Thursday, March 31, 2005

Session 5059: Finally some sign of new progress.

Last two days, I was dominated by close out waves. But mostly the condition does not prevent me from going, though I must admit that I now try to pick the best one of the local breaks after checking them out. When the conditions are good, a lot of people show up and surf, but when condition has been poor, people do not generally show up, and so there definitely has been a crowd advantages. Among these poor waves and close outs there are some ridable waves to be found.

In last two sessions, I have actually started to make a progress towards more take offs, and actually where I have learned is how to bail out properly if and when the waves closes out. I am trying to figure out what have changed, but there are something that I fell I am doing better.

One thing I am doing better is to really look left and right and even towards the oncoming wave, and I think I am judging what will happen, and the direction of the break. Several calculations are being done right at the time as to whether I would choose a straight down path or if there is any amount of shoulder, then which way I am going to take off into, or if it is going to be more like a straight close out, where I'd bail or try going straight down etc. I would even know that if I was in a wrong spot, and after the set passes, I would migrate to where the waves are breaking better.

At any rate, I am now actually up on the board more than I have been able to on a much steeper situations, however, I am still a bit afraid of them and not agile enough, and so I am not fully committing to the forward weighting position sooner and stalling out, not making turns. But now I am starting to see another light at the end of this tunnel, which really gives me a hope.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Session 5058: Winter Season Wrap Up

Finally back in the water!

When I first started to surf, when people said, "The Winter has the best surf." I did not believe it. I did not because I did surf during the winter time, and it seemed that there was basically nothing but a lot of white water, stormy weather etc. I wished that the winter would go away and become spring or even the summer. Having said that I do not see anything wrong with the summer either.

But this winter is probably the first winter surf season that I would wish that it would last longer because I now remember having some great days, and that I will still wish that "Aleutian Juice" would continue to pour into our area. But it is now the spring time, and I can tell it is so.

The spring time brings all sorts of interesting situations. There can be a lot of rain, wind and lot of waves, then there can be some days without any fogs, but no swells, or too much of it. It is the time for change of the weather and the cold weather tries to fight its last battle to stay on while the warmer weather starts to winning. That said, I am now going to be able to bring out shorter boards and do some small wave fun, and actually I am looking forward to that too.

This morning, definitely it had the feel of the typical wind swell situation where waves were not threateningly strong when they closed out, and there were some really fun rides. As you may know, I have been practicing taking off on a steeper situation. In the deep of the winter when the swells are cranking at 20 seconds, if I made a mistake, that would meant that there will be a long hold-downs, but when the swell period gets shorter, then there simply is not that much water to do damage, so from that respect it would be fun and also it would open up more possibilities along our coast. So in a nutshell, I think I am still looking to the spring and summer surfing season, but this time, I am also looking for the next big winter too!

This past year, in terms of the progress, there has not been a major one, but the fun factor has significantly increased as there are now much wider options of where and when I can surf, and I guess that's a bit of reward for paying some "dues."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Session 5057: First Surf (again) wtih Ren

This morning, as I promised I went to surf at Linda Mar with Ren. It is a special day for me because this is the first time I surf with her after she gave a birth to a girl. I knew Ren when she was not pregnant, and she was surfing a lot with us at Linda Mar, then at the time, I was thinking that how long she will be put away from the water, but pretty much everything was on schedule, and this is the end part of March and she is back in the water again; already! The part that actually amazes me also is that she gave a birth to a new person, and when I she joined this group, this person even did not exist, and we surfed together for a good part though both their lives! Life is a full of amazement like this. I used to see diet weight control ad on a highway billboard, "I lost 150 pounds." Well, if I lose 150 pounds, I become negative weight.

Going back, Ren is a big influence on the Stokemasters group and with her brief absence, the things has changed a bit, but then now that she is back, she will be back again to rebuild the old flavor, so to speak. As for me, it is really fun to be involved in this what basically amounts to be a very American sport. Nobody would have guessed when I was a grom in Japan that I would eventually be building a surfing community of a sort in California and getting involved in other surfers lives closer.

And so our community is becoming really established with so many people turned out today at Linda Mar this morning, and not just our group but there was a Japanese surf girl that I met though surfing at Linda Mar and also a buddy from Surfrider chapter too were there, that's total 8 surfers at one place at the same time!

And to top that off, the surfing was fun. While the wind was a bit blowing strong, it was generally in the offshore direction, so that kind of saved the day. Also, in order to surf with Ren, a long boarder, I took out my less frequently used long board, but I was really glad I did, because I had several good long rides on it, and was able to practice a lot of ups and downs along the walls today!

