Monday, January 31, 2005

Session 5019: Forgot to Longboard!

Forgot to Longboard or what?

This morning, I took out the 9'0 Takayama. I have not ridden this for a good 3-4 months now. The swells were big enough and I could see the swell line pushing up for miles away in the horizon, but when they arrived, they did not break most of the time, and they were just closing out much closer to the shore. But once in a while there were some surfable looking faces. I had a relatively short session, and there were about 3 sets that looked surfable, but all 3 times, the board slipped ahead of me and did not end up taking off. Based on the text books I have on my hands, this is a symptom of not going to forward weighting fast enough.

I am trying to determine this is because I have been riding short boards too long and putting too much weight on the back? I do not know, but I thought all 3 waves were not that horrendous and makable.

So I am ashamed to say I had a zero ride today!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Session 5018: Waddell DP

After the session yesterday and on the way back, I saw many of the South San Mateo beaches throwing beautiful waves, so I had to hit one of these spots. Lately Waddell has become one of my top spots for having fun. After asking on my Stokemaster message board, Steve Hinman has agreed to DP with me. I was really psyched because Waddell can be lonely sometimes.

When I left home, it was pitch dark, but by the time I go past San Gregorio, the sky started change the color, still very dark and cold; my dashboard was indicating 41 F degree outside. I thought I could not see the usual beautiful section of the coast, but to my surprise, the breaks are throwing eerie light. It must be the bio luminescence that is produced by agitated planktons. When I was very small, my uncle would take me to summer beach camp outs in a small island and at night, and one of those rare moonless nights, he would take my brother and me back to the beach and demonstrated us about bio luminescence by throwing stones in to the ocean on pitch dark nights. He explained to me that it is the same as how fireflies light up. He would pick flat stones and throw them on its side, that made the stone to skip several times, I could see the ring of light that came up at all of the spots the stone hit. Then showed me where the shore break happens and how it was lit up across the break. Sure, it was pitch dark so come to think of it, the only way that I could see the breaks are because the water was emitting light! Growing up meant a lot of discoveries like that.

By the time I arrived at Waddell Creek, it was still dark but sufficiently light, still about 45 minutes before the sunrise. In almost 10 seconds after I arrived Steve pulled in; perfect timing. With this dude, I cannot use my usual tactic of telling people getting together at 6:45 and I show up at 7:00 just to be right. He almost abandoned me yesterday at the DP too. I guess, it means DP crews are really stoked to get in the water as early as they can!

We checked the waves, and there were some period that looked messy then there are some periods that were throwing good overhead size barrels, when we saw that, we had to go in; not because I can ride the barrels, but at least there were some waves.

Waddell and my JC 7'5 always work some magic for me. I was able to taste couple of phenomenally long rides. This happens when take off works well, where I can drop straight down and using Wado's terminology, "Cranking the bottom turn." Go straight down and board starts to skip over some ripples then whack that turn and it is like igniting a booster engine, it just picks up more speed, but now the board is planted in the water and suddenly it start to make a smooth arc over the water. If it is Linda Mar or something, that's about the extent of an excitement, but here. Here the wall just continues to form even starting on the inside like I do all the time, and I can climb up to it, cut a sharp right and repeat more bottom turns. Compared to my 6'6 fish board that flaps all over the places (the way I am surfing it), the JC makes a really nice smooth turn, and I am always amazed how a board change can make this much difference. It seems that I had more fun on the fish when waves are smaller like chest to hip high on beach breaks.

When I rode back to the beach, a fishing guy was really stoked at my last ride. That made me really happy and I uttered a big loud "thanks" to him.

This is a kind of a day with a big pay off, I was driving with big smile on my face all the way back, and my wife just woke up from a relaxing Sunday morning beauty sleep while I was duking soups and paddling hard to against the currents to stay in position.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Session 5017: 6:45 DP, East Side SC. Lots O Water

So here is how deeply I am into this sport. For the first time in my life, I have two places to sleep. I can now sleep in a shared apartment arrangement from a "stone's throw" from the Hook and 38th Street in Santa Cruz. So after enjoying a dinner with my wife, I packed a sleeping bag and surfing gear to my apartment. The idea is to sleep here until 6:00 then get out to the breaks right when it is light enough to see the waves.

