Monday, December 26, 2005
The frustrating part about the condition like today is that I would think that a set comes in, hoping the wave to take on a shape, but once I take off, it just crushes and closes down and there was no way for me to surf. There were several of those. So I decided to switch the program and tried to surf the inside, but that did not work out too well either. While the crowd was fairly thin given this was still a holiday for most, added with a fairly small take-off spots we were competing on, it made difficult for me to take some good rides.
But it was good to get out, at the end of the session; I felt like I have burned off a lot of the food that I ate in the past few days, and even felt hungry, ready for more food!
The surf is going to get really huge this week and also the weather getting messy again, this could be the last session of 2005? we will see, but 239 sessions isn't too bad given many adversities I had to bear this year. The year seemed to have gone quickly, and felt that I had work hard to find time to surf, especially in the second half of this year.
Hopefully, next year will bring all of us more quality stokes!
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Friday, December 16, 2005
One of the things that you notice when you enter the site is current conditions panel on the site on the left. This is something that I am actually rather proud of. When I started to surf, I used to rely on free web sites like Pacific Waverider and also STORMSURF.
Oh man, when I first found about STORMSURF, I was so intimidated! Listen to the sound of it, STORM and SURF. I thought that real surfers only go out when it is really stormy out to catch huge waves. What am I getting into? In fact, back then every time I went out basically it felt like Storm Surfing, I could not barely paddle out, and that was on luckier days. On some unlucky days, I was taken out by rip current, and now I was ten times more scared about getting back since my arms are already numb from paddling. But turned out this site was the site got me going to understand a whole lot about the ocean and the wave, the tutorial section on this web site is so much detailed and helpful.
Back to web sites, so I found myself going to various web sites to find out the information about today's condition, and also soon learned that I can get more accurate information directly from NOAA web sites than relying on the interpretations of each of the web sites. So that was the start of the Stoke Console product that I created which is basically an engine to pull all of these government web sites into one page, so I don't have to open multiple windows. This worked out good. But I also wanted to get a summary of current condition, that's when I developed the SM2005 product which is the engine behind the current conditions panel you see on the home page. It actually gathers numerical metrological data every hour then performs trending computation for up and down trends. I am hoping to improve this further.
So I decided to do two things, one is to share to others what I know, and instead of just telling what I know, I have decided to structure the information so that people and even I would know the process of how I have acquired the entire "learn to surf" experience. Hence the start of the Blogging.
So that basically sets the tone for this blog and web sites. Part of the purpose of all this is that I am actually trying to expose all of the ignorant things I do, I think, I assume, and my struggles as I try to understand all of this.
What end up happening though is that when you strip away all of the technicalities for the weather and surfing technique, is basically a personal dialog for my quest for life, and I think that you will find that popping up between the paragraphs I write.
I surfed the Jetty on Friday morning on a real full tide and looked like the swell was going but too much water basically killed the waves. I had a few waves. But it was really good to paddle in the morning.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
So the idea of the Winter Solstice really stokes me quite a bit. It is the shortest day of the year, but with that notion comes the idea of renewal, spring, birth and the stuff like that. It is also believed that Christmas is basically derived from pagan ceremonies that surrounds the winter solstice, and I am fairy certain that back then people were much more in touch with the nature that they actually experienced these celestial events, say compared to most people who always have roof on their head, being at home, driving, or in the office. And being a surfer means at least some part of my day, I am either being outside influenced directly by these events, or if not I am thinking a lot about it, like, a farmer would.
With the server down notification at 5:30 this morning, the plan to do a DP was shot, and I was rather aggravated by this because nobody else was really interested in helping me taking care of the issue. So I just put on work clothes over rash guard and headed to the office right away. But it turned out to be good. As I was driving past all the beaches I hang around (they are all lined up on the way to my office near San Francisco), the swell was considerably up and with the minus tide going on (due to the full moon) all places look rather not fun.
So I decided to cut the office early and surfed at the Jetty this afternoon for an hour before setting winter solstice sun. I have been doing these low light surfing in the past several sessions.
One paddle out was really beautiful as the waves started to break right in front of me, the setting sun was shining through the lip of the wave like I was in a deep green cathedral in the late afternoon where stained-glass with some pieces with sun shining through.
There is not much I can report on the rides because the waves were not just holding up due probably to the negative tide. Some small lefts and rights were just fun to take off on but not creating any real rides.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
From this topic I researched a bit about how to prevent getting the cramps. When I started out surfing and up until a few years ago, I often got a very severe calf cramps. Early on, I had it almost every session, but now I only get it rarely.
I don't know if this will work out for everyone, but there are two things I do that are really helpful for my situation.
The first thing is that I do a reasonable amount of pre-session stretch incorporating a lot of Yoga type move. One of the things I think is very helpful is that I hold the stretch for a longer period of time with a deep exhaling action followed by a relaxed deep inhaling action. I try to stretch all the muscles in the lower leg. One nice bonus for me along this line is that I have become a bit more limber than I have ever been in my entire life!
The second thing I think is also very important is that I dink a lot of liquid before entering the water. Usually at least two cups of water or more. Some people might have an issue with substituting that amount with coffee but as far as I can tell both seems to work fine.
By keeping these two things I have been able to avoid a cramping issue quite a bit. If you have similar situation as I have, you may want to try.
This morning's session was really fun, as I was actually being able to maintain the ride with more power in turns, which is a building-up on the stuff that I have done yesterday. One thing I am really pleased about is that the ups and down actions are becoming more vertical in nature than ever before. In other words on the "ups" I feel that I am more like going up on the wave than just maintaining the same "altitude", which was just perfectly fine on long board trimming action, but for short boarding, by being able to go back up higher in the wave, I can extract more power and speed. Of course, I am talking and writing about this in a relative term with respect to me. If you are watching me from the shore, you might say "What vertical you are taking about!" Also the power of the ride has been on an increase a bit too. By this what I mean is that I feel more pressure on my knees and feet throughout a ride, and this tend to mean that the power is ON longer, and that connects to being able to do things with more speed. More speed is actually nice because the speed tends to open up a lot more options, from going up the line or use that credit to power through the next turn be it in the bottom or on top. So I am sure to be refining that stuff for a while, but I must say that starting the session yesterday, I think I broke off from one phase to another, in more of a consistent manner than before.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
First, I must talk about the approach of the Winter Solstice. Winter solstice always is one of the time of the year that I am very stoked, the opposite of it, the Summer Solstice is one of more, should I say, "sad" time. Winter solstice is where I start to look for longer days, the spring, and then towards "surf until 9 PM" in the summer, and all the good waves that I will be hitting in the rest of the winter too!
Winter surfing is fun, but in order to put in good surfing before work gets really needs a lot more quick action as even at 7:00 it is not completely bright, especially when it is cloudy in the morning and then I have to put in a much shorter session to show up at the office on time! And if and when it is raining, which usually means stormy the waves are just a mess, it really makes me feel a bit depressed.
Well, back to this morning, though, I really thought that everything worked out really nicely with the shape and the size of the wave and finally I thought that I have extracted a lot more speed out of the ride and the turns were really clean and crisp, and every move of what I wanted worked out too.
