Saturday, April 30, 2005

Session 5083: A Perfect Day

Well, another awesome S. swell day with hardly no wind at a beach. Ren, Heidi, Amanda, Spyke and Laura joined me in going to a non Linda Mar location. Not only the waves were awesome, we owned the entire beach to 6 of us! We allowed only one temporary Stokemasters member in the lineup and that was it.

From atop the hill going down to the beach, as we made the first turn the entire vista of the beach opened up, and it looked like a picture out of a page in a surfing magazine, and I rolled up the window threw a bit Shaka sign to Laura who was following behind me and she did that too, so we knew we were in for a fun.

As we got out of our cars, Ren was a bit freaked out saying it was too big, but I said, yes it is big but it holds the shape and don't worry about it. We all got into our gears and I paddled out right away with a short board. All the girls were using the long board and that would have been an appropriate choice, as the waves were sizing up well overhead on bigger sets, but again, they were holding up the shape so if you get into it, it would give you nice fast rides. Wish I did bring the Takayama DT4, that would have been a total long board ripping situation.

Everyone did catch some awesome waves, and Ren and Heidi set up a nice base at the beach so we could all rest in the mid session.

After a quick snack, courtesy of Ren and Heidi, we paddled out again, and I thought that a big ship was sinking or something with its bow totally pointing up, but quickly we have all recognized that it was a Gray Whale again jumping up the snout from the water. It jumped 3 or 4 times and everyone at the beach was cheering too, and we were paddling further out to see it up closer.

Nice waves at our own beach and a show of Gray Whale(s). We could not have asked better surfing experience.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Session 5082

I should not say to the point that I am "relieved" but I must admit that sometimes, it is good for me to go and pick the spot I want. Why? Because I can whimp out a bit and pick some easier spots than my bros go. To be fair, I've been at it only for 3 seasons, and my bros been doing this many more years. Sure, I try a lot of catching up by going basically at least 4 days out of 7, but I did not start this as a grom and so I have a lot of catching up to do. A few days here and there of relaxing surfing won't hurt, right?

Also some people have asked me often where exactly I surf, and sometimes I tell you and sometimes I don't. Well, I am going by a "mantra" that if you can see the spot from the Pacific Coast Highway, then we can write about them, but if not, we are not. That's the general community agreement all up and down the coast. I am sure that this will steer up some discussions, but I cannot be single handedly responsible to let people flock to a spot because I said so. And, these spots are not hard to find folks! You just spend additional 20-30 minutes out of your session time and go look. Basically from any point on the Highway 1, if you turn West, you will hit the ocean and you go and check if it is good for your surfing or not. But I know, from my previous experience this kind of scenario. I write on the message board "Hi, we will be going to Manresa State Beach." And invaluably, there are some surfers who would ask me whether to turn left or right at the San Andreas exit. So, for those who still don't have a clue if you are going South bound on The 1, the beach is toward your right, and if you are going North bound on The 1, the beach is towards your left, man! Please note that this is true from the CAL-MEX border all the way to Oregon, but I digress.

Back to surfing, since you could have seen me surf this morning from The 1, I can safely say that I did surf at the Jetty this morning since the S and SW are filling in. It was on a super low tide but we did have some fun, if not big, waves, and we have a good share of head highs and hip highs too, but all were really fun to catch.

There are two "firsts" today.

Number 1, finally my leash came off during a ride. I was not too freaked about that one, but that never happened to me before, but I did not quite secure the leg collar. But I had enough confidence in swimming that I caught up with the board no problem. The board did gone pretty far away from me, say 20-30 yards, and I did have to swim for it. Speaking of that I was actually impressed to seen when I was at El Porto in So Cal there were many surfers going leash-less (both men and women) and they'd swim for their board as if it is a routine thing. I am not going to do that yet, but at least, this was a good practice.

Secondly, I stayed really close to the rocks at the Jetty and caught bunch of smaller waves. This was actually a good practice and a good morale boost from yesterday when my bros were catching head highs no problem and I was still struggling for them. But also this is somewhat significant move for me because when I started to surf, I used to watch people take rights from the spots extremely close to the rocks on the Jetty, and thought that these people must have had enough confidence to do that. Now I am starting to become confident enough to do this, and the reason why I know I can do that is not because I know how to turn immediately, but mainly I know how not to take off or stop.

