like a night and day, the surface just smoothes out and it gets totally quiet.

For me, this was exciting challenging enough of a session it was a stoke level 8 session.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Session 4.223 Big Turnout for a session.

This Saturday, we have hosted a paddle out at Linda Mar and it was great to see so many new faces and also some familiar faces came back like Mark and Arthur! It is still amazing to me that through the power of creating an internet community, we all come together, otherwise, we would have been complete strangers, and probably would not even have met? all as a result of causes and effects that follow them, and every one of the people I've met have influenced in the course of my life and in many ways in a very positive direction. This is a part of the stuff that I am feeling very fortunate about lately.

Later in the evening, I ran into Ren, Spike, Laura, and Irene (out of the water), and so this completed a very good full Stokemaster's day.

As for surfing, it was really fun watching people surf; I basically sat on the wave and gave most of the waves away. So not much of my own progress today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Session 4.222

I had an even later start this morning. I could not simply get out of bed. Sleeping in a nice warm bed still must beat surfing, I guess. But I had to fight the battle with this laziness. I reluctantly swing my body out, drop the legs from the ledge of my bed, and plant my feet firmly on the floor. Yes, I got to go to surf and to work!

I did make it to Montara this morning. Looking at the beach from the top, the waves looked like some good chest-high stuff. And I own the whole f----- (fine) beach to myself! It started to sprinkle, but, hey, I am going to get in the water anyway, right? So I put on the XCEL suit, and hop down the stairs.

As I approach the shore, the waves looked bigger and bigger, and now it was actually more like 1.5 to 2 times overhead on some bigger sets. But, it was "get-outable" so just for the sake of getting paddling muscles being kept up, I splashed in. As usual, the shore break timing is very critical, especially today they were bigger.

As I figured, there were not much surfable waves out there, and when I try to catch, the waves crumbled up, and I was just jostled up and down in the white stuff. But, I just relaxed in it and enjoyed the natural Jacuzzi.

After paddling back out, I thought today, I should just learn to relax a bit in this condition, so I tried to keep my smiles on my face, especially when bigger sets were coming. I just kept smiling and paddled further out.

Then I tried to focus on the surrounding. Just sitting on the board straight and really paid attention to what is happening all around me, just scanning my mind to the front, the peripherally, and the back. As I did this, I started feel much more relaxed, in a sense that I felt that I was more connected with the whole place and the situation. That is a kind of a feeling that I have not distinctively experienced before. I will try this again so that I can articulate better. But one thing I can say is that I now feel that I know a lot more about what is going on in the water than I have ever been, and this I know is a whole different experience than other situations. And if I go out, if I attain this feeling that in itself is enough satisfaction that even if I do not catch any waves, I will be perfectly all right about it.

I did catch one overhead one though which completed the session, and that was very thrilling. At that level, the board just takes off as if it has a booster rocket. I basically had to tell myself to stay planted on the board and be in control. This was fun!

Then on the way out, I was eaten by a monster shore break. As I was ready to get out of the water, an overhead size shorebreak erupted right in front of where I was. I ditched the board and ducked into the incoming break in a frog leap style. I was jacked up then tumbled around 3-4 times as I landed on the shore. I immediately picked up a board, and just barely escaped another shorebreak!

As I got out, a local surfer Mike was getting ready and whistling at me and yelling. "Hey, you take your board and get back in there!"

But, I did go.

I am sure that he and his wife a couple of other local dudes were looking at all this!

When I took off my wet suit, a few cups worth of sand was trapped in the neck. It is amazing how much sand is being kicked up inside these breaks. By then the rain was pouring, which was helpful in washing down the sand.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Session 4.221: DPLM

After a two-session hard-core surfing on Sunday, I did take a rest on Monday, and so this morning was the first one of the week. 29 days to go for 250 days of surfing, which is encouraging. I am going to be away, back home in Japan for a week, so I have to make sure that we do a lot of surfing this month, so I can take the December in strides.

Last night, I had a beer and a lot of tea afterwards and that was not a good idea. I had to get up 3 times, so the idea of pre-dawn arrival at the beach was all erased. The second time I woke up, I turned off the alarm, but still managed to get up by 6:00, but I was sluggish, and did not get to the beach until 7:30! I need to do better tomorrow morning. This sounds like a lot of details, but this goes to say that doing a good dawn patrol need a quite a bit of dedication and planning. Like not drinking a lot liquid before go to bed, and go to bed early so I can get up early with all the gear for surfing and also going to work afterwards.