After I switched over to the JC 6'4 board, I have not had a chance to get a long ride, instead, I was either left behind by the waves or when I took off, I stalled out rather quickly. I was actually starting to be discouraged a bit, but two rides I had this morning cleared all of the concerns I had. It is always more thrilling to take off into a situation where I was pushing my own limit, thinking that I would not take off, but then when I took off, I had much more speed and also the control. The pressure on both my feet and the knee was pleasantly strong and the pressure was thrusting the board at a very good speed, and I was first able to build the initial speed going back up from the turn 1, then execute a cut back turn that against the high part of the wave more a bit more like ideal snapping type turn. As the other side of the wave became got into my field of view, I found out that the wave continued on the other side and then I just kept going on and found another change to do the same on the other side. And to top that off, I did almost the exact repeat of again on a next take off!
It was so much rewarding, and I must say, these kind of rewarding sessions are still extremely far apart and a few in between too. This is kind of random reward system is kind of similar to how a gambler might get hooked into the games. Obviously, I now have to go back and see if there is a repeat performance! And that's part of the stoke!
Monday, December 12, 2005
Sunshine week continues with a good power in the swell and not much wind. If there is anything to be said about the winter season, one of the things is that we don't get the summer onshore wind, which can be horrendous at times. But then, looking back, I really had a lot of fun this summer, and I was thinking about what's so bad about the summer? Sure there is a lot of onshore flow, but with that we do get these summer Cape Mendocino wind swells that are just perfect in size and shape for my level of surfing. There are a lot of people who say "Winter is the best." Yes, definitely for those who can handle 15 seconds 15 ft waves, but it is not for me, and frankly is it for most casual surfers? I had a lot of fun on 8 sec 5 ft days in the summer, and when the swells are hitting 12 seconds or more, I am starting to have more limit of the places where I can really have *fun* surfing.
Since I have started surfing, I really became skeptical of other web sites and press about all these "great" conditions, and even reading posts from various web sites and the like always talk about these conditions, but I am really convinced that mostly that most people don't admit that these conditions are totally out of their claims. Case in point, I have been out when it was cranking at 20 seconds at 5-6 ft (nothing to write home about from professional standards). Did I see you out there? I would say no, because I was with the people I knew who could handle these and there was just us, and I was struggling like a hell to get back to the shore on the first set that rolled in. Surfing the waves was totally out of question. A few things saved my life were, I knew how to catch the white water and that I could belly ride back in, and also I knew that I should make sure to relax if I was pummeled until I would surface. Plus other buddies were still out having "fun."
I am hoping that eventually, or actually soon, I would be working in the realm where I would look for a 20 second 6 ft days, but until then I would be contining to struggle to rip as I have been in the past 3-4 years.
Have you ever been on a lineup on offshore wind? I am sure many of you have, but I always notice this. When the wave start to life up the air around the wave moves really fast and makes this kind of noise. "Hooooffff!" And another thing is that should this have been onshore, the waves have already broken off, but in this case, the waves do not break, but when it does, the waves make a kind of special shape that I'd think that I won't take off into it, but then I can. And if I do, the surface is smooth but wrapped up. I think it would break into while water mess but it does not, often it does not and I can actually ride that smooth surface, especially when I am really lucky and I was situated where the lip of the wave is just about to cave in, and I just paddle a few stroked and I am up and going exactly diagonally on the surface of the wave exactly how the wave pushes me into, and when that happens, then I think there really isn't any other feeling that I can even explain with the combination of words that I can create.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
There was a guy parked next to me and he was looking at the ocean as the background was getting orange to the daylight hue. He said, "Hey, go, man, go." I asked, "Hey, are you going in?" I was hoping the he would too, so at least there were some more company. He said he did not surf. I said, "Ok, it is kind a small but, I need to go. It is a free gym membership for me.", He said, as I was putting in my booties in, "That's the way to go. God bless you, man."
I started to paddle out and got one wave and paddled back out, by then the other surfer decided to get out. Now I am all alone. It is a very strange thing but I really dislike being crowded by then I really don't like to surf all alone. At least, at a distance further at the north end there was another surfer out there, which gave me a bit of comfort. The rare offshore breeze was getting a bit stronger and throwing some spindrift sweeping back.
The new JC 9'4 this morning performed very well, except that at one wipeout, I was sure glad that I was wearing a helmet, as after a wipeout, I thought that the board was just behind me, as I was looking for it, I did not find it anywhere. I thought I may have lost the board, but at the moment that I started to start to swim toward the shore in search of the board? .Whack! The board hit the helmet very hard. I was knocked back in the water.
"What the hell!"
The wind lifted the board up sky high and then finally came down only to hit right smack on top of my head. Should I not have been wearing a helmet, I would have either had a stitch on my head or a few days of painful sore on my head. You know this kind of thing is very rare to happen, especially these days, but it does happen, and I was sure glad that I was still maintaining the surf nerd mode today.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Still, as always, the three cardinal rules are -
1. Never give up
2. Never give up
3.Never give up.
That was timely because I should continue to surf "no matter what." Of course when I say that I mean it is within reason? I would not go out if I determine it is life-threatening if I screw up.
But I think about this, I came to the conclusion that a lot of real give-ups happen because we make a bunch of small give-ups. Like this morning, I may have given it up this morning and then may be tomorrow, I might also become lazy, and one day by one day, and before you know I won't remember how long ago I surfed the last time. Luckily, today my problem is other way around? I go so much that I don't know if I often can't remember off the top of my head where I surfed yesterday, like, if someone asks me what I had for lunch on last Tuesday.
And I was really glad that I did not give up because when hit the Jetty this morning, it was really nice, as the waves were not big but starting to the famous pocketty right breaks right by the break water. It is usually so crowded there that I usually stay far south at the Turkeys but this morning, I was able to taste a few of those, and with my JC 6'4 Ugly Stik it was fun to catch those.
I won't and cannot comment too much yet on this board, but so far, I think I might actually end up preferring this board over the Rusty Piranha 6'3 board in wider range of situations. One thing that I have noticed so far is that the tail end of the Rusty's tail flutters and drifts left and right when the speed increases, and sometimes it is difficult to control it. The JC, so far, seems to stay solid over a variety of speeds. I don't know whether it is the surfer or the fins that are on the board. Actually I am using a bit smaller and softer 4.0 flex Future VFYU red fins on the JC. I also got 4.5 vector too so I think I would switch between them and see if there are any differences. Probably though, you are all LOL thinking what the heck I am taking about. I am willing to agree. But discoveries or process of discovering things like this is definitely a lot of fun.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
In my last log, I said that I would write about my relationship with surf boards so here goes.
A lot of you know already that I am riding the Rusty 6'3 and French Epoxy 6'6 boards a lot lately. I really like both of them, and to this date, I really like the 6'6. It is my most favorite. I was really thinking about this for a while, or debating with myself in a sense. The main question is whether it is the board that likes me or it is me that like the board. And the forgone conclusion is the latter. I think that there is a big distinction here. I think that there are a lot of people who think that there is a magic bullet there. I used to think that too that there should be a board that would allow me to surf much better. So let's count all of the boards that I had gone through, there was a 7'0, 8'6, two 9'0s, 7'6 and a 7'5, then 6'6, 6'3 and also this past weekend I got a JC Ugly Stick which is a 6'4. So basically I have gone through 9 different boards.
