Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Session 4.252: Quick Local Surfing Stoke 4

This afternoon, I did not want to drive out too far, so I decided to check out the Dunes state beach to surf, since the Jetty is likely to be contaminated by the rain. To summarize the surfing experience, it was a low stoke day. The wave got really junky and wind blown.

One thing about this place, and actually at all Half Moon Bay state beaches, is that there always is some amount of current, and often the current is tremendous. I launched at the North end of the park and in 30 minutes, I was already the Northern edge of the Dunes beach. It took me a good 5 minutes walk back to where I launched. As far as the current goes, Linda Mar makes me feel like a Koi pond, while the state beaches are a Jacuzzi running at full blast.

Yesterday, I wrote about a stoked grandma. Surfing is an interesting sport that there are many people who are really stoked about seeing surfers. Another pattern that happens sometime is to run into "stunned" people.

Typically what happens is this. When I am getting ready or getting in the water, and some people walking by will just stop doing what they are doing and just looked stunned, and keep watching what I will do next. It looks like they are more stunned than interested. Because if you are interested, they would look a bit more relaxed, or would sit down at the beach and watch a little.

I can give some guess as to why this happens. It is usually in the middle of a winter like today, and it was very windy today, so if you are out walking or something, it would feel cold to them. So they see a surfer about to splash in to the water, the just the idea of them feel chilled to their bones. Given that this is a holiday time too, I am sure that many people are from the east or other places that getting in to the ocean is not something you'd think to do in December.

Next time, you would want to observe the observers, it is kind of fun!

The session was cut short, as I was swept away and the wind started to pick up, blowing away already what amounts to be junky situation. I did paddle hard and got more practice on duck diving though, so it is not a total write off!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Session 4.251: Wadell Creek Stoke 8

With the notion that there is some water contamination near my Half Moon Bay home, this morning I have decided to drive towards Waddell Creek and if I did not find any, I'd come right back.

Oh, well... This is a kind of a day when I really wish I had some expert surfers with me because every state beach looked very attractive on the way down. The swell lines were forming and waves were breaking in gentle-looking A-frames from one state beach to another at slightly overhead level.

Problem number 1: If I went, I would be the only surfer there. In fact, I was kind of hoping that I'd find a beach where there is at least one surfer out, and I would have gone out.

Problem number 2: If I went, I would likely be overwhelmed by the power of the breaks. They looked like they were just above my top limit of what I am willing to take, especially if I went by myself. It would be a different story, if an expert buddy is around and the added mental boost would just help me stay in the lineup. It is definitely a mental and courage thing. If I was forced to go, or if I saw some child stranded out, I will go and get the child back.

So I drive by San Gregorio, Pomponio, and Pescadero... and I was hopeful and at the same time I was becoming worried that I would not be able to go out. Then I arrived at Waddell Creek, my final destination for this morning. Already the mud cleaning people were out dumping lot of gravel by the parking lot, which is actually making the water murky. Then I saw two pickup trucks with white surf boards on their beds and dudes were doing some surf check.
We greeted, and one of the guys asked me if I was going in, and I said, "Yeah, why not, I came all the way here, might as well get wet." The waves were bit smaller here than other places, and I was very comforted to see two people looking like they were getting in. I told them if they were looking for better waves hit north a bit, but one of the guys said he was recently injured in the face, so he'd want to take it easy. He showed me a spot on his face where he was hit. Then I showed him my Montara battle scar, a 5-stitch prize that I will carry for the rest of my life with a story to go with it.

One of the guys said, "Yeah, I will go in with you." and with a lightening speed they were already suited up and started to paddle out. I followed about 5 minutes later fumbling with helmets and all sorts of gear, and also this grandma from New York wanted me to pause for a photo, presumably she would want to show her friend back east, "This is a surf dude in California." There was also a 5-6 year old boy with them, and he was looking at me preparing very carefully. I am sure that when the chance comes, he would try.

Well, I must say that I was happy to pick the 6'6 today because getting out was a hell with a lot of current and jostling inside section, still breaking and that was a channel. Many many duck diving, and finally got outside. Once out though the waves were a bit on a mushy side and so it was difficult to pick the right wave for me. Sometimes, I go for it and it won't break. But occasionally the waves were rolling up some tubes and if you were good, you'd get in them. I love Waddell Creek because waves can look big but usually not that hard breaking, say at Montara.

I must say that surfing has a bit of this masochistic element to it. We catch the waves; we smile and get out being pounded by oncoming breaks and go for more.
And so it was fun!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Session 4.250: A nice Christmas Present - Got The Jetty to All Myself

6:30: My body clock is back in synch with the local time, after a trip to Japan, and now I am waking up well before the sun rise. I got out the bed at 6:30. Today was, counting each session of this year, the 250th session, and it so happens that it is the Christmas day holiday!