The last 1/3 of the session, I switched to a short board as more people started to arrive and I thought I would sit inside and catch ton-o-smaller waves. It is often good to do the switch because I'd learn a lot about the similarity and also the differences. It is like side-by-side wine tasting. Both are real fun, but there is something really nice about powering through smooth big turn on a long board. It feels like I am being on a huge swing and I am just going through the bottom as I bend my knees for more energy. Really smooth and the way it builds the speed is like having a large block V8 engine under the hood!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Session 5056: Great Practice Day!

Good Practice Day

Last night, I was eyeing on going to surf further south, since it would be a weekend, and also the swell will be significantly less.

This morning, I got a call from Ken with a local live report and basically it was a go, so I packed up and met him in the water at Waddell Creek. There are several magic opportunities but I must say this was one of them, not because of the size of the waves, but because of the quality and the length of rides I have gotten. Set waves were about shoulder level, and with semi mushy breaks, the kind that I love to surf on. I need these types of conditions to bring my skills to the next level of taking off directly on much faster waves. But this morning, they were coming just at the right size and timing. It is like I had tweaked two adjustment dials that say "Steepness" and "Frequency." So this morning the Steepness dial was set to Medium and the Frequency dial was set to every 3 minutes with a "Shuffle" button pressed in so I can get occasional shuffle of bigger or more frequent sets.

When I started surfing in May of 2002, I made a lot of discoveries quickly and there were much frequent episodes of significant improvements in surfing, but last year especially, the progress seemed to become slower and slower. But here are some things that I have been noticing.

  • The more I can, it get even hard to be able to do the "next level."
  • It is easy to do something somewhat, but doing it really good takes a lot of practice, surprisingly there are a lot more details that need to be worked out.
  • Along the same line, the consistency to be able to execute a move gets better in an ever slower fashion, but over a period of time, that is the part that is noticeably improving on my skills. It used to be that there were sudden and remarkable improvement in my ability to do something, but these episodes are just less and less these days. But instead, it is more like compared to 3-months ago, I do realize doing something much more successfully and consistently.

What am I getting at?

So what I have been noticing lately is the improvement in the quality of rides I get. They are getting longer and also more connected from a turn to turn. By this what I mean is that now I am starting to drawing one turn much more smoothly then onto next instead of really pumping, jumping up and down etc., I have been starting to feel that kind of rides happening more often.

How does that relate to this morning's session?

So, this morning, the sets were not that big, but at this location, compared to the areas near my home where I surf a lot more, the waves are more consistent and lines are longer if you catch the right ones, so I can really practice what I am starting to notice on a bit longer period of time, and that's was something I was really stoked about this morning, and when there are waves like that I feel it is really magical too.

I was talking to Ken on the water and he thought the waves were small today, but I told him that's exactly what I like. Because when I see some professional surfers doing beach breaks they are barely head high, and they are just ripping and shredding putting some air and nice cut back actions, and that's how I want to surf, and I can see that it is gradually and slowly coming. Given my athletic abilities and late start in to this sport, it will take extra longer for me, but now I am starting to see that all the building blocks are starting to come together.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Session 5055: Choppy but Fun!

First, I should make an occasional note to those who are joining in reading my WavLOG. The name WavLOG is a kind of pun on Web Log, but I know, I know, it does not sound like to any native speaker.

I have been basically keeping a log of every surf session since May of 2002, and that's when I started to surf as an adult. The first number in my session number, which is 5055 for this session, denotes the 55th session of 2005. I am hoping to get to at least session 5250 this year like last year. This is hosted on Blogger.COM and it is syndicated by several sites through the RSS feed, so you might be reading this at one of the syndicated sites.

Why am I keeping a log of it? The main reason I do this is because actually there are a several devoted readers of this work, and I do get some nice feedback to basically "How am I surfing today?" Also, it would be fun to reflect back on all the discoveries I make along the way from knowing nothing about surfing to the day when I catch my last wave though I hope that day never comes.

The format of the writing is rather free and also I did not grow up speaking English. Editorially, you will find a lot of flaw in my log because, number one, English is not my first language in my life, and second, I produce these logs rather quickly without taking much time in reviewing. While I have no intention of publishing any part of this as a book, should that happen, should that happen, I am sure that there are people who edit works for food, and I would out source that.

So there.

Well, back to my WavLOG for Friday AM session.

I did a morning session on the way to work at Linda Mar beach, and the swell was already getting smaller, and to make it worse there was 15 to 20 knots of onshore wind going. It looked really choppy, but I had to get in the water, as this is the form of exercise I do. Many of my other friends go to gyms or run during the lunch time, or participate in Aikido or Yoga, but the Ocean is my Dojo and that's where I get exercise both physically and spiritually, so one of my goals is if it is not dangerous, I get out, and if I don't catch waves, I paddle the entire length of the Linda Mar beach from the cliff to the boat house. But in reality that only happened a few times, there always is something to catch, and they are still fun regardless of the size.