My wife sometimes sees me getting ready for the next day and it is like going on a few night's trip.
  • I pack the change of the cloths for office in a duffel bag, and take it out of the bed room so that I don't have to wake up my wife when she is sleeping.
  • I pack the laptop computer in the backpack, the wallet and other stuff. S
  • I throw in the helmet, the booties, and a leash in the "wet stuff" bin.
  • Now I basically got a luggage consisting of two bags and a bin. I take them downstairs into the garage then I load all of them in the back of my wagon.
  • Then strap the choice of boards from my quiver on the rack. Usually I take two.
This will save at least 15 minutes of time in the morning. If everything goes smoothly in the morning, then I leave home at 6:10 or so, pick up a coffee and a pastry on the way, then I'd be at the beach ready by around 6:30 or 6:45. Then I would surf until my watch says it is 8:30.

When usually I get in, I score first 2-3 rides right away. Then, for the reasons that I have not quite figured out, I start having problems, or the sets don't come for a while, then it is 8:30 already and sets gets better. So I am always tempted to go for "one more" wave, which of course, have some severe consciences... like a vendor visitor sitting in the company lobby just as I roll in to the office, so I usually try to hold the urge and get out when the watch says so.

Of course, once in a great while some worse stuff happen... like totally having a good time catching one wave after another, not realizing how long it has been and then I see the traffic on the Highway 1 and "How come the traffic is so light there this morning!"... a moment later, a rude awakening and realization hits underneath my helmet. "Oh, man, shit. It is 9:30 already!"

Getting back to the car, the LCD on the phone says "2 New Messages". I listen, "Message Received Nine Ten AM. Hi Manabu, Mr. Johnson from Stoke-O-Mation is waiting at the lobby...." Pressing 3 to skip the first and now "Message received Nine Twenty AM. Hi Manabu, Mr. Johnson is still waiting. Please give us..."

But most usually, I am prompt, so I can get away from occasional mishaps!

Did I miss a meeting this morning. No.
Did I have fun surfing. Nice glassy relaxing surf this morning. It was fun. I would give today a Stoke 6.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Sessions 4.219 - 4.220: Opening Up More Options.

After some issues at the Jetty yesterday, today especially turned out well. In fact, as you can see from the title of this log, I did two sessions today. I started out today at Waddell in the morning at 8 a.m. with Jeremey, a new member of the Stokemasters group. Then after that session I went over to the 38th avenue in Santa Cruz.

Back when I started out surfing, I only surfed locally at Santa Cruz, Linda Mar and the Jetty. To some extent, I still do that. I am still familiar with these locations and so I tend to gravitate towards these locations. Being familiar with an area is actually a good thing because I have better idea of how the waves manifest, and even more trivial things like finding parking, getting in and out of the water safely, where the rocks are hidden etc. are mapped out in my head. So, at least, I don't have to think about these things when I go surfing.

But now I am starting to become comfortable at going places that I have not been to, and this I think is largely attributed to acquisition of some waterman-ship, and of course that is an important part of surfing skills. I used to be sloshed around in the water, and when any size of wave came at me, I was deflected back to the beach. Now, I know to wait, and I know when I should dash out, know how I can find channels, and when the inevitable occur I am more relaxed, push a board down and duck or turtle etc.

One thing distinctly stay in my mind is this situation. When I first start going to the Jetty, I often saw this young woman with a short board. She was smiling and just going about doing her business in the water, like a child playing peacefully in a sandbox. Everything she did looked so natural. In the meantime, I was scared to the bone, and I felt like I was on an out of control bulldozer on the water.

So today, as I was driving down the cost, ever beach looked attractive to me, and I thought "Yeah, I can catch that one, and yeah, that one too!"

Of course, there still are conditions and places that I still would not be comfortable, like double overhead condition at Montara or Ocean Beach, and being in a crowded condition like today at the 38th. On big conditions, I don't want get myself hurt, and in the crowded condition, I don't want to hurt other people.

Nevertheless, the afternoon at the 38th was fun. I decided to relax, be in the water with friends and just catch a few if some waves happen to come to me way that other people did miss. Even then there were a few really nice rides I had.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Session 4.218: Sat Morning Session

A quick session at the Jetty this morning. Saw Ken's car parked on the highway, and shortly after I found him in the water.