So again, it was a fun morning, and when I have fun in the morning, I have a better rest of the day too.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Session 5081

As usual, I get a call from my local surf buddy this morning when and where to surf, while I talk on the phone to him, my wife is listening on to the conversation, and it really sounds more like NOAA scientists talking to another. "Ah, yes, the swell is WNW 5 ft 17 seconds, and the wind is from SE, that should cause an offshore flow at so and so location. Humm? that that spot should catch? Oh, wait a minute, let's check the tide, a negative tide at xyz hours so if we get out now, we can catch the incoming tide by the time we get going." But, having done this numerous times, we have gotten quite a knack on picking the right place and the last several sessions have basically been "right on." And even in our area, we can carefully choose where would be more optimum than the other.

So we ended up with another awesome day (according to my buddy). I did not do that as well today as the waves were more on the closed side due to the low-low tide, but still I had some of my moments today.

Some of the things I have just starting to look into are the importance of understating steering with the tail and how that becomes more important in short board type rides. I have been writing a lot about take offs, and now take offs are becoming more confident, the next thing is to make sure that I set more "quality" lines or whatever you'd want to call it.

I also talked in my last session about the take off part becoming more automatic now and this morning I caught one wave that was on a relatively faster closing side (for my ability, of course), but I popped up and got in the line so smoothly that it was really amazing!

When I write these things, some may think that I am really having hard time surfing, but it is actually fun to analyze what is going on, some of the analysis can even turns out be incorrect, but that's part of the fun of discovering. I always try to go into the water with an attitude to let everything go from the "real world" for the next 90 minutes and try to become a simple "surf animal."

P.S.: The real difficulty is to write about each damn session. That is hitting the limit of my creativity!


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Session 5080

I checked out the Jetty early this morning, and it was really flat, so I went to Montara this morning. The condition was really small in the Montara scale, but for me, getting out still required a lot of paddling, ducking through, with 1/3 of which resulted in not doing it right, then once I make it to the outside, there were some long period of close outs.

So as usual, I adjusted the position to ride the inside reform breaks which were actually a lot of fun. But there were some smaller period where I could catch some primary breaks so were fun.

It must be a whale migration season because I thought I saw another whale pop up in the water again this morning. There were also several people observing the migration from the Devil's Slide using powerful binoculars. I'd almost wanted to tell them, why bother with these binoculars when you can paddle out.

In terms of the progress, I am continuing to work on the take-offs. The latest changes I am noticing are that I am becoming more confident during the flick up period over a more variety of situations. By this, what I mean is that when I take off, the motions are becoming more reflective and natural and can do without thinking about it.

This is happening with other surfing motions too, for example, cut backs. Before I had to recite, here is what I need to do to a cut back, now the action is more like "I need to get there" and to get there I use an appropriate action needed to get there, it can be a cut back or can be a line change.

Actually come to think of this, there are many situations when I am now taking off, but I lose the balance shortly after I am on top of the board, and I would think "If I did that differently I could have kept the ride!" Many a times, I am still so horrified of the speed and the knee pressure I get, and if I overcome that and commit to the ride, I would get to ride through more. So now that I need to think less about the take off segment, becoming fully planted on the board at a wider variety of the situation is the next thing that I'd need to work on.

Of course, when I write all of this, it is relative to my previous state, and not with other experts, so as I always write, I still have a long long way to go to even look like I am doing short boarding, and I am here on a long term plan. Good surfing does require a lot of persistence and patience.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Session 5079: Local. High Stoke!

Oh, man, oh man! This was absolutely one of the most awesome surfing mornings today. The surface of the ocean was just clear flat glass like and then the swells come in starting to build up and then create some nice ridable faces, just fast enough to scare me a bit. But if I make it there was a reward of nice "touch the wall" type ride. Also it was not sizing up too much, and at max it was overhead, so the situation was totally within the category of "I can control it." Plus sometimes it was throwing tubelettes.

No wind plus totally bright sunny out. It is the equivalent of the spring skiing at Breckenridge.

I am continuing to make a little by little progress on better take off on thicker situations and today was a good day because there were choices of thick and thin sections to try.