6:50: I put on the wet suit and I get out and it was only 40 F outside as indicated by the outside thermometer on my car dashboard. In fact, when it is at or below 40 F, a road-frost warning light also comes on, so it was colder than usual. I was actually looking forward to get in the water because in the past sessions, after the initial plunge, the water was actually warmer than being standing outside.

No coffee and pastry option this morning, so I had to head straight to the beach. The traffic was light.

6:55: There is a shopping center I pass by on the way to the beach, and a Macdonald's always has flags up on the pole. Aren?t you supposed to bring down the U.S. flag down at night? I am glad they don't bring them down because that is a good spot to check the wind. The flag was not flapping around, so that was good.

Basically, no matter how flat the condition is out at the Jetty, there usually is one or two surfers out there every morning. But this morning, I was the first to arrive and for the first 30-40 minutes of the session I had the entire beach to myself. I could paddle anywhere and take off on any waves without a worry. And while I cut the session short to less than an hour, I caught so many waves.

7:10: Put the booties on, put a light coat of was on the Fish and I am heading out crossing the highway. A woman driver passes by but she gave me a wide smile. I am sure she was stoked about seeing someone surfing on a Christmas morning.

The bay was a bit filled in with the water and with the long period swells filling in the water were hitting the rocks. But it was clean paddle out, so I started to paddle out. Light was becoming better as the Sun is starting to come out of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The waves were fairly small, may be up to shoulder levels, some were real fast closeouts and some had good shoulders, and I caught many waves, as I paddle back quickly.

On the second ride, I had an "air" in the ride. As I have written before when the waves are bouncing in the Jetty, the inside gets really bumpy, and I have ridden over these inside bumps, but today as the bump approached it happened that I bent the knees to absorb the bump. I had a good speed, so as I did this, I went over the bump and then I was launched on the air for a few seconds. The remarkable thing about this one is that I was still on a riding posture, and when I landed, I continued to ride. So this morning, I happened to get some "aerial" move, and it was fun.

I was paddling up and down to find good spots, and caught many waves after that.

Finally at 8:00 people started to arrive, and I thought, it would be a good time to cut the session and start to get into the Christmas sort of things with Wendy and her mom.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Session 4.249: One more session remaning!

Finally, one more session left for 250 sessions out for 2004. I am really happy about this.

This morning, the tide felt like it was a bit too high and so the waves were not breaking easily. This made going out easier, but as for catching the waves, it was more for a long-board. Of course, there were many people out.

On these days, I just try to relax, keep smiling and check out other people surf. And once in a while when the wave do come and when everyone screw up on the outside, I would take off on a late-start and catch the inside; basically the same stuff I do when it is closing out on the outside.

~ ~ ~

As I do a lot of sessions, significant discoveries become a far and a few in between. It actually makes daily log writing a bit of challenge. I actually sometimes remember to write about some thing then by the time I get out of the water, I totally forget about it. From that respect, it is almost like having had a dream and when I get out that is kind of waking up in the morning, totally forgetting about the dreams that I had.

I have once read somewhere that most people are in the state of being asleep all day and night, and that's why most people won't remember what happened at work, driving to and from work, or what they ate at lunch. They just become so automatic and autonomic that such routines would become part of just living. I am hoping that surfing won't become something like that. I won't likely but definitely a lot of things are starting to be ingrained into my body, so I don't have to even think hard about, say when to duck dive or things like that.

In 2005, I think that I am going to start to get away from writing about technical discoveries and hoping to dive more into my deeper part of psyche, and possibly looking back my very early days and comparing them to today. Good thing is that I have written when I had to and they are faithfully stored digitally on web servers and blogs.

This morning's session was joined by Greg, Jeremy and Laura. Thank you for sharing the stoke with us today! Thank you for joining, it is always nice to have friends.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Session 4.248: Two More To Go

Continuing to keep up with the commitment. Due to the holiday weekend, the beach started to get crowded in the mid session. I am much into the spirit of sharing waves and giving waves, that it looks mostly a one way favor. I was hoping for a longer session, but as the crowd gotten to the point that it was no fun surfing, I got out, so having about the same amount of the usual session length. When I got to work, I got surprisingly busy (so I am writing it next day).

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Session 4.247: The Stokemasters DP

It is a real dawn patrol, if you start to include running an errand on the way to the surf. This morning was kind of packed tight because there was a meeting at 9:30 and then with a possibility of all my friends showing up at the dawn patrol, I had to make sure that I will be there. So I started extra early to get the usual coffee and a pastry, then stop by at the bank to get some cash so I have money for lunch!