I am continuing to work on faster take-offs, but today, I had not much success. One of the things I am working on is to continue to work out the fears of taking off into faster waves. To this effect, I am trying to find sections that are not that fast breaking (not like the section closer to the break water) and try really hard. I am getting a few sporadic successes, and through which, I am starting to be able to relax a bit more so that I can start to focus actually what is happening. Well, we need to see, but this is presetnly the area that is limiting my options. Taking off on so many more different sitautions is so important to me right now, as I try to become more versatile over varying condition. But this seesm to be never ending endevor.

After getting out, I saw Ken coming up. I saw a lot of nice art work done on the bottom of his board, so I shot some pictures. They are very interesting.

More pictures from this sessions are here.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Session: 4.217 - Good Morning! Stoke 8

Got up this morning, and thought that the outside was overcast, but then, I saw spots of cloud in the sky starting to burn orange as the sun came up. Another stoky fall day on the coast!

As I drove by Montara, I saw finally the angry surf was on the way to leave us, and this morning looked much more comfortingly better.

I decided to play safe and went to Linda Mar, and paddled out. Still, a bit of anger is left in the water, by sending occasional close-out waves. But in between, we had some nicer sets, so it was a welcome change.

In the past few sessions, I am back at working on faster take off sequence. This has been one of the most challenging aspects of surfing for me in quite a while, but one progress I am making is to feel mroe comfortable in these kinds of situations. So rather than try hard to stand up, if the board takes off succesfully, I am regarding that as a success.

It is amazing, though, yesterday at Montara, I have seen some people drop down into situations that I would not imagine would be possible. So as usual, there is a lot more to learn.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Session 4.216: Jetty. Before the storm.

I woke up at 5:30. Now my body remembers what time it is, so I don't even need to set an alarm. Actually I use my alarm clock still. I have an analog clock with an alarm hand. It makes a tiny clicking noise in the morning when the hour hand passes over it. So when I hear that "click" noise, that's when I get out of the bed.

The swell size, as predicted, was already big enough that I was actually hesitating to put my wet suite on before leaving the house. I have learned in the past that when the condition would be marginal like today, it is best not to gear up so far in advance, because often I need to undo it without using any of it. But, just for a heck of it, I fully suited up, and just in case the close-outs are going to be severe, I thought I would try body boarding, so I threw in my old Morray Boogie board in the car in addition to two of my boards on top of the car, which are almost like the permanent fixture on my car year around. It sure helps to find my car in a large parking lot too!

As usual of the surf route I take, I drive up North on highway 1 from Half Moon Bay, I check the Jetty and usually nothing there, I either go to Montara, Linda Mar or now occasionally to Ocean Beach. It is kind of amazing that if I drive on the same highway, I can go to Rincon, Ventura, Malibu, San Onofre etc. Highway 1 is the Surf Highway and as such, probably it is world's longest highway that serve the people. I actually drove almost the entire length of highway 1 from the Mexican border to the Oregon border, except for a stretch between Mendocino and Fort Bragg. We are going to hit the area again when the sharks are less active, probably next summer.

Back to Jetty though, it was going at about shoulder level, and assuming that all other spots would be totally closed out, which I was right as I drove up through Pacifica on the way to work, so I decided to do a quick morning dip.

The waves were not that great, but one thing this location offers is faster breaks, and I got a lot of practice taking off. Rides were short and actually not very many other surfers were making any spectacular rides either. I also opted to really practice paddling so I was purposely paddling around to find good breaks.

Today, though, I noticed one thing in paddling and that's this.

I have realized that how much back muscles I am using these days to paddle. Especially today, I really felt that the deltoid and even muscles further back are moving and doing a lot of work. So I started to focus on these muscles and kind of "asked" to put more power, and that really helped my paddling power and also endurance to paddle longer. I think I am becoming kind of addicted to get my paddling muscles really strong. I really feel good to feel all these muscles working. I don't know why I did not feel this until today. But probably additional changes in my body are happening as a result of going out a lot.

Now I did not find much waves to surf on, the wind started to pick up really big, and just a simple act of waiting for waves became difficult as the board started to catch the wind and making staying on board rather difficult, and that was a time for me to leave.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Session 4.215: Stoke 8. Nice Indian Summer Late Morning

I had to get up really early this morning to get started on an urgent situation taken care of, so I had to cancel the DP session, but by 10:30 the situation was becoming under control, so decided on a lunch break session, since I will have a long night ahead to work on this and other issues.