I was hopeful that there won't be anyone at the breaks, but this morning, the area was firing up and already there were several dozen people right at the Hook. I actually never surf the Hook, it is too intense and I have not confidence in avoiding any sort of accidents to people paddling out. I actually don't know how people can manage taking off into the area where people are paddling out. At any given time after a set is over there are half dozen people paddling back out and many of them go straight back into the line rather than paddling around. Plus this morning, the Hook was getting close to double overhead on bigger sets, throwing enormous power, and there were some top notch surfers doing all sorts of good moves. I am hoping to get close to their levels this year, but still there seems to be a lot of training to go through.

Maneuvering in the water was also difficult.

There was so much water coming that after bigger sets, there was this huge current going eastward. Unless you paddle way out very fast, I was easily carried to the Cove and in no time, I was past the Privates stairs. Maintaining the position, especially for me, who would like to stay in the inside was also tiring, and sets were also very frequent and powerful. It almost felt like some gnarly day at Montara today than the usual relaxed Santa Cruz.

But it was very exciting first session out of my new den, and this ought to help me master more Santa Cruz style surfing, which is quite a bit different from beach breaks that I am so much used to now.

On the way back the sun came out, and sky was really beautiful, and the ocean was showing many swell lines. I had to stop at the Pigeon Point and take a shot of image to share.

Session 5016: Other Surfers Trash Can Be My Gems

When we came back from the vacation, the weather here turned to worse. It has been raining and blowing hard the past few days. But situation has been improving gradually. I was fully aware of the fact that this morning will not going to be optimum, I still ventured out to the usual place, because even when other people are saying the waves are junky or trashy, there usually are some gems hidden. Especially when it is big and wind swept at the same time, there can be some periods that I'd find some shoulders or inside reforms that I can surf. This is where a beginner like me does not put too many demands on the conditions.

As I drove passed by Montara, it was not too big like yesterday, so I knew it is not going to be a daunting session.

When I arrived at the beach there were but a few cars in the lot, and a quick surf check, there were two or three surfers out, and actually it was surfable.

I ended up catching a lot of waves and some of them were really a lot of fun. When it is bumpy like this morning, I can find bumps to execute cutback turns etc. Added with no crowd what so ever, it turned out to be a very high stoked session.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Session 5015: Eye Opener

Today was the first day of surfing back in home breaks. During last week's vacation in So Cal, I was curious how the NorCal cold water feels. I did use the gloves and the hood and ventured into mostly closed out water this morning at 7:15 a.m. As the first set of white water hits, almost electrifying feel of the shivering cold shots up from my leg to my head through the spine. Then I knew it I am back in Nor Cal.

This ritual does not change much whether it is in the summer or in the winter. The first shot of the water always is an eye opener. You see the word "Eye Opener" used at menus at breakfast restaurants, but a dawn patrol gives a true intention of these words. But, once I am completely inside the water, though, I start to feel much more comfortable, and then it would not make difference whether I am in Nor Cal or So Cal.

Today, the waves gotten a bit powerful and Montara looked like it was a 3 x massive close out mess. So I was a bit worried that it won't be surfable anywhere this morning at all, but I drove to Linda Mar, and fortunately the close outs were smaller if I work with the occasional overhead size close outs. Now I am confident enough to paddle out in this kind of situation. I strapped on the 6'6 and paddled out. There were not much in the way of surfable shoulders in the outside, so as usual, riding the reform soup today.

Part of the confidence that I have now is that I can duck through the soups and decent size close outs. Also taking off into bigger soups have been a big help in practicing quick flick ups, many of which I am still messing up. Overall it was a good workout and practice in getting out and taking off faster. There was basically nobody out, which was an added advantage of this morning.

Looking forward to tomorrow's DP!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Session 5014: Back To El Porto. The Industrial Strength Surfing Part II

This is the final morning of my week long So CAL surf vacation, and when we are in LA, we stay at Sea View Inn in Manhattan Beach. Technically, it is at El Porto. Several blocks down from the Chevron oil refinery in El Segundo. We have a mixed view of nice beach front homes, then a huge power plant of the refinery with buildings with plumbing and smoke stacks going every direction. You would put together graffiti art short boards, and the fast beach breaks, and you have the Industrial urban surf scene that is unlike any others. Surfing here does also require industrial strength skill set to survive.

First you try to get out, and you have to negotiate shifty shore breaks. You think you have gotten far out then another shore break dumps in front of you. Then you are in the outside and what happens, well, the waves jack up quickly and dumps you. Going over the falls is almost like a routine and just about everyone in the line up gets creamed one time or another.