When I arrived there, Steve was already suited up and ready to get in. Shortly after that Jeremy pulls in and then Amanda too. We did not even have a weekend session like this many people showing up at the same time. But, that would not end there. After I played in the water, I gradually drifted over to the South end where most people were waiting. Then I spotted Greg. So I introduced Amanda to Greg. When I got out of the water, I saw Laura's car and that made me happy. Sorry, Laura, I had to get out of the water and get to the 930! When I arrived at work, thought I was told that one of the meeting members was late. I said, "Oh man! I could have had a longer session."

In terms of surfing, I must say that it was more in "poor" end of the situation, but this is where I don't have a stigma of riding the white water reforms. I just set myself in front of the close out and paddle the hell when the white water approaches. Usually this will result in reforming wave face that is really a lot of fun to ride, and when the swell size is a bit big like this morning, there is a plenty of distance to surf on. But there is a couple of other tricks one need to learn.

The first trick, of course, is to use turtling, or if you are on a shorter board, use both turtling and duck diving combo to get your way out. Of course, if you see a hot short board surfer, you would be amazed to see them paddling out totally relaxed looking.

The second one of those is to learn to find a channel. On conditions like today where the swell height is big enough but the period is short, and then we get a lot of messy inside white water and often that just prevent you (OK, me) from getting out easily. On a day like this, I paddle to about half way out. Then I just float on the side current. Eventually, the current starts to pull me out, and that's the channel. When this happens, I start to paddle. One thing though is that when there is a lot of sets coming in, the rip can be rather strong I'd been taken out really far out, and that was a bit worrisome. If you are on a long board, no problem, but on a short board, paddling across and back could be quite a bit of effort especially when there are double overhead stuff coming right at you and you'd not want to get further out nor there is nothing you can do to catch the waves, and that means that, I guess, you should not have been out.

I did have some fun waves today, but I think that my skill level was not completely up to a good show today, so, let's try another time!

Today's session was joined by Amanda, Greg, Jeremey, Laura and Steve. I really do appreciate all your friendship and support. I hope to share many many waves with all of you for years to come! Have a great close of a good surf year, and hope for another fine one!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Session 4.246: DP, Stoke 7

We have been continuing to get the power from the westerly direction in the past week. Over night, some shorter but sufficiently high swells started to fill in from WNW. This is a sign that the breaks will get possibly mushy and cause fair to poor surfing condition. If I am not so committed to do 250 sessions this year, I would have abandoned this morning's session. In fact, usually I don't do Mondays because I also need to stop by at Montara and Gray Whale Cove on the way to pick up water samples and drop them off at the county drop off point. That usually takes an hour away from my morning.

But even on those days, some good people are ripping on the outside. So again, I was humbled.

Surfing as a Lifestyle

I was thinking of this again this morning. Why do I go to all the trouble of surfing practically every day. Am I addicted to the sport? I actually have quite a bit of trouble when someone tells me that I am addicted to surfing. Actually, contrary to what many people might believe, there are some days and mornings that I do not want to go. The weather can be sucky, wind is howling and the waves are just a mess. If I don't surf, it is not such a big deal, because I know I can go another time and another place.

What I have chosen to do though, is to make surfing as a part of every day life and discipline, a way to maintain my health from physical, mental and spiritual sides. It is great because unlike running or gym routines, which by the way, I have not participated in my life, surfing provides so much variation and there is never really a dull moment. Small reward in all of this is a rare chance to actually ride on the board. It is rare, if you compare the time you spend on getting there; no more than a minute or two per hour of session standing on the board!

Now the spiritual side of it is kicking in to this whole thing, which has really started to add yet another dimension in this. As many of you know I grew up in Japan until 18 years old, and much of the Buddhist values have been taught and ingrained in me. Through participation in surfing, I am starting realize the importance of the spiritual aspect of the life, and though many humbling experience and solitude of being in the ocean it has started to teach me a lot more about what a life is about than it would have been possible, say if I continue to ride a race motorcycle.

In Japan, as a part of the discipline of learning the Buddhism, you would go to the temple very early and reading Okyo (scripture). My dawn patrol is kind of like that, it is a time for me to discipline body and soul and at the same time, I have a space to all myself to think about "things."

So that is why I try not to miss a surfing session each day, and even if cold or whatever, I am trying to discipline myself not to be bothered by them, and try to discover something in the nature or something deep within myself through both good and poor sessions. That is why I set a goal to do 250 sessions this year. From that regards, each session ought to be given a Stoke 10.

Winter Solstice Tomorrow Tuesday!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Session 4.245: New Den + I love beach breaks!