As a wave starts to build up far out, a moment of anticipation whether it is going to be big, and whether I ought to paddle outside or sit and wait. When a shoulder starts to form right in my area, I am in a real luck. I start to paddle in already starting to set up for the direction of the break.

While I paddle, I look back left and right many times to make sure that the waves are still going to happen in the way I want. This is the time when some amount of fear would build up, as I anticipate the outcome. It can jack up too fast and then I need to safely abort the take off, or I could already be too far into it that I might be thrown forward, but I try to put that though on a hold, look forward in the direction where I want to go, while I try to feel out how the back of the board is doing.

As the tail starts to jack up, if I see the nice view of the slope opening up in front of me, I get extremely happy and give a few more strokes, and then as I quickly get up, I get an extra kick from the wave to let me go up even easier. It is really nice when that works out, because if I got an assisted launch like that even if the wave steeps up at that point, I know I am up on the board and I can actually control it. If it is still jacking up fast, or if I am going to fall down straight, if I am up on the board, I have much easier time shifting the weight further back. Opposite of this is that I don't get up on the board, and the same pulse would just throw me forward and that's basically the end. If I am not lucky then I will get a mini hold down.

But if I got going, the amount of the power I get is so much more that I can hold longer rides as more options will open up as to which way I can go to without stalling the ride in the middle.

So, I am feeling now that getting up fast and hence getting the control of the board sooner is one of the keys in catching faster breaks, and that's how I am going to modify my surfing style.

Still, there is a whole lot more to go compared to what my local expert buddies do? but at least some more progress made, and I am so happy about it.

Session 5078: Monday PM, Local

On Mondays, I am volunteering to take water quality monitoring samples to the San Mateo County's environmental health as a Surfrider volunteer. So I sometimes cannot fit in surfing on Mondays in the morning, but this day started out with two unusual things. When I arrived at Montara, there was a policeman like person writing a ticket for a family of fishing people, most likely they did not have a fishing license. It turns out that the policeman was from the Department of Fish and Games. But I have never seen this being enforced in all the 3 years of surfing. Got the samples and moving onto the next spot which is the Gray Whale Cove. As I was descending down the stairs, I have seen something I have not seen. Something like the color of a dolphin jumped straight out of the water, and it was huge and right in the cove. In just a few moments, I understood that it was the magnificent scene of a Gray Whale jumping like what I've seen in some animal TV program. We lived on the cost for more than a dozen years, but this is also another one of the first I have ever experienced.

Surfing requires a lot of dedication to become familiar with the water surrounding myself, and through this, I have really learned a lot more about how the ocean behaves, and surfed with harbor seals, elephant seals, otters and dolphins. Come to think of it, say if it was skiing or mountain hiking, if you encounter these large mammals weighing the size of a small car, you'd either run or you'd be eaten or injured. But in the ocean most mammalian amimals are more so much friendlier. Seals and dolphins typically come close by and check surfers out, and dolphins can also surf with you. Otters in Santa Cruz are just out there minding their own business in the line up and when surfers come by, they just skillfully duck.

So, with all the stokes, I decided to head down for a per-dinner session near my house, and I had more fast and steep take off practices. There were bunch of local high-school level surfers out and these guys were good, taking off on the stuff that I still could not most of the time, but I am making a very gradual progress.

Stoke 7.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Session 5077

This morning, the S wind has gone down to only 4 knots so I was more hopeful that local breaks would be more fun. Also, my wife wanted to walk around by the ocean so I decided to surf Miramar this morning, and that was right on. The waves were mellow and rolling kind out on the sand bar, and I caught a bunch of real fun waves. This is a finicky spot and usually never good but there are some rare occasions that this spot does create some fun waves, and the reward of this is that I can go get the coffee and snack at the Ebb Tide café right at the beach.

The waves were about shoulder high with occasional head level size. As usual with other Half Moon Bay beach breaks, they tend to close out faster, but that's a welcome situation as that will be perfect for me to horn the take off skills, and yes, I am continuing to make more improvements, and even if I come in a bit too late, I will try to paddle myself out of the wave and that also works too often. Also I am working at the limit of my present capabilities that there were some take offs that resulted in going over the falls scenarios too.