When the condition is poor, people don't get out but there always are a select few die-hards, and it is always a pleasure to get out and share the waves with them because I don't like being totally alone out in the ocean. This morning looked like a paddle only day, then when I went in, there were some sets started to come in. I actually like riding these sets waves with chops on top, because they let me turn a lot more like mogul skiing and that's a challenge. To keep riding, I must make turns, sometimes need to be pumped and even go over a hump. Going over a hump is a lot of fun. First I need a speed enough to get over it, or I stall and that's the end of a ride. Getting over it is like mogul skiing, I just bend the knees and absorb the bump a bit. Then when that works there often is a reward. The hump turn into a break and I can pick up the speed and set another line. I am up on the board already, so it is like taking off all over again but without flicking up, so can utilize the whole wave.

So it was a choppy day, but less crowd and I was able to get a lot of fun out. I was going back for more in rapid succession so it was a rather tiring session.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Session 5054

The last session was this Monday, but I feel like it has been quite a while. This past rain and wind almost seemed like lasted forever since it lasted both day and night.

I usually like to sleep with the window blinds a bit open, so that when the morning comes, and when it gets a bit brighter out, I can get out of the bed (but I am usually up before then.) This past poor weather was enough of the incentives for me that I finally could complete the re-write of the back-end of my web site, and I am quite happy now that I can, at a glance, tell the current Half Moon Bay area condition even better than before. Now that that's basically behind, I can now get back into surfing again.

So, this morning, the sky has beaten my wake up time, because there was no cloud in the sky, and that's great! As soon as I got up, I checked current conditions to both make sure that the new web back-end is functioning, and also, of course, to check to see how it would be. The buoy has read 6 ft at 10 seconds, plus the wind has nearly completely stopped. It is really amazing; as if someone has turned off the fan and turn on the light at the same time this morning.

I sent a short message to my local buddy, who just got back from a trip to Rio, and shortly we are comparing our notes on where it would be the best. I am really starting to get a hang of our local conditions; we talk about the wind, the tide, the swell height, the period and the direction. Still, this just sets our mind as to where we'd expect things to happen, and we still end up doing surf checks and another round of cell calls, but we are now starting to work this like a routine. A buddy A who lives near Montara goes and check there, buddy B who likes to surf another local spot goes and checks it out, and myself, I am usually checking out the Jetty. After a few phone calls, though we will usually end up in one or the other spot.

On a day like today, when things get smaller then places where we cannot normally surf opens up as fun places, and this morning, we picked Montara. As usual a surf check from the bluff top looks like it is only about ankle high. Of course, when we paddle out, it is easily overhead, and even though we know how it would be, it is always more than what we expect. And for a magical reason, it always gets bigger especially when I paddle out.

I am, still not at any level closer to these locals I am now "allowed" to surf with, today, I had a real blast since the waves were fast all right but not the usual dumper kind. We were creamed sometimes with close outs, and sometimes we got in to fast shoulder to wall actions.

I had couple of remarkable drop downs today. I will describe one of them, which was about 1.5 overhead by the time the thing jacked up.

It was one of those, that because of the position where I was I had to take it, or I'd be totally creamed, it was just jacking up very fast right where I was, and so I paddled as hard as I could. Then I was going up on an elevator like ride and then ejected out of the wave really fast. I was on an up position, but basically both the board and I was just skimming over the water, and rather than surfing on it, we were basically flying in the air for a moment. Then finally the board and my feet meet half way down the wave wall. I was still somewhat out of control, or at least felt that way, but once I touched down on the board, I started to crank a strong left turn and then I was on a smoother part of the wall that was still continuing to form, and I kept riding and riding on that wave. It was really an amazing ride? only at Montara!

Stopping before smashed into the beach break was kind of fun too. This was on an another ride, but basically when the wave in front of me started to build up at the beach signifying the end of the ride, I just kept going up in the back face of the wave to stop and as I tried to stall, the wave kicked up fast and thrown me and board up in the air. Unintended, but got a mini aerial move! Of course after this another beach break was coming so I was frantically trying to paddle back out!

After a while, the onshore wind started to kick up a bit, and basically that was the end of it, but it was so much fun! Stoke 8 today!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Many of us have been sort of land locked so I should write a bit to keep all our spirits up.

A few days ago, Matt commented on him giving advise on leashes to other people. I really thought that was good. May be, many people have tried this in the past and did not work, and that's why it is not a norm, but I find it OK to give it a try, and we can all think about this. Perhaps, we can even think of better ways for the people similar to Matt's situation, and often a new product or idea tend to evolve into even better something.

At any rate that post got me thinking?