Well, something I was not anticipating when I started to surf is most likely to happen. It was actually the September of 2001, when I took my first surfing lessons ever at Sharks Cove on my first surfing lesson. Now, about three years later, I am going to have a place to sleep on 41st Avenue, just a walking distance from the Pleasure point breaks. Of course, life is a full of these cause and effects; one thing leading to another, but when you look back I knew having an apartment in Santa Cruz would not have occurred. But thanks to Tanya's lead, I am really stoked about this chance.

Well so what is the cause and effects of all of this? First, I started my web site that is then called the Half Moon Bay Surfing Bookmarks. Then I started to write about what I have found out as I found out, then about a year or so later, e-mail messages started to trickle in. That resulted in starting the HMBSurfing Yahoo Group. Ken was the first one to be on it, then Clio, and then Reez came on. That resulted in Amy and Tanya to join. Now on any given weekend, it would almost be difficult to find major breaks from San Francisco to Santa Cruz that a Stokemaster member won't be surfing.

Thanks to many devoted members, we have exchanged very close to 5000 messages, we've done many outings, bonfires and a party, and it is becoming one of the recognized surfing groups in the Northern California area and even in Southern California and Hawai'i! That in itself was nothing that I was expecting to happen in 2001 when I first stood up on the Doyle foam on a hip high wave!

As for today's surfing, after taking a look at both breaks on the 38th and 41st sides, I have decided to go down to Manresa to avoid crowd and enjoy a bit more power in the waves. I ended up missing surfing with the familiar Stokemasters face of Laura, Spyke, and Amanda as they opted to stay at the 38th. But Luke showed up at the Manresa so I was not alone!

It is kind of ironic that I live in the beach break capital of San Mateo county, drive all the way to Santa Cruz that is famous for many nice point breaks. But I must admit, lately I have become very found of beach breaks and with short boards. Especially like Manresa, which I think is like a giant version of Linda Mar with a bit of Ocean Beach feel mixed in. When it is firing, it spreads out so I can always find a break of my own and when holing the shape it is great to get into fast drops, and when it is closing out, I can always ride inside. It does not warble as much as the inside the Jetty so riding is a bit more manageable.

So I arrive at Manresa, and a nice thing about this place is that you have a magnificent vista of the entire beach from the parking. So you can decide where you would want to end up. Today, it was closing out mostly but the area by the trestle looked holing up, so my plan was to gradually surf to there taking as many lefts as possible and paddling back diagonally.

So with my board under my arm, I walk into the water. Even though I surf a lot, this part is still hard. Hardest part is the first duck diving. Water seeps in to the head, the neck and the chest. That is cold and awakening! But as soon as I start to paddle, the ride in the body temperature will start to warm inside the suit and soon, I am ready for being in the water as long as I want.

Once in the water, short boarding on these beach breaks are really a lot of fun as the waves will show all sorts of different shapes as they form and reform across the beach. If I guess the correct route and cut back and connect these sections, it is really satisfying. It is a lot of work though to paddle up and down to find the right spot. And when lots of set waves are coming in, the current kick up and before you know you will be quarter of a mile from where you started. I started in front of the parking lot, and before I knew, I was in front of the trestle. It took me a good 5 minute walk back to where I started out!

Stoke 8 today, building back more confidence in taking off and also got lots of nice cut back turns.

After the session was over, Luke and I talked a bit. Poor guy will be held in Omaha for 2 weeks. Sorry. Then I called Laura, who was just finishing up. So I ended up going to Chill Out and had a lunch with the gang. We talked a lot about surf conditioning, importance of the paddling posture and how Yoga and swimming helps, and also talked about the Stokemasters group, and how it is affecting my life and theirs; we especially all agreed that we created a very non-intimidating friendly discussion area where many people found one of their closes friends. After lunch as a usual routine, I (must) go to Freeline and check out used boards. I saw a nice 6'5 French short board for $200. Several dings but I can fix them in a short time, so I almost got it, but I should practice what I preach; it is mainly the surfer and not the board that cannot surf.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Session 4.244: All temperature Cheer

Jetty again this morning in the anticipation that other spots were going to be brutal, for example the Ocean Beach. I did not do very well today again, but looking at other better surfers they were catching waves, so it is just me. Plus it was super crowded this morning probably because of the holiday time with a lot of people has started to take off from work.

What have I learned today?

At least I know there is still a lot to go in the way of catching and riding more waves. What could be improved in this situation is to try to read the wave better. Today was a perfect example when I am not just reading the wave and not positioning right. Party because I did not want to go into the main line up where there were about dozen surfers competing for the same wave. When some of them are good, there is no fat chance that I could get the wave!

Consequence of not selecting the right wave and not taking off at the right spot and time, especially at the Jetty, is that you'd be treated with a nice elevator ride up and then down then a spin cycle. It isn't much fun as you've read my log from yesterday. The only saving grace is that I had a puny board so I did not have to ditch the board. That would be embarrassing or even cause some reprimanding words from other surfers. At the Jetty, the waves were much smaller than yesterday at the Linda Mar but due to the location sometimes the wave can wedge up super fast, throw a winding tube and take you with. So if you are up, you look great, if you are down, you feel much penalized inside the water.