Like yesterday, the current was horrendous and in no time I was in front of the Miramar inn when I took off from in front of the bridge. When I arrived at the lineup, I tried to hold onto my position by paddling against the current, but that was totally non-effective because as soon as I quite paddling, I was floating right back. If I did not do anything, I would reach the jetty in the next 10 minutes or less. So when I am aligned at the restaurant I catch a wave all the way to the shore and walked a long way back toward the bridge and repeated the process.

I repeated this many times and I caught a lot of waves. In fact catching the wave was not a problem this morning, as there were just one break after another, especially during the early part of the session, then the tide finally filled in completely, hitting the rock wall then starting to bounce back, resulting in the typical bouncy condition that happens a lot in our area.

By then I spotted my wife watching me, so I got out, asked her to buy me the coffee and a cake, sat down and relaxed a bit. Then headed back.

I could have gone to Montara today, but due to the Dream Machines, I decided not to venture north of the airport. Stoke 8 for catching a lot of waves.

Speaking of the dram machines, I did fill two major dings on my Fish this weekend and also repaired a rock chip that developed on one of the fins during the Trestles trip (hint, don't belly ride all the way to the shore there. A fin will hit a rock and you either chip it or loose it, sorry but I was too spoiled using the sand break technology in beach breaks around here.).

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Session 5076

After a week locked in the Rockies mountain, it is good to be back to get back into non chlorinated 52 degree invigorating water. I should have ventured out a bit further north or south as the local HMB spots were actually not working in terms of the breaks and also there was a horrendous current going, unusually going to E to W direction. Mental Stoke was 8 but the surf stoke was, I'd say about 5 since there was not a good ride. Caught about 4-5 waves in an hour session, and then I gave up just getting tired of paddling up and down to find waves.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Session 5075

I had a long day ahead of me to drive and tour around the Sebastopol and Guerneville area for the rest of the day, so I had to opt for a short local session this morning to a local beach.

The buoy was indicating the sign of the spring upwelling, at 51 degrees F, and also the wind was already kicking in even at 8:00 AM when the park opened, and the sky was foggy indicating the start of the summer like pattern, and of course nobody at the beach, and of course nobody was in the water either.

The waves were breaking irregularly and not in specific spot or any really surfable shape at all, but if I am committed to go for a 60 minutes session.

Even on these kind of small days, the beach break here is still big that I had to carefully time my entry, and then I dash out. Then I had to paddle out through a field of rough sea before I arrive at the calm of the outside, but this time the outside was just that, without any real breaks, so then I paddle back in a bit.

With the improvement in take off timing, I was catching a few fast inside breaks but the rides were only 5-6 seconds each. But I did not give up and turn back immediately for more, and paddled back and forth the beach to locate the potential better breaks.

So I still was happy I did go.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Session 5074

I was afraid that the tide would be really too low to do any surfing at all this morning at the Jetty, but to my surprise there were plenty of waves to be had. They were not much bigger than the mid chest high waves, but my local buddy and I was catching so many fun little waves, we lost the count. As the tide came in the shape of the wave started to form better, but then it was time for us to leave. But also at the same time the wind started to pick up, and by the time I got back home, it was howling big time. My neighbor's garbage can was all blown over too.

Next week, I will be swimming the balmy 80 F water at Colorado Springs YMCA each night, while during the day; I need to take software training course all week. I will try to fit in DPs until Sunday morning and that's it for the rest of the week until the following Saturday. Swimming practice there is very interesting because it is basically mile up in the altitude and it sure gives breathing challenges. No wonder why they got the US Olympics training center right there too.

Some additional part of surfing that I have started to working on this past few sessions are (1) Focus, and (2) Take time making each move. I often do things in haste from paddling out to taking off and not giving enough time for each of the motion that I need to make. For example, I really go in haste when waves are coming one after another and really want to get out fast. What started to work better is just keep focused on getting out, and don't even worry about getting out. Instead I take deep breath each stroke and stay being focused on keeping even stroking paddle. When I do this, I have much easier time getting out. Same with when taking off, if I try too hard to get up and turn, I tend not do well. Instead, if I focus a bit on each move successful I am making and don't care so much even about taking off, then I often realize how much time I actually had to set up for a pop up and turning? almost like the time is moving at a slower pace.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Session 5073

If I am an animal I am more likely leading the way of a dog than a cat. Basically if someone throw a ball, I would be the kind I would go and run and catch it. The same way with me as for the waves, I still do go for it no matter what the condition is, and this morning was a good example. It was a super low tide and the waves were not very good at all, but since the ocean is there in front of me, I did go. So it definitely was on a sucky category this morning as waves were just closing on me all over the places, and then when paddling out I was being thrashed back and forth.