So even though I still have at least half of these things, I usually end up taking out the 6'6, and I now know why. I discovered that I really like to surf specific types of waves. I tend to prefer mushier waves and not really big, probably overhead is the maximum I would enjoy having fun. I've certainly surfed something bigger and even steeper, but at this stage of my skill and life, it is simply more fun to get out on a mellower condition on smoother water and catch a bunch of waves. But I don't want to ride long boards. Long boards are fun, but it is just a lot of hassle to load and offload. With short boards, I just throw them inside my car, and I usually stock two boards in my car, which consists of the trusty 6'6 and another board. It can be a 7'0 or a 6'3 depending on where and the types of waves I think will be out there. Even then by taking out the 6'6, it will fill almost all my needs at the moment. How about even shorter and narrower boards, a 6'0, 18-19 inch wide, more rocker? Well, I can probably be challenged with those and go for more hollower or steeper situations and the like but I really don't want to hassle with extra paddling efforts and possibly not having fun riding. The bottom line to me is get as many rides as possible at this juncture. This type of trade-off is pretty common in reality and eventually I would move to a next skill level that the combination of the conditions and the board selections will be different, but right now the combination of my favorite conditions and the board is what I am fixed into. Having different boards is teaching me good lessons though. From time to time, I would surf the same session with two different boards and I either realize I am not ready for it yet, or would come to conclusion that "Yeah! That was fun, may be I am really ready to go full-time on this board." Of course that's what initially happened with the 6'6. Though it took a while to get to the point that I would say, I want to surf the board most of the time, and that was a fairly lengthy period to grow myself into the board. Also conversely, I am very certain to be able to say that I have never grown out of the any boards that I have, and that includes a 9'0 foamy board, which when on a rare occasion I ride it, I am still amazed by the characteristics of the board, and it can still teach me some real basics on turns etc.
My future installments of WavLog, I would write about how I have not had leg cramps, and how I think I am avoiding it, then some interesting discovery about duck diving, and also about opening up more options.
Monday, December 05, 2005
So perhaps, rather than trying to log every session, I am thinking that I would gear this BLOG into more of an essay in terms of the progress and as a story of my surfing lifestyle in general.
Another thing, that I need to apologize to many StokeMasters and WavLOG fans is that my surfing lifestyle has changed so much and gone are the days we get people together and surf.
So perhaps I should touch on that topic now.
Looking back, I needed a lot of peer support to get my surfing going. Part of the reasons why I started my web site was to get to know with the people who are struggling at similar level and share the struggles and the excitements that goes with it with others (and also to encourage other people to get themselves together as they enter the sport).
One of the things started to happen in the past year or so is that the opening up of a lot more options to surf in terms of time, places and to some extent the skills needed to be there. This actually has started to cause a problem, because what I thought would be an easy surf out session turns out to be challenging to my friends. I am starting to have a difficulty knowing what's easier and what's hard for people. This is different from saying that I don't surf at beginner breaks, I do and I actually still like to, but on the other hands, if faced with a condition, I am starting to get an attitude that would say "Yeah, no problem, I can handle it so you can!" Of course I have an added advantage of living by the coast so I can and I do get out a lot more than other friends who can only find time to get out on weekends. Very fortunately through, I have anticipated this occurrence, so that's the reason why I have documented in "live" as I have climbed up the steps from almost the very start. So even if I forget what it was like we can all go back into the document (this blog and the web site) and re-live that again.
So, with a bit wider option to surf and also with the location where I am living, the way I do surfing is quite different now. It is now incorporated into my daily routine, just like some people jog or go to a gym on a regular basis, I go surfing several times a week, and when I do, I don't want to have an exact plan as to where and when. Also there are a couple of other locals, to mean they also live by the coast, that I surf regularly with, but typically how these sessions materialize is that we have a couple of "regular" spots that we frequent and we just call each other "Hey, it looks good at so and so, I am going to surf here." And about 2-3 waves later the buddy will be paddling up. We largely surf separately really spread apart too so that we don't get into each others ways. Again, though it is different from planning things out several days in ahead, sessions happens in real time and location choices also happen in real time. So even if I pre-announce where I might be there is about 50-50 chance that I would be elsewhere; whichever happens to be the "best" at the time with the wind, tide and the swell.
So you might ask why I do check into the conditions a lot? The answer is that forecasts do help as to when and where I would like to surf in advance. This allows me to shuffle work or other appointments with a reasonable accuracy, but then when it comes to actually picking when and where to do it, I still do go to the break and make the final decision.
On my next installment, I would like to touch on a subject of sticks, and how I am relating to them now that I have over 6 boards to choose from. I also want to go more into detail about what "wider options" really mean.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I will be back to Japan for about a week after tomorrow, so I wanted to have a good session this morning. I got a chance to surf with another close local friend of mine. I have not surfed with him for quite some time, but it was nice to surf with him. We decided to meet up at a local break at 7:00 this morning. I decided to head out to the beach, took care of some phone calls, then still had some more time so I decided to get down to the beach and took some extra time to stretch. It is really nice to be able to do that, just all by myself with the ocean in front and just relax and work out the muscles before getting in the water!
Surf size has gotten a bit smaller than yesterday, so it was more fun for what I liked, and with that added confidence I was able to work the waves better than yesterday. I am just still a bit overwhelmed when bigger sets come, and definitely the fall and winter waves can bring decent powered sets. And a good part of working these types of waves is to have good strength, and especially in the paddling strength department where I feel that really need to paddle harder, stronger, and a bit longer to match the power of the waves. This is part of my plan to re-work every aspect of how I am surfing. It is very important for me to get back to the basics and re-look at everything I do and make small improvements in each part. I can equate a lot of this to learning how to play a musical instrument. I have been in music for quite a number of years, I can play fairly decent. It is often good to challenge some new charts and I would break down each part, play slower and work out technique. It is sure fun to just play freely but sometimes I don't make a good progress, so in surfing too, I can surf somewhat OK, but now I need to do similar technique, and build up another layer of experience upon what I already have.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
I like it when the session number "rhymes" with the date. Today is the 222th session of my surfing this year. The surf and the weather continues to be great with the sunny sky and not too big waves where I can play in.
In the last few sessions, I was thinking about why my progress have not been so visibly improving lately. One of the things is that I am now need to push my self to the next level or I would be stuck in current level. The next level that I am thinking about is actually challenging a bit bigger waves so that I can have more time on the waves.
The reason why I think this is an issue is because I have been in several sessions where better surfers were catching bigger waves and getting much better rides. Should I been able to take off like them, I could start practicing more riding technique.
But from my level to the next seems to be a bit of gap that I need to cross. One key issue is that I need to be able to deal with bigger and stronger situation, and to do that I need to really build up more strength to do that.
I have not decided to take that route yet. I can still continue to enjoy the size of waves and work with them, refining technique, but to catch wider variety of waves, then I think I really need more strength all around.
Monday, November 21, 2005
5218: FRI 11/18
5219: SAT 11/19
5220: SUN 11/20
5221: SAT 11/21
Obviously, I have not been good at writing lately. Lots of personal tasks outside of working with computer has kept me away from writing WaveLOGs. I know there are many people reading my BS for all these years, so I first apologize for disappointing people. The majority to the time consumption is due to our move, and we still have many boxes in our home that need to be sorted out. The garage is still a mess, but most importantly, I have not quite gotten the system down to get set up for surfing and cleanup after surfing. My wife no longer allows me to use the bathroom to hang my wetsuit so it is like starting all over again. It is very interesting how a move can disrupt the surfing routines!
What a phenomenal week we had in HMB! We got continuous warm sunshine and no wind plus some good swell in the water! I am almost running out of the sun block!
In terms of surfing, Friday morning, I had the Jetty all to myself, but very embarrassingly I did not catch any waves. I was just positioned now right and the waves were breaking at wrong places or dumping right when I took off. This is my version of Zero Wave. I must really looked like a fool from the highway! I should have hit further north as I found out later on.