I caught a few closer to the rocks today since two of my other local buddies were there to look after me.

So I cheerfully continue to surf in spin cycles at all temperatures of the water!

6 more sessions to go, then I quit surfing altogether (just kidding).

Friday, December 17, 2004

Session 4.243: Power of 20 seconds 8 ft.

Every one in a while, I receive a dose of humbling experience. Today was one such day. I knew it would get big today, but usually when it is big, I can watch the ocean and tell. When I saw the Jetty on the way to a dawn patrol, it did not look that big, though the buoy was reading 8 ft at 20 seconds. The winter N swells must be in the full swing of things. But Montara was something else, it was throwing at least triple overhead tubular waves? Like the ones you see in surfing magazine pictures. I was definitely not going there. So back to Linda Mar beach.

At the first look, it did not look too bad. Looked very usual stuff with occasional close outs and then there were some ridable looking waves in the high shoulder type range. The surface looked clean, and it was easy looking to get out. So I took out the JC Equalizer 7'5 length, thinking that there still might be some bigger stuff out there.

As usual, as soon as I start to paddle out, bunch of set waves come in. That's not a problem, I get to practice more duck diving! And there were some close out sets that were at least overhead on top, it all white so I could not tell. I would normally try to ride the reforms, but today with the low tide it did not help, and the tide was out-going so it was becoming even worse as the session progressed. So one white water after another and I was starting to get tired of them. I was frantically trying to find a channel, but by this time, the waves were coming and breaking the entire length of the beach, so it was difficult.

I rode a couple of reforms but it was so broken up that before I got any speed, I was surrounded by the white water.

Then the whole beach calmed down, and I dashed out as quickly as possible. I finally made to the outside where there was much less commotion. By now actually the sets started get really big, about 10 ft. They were the kind that won't jack up that fast but once they are up, it just closed really hard. Of course, I should know that, this is a result of a long-period swell, there is a lot of water being pumped. I still wanted to see if I could catch any, so I paddled a bit inside, then another a bit smaller set came up. I was actually happy to see it coming, but then it was not giving any ridable waves (at least for me.) So I decided to go back inside and see if I can still catch some closed out reforms.

That's when another set came, and I was frantically trying to get back out, but it was a bit too late. It was a kind that if I held on to the board, it would have been too dangerous so as the wave started to curl, I threw the board as far shoreward as possible, then I was thrown all the way up, forward then I was tumbling down spinning around like the clothes you can see from a front-loader washer with the leash pulling me down. Eventually, I have felt the bottom and the worst was finally over. Glad this was not on some coral bed in Hawai'i! Still it was about 10-12 ft deep in the water, so I try to relax a bit and let my body float up. As soon as I find out which way I was going, I started to kick and swam toward the surface. The surrounding get suddenly brighter and I pop the head out of the water. There is no other time you'd appreciate that you can breathe again!

Now I look towards the ocean, and, oh man! Another big set was on the way, so I grabbed the board, but it was too late. There was nothing I can do, not paddle out, try to ride, or paddle in, but again let the wave take me where it wants. Another tumble, tumble and tumble.

As soon as that was over I deiced that this session must end now, so I paddled in. I caught white water and belly ridden almost all the way to the shore.

Throughout this time, I was not scared, I knew what was going on, I practice in swimming pools for 30-40 second hold downs so I was confident, but it sure was not as pleasant as catching and riding.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Session 4.242: Back to the Jetty, 8 sessions to go!

The N wind picked up again this morning and also the buoy reported 8 ft at 20 seconds. Plus we had low tide condition this morning, so I decided to look into the Jetty carefully, and sure enough it was ridable, but a bit smaller than yesterday. After surfing these local spots a lot, I am starting to get a hang of how wind and the tide would affect my style of surfing so that's another happy aspect of gaining more knowledge of surfing.

As it turned out we had some good overhead size breaks to the Jetty side and the crowd was minimum so I actually had a lot of fun. One annoyance was that this guy with a Kayak showed up and followed me around for good 10-20 minutes, and I was trying to get away from him but he kept coming to where I was moving away from and then took a wave at one time and dropped in when I wanted so that made me a bit mad, so I decided to follow him around paddling pretty much next to him for a bit, and looking like I was going for waves that he was going for. I think he got a message and finally decided to stay put where he was as I paddled further. Speaking of this, though, I think I had much less run-in like this with Kayak riders. All I ask of them is to respect surfers because they got so much more power that they can catch more waves than paddle in surfers can do. I usually give waves to lot of people but when my favors do not get returned, that's when that gets into my nerves.