Then you will see some hot shot short boarders, both men and women do take these waves at ease and ride them, often doing some air etc.

This is the second time I hit this location, and again with my 6'6 board. Last time here was May of 2004 (See WavLog sessions 4074 though 4076

The condition was similar to one of more gnarly (for me) days (session 4076). In terms of surfing these waves, I did not do much better than May time frame, but the confidence level has increased dramatically for me. Last year, I was much more nervous of just being there, but this year, I am just paddling up and down without having any feeling of being nervous. In fact this morning, I probably paddled about 20 city blocks from the 34th to 24th and back. It is even funny that I can count how far I paddled in terms of city blocks! It was rather foggy and could not see very well far out that was a bit of a drawback today.

I did score one fast take off, and man I was flying. Controlling the board even at 6'6 will require quite a bit of muscles and more distinct force. Definitely, if my knees are strong enough and my board is not up to the strength, it would snap it in half in no time.

Well, so the quest for short board ripping will continue for some more time.

There is a good breakfast place called Local Yokes next to the inn, and I had omelets with a side of pancake and started to head back home.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Session 5013: Playing an Instructor

We met Wendy's old friend whom she has known since 8 years old, who now lives in San Diego, and she is quite a waterman, or shall we say water-woman. She SCUBA dives, has a motor boat, wake boards, water skis etc., but she has not tried surfing for a long time. Originally, she was going to take us to Mexico for a fun trip, but we did not have time for that so instead I offered her showing how to surf. So I am back at Tourmaline, now with much smaller sets. That was perfect for her. We got a 9'0 BZ foam board and did the standard initiation routine of how to paddle and stand-up on the board, where to stand on the board etc. I thought I did not do too badly of a job, looking like one of those weekend surf instructor dudes at the beach.

We walked to the soup area and I did some pushes, and she caught several waves without a problem, and she even stood up on the board. So as for a new surfer session it was an enormous success. But afterwards she started to feel really chilled. It is amazing to know what the days of surfing at Nor Cal do to your body. I thought that the water in San Diego was so warm that I probably can get by with a spring suit, and I was gloveless for the entire time I was there, but her hand was cold and when we got out, she got a cup of coffee and holding the cup to warm her up.

Teaching surfing is difficult because you cannot surf with the person unless you are really good. I have seen some good instructor surfing right next to a student and either holding the arms or pulling the student up by the collar like a mother cat would carry kittens. Also it is hard to see from behind after I push her to take off.

I must say though she was stoked and said that she will try again. That's great because she knows Baja like a back of her hand so it would be good to twist her arms to come with us for a few days of Baja surfing and diving!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Session 5012: Surf Until Puke and Rippin' at Tourmaline

Well, today was the day 1 of Wendy's San Diego Writer's conference and that means I had to drop her off at 8:00 at a hotel where the conference is, and then straight back to surf and until this evening I can do nothing but to surf all day. What an ordeal! It is a hard core surfing day if you are eating a lunch consiting of left-overs from last night at the beach looking at other surfers, while you still have not taken off the wet suit, and when finish eathing getting right back in the water. Total surfing time was 4 hours today!

This morning, I decided to get back to this Tourmaline spot since I had so much fun, and a quick check of the Pacific Beach looked still closed out and gnarly.

This, being a weekend, of course, it was rather crowded, and could not find a parking spot in the main lot, but there was a spot up on the hill so I parked there.

Waves were going to about shoulder level on the inside, and the outside were breaking at about overhead today with definite and clean lines. The outside looked like it was owned by several good long boarders who would take off and ride all the way inside. If you do that it would be a good 30-40 seconds high speed, but smooth, ride. Most people just set one line and go diagonally but shooting straight along the wall? like setting the cruise control on I-5, and they are riding the equivalent of Caddies and Lincolns. The wall holds up nicely so there is no real need to steer like a paved highway, though, if it was left up to me, I would do ups and downs shooting up for the lips. I would have gone outside but, boy, it looks like ½ mile paddle out from the entry point. As I paddle out on my 6'6, I was quickly passed by several long board surfers on my left and right. Again, it felt like on a freeway!

But inside was fun. First, most people here still don't take the inside much. But I just wait for people on the outside miss the waves and they will arrive at me at the right steepness as they continue to build up the walls. So I was catching quite a few of those shoulder highs that are really fun to take off, and once I am on the wave, there was a lot of time and space to maneuver on. There are also second reform inside sections you can cut back into it when the first one is about to pewter-out that forms from time to time, and get the second dose of power and speed riding almost all the way to the beach! These people here got it good!