Saturday and Sunday I have avoided all crowded local breaks and picked a spot further. With the dwindling swell period, we were hopeful. Saturday, two of my long time friends came over from the East Bay, and I apologize for putting you in the situation, as the current was so strong and there were some periods with huge close outs. But again, my buddy Dog Haus showed up in the middle of the session, and he was ripping so it is not the waves, but it is my abilities. Plus I discovered that the rail had developed a crack and water was seeping though creating a stress-line type issue on my Rusty 6'3 board, so I was a bit bummed. The size of this is big enough that I think I am going to pay to have this fixed instead of fixing it by myself. Fixing dings can be fun, but with all these stuff going around me, it would be better to pay for it and save some time (to spend more time in the water).
Finally this is Monday and I did a quick session at LM because spots in between looked rather gnarly when I went down and taken weekly water samples for the Surfriders. But I had to pass by these spots and in just an hour or so time, the sets have really calmed down. But it seems to always be the case, the waves always look good from high up.
I am back in some period of not making much significant technical progress and on this Thanksgiving I will be flying back to Japan and be back on mid 29th. Surfing, as usual, is very difficult sport to learn and there are some periods I just feel that I am just moving backwards and feeling like being such a dork.
Hopefully I can surf next two days, and then on the 30th, that will put me to 225 sessions before December, I am hoping that I can put in 240 sessions before the New Years this year.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
No matter how early I try to head out, though there already are people who are out already. You hear the familiar sound of a long boarder waxing her board, and some cheerful voice of surfers getting ready in the parking lot. There really are dedicated few that are willing to do this, and I still like to tell people that I get up at 5:30 in the morning, and get in the ocean year around. Needless to say, you get various reactions, but in most cases, there is always an element of surprise and also a relief on their part that they are not forced to do what I do.
But it I really learned to love the dawn patrol. Sure enough, it is really cold when I first dip in the water and then getting over or through the first wave, but once that part is done, then I feel that I am more of a part of the water world!
Something I have noticed recently is that how much warmer I get once I start to paddle a lot, and from that standpoint, so long as I paddle and ride a lot, I can stay warm.
In terms of surfing, it was a bit crowded this morning, but it was just an excellent chance for me to learn a lot more about efficient turning and extracting more power from the waves. Smaller waves and days are really fun that way because I can often ride longer distance as waves tend not close out into just white water mess.
As usual, I still need to be ready to take the similar type of waves like him and all other of his local friends can do, but it is always good to be around much better surfers. I also did not fare too badly. I had some great long rides. One thing that I really like my 6'6 board with a tri-fin set up is that I can ride it rail-to-rail fashion as well as executing tighter turns through the tail of the board too in tight pockets that if I happen to catch a good wave then it can get really fun.
So, I meant to write about making waves.
Have you been to see local surf competitions held at the spots that you normally surf? Of course most of you have had (and if you have not, you should.) Up to more recently, I was wondering why on competition days, waves tend to look so much better.
Then it dawned on me that it is actually not the condition, but the surfer that make the waves look so much better than the regular time. During regular days, the number of good surfers is few and far in between, but during the competition, you are basically seeing about 80-90% of the surfers on the wave who are really good. So they all go at the waves, obviously waves look much better.
So, this basically means that better surfers know how to extract the best out of the waves, and therefore they are more like making the waves than waves making them to surf. I am, still, at the stage where the waves have to let me surf. This is gradually changing; for example, I am starting to catch more waves and scoring longer rides than most people on a line up on normal days. So that's a kind of reward for paying some dues getting up early in the morning, surfing as many days as possible etc. But now that I know this, it looks like there is much more dues to be paid, and at this rate, I don't know whey I can pay all the dues!
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
This morning, I took out another set of the Rusty #6 fins out of the Rusty 6'3 board then put on the new set of fins. Dalyn at the Board Shop told me how the fins makes turns much faster., but as I was doing this, I was still skeptical as to whether this will really make any differences. Once the fins are on the board, I have also realized how softer these fins are, and also they are thinner.
This morning the condition was actually really good and fun. It was just sufficiently challenging but not too big. The last time I surfed this type of condition was at Del Mar on a South swell. It is kind of unusual to have this type of condition out here, and then of course I only surfed Del Mar once so I cannot say anything about it either.
There was a professional looking person already catching a lot of waves. I am going to describe that one on my next WavLOG under "Making Waves" so look for it.
On my first ride I was surprised that the board had a totally different feel, but I wiped out. The next few rides were really fun. The board has gotten noticablly faster and definitely the turns felt smoother too.
I think that I am not taking advantage of all of what the board and the fin can show, but I think that I did notice the difference and I think that there is quite a bit of room for me to explore more in this combination.
- Making Waves
Monday, November 14, 2005
I am continuing to experiment with the speed building using mainly the tail of the board. Speaking of which, I got the Future Vector fins 4.5 high with a Rusty template on Saturday. I have not put them on yet, but I will try them soon. The inside of the outside fins are not flat like the classic thruster setup, but there is a bit of concavity inside. I am not sure if I can feel the difference, especially at my skill levels, but I am sure to report you if I find out anything.
Friday, November 11, 2005
The interesting thing of this might be is that I was probably operating in that mode for some time as I was getting up to speed. I think that the problem is of being oblivious to the surrounding than anything. In a good lineup, admittedly I am in the lowest of in the pecking order, somehow, things tend to work out much better, for example if I am paddling out, I duck through and the surfer on the wave just do some turn and get by, and also if I take off first they know how to kick out.
Sorry about some negativity in this log, but I am a regular surfer with a mind of an average person, and sometimes, I ought to report honestly what exactly goes in my mind rather than always so being either too easy going or too uptight.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
So let's get right down to this morning's session. I had short session due to a meeting at 9:00 a.m. Don't we all hate when someone requests a meeting at 9:00, especially in the winter when the morning is shorter and it is getting shorter by day too! But the part that is even worse is that when I cut the session short and rush to work and only to find that the meeting was cancelled, and of course, that's exactly what usually end up happening.
Oppps! I have diverged again.
The sets this morning was just right size for me, and on the "fun" range. Just about above shoulder on bigger sets. But as typical of our local beach breaks when some big sets get in they all close out not letting us surf. So on a condition like this, I just have to sit inside and hopefully these bigger sets won't come as often, and if they do, I'd paddle crazy to hit the outside and hopefully I can duck through them, which, of course I would, sometimes, be agitated in the mess of white water.
But there were some good inside sets that built up nicely. Sometimes I am a bit too far in, but I catch them anyways.
In past several sessions, I have been focusing a lot more on extracting the power out of the wave, and by which I mean to surf with building up speed, which requires a bit different in the way than I have been surfing, and the more I try this I know it will be a bit longer before I can master that part. What I am realizing is though; I had to do what I did up to now in order to get to the next phase. In other words, moving forward there is more need to refine all of what I have learned BEFORE I can actually move significantly forward. A lot of actions like take offs, flick ups, setting up and following through turns need much more refinement both in the agility of actions and also more pronounced weight shifting.
The good news is that I am willing to go through this, and even more than ever, I am realizing how difficult to master the art of surfing and how it require iterative means of building skills upon skills.
Friday, November 04, 2005
When we got there at the beach we met another local friend. I did not know that he rode a long board too because up until now we always surfed together with short boards, but he, being a good surfer (and lone behold, from Michigan) he could ride any board!
The waves were not walling up and closing out as usual, probably because the tide was high and also there was enough power in the swells that they were just perfect shape and size for me.