In terms of catching the waves, the Jetty provides me with a bit more challenges than usual and also often with much less variations, and also I tend to avoid the area close to the rocks as it is always crowded and the take off spots are narrow. The basic challenge is that the waves tend to hollow out more. This is, in general, true of other Half Moon Bay locations.

What happens a lot in these situations to me is that I cannot set up a line quick enough that the board slips out ahead of me, and other times, the front tip get buried in and basically do a late pearling. I have occasional success so I need to analyze a bit about what is happening when these things happen. For me, this is actually a significant improvement than the past when I am simply not taking off. I am taking off, I am getting into the wave, I just cannot continue to be up on the board for whatever the reasons. I guess the main thing of this is that my body does not feel and gauge the jack up rate and the slope or something to that effect. Once I master this though, that's yet another door that opens up for taking on faster and hollower waves, that means, yes, yet more choices of places and conditions that I can get to surf!

OK, 8 more sessions to go for this year's self-imposed quota!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Session 4.241: 9 More Sessions To Go!

Last night, I checked the local buoy, and it was measuring 12-13 ft swells, and the wind was blowing. That was as exactly predicated in the forecast. But by the dawn patrol time rolled in, the wind has basically stopped in Half Moon Bay, the sky was clear, and actually the swell ended up dwindling quickly. Because of the forecast, I was not intending to go to the usual, but instead, I picked the local Jetty. In terms of the choice of the location it was not too bad. I had some good waves.

One thing that I am starting to downed on me this morning was that I have never thought that I would be so much into riding short boards but now, I am really stoked about riding them for the last 2-3 months, and so it has been quite a while since I took out either the Takayama or the foam. Probably this will continue to be that way until next late spring when the things start to calm down, but then, I would change... There are two main aspects of riding short boards that I really like. One is the ease of getting out. This is approaching the ease when I used to boogie board. Another aspect of it is that I can easily get over powered by the board especially when I try to go for bigger + steeper waves. Shorter boards are much more forgiving in this area.

The reason I am writing about this is that at the very beginning, surfing was a very horrifying experience especially when I have not swam for many many years, and when I first go on the short board, I was truly panicked when I was swept a a bit further out when I could not longer touch the bottom. With a meager power in my muscled with very unskilled paddling technique, it seemed to have taken forever to get back to the point where I could touch the bottom with (even) just one foot. You cannot believe the amount of the relief I've gotten when that happened, I got off the board and walked back. So at that time, I thought I would never ever be able to ride a short board. I was wondering how these surfers can get out with so much ease, and let alone stand on these small board, because I was just tipping all over the places on a 8'6 board.

Back to today's session. The Jetty tends to provide some warbly section inside and that makes it especially hard to ride. It is really a funny and strange, it feels like the entire ocean is riding on top of another vehicle running on a rough unpaved road. The low frequency warbles are combined with the wave faces you are riding, and eventually you'd come to a bump or two ahead, and you'd either come to an instant halt or if you absorb the bump, like mogul skiing, you can actually go over it and continue a bit more ride.

But there were some good high-shoulder lefts that I took that were good feeling. So overall it was a good stoke level 7 session.

On the way to the office, I checked out both Montara and Linda Mar and places were both empty but actually turned out the condition was not too bad!

And there are 9 more sessions to go, so I might be able to do more than 250 sessions this year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Session 240: Stoke 10 + 10 more sessions to go!

I had another nice sunny dawn patrol this morning with a very nice condition with up to overhead breaks. Continue to practice more take offs and turning. Another stoke 10, and 10 more days before I finish 250 sessions! I can indefinitely use these kinds of days and I don't even need to go anywhere else!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Session 4.239: High Stoke DP!

Monday Dawn Patrol is always the least crowded, no matter what the condition is, and when the condition is just right for me, that's a perfect stoke day. I wish I did not have to take water samples though, as that will take up another 1 hour in the morning. With the sun not rising so early, it really put a squeeze in my session.

Today was just a perfect kind of day for me to practice more take offs and turns, and many of them worked just smoothly and perfectly without having a fear of hitting someone or be hit. There were so many good lefts, as I paddle hard for them, and then I can just insert the board into a sweet line along the wall, and then there is still time and room to do some good cut back turns. I just keep going on the face, look for the opportunity to where the wave in front of me is about to close. I see one coming and with a bit of bottom turn, then looking up and aiming the board high up, the board starts to climb as press the back of the board. I turn my body around towards where I came from. The board start to pivot around and I am now feeling like I am nearly vertical, my eyes peering into the bottom of the wave, as if I am about to be jumping off from a cliff, but the back of the board is still pressed against the wave, and magically I am still standing on the board, but doing so with board vertical and I am horizontal. A moment of zero speed and zero gravity passes, then "bang!" suddenly I get sucked into the bottom of the wave as if a rocket booster has ignited, now I am going back from where I came from in a complete U-turn, and I am still up on the board and go down the face of the wave again.