I must say that I have been in a slump type mode for some time, but I think I am coming around it. The confidence is building back up again, and I am starting to see the glimpse of success. Looking back, I think I get into some form of a slump every 3-4 months where there appears to be no progress being made, or this time, I actually have been feeling that my take-off skills have been retrograding.

The root cause of the retrograding is because I have been refocusing on short boarding in the past 3-4 months, and it is definitely more challenge taking off properly on short length boards. The key factor here seems to be that I really need to build more muscle power in my arms. I can tell this because on places like the Trestles, for example, people riding shorter boards than mine would pass right by me paddling out, and they don't look like they are dashing out, and when they arrive at the line ups, their board just sink. Mine does not indicating they are riding potato chips.

The second one is actually flicking up on the board. I am actually starting to take off better, but I am still not on the board planted soon enough. The board is taking off, gliding, but I often find myself belly boarding down, and by the time I stand up, it is already at the bottom. I have a feeling that this is something that will take a focused effort to correct. I should be doing the flick up practice at home on the floor.

What is working out nicely is that once I am on the board and have successful take off, my turns are building up to be more powerful than ever? not as dramatic as better short boarders, but transitions are smooth and can maintain good speed on the bottom side as well as the top side. The steering feels more like pressing left and right pedals than just shifting weights, and now I am starting to make turns that would be like "turning on a dime" kind of line. I have been working on left and right weight sifts on the Indo board hard and that must been working out!

Surfing is difficult!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Session 5011: Tourmaline and Confidence Building

Please open the following photo album as you follow along this WavLOG.

The big swells have eased a bit this morning, but at Pacific Beach, the waves were still closing out big time, but there now are some indication of surfable waves popping up here and there on smaller sets. Hope by tomorrow morning, I can give this location a shot.

So this morning's session, I have decided to head back up north until I find a good spot for me. Give the swell direction; I thought that it would be nice to find a point that would protect us a bit from the direct swell hits. We got a coffee at a beach side café, where all the employees looked like they either skate or surf or both, and the city health department gave this spots the sanitary rating of a "C". Good thing that we ordered piping hot coffee and factory produced and sealed muffin (to mean that we trusted whatever the factory that produced the muffin.) Well, I am back in my room writing this, so there has not been any advsrse effect.

We drove out the Mission Beach St. North toward Torray Pine and planned to find this Bird Rock and Tourmaline beach. We ended up missing the turn-off for the Tourmaline, wind up at the lookout for a cove. This looked good, but if screw up a turn or if caught inside in a current, there are a lot of rocks waiting to eat out the board at best, if not my bones. Heading back S again, I came to an intersection where an SUV with a long board turned, and that was the turn off for Tourmaline St. and the beach park.

There was a decent size parking lot but it was nearly full. The place was a full of nice vibes with all surfers greeting or smiling when our eyes met, and there were all ranges of surfers from groms to surfers over 40 years of experience, and everything in between. The sets were breaking more gently here, and it would be a perfect place for me too, unlike yesterday at the Pipes where I felt I was totally out of place.

Paddling out was still a bit hard as the swells are still providing good amount of resistance for me to get out, but breaks were gentle and slow moving, allowing sufficient time to act on going under or above. It was crowded but spread out evenly and the lines were really wide so having my own long waves was not difficult at all.

I must say that it is a confidence inspiring when there are better mix of surfing skill level people. I was paddling out faster than others short boarders and catching up at a good pace with experienced long boarders.

Today, my take off are improving a bit as I tried more effort to take off from further out and also paddling much harder and inserting the initial take off at a more sharper angle. But I am still too slow on getting up on the board. I really need to commit more focus and power during the take off. My timid nature causes me to back off and give up too soon, but there are signs of things starting to working out bit at a time. More gently breaking and holding waves are really helpful in regaining and building up the confidence, and it was such a boost for my surfing moral.

As the confidence increased, I became more relaxed, and even during paddling out I was able to keep the even stroke and pace. When I am more panicked, I tend to do things in more haste and that is not a good thing. I know that, but sometimes the emotion wins. So I must remember to have this confident feeling next time I am challenged a bit by the condition, the people, or both.