First of all, it sounds like a broken vinyl (OK, those who don't know DJ'ing and don't know what that is it is similar to a scratched CD, but not quite), I am still and always intrigued to know why you have chosen to join this group, especially when there are a lot more options available as to the amount of expertise in the membership of other surf related exchanges. But I am certainly always a bit gratified to know that we got something started in the field of surfing, which, I still must say, I don't know a lot about.

But on the other hands, I think that it is really important for all of us to express what we don't know, and I am hoping that people know that that is the reason why I started this group. Now, however, this is very difficult, because if you don't know something and write about it, you might feel that you are exposing a lot of ignorance to the public at large. I am actually OK with that one. Who cares, of someone responds with the right answer, or any answer at all, at least I've learned something about something.

Yet, another part that even prevents people from doing is to answering questions. T is because by doing so would put you in a position of showing an assumed "expertise" in the area where the question was asked. What if your answer was wrong? Not only you have provided others possibly a wrong answer, but also you really made a fool out of yourself, right?

But in my opinion, it should not be so. So if I am not correct and if someone else point that out to me would not that be better anyhow in a longer run?

A lot of surfing experience is about getting over the fear I have deep within myself, and hesitating to asking and answering is, I think, a form of a fear. Don't you agree?

So that's basically what keeps me going be here writing about my surfing experience, answering the questions posted and providing what I know about it. I should be prefacing every message, "Here is what I think, correct me if I am wrong?", but do I even say that every time, because that should always is the case, right?

So again, I thank you for all your participations all these times, and hope that we will continue to become better surfers each day of our lives!

To your stokes!

Monday, March 21, 2005

Session 5053

While the outside was raining a lot, as for me, I have been in a kind of a dry spell not being able to go into the water for a while. You might think that I may have came to rely so much on the forecast information and decide not to go. But no so, both days, I did go out and check to make sure that the conditions are not right for me. Plus this was a good chance for me to work on the software revamp on my web site. I have done most of the backend coding in the past two days and that in itself was a bit of a marathon coding session.

This is the Monday morning, it is the morning for going out and take water quality samples from Montara and Gray Whale Cove, and if I have time, I'd do a short session at Linda Mar before heading to the office. Jetty was a lot of mess like all this past weekend, Montara was huge like yesterday. Montara was big, and Gray Whale Cove had tubular big waves that blew out the column of air as they closed out. In all these times I had been with the ocean, I have not seen a tube blowing air, like the ones you see in surf movies! This is, still, nothing that I would surf.

I was, however, hopeful that Linda Mar would be a bit manageable than these beaches that I have visited this morning.

The waves were closing out mostly but there were some surfable walls and shoulders forming and some more seasoned short boarders were doing their best to take some of these waves, though they were failing more times than being successful. But there were some moments for them.

As for me, when waves close out in a larger set, it is time for me to do the inside reforms, and I actually caught quite a few waves in a short 1 hour session, probably 6 or 7 waves. It is always fun when there is just a lot of power left after the outside close out and then reform into a nice chest to shoulder level walls. I took my fish out thinking that there will be some duck diving needed, but the board worked perfectly in the situation, and I was able to practice more ups/downs plus some cut back turns with fairly long lasting rides.

I saw Jeremy having a lot of fun from the outside. It is always nice to see people that we know. I saw he had one nice ride and gave him my shaka!

OK, that's it for today. Let's hope tomorrow will bring some more fun!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Session 5052: Thought Montara was OK, But...

Earlier this week, Kristine and I have made a plan to surf during the week, then I had a cold and she did too, so we had to wait this Thursday to find the time to surf when both of us felt better fit to surf than to just rest around. I had enough energy while I was still a bit congested, but as we all know a big wipeout or two will help cleanse in that department.

I planned for a medium incoming period to surf and so we planned to me up at the Jetty. I have arrived earlier and the place looked surfable all right, but just did not have much in the way of waves, so I decided to head for Montara and that's where two of us owned the entire state park for a good part of the session.

As usual with my previous logs, Montara always looks very nice and especially clean today from the top of the cliff, but as also usual, once we were in the water, there were still very strong rip current, lots of bouncy reflections etc, made it difficult to surf. We basically paddled in and out of the beach for a better spot to surf.

The sand bar that has formed about 150 years off the shore was amazing, you paddle for a while, you cannot touch the bottom then the paddling arms would start to scoop some sand and so I was standing on a knee depth water about 200 yards off the shore, and this is supposed to be the start of the mid tide! And it is breaking about chest high in a dumper.

I was able to catch some waves but Montara is still a very challenging spot, especially on a shallow break like this, I'd definitely don't want to pearl and head straight into the sand. That would be some spinal injury waiting.