These types of surfing conditions actually teaches me a few things. This morning, as the tide started to come up, I saw the condition improving and I had a better choice of breaks to pick from.

Session 5072

If I am an animal I am more likely leading the way of a dog than a cat. Basically if someone throw a ball, I would be the kind I would go and run and catch it. The same way with me as for the waves, I still do go for it no matter what the condition is, and this morning was a good example. It was a super low tide and the waves were not very good at all, but since the ocean is there in front of me, I did go. So it definitely was on a sucky category this morning as waves were just closing on me all over the places, and then when paddling out I was being thrashed back and forth.

These types of surfing conditions actually teaches me a few things. This morning, as the tide started to come up, I saw the condition improving and I had a better choice of breaks to pick from.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Session 5071

It was great surfing this morning. Swells are not too big and set were coming in at about shoulder to head level with gentle rolling breaks, perfect for taking time and taking off into "mushy" walls then continuing to build up to steeper wall. There were many and many waves like those and when I take off there was plenty of time to turn and set the rail to the wall. I had some of the most exquisite time on practicing cut back turns, if I can ask for it, wish that the waves would held up a bit longer. I cannot expect that from happening much here, but if I headed down South this morning, I would imagine that would have been even possible!

The sun was out, the wind was mild, and nobody found out this spot, so I had the entire 6-mile stretch of the beach all to myself! But even then the current here is still strong and the best break do pop up at all different spots so it was hard paddling left and right and walking back to the rip, which was really fun to do when it is not threatening like today. I have been here before with other local buddies when the current was so strong that in no time, I was 500 yards out even before I noticed. Though this morning, the rip current was already kicking up some bottom water, so it got fairly cold there.

A day like this is very meditative as there is nothing around for me to get distracted. I just paddle, paddle and paddle and surf, and think about nothing else, focus on just a minimum thing that I need to be aware of and let the body feel the surrounding, which I am actually striving to do every session in more crowded or poorer condition situations, essentially try to live as close of a life style possible to the seal that was checking me out from time to time.

The purest moment for me is actually not when I am on the board, but when I am paddling out in this kind of a mode where I just keep paddling and not thinking about anything else. I let myself on going beyond the breaks and towards the horizon, while trying to feel every aspect of the surrounding water. When this happens, I feel in tune with the rhythm of the incoming waves and somehow, getting out feels much easier.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Session 5070 / Editorial

Every time an issue of surfing etiquette comes up, a lot of people are interested in it. Now that I have surfed for a few years, I have formed an opinion or two. But for those people who are reading this, please do know that it is just my opinion on it.

Going back to my first year or year and a half of surfing period, and looking back. I must say that I would have been very interested in this topic because simply I had a numerous near-misses, actual collisions and so forth, and the end result is that someone who is vocal enough in the surf to tell you a word or two about your take offs. Now that I am a bit close to their end of the fence, I understand.

For example, this morning, this short board dude obviously did not know what he was doing, and he was probably oblivious to his surrounding too. Though I still am not a good surfer by any measure, I do catch waves these days even on a rough and minus low tide situations I had to be this morning. So I catch a ride, and he probably thought that where I took off would be where it might be good to take off. That's fine, I just happened to take off from that spot and not necessarily where it should be. Now I am paddling back basically to the same spot then planning to asses the situation, this dude was ahead of me, and I was trying to avoid getting in his way, but no matter which direction I try to paddle he would paddle in the way in a manner that he would block my way. I wish I had courage to tell him: "Hey, bro, I am trying to avoid you, so don't follow me around!" Obviously this dude was kind of a poser that he was only there for 20 minutes, using a shortest board that I can think of and then when he tried to take off he was all back weighted and not really taking off. Granted that it was a difficult and messy morning though, and people that came after me left before me, basically everyone was paddling back in.