Of course, I should not forget to metion all of my surfing buddies that I met and taught me a lot of good lessons in surfing; none of them I have known before I started surfing just 3 years or so ago!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Session 5010: Swamis and the Pipes

We packed up a room in Laguna Beach and headed towards San Diego. Our next destination is Pacific Beach where we will be staying until Sunday morning. I will be using this location to surf La Jolla and San Diego breaks.

From San Onofre to Oceanside is this huge military installation of Camp Pendleton. It is always a boring part of the drive since the highway runs much more inside, and it is hard to see how the ocean is, but I always wonder if this area is opened up to the public, it will open much more surfing options.

We turned at Carlsbad to check out the breaks there, and it was rather mellow there. As we drove south from there though the break size gotten bigger and right where the power plant is, the breaks looked overhead today. But we decided to continue driving.

We finally reached the town of Leucadia, we looked at the neighborhood, and wound up at the Swami's temple ground. I pulled into the parking lot but it was a zoo. There were cars double parked and it was almost difficult to get out of the lot. We drove down the highway a few blocks and finally found an empty spot. It turns out that it was a good spot to take the picture of, so here are couples of pictures. From this cliff, I looked further south; I found the break to be a bit easing up and not as packed. This must be the Pipe that Jocelyn was talking about.

The wave quality looked good. I saw a guy getting ready to leave with his board split in half right in the middle, so wave must be good! So I decided to go in, but as it turned out that paddling out was very hard and I was exhausted in just an hour of surfing, and good amount of sets were closing out inside. The outside waves looked a bit too fast and big for me to catch, but those who do catch were really ripping. I had a couple of good waves, but wish that it was a bit mellower for my skill level. This location felt more like surfing at the OB. It is shallow for quite further out, and if you are further out, and your skill good, it looked really rippable. My wife mentioned after the session that I looked like I was "out of league" and I know that's sums up the skill level of people here.

Today, it looked like further south I go, the waves get bigger. At Pacific beach, it was just a massive close-out mess.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Session 5009: The Fish Heaven

Session 5009: Fish Heaven!

I forgot to mention until this time that I am carrying on my 6'6 Fish on this trip. Because my wagon has some reliability issues, we decided to take my wife's car, and to make the matter worse, we were not able to find the rack for this car that fit. We got the clip for the car but when I opened the rail there was no installation posts! So I had to execute the last-minute contingency plan of bringing just the 6'6.

I am actually happy with this decision for three reasons. First is that it now forces me to ride this board. It is often the case that I carry all lengths of boards, but I never take a full advantage of that, for example, switching the board in a mid session. The second reason is that by limiting the choice to one, I got to surf this board and thereby I am really becoming intimately more familiar with riding this board. Finally, I have been able to ride this board on this trip.

Yesterday, I mainly surfed the N side of San Onofre and today I did the Trestles. I was embarrassingly the only short boarder yesterday in San Onofre, but today I was in the Fish heaven!

This morning, as usual I drove over to San Onofre state park with a full intention of walking in front of the military trailer park to the Trestles. The wave faces a quite a bit bigger than yesterday as predicted and actually now making fairly big size shore breaks. I actually don't know where to park if you want to go there straight, but I have heard about a long walk though a paved path? it is just easy to walk from San Onofre state park for about 5 to 10 minutes.

When I arrived there, I decided to watch for a while. The wave faces were even bigger here, and looking around, there were long boarders and if they are short boarders, they were on fishes. And this is also something that I do not see often in the area where I surf?, well, actually I did see this in Maui. But many people own board without a leash plug and fins glassed in. What a confidence! And people here are so good surfers, they are just ripping across the wave faces like in surf movies! Needless to say, my intimidation meter has gone up to 10. I finally got courage to stand up, strap on the leash and then dipped in. I was also scoping out where the people paddle out. It is either from the SE side where the picnic shelters are, or at the river mouth.

I followed a woman surfer who started to paddle out from the SE end first, and paddled a very long way to the line up. Instantly, it was very much like the Pleasure point scene, in fact that is what it felt very much like it, but a bit less intense. I stayed there for a while watched other great surfers take off. Then I paddled across and up past the river mouth where I found a bit smaller breaks and also bunch more surfers that are probably less experienced than the main pack. As I started to catch more waves, I got more confident with the area and started to catch several waves, and that was really fun.

This area was a full of cobble stones from the creek, and it was difficult to walk in and out, but I remember from one of my early surf sessions with a surf instructor in Baja that some of the best surf spots are really difficult to get in and out of. That's probably true. Rincon, Pleasure Point, the Lane, even Cowells, you got to negotiate submerged rocks carefully.