Well, this is the first session after a cold so I decided to cut short, and Kristine also decided to go to a gym instead.

The beach was beautiful with some sun out, and also I pointed out a headless Elephant Seal body lying on a beach with a crow already starting to pick on its meat. I also made sure that she understood that people cut the heads off from these caucuses to inspect the animal's age and health from teeth and other parts of the head. When I saw this last fall for the first time, I was freaked out because I thought that a shark had cut its head off, but come to think of it, a headless seal won't make all the way to the shore.

Montara remains to me one of the most challenging spots in the area, I should always approach with a caution.

Tomorrow will be a DP from Linda Mar before I hit the office.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Session 5051: Pearling A Lot Today on Small Waves!

The sun continues to be out this morning but the swells gotten even smaller this morning. I still had a long board on my car, so I decided to take it out. Mondays beaches are usually barren especially this morning was also suffering a super low tide too!

Today I have to report on "Pearling on Puny Wave" phenomenon. The waves were only hip high max this morning, but I have not pearled so much in a session in my recent memory. I hate to admit, but this would be the time I wish I had taken out short board, I would have done OK, but riding on puny and rapidly closing waves on a long board is really challenging! Basically at this size surfing a long board is like putting a square peg into a round hole, it just does not fit any part of the wave. Go straight and I'd bury the front before the speed picks up, go try to turn, and there is no real estate to turn on. I got about 3-4 reasonable rides and rest of the dozen were just duds.

So I waited out hoping for bigger ones to come but I just ran out of time for the office time, but I did not miss it, as when I got out the onshore wind started to really pickup and started to blow out too.

The swells are coming up so let's look forward to that.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Session 5050: Mini Summer-Like DP with Friends

For the sake of my Stokemasters surf buddies; I was really hoping a good condition this Sunday, since my friend Laura and many others can only surf only on weekends. The prayer has been answered, as I left home there was no fog and the wind was small. I passed by the Jetty and did a quick surf check. There were no ridable waves, so I called Laura and then headed to the Linda Mar beach.

The day turns out to be a very excellent day with so many waves that can be caught, and it was unusually not crowed for Linda Mar, so both Laura and I had a plenty of room to catch waves. And, as with it is the usual case, there were many people just staying way way outside and not catching any waves for the longest time, while there were just plenty of inside breaks that were just fun. I started out with a long board.

One thing I am finding out on long boards is that the weight shifting timing can be different compared to short boarding. After short boarding, I realized the I put a lot of weight forward rather quickly, but doing that I'd end up wiping out after pearling over. So I try to stay to the back of the board when taking off and standing up. When someone tells you, "Your board has a tail, Surf Monkey!" they are not kidding!

While Laura was taking some nice rights, I'd wait for the lefts shoulders and I pop up and I was able to nail several very long rides. All in all, it was really fun to get back on my long board. At one point I saw she scored an overhead size break and beautifully inserted the board into the side of the wall then getting the speed up with a classic ups and downs. Congratulations!

Then the line up gradually started to pack in. At that point, I thought I'd change to a short boarding, and pulled out my favorite 6'6. I thought I'd stay way inside and catch anything left over when outsiders either don't catch or mess their take offs up. Turns out this was also a lot of fun. Several good lefts were also scored there, but they were more of a "crouching down straight arrow" type rides than up-down rides. I also saw Jim ripping out there too. Then Mary shows up, and I thought for a moment Ren showed up because they have very similar looking boards.

Felt like some good old summer time has came back to the beach with all these friends out, because for the past few week, the local condition was really tough and challenging kind of fun battered with currents and large swells, but a nice sunny relaxing friendly morning is something I also really enjoy.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Session 5049: Fun of Having Fears

This morning, I hooked up with a local surf buddy and headed out to a local spot where the current is horrendous. It is horrendous because it is an outgoing kind of current and if you are not watching yourself out and get out of the rip, you'd be way way out in no-time. This is definitely one of my deep fear areas.

Another friend told me during a paddle out conversation of a surfer who paddled out at the OB and was only looking to the outside and not paying attention to the land. Before he new it, he was way way out, and panic set it, he tried to come back in. He is an advanced surfer so he would know not to go straight back, but because of a panic setting in, that's exactly what he did. He was getting tired and it took him something like 3 hours to get back, along his ordeal, he started to think of a lone death in the middle of the ocean.

I had a few panicking out episodes like this, though, again, at my level of experience, I am easily panicked, and so that's the reason why I continue to get more confidence in the water.

There was some ripping moments this morning though, so that made up for all the current fear that I had to contend with.

Then I was resting at the beach, and started to talk to another local surfer getting in, and he pointed out to me several dolphins out. I was totally oblivious to it, but I have not seen that many of them at one time at this beach! They were playing around all over the place and circling around an outside lineup.