Just 11 more sessions and I will meet this year's 250 surf sessions goal!

Now onto carving a letter S on the face with a roundhouse cutback! I will be there albeit slowly!
Stoke 10/10.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Session 4.238: To fight or not to fight the crowd

Are you reading and enjoying my WavLog? This year, I have been saving up $1.00 each time I surfed this year to the Surfrider San Mateo County Chapter's Water Quality Monitoring Program that will incur the ongoing cost of testing supplies. That's hopefully $250 or more. You can help too by matching this gift. Any amount will be helpful! 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents per session, and I will make sure that your name will appear on the Sponsors Page and an official receipt will be provided for your 2004 Tax purposes! Just e-mail of your intention to donate to the chariman on the Surfrider Foundation San Mateo Chapter at or to me

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Today I was going to hit Santa Cruz, but after seeing how the weather is becoming drab, I decided to do a short local session, and I was a bit stoked to hit a Half Moon Bay spot. The initial plan was to take a look at the Jetty from the highway, and if that looked good, I would turn back around the check out some of the state beaches. It was actually happy that I have chosen to do that because the Jetty was just completely disorganized, probably due to a lot of wind. So the next stop was Montara.

I actually went past there thinking that it would still be too big for me, but then I turned around in the North lot and drove back and parked next to the restaurant, gotten out and checked it out. It actually looked very inviting today, but my guess of Montara can still be wrong some times. What usually looks inviting can be quite treacherous once I paddle out. But still, I had to make a hard decision whether to fight with the crowd at Linda Mar or fight with the Mother Nature and deal with "what seems to me long" hold downs (note, I am talking about 10 seconds, and it is starting to become somewhat "fun"). Should I know Jack or other local buddies would be here, I would have gone in, but he is in Hawaii this week, and calling other people would probably not going to work for my surf time frame, so I decided to that I would go and paddle out at the Linda Mar and fight the crowd.

On a crowded conditions and especially a big bigger days like today, it really makes me hesitate to take off on waves because invariably someone else would have taken off, hold on a high line and would shoot my way even if I checked to see nobody is coming, somehow, there are very fast people on long boards who can take off from much further outside beyond my "rear-view".
Yesterday I took out a 7'5 and I wanted to try 7'0 today try to take off even later than yesterday, and there are some good fun rides, but they were just very far and few in between. I was paddling up and down the beach, but as soon I settle to a relatively empty spot, there is an army of surfers paddling out at my way, especially after I score a nice ride, people tend to come this way. I often use a technique to lure people to a bad spot and then I paddle away from it, but keep doing that need a lot of paddling energy too. But that's still OK.

What is most disappointing to me the most though is that when I give someone a wave in a last minute pull-out and the surfer just mess it up, when I could have taken it to get a great ride.
I did have a fair share of boot failure too though, so I cannot blame them either. Good news is that I am taking off on more powerful waves than I have been, which is one of the things I am working on, but getting up on the board needs a bit more swift movement, and even more importantly, I am not quickly getting into the forward weighting posture, so the board is just shooting ahead of me. I am more confident on what happens and what to do if I get up on the board. I will report you on the progress in this area.
In the meantime, duck diving and a general getting "through" of the waves on getting out has dramatically improved, which was something that prevented me from getting out on bit bigger days (1.5 x max, still). I can tell that because on my old 7'6 I believed that I could not sink the 7'6 but now I am doing that without much problem on the 7'5 and of course 7'0 board make it a snap!

On the way back, I looked at Montara, and I really should brought up my courage to go in. It would not have been that bad. I just have to make sure that I won't get involved with occasional big close outs, which I am actually fairly confident that I can handle them. I wish I was there.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Session 237: Nice!

Contrary to yesterday in the afternoon, this morning provided us with a lot of excitement. Waves were going at good overhead size, but mostly possible to make them. As usual, though, I prefer a bit mushier reforms after huge close-outs. Taking off on them are much more predictable and also not much initial paddling is needed. On big days like today, there usually is a plenty of face to surf on the reforms. I usually wait to see other surfers wipe out on the outside close outs and then I get to keep the entire reform to myself. Especially on very crowded days, it is very helpful for me to capture many rides. Only tricky part is that I still need to get up rather quickly as the waves can continue to be rather turbulent and still the chance of messing up the take-off is rather high.

A typical successful reform rides goes something like this:
The outside wave crushes down, bringing several surfers down and a few boards shooting up in the sky. If this is happening then I am in for a good ride. The waves start to reform with a bunch of white water still coming down from the top.