Here is another one, and my local buddy was talking about this person too on the other day, and I knew exactly who this was. But it is very interesting that after being reprimanded by so many experienced surfers that I have learned that I paddle around and not go straight out into where it is breaking. I know Curtis mentioned about paddling towards the white water and I do exercise that too, sometimes that do happen when it is crowded or it is big enough that there are many good high speed surfers cutting across the face just before you. But normally now I am assessing the situation a bit better so I do not paddle directly into people's take off lines. Also I am also extremely careful in taking off, that means I am actually looking toward the beach as well as to the horizon and if there are anyone inside I don't take off, or paddle away so that if I screw up on the take off I don't pile up on the surfer inside, unless it is small enough hat I am very confident enough to do the first turn to avoid people inside. So back to this specific surfer, this surfer is a relatively experienced (but not so experience to trust the control), but this surfer paddles directly up to the line after the ride and without any regard to anyone inside, the surfer will take off if there are any waves to be had.

Now people do talk about posting surfing etiquettes and distribute brochures etc., but I am a bit resistant to them. First of all, if you post a message like that on the beach how many people would actually follow or respect that? I can tell this because, for example, every time I go out I end up picking up some pieces of trash. The signs at the beach clearly say the etiquettes of picking up the trash don't they?

My approach up to this point have been that if I see precariously looking surfers, I would avoid them, and I am also precarious too to some extent so I don't put myself in an awkward situation. So that really helped me from running into someone or taking off into someone as much as possible. Although that kind situation do happen from time to time, as waves are often not completely predictable. This does mean that I don't get to go to the best spot at the beach, I know, and that's also a bit frustrating. But on the other hands, I am gradually moving closer and closer to be with the best people catching waves, compared to when I started surfing.

So I am actually thinking that a few gentle but reprimanding words from experienced surfers to those who are in the position not to be there in the first place might not be such a bad idea. I do ask though such a surer got be darn good in the position to say something of value. I am thankful to gone though that situation several times. It is good because I know when I was told what has happened, I got an immediate feedback. So the next time, I would avoid being in the same situation as before.

Also, I really don't want some law written about surfing. Aside from these few words that passed on from senior level surfers to a junior level ones, it ought to be and can be self regulating community. To me it is the last real free world that exists where once I am in the water there is no cops trying to catch me because I am going too fast or slow or where I can do it, or other people telling me, and I really hate to see some law posted on somewhere that tells you exactly how, when, where and what you can surf, and to me, the principle is a common sense; do not endanger others and yourself, and basically learn to share the waves and enjoy, and I am quite willing to let go of the wave or if someone coming from other directions or wading inside, I am more than happy to cut back or kick out, and paddle right back out for more, and not to argue the technical point of who would have had a wave at that very moment.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Session 5069 @ The Jetty

Last two sessions, I have been noticing the water being noticeably colder, and I have just rechecked the water temp and it is now 53 F now, so with this much wind blowing, it looks like the spring upwelling season has arrived upon us.

Compared to yesterday, the situation at the Jetty was much calmer today and it was quite a contrast. It was a nice change from Friday and Saturday, and I felt I need a bit of relaxed small wave surfing so I went in, not that if the waves are any different I would not. Yesterday, the paddling and getting out was so hard that the session did not last too long and at the same time, when I got home, and had a lunch, I laid down for a bit and the slept on for good three hours. I like that kind of nap when my body is demanding that I rest and sleep for a while. It is being like at the Baja surf camp where we basically surfed our brains out in the morning, take a nap then we surfed our brains out in the afternoon, and did that for good 5 days straight.

Like I have been writing, I really like small wave riding. But also this morning was continued to be a good time to practice faster take offs. In the department of faster take offs, here is some additional notes, and that has to do with a lot of fear in me that I had to overcome.

The one of the breakthroughs I have started to realize is that now, if I take off on a situation where I can barely make it, and often I don't, I now have a better idea of what really happens and also how to stay in control even when I have to wipe out. It has a lot to do with actually getting the board moving in the water still in the direction I want until the last moment, or I have enough guts and strength to hang on to the board. Also if I am up on the board, I would try to stay in control as long as possible even if I have to wipe out, know approximately where the board will end up. During the take off, I am much more careful to look around to make sure that there is nobody else around to establish a clear line of take off, and if not, I would stop right away. So I guess there is kind of an art to gracefully wiping out to avoid boards hitting me etc.