Stopped by at the Jetty as usual to see what is going on out there. It looked nice, but I want a bit more size, so drove on. When I arrived at Montara, I saw some nice breaks (for my level) happening! It is just about overhead size and did not look too dumpy, in fact, it looked more like a long board type day, so I pulled out my trusty Takayama 9'0 and headed down.

The pictures here are from the post session, and earlier the waves were bigger and sets were more frequent. There were some surfers on the South side, but that spot can jack up fast sometimes, so I went to the middle peaks.

Above, you can see a person with a board at the beach. The picture makes these wave look much smaller than they are, so use the person towards the right of the beach to compare the size.

At first, I had a lot of problem getting out. Again a lot of water was pushing in, and I felt like I was paddling a lot, but when I looked back I hardly made any progress. I got so tired of paddling that I decided to take a break at the beach. I was then ready for another get-out attempt, and I was just standing knee deep in the water to wait for a lull. Then suddenly, some additional big sets came, and that ripped a very clear channel out right in front of exactly where I was standing. I jumped over the shorebreak hump and started to stroke for the outside. Riding the rip current is always interesting because it is not really a smooth way out, instead, when you are in it, it is so turbulent there that it feels like I am in a big storm with waves coming from both direction and it is really bumpy. Definitely it would be the time to reach for the "Fasten Seat Belt light switch." I need to paddle left and right to find the valley to navigate out.

Each stroke gave me a feel of so much motion, I am literally zooming by these floating seaweeds and suds.

But, in just 5 or 6 deep strokes of my arms, I was in a complete calmness of the Pacific ocean. I looked back, I was already taken away something like 200-300 yards out. The rips are really amazing, and taking advantage of it is also something too!

There were some waves that were perfectly shaped to just glide on the side of the wave.
And they were happening just across the entire beach!

After a while everyone left and I was there by myself. I got a bit spooked out, and so I caught a decent left as my last ride and got out.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Session 4.214: First DP after the time change.

This weekend, the standard time has returned. This means we can do a dawn patrol, but almost precludes our ability to do after-work surfing, unless, of course, we ditch our work early. But ditching work at 3:30 is not usually a good thing for the morale of other people in the office.

Monday morning is especially a busy time for me since I need to take water samples, that means I need to pack an ice box with sample bottles and forms, plus a sampling wand, that is in addition to the usual change of cloths, a wet suit tub, helmet, leash and a bottle of hot water. Regardless, I usually pack as much things as possible night before in my car before I go to bed, so, in theory, all I have to do is to put on a wet suit and hop in the car and start looking for the morning waves.

I am still "DST lagged", got up at 5:30, and did the usual buoy check on the web and did other things, then it was 6:30, and yes the standard time is now in effect, it is now light outside. This is great! I was hoping that the Jetty is happening a bit so I would surf there then go take the water samples at Montara and Gray Whale Cove beaches and their creeks. But the Jetty was not happening, so continued on to Café Luca for a coffee, pastry and some sandwich for the lunch time.

Montara was definitely happening with up to double overhead close-outs. I was thinking about the condition as I was taking the water sample; "If someone is coming with me here would I have gone out?" And, the answer today would have been a reluctant "yeah, OK." I probably would not have caught any waves, but at least today I have enough confidence in the water handling skills that if I had to be there, do I feel like I am going to live, and today that answer is definitely yes. It was just about two and half years ago when my friend took me out there, and I was very, very scared. Of course, I won't go out, there really isn't fun.

The next stop was at the Gray Whale Cove. When this spot gets big, the outside starts to have some good shape. Of course, I am talking about double overhead stuff, but if someone makes it, that person will make a beautiful long ride along the wall. But I don't know what will happen in the end. Probably you will have to be eaten by the closing out white water because I cannot see how you would even kick out, or perhaps, you would do the Island pull out.

So I decided to "settle" for my usual spot. This morning there were mainly about no more than dozen people out, and actually it looked surfable. Monday usually tend to be quiet, especially like day after Halloween when people would have been partied out the night before.

There were some period of time that sets were really big, really goes up fast and then when I wait for a while there are some periods when the shapes are starting to hold. So I just waited out when bigger sets were just coming one after another. Still, quite a bit of duck diving is needed to get out, and with a 7'5 board, ducking through this board is still a lot of work, especially pushing down the tail is not easy. I got sucked out from the back of the wave a few times, which was kind of fun!

I did catch several rides but not a nice rail-on-the-wall stuff today. Stoke level is about 5 to 6 today.