I just wait until the very last moment when white water is about to hit me. I quickly turn the board around and push it down deep in the water. As the board starts to float back, I use that force of the board shooting up to aid me in getting started. If I can feel the white water on my feet, I paddle really strong and try to out run the reforming wave. Sometimes the wave crumbles right then and then I will be in for a wash cycle, then sometimes, it is crumbling but I continue to paddle out of the white water and I can re-emerge out of the water and the board starts to take off. If I do not stand up quickly then I will be put into the wash cycle again. Or, if I try to stand up, the board is too wobbly and I wipe out. But more often, when I take off I descend straight out, pick up some speed and find a good turning spot to climb back on the wave. If that works, it is really satisfying, especially with shorter boards this works really well as I don't have to paddle as long or hard, and the turning radius of shorter boards helps me with harder turn around, as there is a lot of power in these reforms. One of the problems though is that I start out inside so if I there is no wall or mess up the turn; I?d be hitting the beach in a short order, and start paddling back again.
So that's my version of reform rides.

The weather was really nice and with the offshore wind blowing the condition today was really great. You can check out the pictures from today's session at:

Friday, December 10, 2004

Session 4.236: Maintaining the Body and Soul of Surfing

With this being Friday and also having to get back out to the city for the company holiday party, I have decided to surf in the afternoon before I get back home to get my wife for the evening party.

I looked at several spots on the way back from the office, and decided on the Jetty. The tide was super low and on top of that the 15 ft plus swells were out there, and the Jetty looked most protected from all of this. In terms of the condition, it was really nothing to write home about, but I had to get out making the goal of 250 surf sessions this year; today being the 236th session of the year. Admittedly, I am now realizing that I am starting to be a bit picky on conditions. I remember when I started out surfing; I went out no matter what kind of condition was out there, unless it was downright unsafe. Actually, in retrospect, I even went out when the condition was not exactly safe. It is a retrospect, because at the time I probably did not know whether it was dangerous.

But I did go out to complete the goal, and this is where setting a goal would be helpful. The waves were still closing out when they happened and I had a few rides, but instead I opted to just paddle. I should just remember this as I really like to paddle at a relaxed pace and enjoy the view and the atmosphere of being in the water ? the whole experience of being in the water that really has no other comparable experience.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Session 4.235: Am I really back from Japan?

Monday, I was asked not to go out since I was still fighting the jet lag, and when it does it will hit suddenly and having a bed near by is a very handy thing. Paddling in to get a nap is not a good option. So Monday, I tried to stay up as much as I could, and I was successful. I did not go to sleep until well after 10:00 PM. But as I went to bed, there was big wind and rain storm outside. So I was not planning to go out. and do a DP. But by 8 am this morning, the weather has improved to the point that there was the sun poking out and the wind has nearly stopped!

And then, a cell phone rang. It was Jack, a local Half Moon Bay surfer buddy and he is an excellent one. He said that the only place that was surfable was Linda Mar, and both the Jetty and especially Montara was "F" Huge and he wanted to get out before it get "Huge Huge" tomorrow. I still was not into going so I told him to have fun. Then a series of issues happened at work so instead of heading to the office, I started to address the issues from my home office. By the time the core of the problems were taken care of it was 10:30, so I said "What the heck, let's get out in a lunch break session and get wet for a bit since I have been gone for more than a week!"

As I drove past the Jetty, it was a washing tub scene with no surfer in sight. Montara did not look that bad as I approached, then this huge set started to build up, probably and easily 3 X overhead. So beliveving Jack, I did go to Linda Mar, and sure enough, it was not that big and in fact, it was actually mushy! This place is really protected from SW direction.

After that it turned out I ended up meeting 3 familiar surfers today.

First when got out of the car, I saw David, who is a very seasoned surfer. He said though he was avoiding surfing today because of a lot of rain. I said, I would let him know if I got sick.

Run-Into #2. I don't know if this was a Karma or not, but when I was getting ready, Yusuke was getting out, and I waived at him. I ended up talking to him a good 15 minutes, and all in Japanese. So I was in Japan for all this time, and got back and now I am talking all about surfing. Turns out he also lived in Osaka area for a bit, but we both agreed that surf is better and also easy to get to here than most places in Japan.

It was kind of funny to get in the water and paddling out even just after a week of absence, but I was determined to go and at least keep my paddling muscles to get back in shape. I caught many waves in the inside reforms today, felt like starting all over again.

Run Into #3: Then Jeremy spotted me. He gets 3 days off a week due to his work schedule that is nice!

In terms of the surf stoke level, I would say it was about 6. Nice and warm sunny day made it up significantly to the lack of good waves.