I have written about how important to be committed to take offs and so now I try really hard to do that, and with some more understanding with the use of the tail end of the board, my rides are really starting to improve, and after the session my friend told me that he has noticed a significant improvement in my rides.
At one of the waves, the take off was just felt great. I was paddling hard to catch the wave and I thought I was really going to be left behind but the wave jacked up even harder and with a huge impact I was blasted off into the wave. I was staying low and back and I stayed on the board being able to set up the first left turn. I had so much initial speed and the rest of the ride was so much effortless with just a small change in the balance I could steer the board any direction I wanted to go.
The world headquaters of StokeMasters is moving close to the Jetty at El Granada, California staring 5 November 2005 . We will likely have some net silence for next several days. You know how it goes; we need to make appointments with cable and phone guys. Wish us luck and keep it cheery on the StokeForums!
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Right now, this is my favorite board because it is very versatile in supporting what I want to learn. It is actually "too big" for me in professional surfing situations, but for me it really works well to use in place of a long board.
Today, my mission continues to discover more about using the tail and fin of the board to get drive out of the thing. And I must say that I am starting to reduce the early fizzle-out situation of just letting the gravity pull the board down and try to harness the power of the breaking wave more. Having said that though, learning a lot about "ups and downs" of trimmed rides up to now have been a great help in getting to learn the next phase; whatever that will be.
The experiment I have worked on today is to see by continuing to press the back of the board what happens, and here is what I have discovered so far.
By pressing the back of the board, I am essentially stalling as I go down the line, so I feel like I did not get that initial rush of the speed if I glided down. I was previously afraid that if I kept pressing the back of the board so much, I would completely stall out, but that's where it is proving me wrong given some of these experiences I was getting.
Instead of stalling completely at the bottom, I am going slower but maintaining the speed and direction as I am using the power of the pushing wave to stay up going with the wave instead of moving forward faster than the wave. It is almost like I am actually going down but the wave is lifting up back to the same height and so I am moving and there is a bit of spray coming from the tail of the board, but basically I am staying at the same vertical height. That's of course what you see on tube riders, they are moving, but they are basically the same breaking and tubing up part of the wave as the wave moves; you are moving and not moving at the same time, which is kind of a strange balance you are creating.
Of course, I know that's not the only one way to ride the waves, but it is possible to use that mode some of the time, and or perhaps, pump the back a bit, go on a bit more neutral or forward weighted, maintain a straight down line, then bring myself up the wave through more of a bottom style turn or a cutback turn , where I can transfer the upper body weight to gain further speed, which I now know a bit more about how to execute that.
So more experiments continue!
Monday, October 31, 2005
The waves were just about the same small size as yesterday, but of course, it is Monday bright and early and who wants to surf, except for a few dedicated and stoked ones. So with a bit of stretch, I was back in the water for the second straight day! Well, one thing I did not realize is that the water has gotten considerably colder, so the water was stinging my paddling hands a bit. But one thing about this is that after 5 - 10 minutes or so, the blood vessels start to open up and the hands are not cold any more and the rest of the session was just fine. I still like to paddle with my bare hands, I really feel much lighter especially on return strokes.
If you have joined my WavLOG now, I have been studying a lot about the fins and using the tail end of the board more effectively. This is actually something that I have not really realized until just last week when I was actually reading up a lot about this subject. So the next several sessions, I will be writing a lot about it.
In surfing, it is often very difficult to just read and understand what to do, but once you discover yourself what it feels to be getting the "drive" out of the board, then it is like half won the battle because then the next thing to do is to continue to improve upon that. It initially happens sporadically, then become more consistent but every time it happens I know about it, whereas, before I know it was happening but I did not know whether that had any significance to surfing or not.
Today though I came to one of these breakthroughs and figured out why I stalled so easily by the time I got to the bottom of the wave. Today I had two rides that it clearly demonstrated that I have not been getting the power and speed from the wave, and what I mean by this is that I was not harnessing the tail end of the board more effectively to get the drive out of the board. So I consciously adjusted the weight of the board to toward the tail and try to stay up higher on the wave longer instead of just plainly descending down as fast as possible. Previously my thinking was that I should go down as fast as I can so that I can execute a strong bottom turn and get up. This would work if there is sufficient wave face to work with, but often that may not be the case, and by the time I hit the bottom I have out run the wave too far in and then the wave crashes down. So instead, I would make the turn sooner and also maintain the trim and then at the same time stand a bit more tail weighted, and in one of the wave it worked beautifully, and I had a great long ride out of a small beach break wave. In fact that made me happy so much and I felt that I had the wave of the day, I decided to cut the next 30 minutes of session, got out of the water and headed to the office early. And I have an honor of having a witness this morning.
So tomorrow and all the sessions following, I will be making more practices incorporating that.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
It was a bit powerless today but it was easy to get out and paddle around. I tried both 6'3 which was totally ineffective and my trusty 6'6 board, and I decided to stay way inside and just catch many small inside waves, which, of course is my favorite way to surf, and I was glad that my paddling arms and lungs held up without a sign of gotten weak.
The first wave, I blinked and held back a bit, but after that I was starting to get back into my surfing self. Now I was wishing that the waves were a bit bigger and not closing so fast. One area that I have gotten a bit weaker is the flick up part and I caught a lot of waves but I was not popping up fast enough missing good rides.
If you have been following my StokeMaster.COM StokeForum posts, you know that I have been taking advantage of this downtime I had and do some on-the-desk learning, and I've learned quite a bit about the fins and drives that they generate. So I was actually consciously thinking about that and while I was surfing I have really realized today that I am still very poor at using the tail section of the board well. I was also watching some surf videos too during this time and if I look at professional short boarders, basically I saw that their front half of the board is almost always out of the water, one of the few exceptions to this seems to be the bottom turn. When a surfer does a bottom turn, the entire rail, one side, would bury in the water and the more front part of the board contacts the water, but once the board is back on the face, I'd say that they are getting most of the forward thrust from the back part of the board (if you can help me out on this, please use the Comment feature of the Blogger or respond to my WavLOG post in the StokeFORUMs).
So I was really happy, received back the good energy from the water and ready for a DP tomorrow Monday!
Before I conclude this WavLOG tonight, I should say a couple of more things.
What I've learned is that one would only appreciate so much about having a good health when you have not gotten one. It can chew your stoke away and almost make the suffering worse as I'd try to deal with it more.
And towards the end of the session, a surfer asked me if I am the "WavLOG" and also asked me if I was OK. It always a pleasant surprise to see someone I've not met recognized me and also asked me if I was OK. And thank you for being an avid reader of my BLOGs. Today I really felt blessed with many great surfing friends not just in this area but from San Diego to O'ahu!
Extra Feature Today!
While I waited for other Stokemasters to arrive, I took a video camera along and took a Video (Microsoft Media Format, 150 Kbps Bandwidth) of my long time surf buddy from StokeMaster, so hope you enjoy it.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Most likely I should start from easier sessions then gradually build the scale back to more demanding practices.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Everyone, please go catch some waves and report your experiences to me.
Monday, October 10, 2005
But I did go in this afternoon, and with the tail end of the bigger swell, the waves got really fun. It was really perfect fall afternoon evening glass-off with the waves just about the perfect size and power for me to take on; not too small and not too fast and pummeling. Some great take offs and turns and some just a bit still a bit of challenge to take off successfully.
I paddled back for more pushing the water steadily behind me I was racing the sun to fit in as many waves as possible. Getting out required some work but it was a welcome situation since I really wanted to get some good exercise too, breathing deep and a lot of air for each paddling stroke, and looking at the setting orange sun to the edge of the beach where people in the lineup started become silhouette in front of the setting sun.