Surfing sessions bring a lot of different type of emotions and feeling. Like today, some fear and some really fun catching wall to wall rides, and the feel of sharing the water with these magnificent animals are just tremendously rewarding.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Session 5048: A beach bum... Almost!

It has been a while I surfed at Linda Mar beach since the last several sessions, I have been at the Jetty. The morning surf was a real fun with sun fully out. With a just enough amount of the offshore direction wind the waves were really good. My 90-minute session went so fast and had to head to the office. Should I lack any conscience to the work, and if every day was like this, I would ditched the work and just become a surf bum. Of course, that would also be the worst nightmare of all surfer spouses. I have heard that here are some people who could not overcome this fear and stopped or asked to stop surfing altogether. Poor person!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Session 5047: Going to the Hell and Back

Well, I did go out this morning despite the big condition we are seeing at the buoys. The sun was out fully and no fogs. But these big W swells at the significant swell height of 14 ft at 17 seconds period going at were some of the most treacherous condition I have ever thought of venturing out in Half Moon Bay. Compared to Tuesday, it was even worse.

When I got to the beach, the waves looked semi-OK on the outside, and I did not really feel like driving further north, I thought I'd paddle out here for a bit, if not anything to keep my paddling muscles in shape. I was supposed to meet my local buddy, but after him seeing the breaks, he decided to work on his back yard (poser!). Then I saw another local buddy and his wife too, they seemed to have posed out too. But I did not pose out! I did not. I did some quick Yoga warm up as I watched the waves from the top of the sea wall, put an extra care and attention on my leash hookups, made sure that the helmet straps are on tightly and went in.

From the moment I went in, I knew it would be a long battle getting out since this was basically the repeat of Tuesday. First, with so much water coming into this corner, the water was hitting the sea wall and bouncing off. According to my buddy's accounts, there was a surfer who took off roughly at the same time as me had been pounded onto the sea wall! I have nearly escaped that from happening. But once I have started out, the side current was so much so that in just a few paddle outs, I was already swept down several few hundred yards down in front of a cliff where the waves were bouncing off it. Now, a bit of fear sets in my head? I might not be able to get back out nor get back in. Luckily there was some white water coming at me, so I rode it almost all the way to the cliff and caught the board just in time before the board and myself would be smashed onto the cliff.

But at least I can touch the bottom now and I can now walk back to where I started from. Glad that this is the sand bottom. If it was in Santa Cruz or the Trestles where there are just bunch of rocks underneath? I walked back carefully never turning my face away from the ocean. So I tried to get out more times, get swept and then walk back up again. Now above my head is a red Coast Guard Helicopter passing by. They must be combing the area for any possibly lost boaters, or even surfers!

Sometimes, I made to further out combining turtling and duck diving, but one after another of gushing white water had so much power that my duck diving skills would not meet the challenge, instead the board shot up from a too shallowly of a dive and then the board and myself are reflected back on the next white water. Another short boarder guy, however, passes right by me, paddling at a rather relaxed pace and stance and making a good progress. Basically the same thing happened at the Ocean Beach last fall but at that time, a girl short boarder on my right and a boy short boarder on my left passing right by me like me on a grand-pa mobile doing a 45 on at lane 2 on the I-280. So for me, I still am not up to his or her level, and on a day like this will clearly demonstrate who has the wave skills and who does not. OK, I am working on it, damn it!

Once I miraculously punched through half dozen inside break zones, things get gradually calmer and calmer and when it is totally out, it is rather peaceful.

Riding on them was another story, since most waves were closing out, even if I take off, I just fell off in bouncy white water mess, or thrown into a huge tumbling mechanism and I was tumbling, tumbling and tumbling while being held down in the water. If not that then I will be met up on a back wash which is breaking backwards onto me. At least today, I have learned enough about this that I can just stay relaxed, holding the breath, until the spin cycle and everything is over. But I must tell you, when the surrounding brightens and the head pops up the water, there is nothing comfortable and assuring like the first breath of the fresh air.

When I decided to take a rest, many people who came after me were already getting out. Probably it would have been a good idea.