Well, I now know in the past few days of surfing with some of the local experts that what I really need to master is a confident take-off skill, the true mastery of the first 2-3 seconds of motions in getting into the waves, so I can really take advantage of bigger outside waves. I will be thinking and writing about it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Session 5008: San Onofre

Today was the last day before the swells will start to fill in. We drove over to San Onofre instead of going back to San Clemente. There are so many choices of spots here and many of them are great spots like San Onofre and the famous Trestle. Today, I tried to surf in the north part of San Onofre since the spots south was a bit packed. But there was some nice shoulder level breaks that nobody was surfing on, so I had the section all to myself for the full 2 hour session. It was really nice to practice without any worries.

Tomorrow, I will go back and check out the waves again.

In terms of the progress, I am working on taking off even harder at an angle initially. This seems to require a lot more of an initial effort to take off successfully.

A bit writer blocked today so I am going to cut this a bit short today.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Session 5007: San Clemente Pier and T-Street

My friend, Joon, from So Cal on the Stokemasters message board told me about the Pier and the T-Street in San Clemente. Since we have not been to San Clemente, I decided to give this spot a try. I actually surfed the NW side of the pier, tomorrow may be I might try the T-Street, which is the SE side of the pier. San Clemente is a bit different from many other So Cal spots in that there is a pier, but there is no tree lined street leading to the front of the pier. There actually is a shopping street, but that ends about ¼ miles from the pier then a residential area starts, then there is a pier right at the San Clemente Amtrak station. As in many So Cal town surf spots, surfing here means you park the car, pay the meter, and walk across the railroad track and then splash in.

I decided to pick this spot because it was not very crowded and the waves were at the comfortable shoulder level break. It was sunny and unbelievable 80 degrees outside! Water was probably hitting close to 60s so no gloves and booties needed. There is a motel right at the beach and that would be a nice location to stay as you can just get up and go hit the area.

Waves were beach breaks similar to Linda Mar beach, breaking close to the shore, and like many other So Cal spots, there always seem to be a big bigger waves closer to the pier, and many short boarders were crowded there. The SE side of the pier had a bit better waves than the NW side, but there was a plenty of room for me to catch waves.

Surfing in a new location, even though the waves look similar, is always bringing a bit of nervousness and at the same time excitement, and each location is always different from another. For example, if I am at Manresa, somehow, I am a lot more comfortable and I am willing to take a bigger wave there. This is probably a complex stuff. In a familiar spot, I kind of mapped out the bottom through experience that I would have some basic idea of how the waves behave. I also do not know the local vibes until I surf a bit.

Tomorrow, I might go back here and try the T-street side, or may explore the northern side of San Onofre.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Session 5006: A Local Surfing Kind of a Day

Local surfing kind of a day.

Back in 2002, when I started to surf, I did not know anyone to surf with, or even talk to someone. The only thing that came close are local surf shop guys. The first year, I was very intimidated of surfing. I have heard about bad things like people getting in fights about waves, and people dying of surfing. But I was a bit determined to know about this sport. I even thought that the sport was kind of stupid stuff that only some people stupid enough would do it.

Now that I am deeply in the sport, and met those who have been at it for 30 or even 40 years, I am starting to realize and appreciate the depth of this magnificent sport. I also know clearly what has gone wrong for me to get such a bad perception of the sport. It is the media and the Hollywood, and for then a person totally outside of the sport, I must admit that I was totally influenced by it. And of course, that kind of spread of misinformation is still abundant. A half an hour of interaction with my mom or my in-law will just show how people are continued to be influenced by the media. My standard line is "? but Mom, just because you saw it on the TV does not mean it is true, is it?" Of course the standard response to that is, "But, I saw it on the TV, everyone is talking about it!" Obviously, I am not the part of this everyone she talks about.

And that brings back me to the topic of surfing. Most surfers I met are not one of those "everyone" type. The kind of surfers I met is usually some independent thinker who would not be bound by some artificially set rules. Many of them are great creative thinker working in music, art, literature, environmentalism, technology to name a few, and of course there are people who are not working directly in these categories, but still are very creative and motivated in the ways that I can totally agree, and I am talking about local surfers that I met in this area.

Now, finally, I feel that I am surrounded by the people I really can share my attitude about the life in general. And the best thing about this is that we don't get into each others noses, and when only needed, we band together and do some things, like going surfing, or figuring out how best to protect our precious environment where we live.