Yes, it is the fall evening glass off, nice fun waves before the cold invigorating winter swells hit our beaches.
First to scientifically prove this actually reduce the drag or not, what I tried was when I come into the beach belly riding on the white water (I do this to walk along the beach to get back out through a channel since at my level of the fitness and wanting to have the session last longer, preserving the energy is important.) I compared the speed with and without kicking the legs, and lone behold, I can go much faster and smoother if I kept kicking my leg or completely bend them up. So I now accept this theory completely.
~ ~ ~
This morning I checked out all local beaches further south the waves gotten impossibly big to my liking, probably well overhead and the kind that would hold me down if I mess up on the take off. So we opted not to surf in the area and head north.
We were surfing at LM this morning and it was not too crowded early on plus we were spread out thanks to a good amount of swells coming in. The shapes were not that good but I had a fair share of satisfying rides, and of course a lot of take off practices that I am still working on; more pddling, longer paddling and don't give up paddling. As a result of this newly instated practice goal, if I decided not to go for a wave, I don't even bother paddling for it. Now with this new suggestion I have started kicking during the take off. I did it so hard that my back (of all other places) are sore this morning (Monday).
Again, it goes to say I am still discovering something new every time I go out.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Back in California! I worked a bit in the morning and then decided to hit the water again. I was going to hit the Jetty. While it was sunny out and there were a lot of cars parked on the highway, there was no wave that I would catch. Then when I saw Montara, it was a bit disorganized. At this point of time I was running out of time, but I did one last check at Linda Mar and the waves were good for my preference, the kind not too tall and not too fast. Only one hour left before the 3 PM conference call, I promised to attend. So I had about 1 hour to surf and a bit of time to get changed in and out of the Excel suit.
Well, I was really glad I went because the wind was not too bad (while Montara was already blowing) and I caught several nice lefts that are my favorites. And the breaks were just all spread out all across the beach so picking my own break was not a problem.
If you have been following my logs, you know that earlier on this season I was working hard on the tail weighting during the take off. That's now somewhat under my belt and I think I am the stage that I can start to polish that. Then you've seen the video how timid I was in paddling in to the wave. In fact there was a guy next to me in the lineup, he had a lot of problem catching waves, and he was exactly lacking what I saw in my video. He was paddling so slow and not hard.
So I was actually working on that stuff, and basically I have decided that no matter how big the wave is going to get, I will give my best shot at padding into the wave and I will continue to do so until the wave gets flat and I know for sure that I cannot catch the wave. I will even kick my legs to help (I really don't think that will help, but mentally by doing so I think I can feel that I am giving the full effort.)
I caught several nice lefts, most were short rides but there were a couple that I would say is satisfactory as I did inject myself into a nice trim and kept going for a longer ride. No matter how the waves are, it is always very satisfying when I can successfully negotiate the turn #1 and get right into the correct direction to keep the ride. Once I get that going, I can usually gain enough speed and power that opens up a bit more options. On the other hands, if I go straight then I do ride but it is short and fizzle out quickly.
Well, that's about all for today. It was really nice to get back in the water?. For sure.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
One should always be ready to surff!
Is this a paradise or a hell? I arrived in Honolulu this
morning because I could not get a ticket for a direct flight back from Osaka.
It was supposed to be a short and a smooth change over to another flight but then I
have learned that the return flight was late by about 3 hours due to a security
bleach, which resulted in 5 hours in HNL. I got out of the airport building and
walked around. Only to find out there was the famous shape of the Diamond Head
may be 30 minutes or 40 minutes of drive away. I became, obviously, very stoked
with the sight of this. After about 30 miu of thoughs, I thought "heck, why not
get out there at least and check it out even if I don't surf."
So I hopped on one of those $8 Shuttle deal and asked the driver to drop me off
at any beach hotel (by the way it is a good deal because the return cab was $40
including some tip.) Now
I am sitting at the Dukes Canoe Club sipping some Daiquiri and other that I will
not mention to keep some sanity in my household upon my return.
This is right at Waikiki beach built into the Outrigger hotel where Duke
Kanahamoku surfed and also the palce where Jack London wrote at length about
what I would call one of the earliest of the StokeREPORTs known to the menkind.
But listen to this, the killer is that the beach is not crowed and I got
pictures to prove, have perfect chest high long rollers, it is sunny only about
80 degrees and I am just watching with a bag load of travel cash, a green card,
a passport not willing to risk losing any of them -- prefect Cowells condition
but without requiring getting inside of 3/4 rubber suit. Perhaps, if I am in a
true sense of a stoked surfer, I would say "f" this, and go and decide what to
do later on. This is a torture in a paradise. I even could have rented a board
asking the dude at the beach front rental place to "please look after my stuff?"
Would I trust that? Well, if I lose my green card, that's another $600 plus 6
months of ordeal and believe me, I had to go through that process once simply
because one of the border agenet thought that my original card was expired,
which it was not after paying the fee to replace one as instructed by that
The board shorts were packed away in the suitcase sitting
somewhere at the airport. Should I have planned a bit better, I would have
packed a pair of the oldest board shorts. Should I have known it was only 30
minutes ride to Waikiki then I should just have headed down there, hoping to
catch 1 hour session then come right back to the airport allowing me enough time
to take off my shoes and get my laptop out at the security to catch the SFO
flight in the afternoon. Should have this been Dog Haus and if I was with him
on this trip, I think I have gone for it, just getting the cheapest pair of
board shorts and beach towel from the closest ABC store.
But, of course, the problem with me is that I am still too
uptight of a guy that I would not go for something like it, even though I had
perfectly great fun condition and I was just watching with my jaws half open. My
life has been saved numerous times by not taking some minor risks like those,
and but I am also certain that I probably missed out a lot by not taking these
"risks." But right now, I have to make sure that I can get back to Osaka at a
moment of notice from the primary care physician for my father. Only less than
24 hours ago, I was in the doctor's office at the hospital learning about the
actual condition of my father, then asking him to come back to Half Moon Bay
when he gets better stroking his "mostly bones" arms and legs for comfort. This
is the man who took me to the top of Mount Fuji when I was in junior high. This
is the man who taught me how to ski instead of doing some catch and going to
Hanshin Tigers' game at the Koshien stadium.
So today, I surf and when he talk about my surfing he talks
in terms of my "boating" coming from his storke wonded left brain, but I know
exactly what he is thinking. He is stoked about my surfing and that's what he
means to say. I know that's what he is thinking but he just does not have the
choice of word in his command. But I know the guy very well, he is my father and
I can tell what he is tying to communicate. The strange thing though is that
that does not work with my mother. My mother would try to correct him, "Your son
does not do boating." I tell her "Mom! I know what he is saying so why you try
to correct that?"
Sometimes, accepting the way it is will open up a lot.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Well, on Thursday I will be flying back home to
I was though happy to see Dog Haus, though he was not surfing but playing with his daughter in the sand, and I got out after 4 get-out attempts. Picked up a 6-pack of Kona Longboard Ale, headed to his house and consumed it. And that's the extent of this session.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
It is always nice to get a call at 6:30 in the morning from someone near by to go out catch some morning sun and the waves. Quite often, things do not work out with buddies then I am all alone out in the ocean.
This morning was unexpectedly fun! It was fun because we were the only two surfers out there within our vantage point and we caught tons of good mellow waves that I tend to prefer, perhaps up to shoulder level, but still there was enough power in them to mess me up good if I screw up. That's fairly typical of the beach breaks we got around here.