I won't be doing this kind of a challenge again for a while. But this week has been good in terms of observing and challenging me a bit as to where I am when it comes to the "getting out" skills. If anything I've learned, there still is a bit of a way to get better at this, but at the same time, I also feel that I came a bit further in being comfortable and confident even in a situation like today, and sessions like this are needed from time to time.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Session 5046

The goddess of the surf has set the dial to Wash and closed the lid. This morning, I tried the Jetty and it was already getting rather gnarly. If you paddle out, you can live in "now", because there just can be nothing else that can be thought or done but paddle! Paddle and Paddle! Paddling out was so much work, and many people were having difficulty getting out. There were just so much white water waves gushing in all directions, including backwashes from the breakwater. I am happy to report though, I did make it to the outside. That made me happy. Not much progress today in terms of rides, but just a lot of paddling around and ducking through. By tomorrow a huge set of swell will be arriving from the W. So I am going to get up a bit late, do some Yoga and Indo Board.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Session 5045: LM moves to JTY

The sun has returned to Half Moon Bay this weekend, but the waves are still not cooperating to us. Probably for big wave surfers, we got enough period and height, but that usually translates to messy and closed out situations. The swell has gone up a bit since yesterday, but I think that the direction has shifted a bit more NW, making Half Moon Bay Jetty a bit more surfable than yesterday. One nice thing is that the break has been spread out so it was nice.

Linda Mar must have really been poor this morning; because there are Linda Mar local surfers that I normally see only at Linda Mar surfing here! What I thought very interesting is that this one surfer who I consider to be much advanced level than I seemed to have stayed inside breaks on a long board. She could have gone way out and could have done her usual nice take off onto a wall. I don't know, what was happening. Also, come to think of it, it is rather interesting that there must be some LM locals who only surf there basically year around, because I do not see them any where else, unless they are going to the OB. There are few out of the pack that I do see in "The East Side", but when I see them they are basically the same faces, and I know some of them personally.

As for surfing, I had some fun moments too. It is just difficult to find when and where good waves happen, because especially on a day like today, once a wave happens at one place, it does not seem to happen again for a while. So I was in a wave chase mode. As a result, my arms are more fatigued than the usual session.

I had several rides, like Friday and yesterday, that incorporated solid ups and downs, and being able to do that is starting to become consistent. The key seems to me is to execute an earlier turn at the top half of the wave. Previously, I was doing more straight down approach then a bottom turn, but often I go too far out to the bottom and stalled out. When the waves gets bigger there are more options, I would think, but for smaller waves that I like to ride, speeding down the side of the wave sooner seems to allow me keeping the wave longer. Well, I am still learning, so I will vary this a bit and see how and what makes the difference. As write this, and come to think of it, today I have a much better idea of whether I will have a good ride or not at the moment of take off. Sometime earlier in the stage, I could only know if I am going to take off or not. A good take off that I know I will have a longer ride will usually have a nice flat slope in front of me, and like an airplane landing scene from the cockpit from a movie, I'd have a very clear vista and a virtual descend line drawn on the surface of the water. If this does not happen, I'd usually mess up a take off, or even if I take off, I'd just go straight down and stall right away with either the front or tail buried in the white water.

This morning, I surfed with Laura in the longest time. Probably at least for a couple of months, we have not shared the waves! Life is a dynamic thing, and it is ever changing, nothing stays the same, but I am hoping that those people came and gone over the past years will take up surfing more frequently again. We used put any kind of "days" on the calendar be it Mother's Day, Valentines Day, even family members' birthdays on hold and gone surfing. I still do, but now seem to do more often with otters, seals and dolphins than people.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Session 5044: Riding A 6'1

Sunny, mild and windless morning
But the waves were still a lot of mess
But I would t still go
Because it is my passion and it is now part of my life.

Ken shows up with his new SC Barney 6'1, it is really thin.

After the first part of the session we swapped.
The smallest board I have ever ridden in my life

I paddled out
Ducked though several waves.
The board already felt familiar under my chest.

Then a set came
I paddled hard to catch it
But I could not get into the speed
Oh what a small real stage that I can stand and dance on

Perhaps, I can blame on the condition
Perhaps, I can blame on my capabilities
My be both

But I cannot blame my inability to surf on the board.
And it was still a lot fun and discovery

Friday, March 04, 2005

Session 5043: Adhering To The Water - Sticky Board

This morning, due to the low tide plus swell condition, I did not go in the morning instead, I went to the office early in the hope of surfing in the afternoon on the way back home. It was 3:30, and I was on a roll with the final coding of a new product I was working on, and then people started to roll to come into my office for questions. Of course, the work is very important and more importantly helping people is, but I am not denying that it will be frustrating when people "decide" to come for help when they could have done it sooner. People do seem to come in sets when I don't want to, and so do waves. They come when I was changing into dry cloths after a session.

At any rate, there was a lull in the sets, so to speak, so I was able to leave the building at about 4:15.

When coming down the highway 1 from north, it is very easy to see that Linda Mar was a big mess, because it looked like a bowl of cappuccino. I did stop by to do closer check at the south end, but the story looked the same. For the last hope, I have headed to the Jetty. Of course, I'd pass by Montara, and I would look as drive past by. Now, this place did not look too bad, so my stoke has gone up by a notch.