So today is a one of the days that I got a call from one such local person who is relaying me with surf report from another, and then I hit the spot with a great condition, and so I really felt that I am now integrated in the local network of surfers.

As for today's surfing experience. The waves were just perfect condition for me. Just about above my head gently rolling in. There was just sufficient time to duck under when getting out, and when catching them, they were the kind that I can stop for a moment and look at how the slope is starting to form just in front, and decide which direction I should be taking off. I had some good practice on bottom turns and some very satisfactory cutback turns to the rides.

After about 2 hours of a session, chasing beach breaks up and down, I was starting to feel some fatigue, and so when I got out the rest of the half dozen lineup was out too, and we talked some times, and appreciating each other's surf boards and the like under a very warm spring like weather soaking in the soft sun and smelling the spring grass sprouting abound in our area.

I must say that this is the kind of a day that surfing is really all about.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Jan 14, Reflection on a Flat Day

I was hoping for a somewhat relaxed DP session this morning, but it was too relaxed to many. I ended up driving all the way to Sloat this morning in search of an overhead wave.

As usual, in order to make my DP session as efficient as possible, I put on my wet suit in house and drive out to the beach. That saves about 5-10 minutes of changing time, besides, like this morning when it is hitting 40 degrees, it just avoid being subjected into the coldness of the season. But, sometimes, that works against me, and when there absolutely is nothing for me to surf, I have to change from dry wet suit into dry cloths. This morning was rather embarrassing from that respect, because another "desperate" surfer walked towards me while I was changing, if there was anything to surf, and I told him what I do, he was laughing at me!

I must have sat there at the parking lot of Sloat for good 20 minutes though looking to see if anything would emerge. I even considered driving up a bit north, but from the looks of it, I did not find any waves. I would normally get out to paddle out, but there absolutely was nobody else to be seen anywhere. I could have owned the entire ocean beach to myself for a while in this world class city of 780,000 inhabitants! Well, that could have been a story to write.

It never stops to amaze me, though, that one day the ocean can kill hundreds of thousands of people in just a matter of a few hours, then there are days that would challenge any able surfers for big wave rides, then there are days like today that can be totally calm causing even an early stage surfer like myself from not stepping in.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Session 5005: Messing with Currents in Montara + Focusing

Lately, I am starting to find that I should really put more focus on each of the thing I do on surfing. Things are starting to become so automatic that I am not really analyzing whether I am starting to nurture old bad habits, or ignoring the possibility to discover more ways of improving surfing.

Surfing by myself is one area that is not very helpful in this department, but I would sometimes be forced or force myself to do it.

I had to make a judgment call this DP, whether to surf alone or drive over further North to Linda Mar beach and contend with additional people. The waves from the cliff looked surfable, but my experience with this location also tells me that it will be quite a bit of work outs to get to the outside and possibly avoiding some close out sets. So I have chosen the lone surfer set up this morning.

The sets were something like overhead level, but it was rather messy, especially when I am writing these accounts after the facts. A local buddy of mine did show up, called another buddy of ours after seeing me walking to back to the channel, and told him that too gnarly to get out. So I had the entire beach to myself. It is still gratifying to me that I did own the entire state beach to myself!

I did have one satisfactory ride, but that was about it. I was paddling and paddling out, but I was being pushed backwards, and so it was a losing battle. Not only I was being pushed back, I was being pushed side ways, and in no time, I was pushed several hundred yards south where the waves were even gnarlier. I was paddling very hard to overcome the currents, it was starting to become like a 500 meter dash, and my body was requiring me to breath harder, and no matter how far I thought I got out, there were more waves breaking in front. Looking back though I was not making any progress at all, that's why the waves were breaking always in front of me!

As I attempted to get out and tried to ride walking back to where I thought was a channel a few more times, the sun has finally came up above the mountains and the waves started cast some nice slivery colored foams, I decided to give up, got up on the beach and did some additional Yoga moves that I have been learning.

I was no longer scared of the situation like I was when I started to surf, but a day like this always put me in a fresh new perspective in my surfing life.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Session 5004: Hits and Misses Continue

It is already the 10th, and only out for the 4th time. This year of surfing has not been on a good start. This morning before going to hit the surf, I was reading the NY Times story about "Don't worry if the S & P 500 does not move fast at the start of the year." In a large number of years, what happened in the stock marked at the start of the year did mean nothing in the end. So we should all hope that we are going to have the nice rest of the winter season, and of course, the rest of the year.