It was a real blast and fun and I felt that I have started to make some progress again and my buddy commented about people having different surfing style and there are some of our friends surf in more bold powerful style, but mine, he said, looked very graceful. What a complement, I really like that.
The reason I thought I caught more waves is because I am not consciously paddling harder and not giving up paddling until I know for sure I did not catch the wave. The video my wife took this weekend was very educational, so I am about to show you what I am talking about. This is the part of the video that I did not show you last time because I was a bit embarrassed about it.
You can see that I am really late in committing to take off and then once the wave comes I am totally missing it by not paddling in hard enough and fast enough. If I saw another surfer doing the same from the shore, I would have advised the surfer to paddle earlier, faster and harder. That's exactly not what I was doing. So now I know. I am going to work on it more in upcoming sessions!
Sunday, September 25, 2005
What an awesome fall afternoon! The sun was out completely (which is rare in this area), the wind has stopped (which is rare when the sun is out in our area), and we did have some good close out waves in our local beaches. A local buddy of mine also showed up in the mid session, and instead of surfing, we decided to paddle to and from one state beach to another (though I cheated, I walked back since I was already paddling up and down for some time before he showed up and I was on a 6'3.)
The work is now super busy and also I need to wrap up much of the outstanding work before I head back home in Japan for a week. Again, I tried to focus a lot more before and I get in the water. It has really been a good practice for me to do this since there have been a lot of distracting thoughts and events that have been happening lately? most of them are happy events but intertwined with some rather sad events too. So, I would like to make sure that I will allocate a small piece of a day just for myself, which I should do even when there are no other major stuff going on. Then once I am done with that I should then focus on other things, instead of being distracted by the thought of surfing, and I am really practicing hard to get that switch to turn hard in one way then to another way depending on the time of the day.
So in terms of surfing, I had only an hour of session time left in the morning, and with this being a NW swell day and also I really did not want to venture out to other places that I decided to get back to Linda Mar. I has been a while I surfed here but I think that with the NW swells increasing and the summer onshore wind calming down I will be coming here a lot more, unless it gets really big then I can escape back to the Jetty or something.
This morning the surface was glassy and it was an easy paddle out, at least where I was, and I caught a few fun waves. It is really fun to read the waves and connect the rides, there were just a few of those I could do but even when the waves are relatively small when that works out I am just so happy when I get out of the water!
Session 5201: Friday 23 September 2005
Another short stop at Linda Mar this morning before hitting the desk. The amount of work is getting very busy due to a travel I have to do at the end of the next week back home.
The swell has built up over night. The waves were closed out, as very typical of this spot, especially looking from the shore, but as I paddled out ducking through a lot of white stuff, the waves became looking more surfable, and there is some kind of magic to this feel. As I paddle further out, getting out gets easier and also see the waves in different shapes as I thought they were from the beach, in fact, quite a bit more surfable looking than from the shore.
I caught several fun waves with a bit of effort to getting back out. But I kind of liked it because I really got a good amount of exercise before hitting the office!
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
But even happier part about that is that I was really able to focus more on the waves and become the part of the surrounding, and I continued to realize how much I enjoy being in the water.
Monday, September 19, 2005
I also made a commitment to myself this morning that I am not going to fool around too much in the morning, instead, I become a surfing animal -- I just get things together and get out and only think about surfing for the next couple of hours. There are many things going in my life right now. I am not going to get too much into the details what they are, but definitely there are some "a few time in my lifetime" type situation that is happening, and so I have been rather distracted and not being able to focus.
So I wanted to get away from all of that and just find a moment of solitude for an hour or two. And my wish did come true.
It was almost embarrassing to show up in the middle of rush hour traffic, being the single surfer in the beach, probably looking like a fool paddling up and down to find waves, but not finding any good waves.
But the water was smooth and not too cold. It really felt good on my body as I slowly stroke my arms through the water. It really brought back some of the important reason why I like participating in Surfing. It is kind of a sport I can really enjoy myself alone and also even if I don't catch any waves, just simply being in the water alone can be a nice thing. Even though was just a few hundred yards away from a stop and go traffic, when I turn my board around and gaze at the horizon in the general direction of where I was born, it really soothes my mind. It is a kind of a void and quiet place where I can allow myself to get rid of all the thoughts and just focus on one basic thing; to live and play and become a part of this totally liquid world for a short period of time. I am realizing more and more about how surfing places me in a totally different world than being on a solid land with people and associated stuff that goes with that. I do like to be in both worlds, but the fact is that I now have the key to both worlds and that's something that I was actually not expecting to realize when I entered the sport because it was some challenging or fun thing to do.
As I looked over the horizon, I saw a large black fin sticking out of the water. Then two other fins converged to the first fin, and then started to swim around. They zigzagged the surface of the water sometimes completely hidden and sometimes doing the standard dolphin-through moves, but swimming very slowly, in a relaxed pace, the same way I was paddling around. I was also pulled out to the outside on a slow rip currents, and eventually we came just a few yards of each other. Dolphin encounters do happened often enough in this area, but this morning it was really special because I was totally alone in the water and I really felt that they are now my friends sharing the water with me; a part of an experience to become as much of an ideal surfing animal.
Again, I have not scored any ride this morning, I took off on waves but they all closed out so I had to pull out on all of them. But I really don't even have to report on that aspect of today's session, because I have really found out more about why I like to return to the water so much.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Got up a bit later in the morning, the sinus problem has started to clear, and the buoy was indicating 5 ft at 20 seconds. Clearly the south swells are still in. Finally I am back in the Jetty. Knowing that the situation is going to be crowded, I decided to at least paddle out in this condition, just to see how it was like. A total number of days that 20 seconds swell would hit us in Half Moon Bay are probably countable with the fingers on my both hands.
The breaks were all different pattern than the usual W or big NW swell days and how they built up are also different. Waves seem to pop up from the bottom of the ocean rather than more like "swept in" type pattern. So you'd wait on flat water for a bit then suddenly the water pushes up underneath.
As with Thursday session, I was clearly not up to be able to fully surf these types of condition. Getting out was not an issue but catching the waves were not possible for me yet. There is so much water movement that adds to the speed of the break that extremely powerful and fast take off is required and once you take off, again strong knee actions are needed to stay on the wave and make turns. If you can get that power and speed, I am sure it will be a lot of fun. But with the crowd and my current abilities, I opted to stay on the lineup, not really trying to take off and just enjoy being in there and see some of the best people take off and making great moves. Floaters, Roundhouse? you name it, some of the people were making those as if they do it every day. Where do they come from, by the way?
Initially I was not going to get out. I was going to rest. But when I saw my new blue helmet sitting in my room and a dry wet suit hanging, my spirit was lifted immediately and I felt a strong surge of energy pumping within myself. The Stoke is back and the ocean is calling me to come and play! Then there was a call from Luke that he was already at the Jetty, now I really have to go.
There were a lot of things I had to take care of this morning, but I finally got things together and got out to the Jetty. Sure it was crowded, I was really determined to go out but still well prepared to do what I did yesterday. Sorry I was a bit too late but did catch Luke on the way out. Which, of course, I was really happy to, because there always is an anticipation of hitting the waves and it is really good to see someone coming back "in one piece." No matter what types of waves are out there.
Once I splashed in the situation looked similar than yesterday, but a bit calmer, so to speak. There still were a lot of waves and water. It is interesting that all that waves have traveled from very further north to reach and showing the last show of the energy as if they are doing their best to show their end of the journey in our corner of the earth.