Finally I approach the Capistrano light, and you can actually see the water beyond the breakwater, and it did look cleaner than the Linda Mar section, so my stoke has gone up even higher. Then when the light turns green, I can finally check out the breakwater. It was, well, not optimum, but surfable. So I turned around at the light and headed to the dirt lot.

The condition was basically a mess, and it was a bit difficult to find waves that can be surfed, nevertheless, I actually had some really great waves.

I need to explain in a bit more detail why I caught great waves. It is because I made a discovery today and the as a result the ride was better. I have a surfing text book and I actually read quite often repeatedly. I actually read this so much that pages are coming off and corner of the pages becoming dog eared. In that book, they stress the importance of putting the weight on the board. This actually never made sense to me, because I am on the board, so 100% of weight should be on the board, or where else the weight would go?

Well, I think I can clarify what it is saying. You should put the weight where it is needed. That means you need to constantly weight shift yourself on the board. What is making the difference is that if this is done more correctly, you'd feel more adhered to the water. This was a different feel this evening. Somehow, at no matter which part of the turn I was executing, I was holding down the board on the water, and so I was executing turns with more definition and tightness. I have felt a bit of this on the bottom side of the turns before, but now I can continue to do this on the top side cut backs.

I think that what is really helping me is this practicing on the Indo Board. On the board, it is actually not easy to jump around and shift weights. I have been trying to go slowly from one side of the board to the other while maintaining a low posture. Another fun thing I do with it is that I turn on surf videos and watch it as I do my Indo Board practice. Originally I did this to keep myself occupied while doing this relatively repetitious routine, but what is really helping me is that I have started to analyze pro surfers' weight shifting, and try to incorporate part of the moves as I dance on the Indo Board.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Session 5042: Surfing Under the Shadow of Mavericks Sideways

OK, so the condition was not that great this morning at the Jetty, but thanks to the big contest, it must be that getting wet and surfing themselves were not in their mind. I had the Jetty to myself for good hour, finally two other surfers came. The surf was still bit disorganized this morning, probably due to the low tide, but as the time went past, the condition was showing the sign of improving.

There were two people asked me for the directions to the Mavericks, Ren calling me and asking for the status, but to my pleasant surprise, it was not that crowded as I thought it would be in the surrounding area.

Of course, when I get to work the focus of the topic was whether I have surfed there. My response to them is that "I was eliminated already."

There is one funny incident to report. A while back I wrote about surfing back towards the ocean at the Jetty. This morning, the swell direction was such that there were some side sweeping backwashes. With extremely strong current flowing eastwards, I have tried to walk to the breakwater, and paddle out, hoping somewhat easier paddle out plus by the time I get outside. It did not work out very well, so I started to paddle along the shore, and here came backwashes 90 degrees to the shore. I paddled into it, and it is not stand-able, I did ride it for a while, then it intersected with the normal white water, making a 90 degree intersection. I basically did a 90 degree left cutback and continued on to the shore. Kind of stupid thing, but it is something you'd not experience much.

When I got back to the office there was a missed call on my cell phone. I called back and it was from KPFA radio station. I was wondering what they wanted to ask me about?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Session 5041

I was going to do a DP, and then I decided to check a few things out at work. Before I knew, it was already 10:30 am, and I was supposed to get out avoiding the low tide. Well, I did finish a major chunk of the delivery item for today, so with much less of guilt feeling, I suited up and drove to the north to check out the Jetty.

The place was already looking like too low of a tide and also blown out. It looked poor. Only one surfer in the water, and I don't know what this surfer would do. It still is a big day, and so the Montara was also doing the big close-out deal too.

So you know I'd be next? (I don't know why but there is such a stigma attached to surfing at that place!)

By this time, I was desperate to just get in the water. So I picked the 7'5 and gone in. I can tell that the upwelling is about to start, as today was one of the coldest feeling day I had. It must be hitting 54 or less, and the water was mostly closing out with some shoulders happening from time to time. The initial seepage of water this time of the season is really more painful and uncomfortable, but once that's over and when the chill runs up from my leg to the spine and a quick shiver, it is back to normal. I try to paddle extra hard to get myself generate heat quicker too.

In terms of riding the waves, it turned out to kind of fun. As you know, my style is to stay inside and catch more waves than waiting for a big one and hope to catch a few. The waves were softer than I though it looked.

With the prevailing side-off shore wind, the wave had really funny quality to it, and also rip current shifted all over the places, so I could not get back to the same spot where I found the rip and ride back out, and there is so much happening on the surface that I could no easily see where the rips were. I'd just float in the side current and let it take me to the rip, and as soon as I think I am in it, I paddle out as fast as I can to get to the outside, as if you wait too long the next close out sets will come and require a lot of energy to get out, or missing a good forming shoulder.