This morning was really fun. Each successful ride is definitely getting longer for me even on a smaller day like this. My wife was watching, and she says I am still far from my local buddies, but I tell her that will not be too distant in the future.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Session 5068: Big Swell Day @ JTY

With the note on big NW swells filling in plus a big NW wind going at the same time, and with a limited time this morning that prevented me from going to SC, I opted for the Jetty. I waited around until 10:00 AM when the tide would get a big higher. I was not expecting much, and thinking that we will have basically junky closed out conditions, but from the parking area, it did not look too bad for the swells.

I went in, the paddling out was a bit of a hell but I did make to the outside and then had a few rides. But paddling out was so hard that in one hour session, I have basically exhausted all of my strength I had. Duck diving is a good technique, but it does still expend a lot of energy getting out even on a short 6'6 length board!

I am hoping that tomorrow Sunday, the situation will ease a bit more than today to give me some better rides and I am going back to check the Jetty again.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Session 5067: The Storm Surf

This morning, I had a strange dream about a local surfing club having an World Expo surfing exhibit, and as usual, I was running around to help coordinate the club to do the exhibit. Actually the most part of the dream that I remember is the part that the club was selling some sort of adhesive thing that make the wet suit warmer or something, and it ran out, so I had to go to some underground room under the Expo ground where there are a bunch of exhibitors eating lunches in a big room. At any rate, when I was done with the dream and back to the real world it was already 6:30, and I was feeling I am running late for a DP. Frantically putting things together to go, and left home.

It was raining a decent amount, but I was really determined to go this morning for no real good reasons. By the time I got to the beach, it was moderately blowing offshore. The parking lot was all wet, windy and there were only 4 or 5 cars. There were occasional surfer mobiles stopping by, and not getting out of the car, most of them turned around. Well, for me, this morning, there are no other options than surf here for the next hour then head to the office for meetings. So I put things together and went in.

As I went in, I was a bit relieved to know that there were two other surfers far in the South end, and so I paddled out there. During this time, the SW wind was building up and the sky getting darker with more rain. I was hoping that both wind and the rain will hold down but that was a wishful thinking. Both had built up to the point that I was basically trying to catch waves in a huge storm like weather with rain beating so hard that affected the view. The wind is now so strong that it is literally not letting the waves from breaking, so I had several false take offs. Then when it breaks, due to the low tide included, it was throwing tubes all over the place. Not very easy.

I was paddling closer and closer to the shore and to the furthest SW corner there was left of the beach, finally I caught a nice right, but that was but all rides I have gotten this morning. I tried a few more waves but nothing panned out for me and left.

After returning to the parking, the wind was even stronger and even though I left the board flat on the pavement, the wind blew it over. Now strapping my boards back on the car is out of question. Changing the cloth outside of the room was also out of the question; luckily the restroom was open so I went in there to do the change.

I have not surfed in as stormy of the situation as this. The waves got more decent as the tide started to come in. By now, there were some good waves going in the middle section of the beach and saw some hot surfers taking advantage of it. But my time has run out.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Session 5066

The larger WNW swells have started to fill in over night, and by the time I got up it was going at 10 ft 14 seconds range. Plus there was a prevailing NW wind that basically would make it no go for any point north of HMB, including the OB. So this morning we have opted for the Jetty, and I must say that there was still enough wave to be had, but it was not that well organized to make it surfable much. Nonetheless, I did go and did have the usual paddle outs and duck diving practice in a washing basin.

I had a 7'0 under my belly, and I must say that I was initially a bit panicked as my buddy was so fast paddling out with even a shorter board than I got. But I have gained the calm quickly after 10 minutes or so and basically said to myself, "Relax and paddle with even strokes, I will get there." And so I started to make the progress to the outside, and practiced more take offs. After that I was paddling all over the places to find the best wave.
Unfortunately, most of the waves were doubling up and then did not form into ridable waves. It was a bit frustrating to try to catch and just did build up, so even when I get up, they just fizzled out right under my feet and stalled out.
As the time went by the wind started to pick up and that was basically it and also time to get to work.

Still, some good people were catching good waves from further by the break water, so that means more practice for me.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Session 5065

Got up and checked my PC for the current condition. Still 5 ft 11 seconds, 5 knots wind? Great! Yesterday, my buddy called in the middle of the afternoon telling me that Montara was happening, so I just ignored all the locations and drove straight there under the clear sky.