There was so much water movement out in the area that a constant adjustment of the position was needed. Like yesterday, if there are a lot of sets coming then a huge rip current would form and in no time I am way outside. So, in order to maintain my "comfort zone" position I was continuing to paddle.
I probably missed about 20 sets, then finally the set came, it started to break right where I was and I was smiling because I know I can catch that and I looked left and right frantically as I paddled to the shore. Of course the wave I was dealing with was much smaller version of the ones that were breaking by the break water, but still, I had to paddle extra hard to catch it, because if I do not catch it, there will be a consequence of either thrown over or held under or both. But this one I caught and it was a good wave! I love it when I see the wall forming right of my eye as I take off. I look up as hard as I can to set the line and I try to crank the bottom turn as hard as possible to get back up on the face of the wave. Then the darn wave start to close faster, and I made a hard left turn, then there was a big backwash bump. I hop over it and then with the very strong impact of that I jumped against the bump and dismounted. I was way up in the air as the board also shot up too.
So there was only one ride but that one was really fun!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
The South has not given up yet. A few weeks earlier in the South Pole region were some strong relentless wind blowing for several days continuously. Some, if not all, of this enormous energy started to propagate in the form of long period swells.
In the meantime here in Nor Cal, and more specifically to my body and the immediate vicinity, my sinus problem has started to clear away, and I was definitely enjoying food and wine last night with the full dimension of senses. You never appreciate all the senses you have until you lose even just one. And when this afternoon at the beach I was able to get the sense of the bad ocean smell due to blossoming red tides.
Long period swells give different kind of breaks even when the swell height is very small. They come up as if from nowhere and the mound of water start to build up and before you know it, the breaks are already overhead and when they close out, there is just a massive amount of white water that forms.
When I arrived at the beach, the wind was almost negligible and so the surface of the water was rather calm, but when the waves broke there was more of the thunderous quality to it. This is no longer for casual surfer's realm, but only the best and most experienced can really take advantage of it. While I knew clearly that some pounding and hold downs are inevitable, I had to go, because I was just curious if this is going to be my limit or not, and it almost was.
Getting out was different from the usual short period and wind blown breaks that I am accustomed to. Instead of one after another of waist high soup, this time, I had to contend with 3-4 seconds apart of chest to shoulder high soups. My usual shallow duck diving are no longer working, instead, I have to really put a lot of weight over the shoulder, submerge the front completely and then really move fast to the back and push really hard to submerge the tail. If I screw up and go too shallow, then "bang!" I will be thrown backwards and then jostled in the huge mess of white water, which of course, throw me back good 10-15 feet back, requiring me to get back out to where I just was. As I thought I was "outside enough" bigger set would come sometimes, and I'd screw up getting through those, but if they close out just right in front of me, then I'd be treated with additional burden of being held under a bit. All of which, at my current level of confidence, I can handle no problem, but still are very unpleasant experience, as I try to swim up, it almost feels like a long time before I reach the surface. These are kind of things you only hear about from big wave surfers, and what I am experiencing is a miniature scale episode, like when I started to surf, all the waves were huge!
I had one really good and fun ride on a huge reform. But the rest of the times, I was waiting either for a "huge" reform or small ridable waves; none of which came as I waited for waves in a safe outside zone.
In the meantime, there were a select few people who were really catching a lot of waves. So again, it has been a very humbling experience, and I am glad that I came back in one piece, so to speak.
Surfing continues to be a long journey for me.
Monday, September 12, 2005
I was finally being able to hit the water this Sunday morning. I was really hoping that after this session the sinus congestion problem would completely clear. Of course, this is Monday and as I am writing this with a box of Kleenex next to I and I did not surf today partly because I had a busy morning and also to hopefully give my body a day to fully get rid of this issue.
This has really been a lower stoke season than the past.
The story should go back to Saturday because that was the Nor Cal women's surfing contest day and I actually did not end up showing up. The night before I had a business trip in Atlanta and I came back still with the sinus issue and I was really not in a mood to surf or do anything related to it. Yes, it sounds rather strange coming out from me saying that. But, I quite honestly, I was actually not in the mood to go out late, try to find a parking spot and then not really surf but stand around for the whole day sort of things. I will even admit that I really have become crowd phobic, and that's another reason why I pulled out of Santa Cruz shared apartment deal altogether last month. I must say that this is the phase that I am going through? I hope so. But if you talk to my wife, she know very well that I get extremely hostile and cranky, if she asks me to go to the open mike session at the Hang. I just do not see any point in going to the Irving district on weeknight after a long day of work only to drive around for 45 minutes to find a spot, get the musical instruments and PA out of the car, haul it, then wait for another 1.5 hours and play a single song in an "open mike" session. Conversely she does not see any point for me driving a day out to some spot on the coast, camp out, and haul the surf board down a 10 minute hike and surf, and come back and sleep without a shower either! So the level of "hassle" we are willing to go through are directly related to the Stoke within us.
Also I was looking forward to seeing a lot of my friends at the Classic contest earlier in August and that was a bomb too, since and except one local buddy of mine nobody else came to the contest either, and during the heat I basically go solo without anyone else present that I knew. Long after my wife and my co-worker friend showed up.
Hopefully we will make all of this up next year, I will be a much nicer person, and also hopefully I will even be a much more competitive surfer next year.
So instead of NOT surfing on Saturday, I managed to get up early and get out and surf with my local friends, and I was hoping some epic waves right here near my house. But of course the session was all mixed with poor condition and guilts of not showing up yesterday with my friends. In fact, the first spot was so sucky and too big and too unshapely that some of us got out and went to another spot. Since I took off my suit and put it back on, that constitutes two sessions. And at the second spot it was even worse than the first. So I ended up not scoring any rides! And that afternoon I got even more congested, probably I have irritated my internals more than what it was doing to recover from it.
So as for the surf goes, this weekend was more of the situation to gain from my mind disciplinary aspect than the regular surfing skill improvement type situation.
As the final stroke of the karma, I ran into the proprietor of the surf contest this morning as I was getting down to the beach to take this week's water samples at Montara.
Monday, September 05, 2005
For Sat, I headed down to SC to surf with Clio and pick up way over due wet suit repair from Blown Out Wetsuit. I dropped off my suit on 7/7 and it took me close to two months to pick it up. I was worried that she may have sold it, but she said that she never sells repaired suits. In terms of surfing the swells were not getting into both W and E side beaches well, so we opted to do Manresa again where the waves were not that great, so I am not going to write much about that. Of course it is always fun.
For Sun and Mon, Got to surf with Laura two days in row, since she will be entering the contest next weekend in 3 divisions! Wow! So the best place to practice is to where she will have a contest, and Linda Mar is the place to be.
For both Sunday and Monday, I felt rather awkward. I guess I am really not used to surfing in a crowded situation any more. I have mainly escaped to further north side where the breaks were less frequent. For Sunday, I opted for short boarding and I felt I did OK but if I had a long board, I would have been able to catch more waves. So on Sunday, I took out a long board and then I felt that I should just have sat inside and caught waves with a short board. But as soon as I start to blame the board for inadequate surfing, then I know it is really my skills set.
On Monday, Ren joined too, and she is still remarkably good at catching waves. She was catching many more waves than I was, so my hats off to her. I think she has a knack of positioning herself at good peaks.
I think that I will be going back to focus on short boarding for a while, I think that mixing the two is actually not a very good idea.