I must say that we had decent winter surfs up around Christmas, and then after that the whole hell broke loose with numerous storms hitting directly upon us. The ironic things is that storms are what we really need to get the wave generated, but we'd be happy if this storm is happening thousands of miles away, but not in our own backyards. It is a very selfish prospect on things, like: "We don't want more new homes near where we live, but now that we are here first."? kind of the idea. But then, surfing is supposed to be a selfish sport too, to the extent that you really cannot share a wave with anyone.

As for this morning's surfing it has been a lot of fun, but unfortunately I had to cut short because of a late start. Then tomorrow, the weather might turn ugly again. It has really been a "hit and miss" lately.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Session 5003: "Everything Conspired Against Me" Day

It is sometimes amazing to realize that how much of my surfing process has became autonomic, only to be realized when some process of it changes. This morning was just a perfect example of it.

What changed? Due to the car issues, I have been using my wife's VW Golf.
First I have forgotten a board. I can forget a bootie or hood or even a helmet for a session, but it was pretty stupid of me.

When I arrived at the beach this morning for a surf check, I checked the passenger side seat. "Dammn it!" No board! We took the car for an evening engagement last night, and I forgot to put the board back in!

So I drove back home and got the board. In the meantime, a couple of buddies called me and we said that we'd go to one of the state beaches near by. I said OK, and headed out again.
I was just about ready to turn to the park entrance. Another "Dammn it moment." I don't have the annual pass. It is in the other car. If I have thought of it, I could have taken it out and took it with me before I handed my wagon to the garage. In fact that's something to keep in mind.
I did surf for 45 minutes at Linda Mar. While the sky was nice and sunny for a change, the waves were not happening much for me, and only caught a few.

Stoke 4

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Session 5002, Late morning. Stoke 5

The New Year started off with just not optimally for surfing. Many year end parties we were invited to caused me to stay up later into the night, and there are more evening events and parties. Added with car problems, and of course, this continued poor weather. But, I am starting to make a progress.

This morning, I set the alarm to 6 am, and when it rang, I promptly shut off and shoved myself deeper into the comforter, but when I got up an hour later, I did get an urge to go out. I am using my wife's VW Golf, and this is when I am really happy that I have switched to short boarding. Fitting a board inside the car is snap. I think it is now a time to get a rack for the VW too.

As for surfing, I had to ignore these old "Stay Out" sign, and headed for the north side. The waves were quite right size and power to my level with up to overhead and not too strongly breaking, but actually it looked like the tide was a bit on a high side making the waves difficult to break.

I only had about 60 minutes of surfing and rush to the office, but every time, I do feel better afterwards, and that's a very satisfying feeling.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Surf Mission 5001: First Surf of the Year, Stoke 6

Today's my surf mission was to "Get out no matter what."

This morning was hectic as my wife's car's driver side window stuck open, and so this had to be taken care of the first thing in the morning. There goes the DP plan! Then my car also have had issues here and there so I was start to think about how we can replace this one so I was fiddling around with various web sites and what might be the next surf mobile. Sounds like a start of another materialistic year, but all I really need is a reliable surf transport so that I don't have to be constantly worrying out what would crap out next, and it would be a hell if it does crap out in the middle of Baja should I chose to take a trip there would it not?

So it was already 3:30 and I was almost going to give it up altogether because we'd need to pick up my wife's car after the repair, but then I said heck with it, I would go for an hour and that's just what I did to the Jetty.

I even did not bother with strapping two boards, so instead, I picky my almighty Fish since that would most likely to work on wider conditions. When I arrived there, sure, there was a beach condition warning sign, but already there were dozen surfers out not minding this. I made a decision that it would be OK since it has been a while since last rained. Initially, the water looked smooth and nothing was happening, but soon after I arrived, there were some good sets coming in. The buoy was reading 20 seconds period today, so this must be the result of it, it was breaking further out than usual, and often softly and gently, so many of the waves were really fun ridable waves.

I have not surfed since Wed so it has been a while, and I was almost afraid of having forgotten how to surf, but that worry was immediately gone behind the breaking waves upon my first ride. Then after that I had a section to myself, and had a lot of enjoyable rides. Wish I had more time and should really no have gotten out sooner, which, if I did commit, I could have.

With a nice sun setting behind omnibus clouds far out in the Pacific casting sorts of colors on the ocean, I had a short but satisfying session. Once again, I am thankful for a nice day.