Sure enough it looked great. I took my JC 7'5 out and run down the stairs, and do a warm up while I watch the breaking pattern. To be honest, this is the time I am most scared, as I build up the anticipation of where and which area to attack. I find a little calmer area up and look for the ripple and the flow of the water for the sign of a channel. The shore breaks are horrendous and they are up to overhead. I wait around still looking around to see where I would paddle out to. Finally the sets stopped coming, so I jump forward as far as possible, splash in, and paddle hard to get out the break zone. This sometimes is difficult, as knowing my luck, the mountain of the shore break build up as soon as I get in, and wrestle with me and grab my board and use it as a weapon against me at the same time. But I am now getting a bit better at outpacing the breaks, and in no time I'd paddle out a 100 yard.

Several quiet minutes pass by, and sets are now in, and I go for it. It was definitely overhead and jacking up fast, almost ready to crest and start throwing the while fangs, I keep smiling telling myself, I can take this one, and so I turned the board around. The wave was strong enough that when it back of my feet, I could feel the pressure. I am telling myself, don't stand up, I need to paddle a bit longer, and in just at that moment, the board picked up a tremendous speed forward, felt like going at 35 mph, but I could not see anything as I was surrounded by white water everywhere. I kept on paddling, to get ahead of the wave, and tried to stand up, but I saw the shore sand just only a few yeards away, so I had to bail.

I would have gotten it if I paddled sooner, harder and got up faster. I am still not there yet, but it was just a perfect upper limit today, and I am hoping that there will be more days like this to allow me concur this! Thankfully it is the spring time and I am sure that there will be more days like this. I am determined to make this spot my second home break!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Session 5064: Conditions conditions and conditions!

Here is how difficult to understand the condition. I arrived at the beach, and called my local surf buddy that the condition was good. It really looked good. We paddled out then we both had some nice rides, then suddenly the waves started to come from all directions making it difficult to judge where they are coming from and which way they would break. For the next 45 minutes we were paddling up and down, or surf back to the shore and walk up north, try again to see if we can find a better breaking spot. Then there was a little seal pup with a broken hind leg resting, and as we approached it, we must have spooked it and it started to go in the water. We decided to stay a distance away and then my buddy called the Marine Mammal Center to that it will be in good hands. That basically concluded the session.

As we got out, making calls, and still looking at the ocean, the condition seemed to have improved again. Of course, it is because we are out of the water. It never seems to fail.

Later the evening, we had a Surfrider meeting with Mark Sponsler of StormSurf.COM and I showed him my new SM2005 condition gathering and reporting backend software, and he was really stoked to see this work on my Pocket PC, then he talked in front of the audience about the wave forecasting technique.

One interesting comment is why we do wave forecasting. He said that we all work and have family obligations and we use forecasting to shuffle our time appropriately to fit in surfing. So true!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Session 5063: First Evening Glass Off of the Season!

I had a busy morning, but today is the first day of DST, so I was able to fit in an evening glass-off session before hitting home. The waves were small, on the average up to about chest with occasional shoulder level stuff. But, I was glad I took out the Fish board and it was a blast. I was just riding one wave after another, and there were so many to ride! As I paddled out there were more sets to ride coming immediately. I have to paddle a bit hard to get into the wave, but it was really a good practice to get up on the board very fast, and the rewards for getting up fast on the board are longer quality rides. If I'd be late on the board by 2 seconds, that makes a big difference whether I can continue the ride or stall out. But once I am up on the board, even on these small waves, with the help of a wider and flatter fish board, I can still set a line and glide right along the puny walls. It is like riding a miniature long board on miniature scale waves, and that is a lot of fun; like racing on a go-cart.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Session 5062

For those WavLOG fans, thank you for continuing to read my surfing adventure. I am feeling lately as if I got a bit of writer's block. On the one side, I am committed to write something about each of my session, but on the other hands, if you are reading this, it might get quite boring as I start to make less and less discoveries. I will go on, but I thought that I'd let you all know that I am aware of this boredom and trying to do something about it, short of paddling out to Mavericks or flying to Tahiti to report on more surfing adventures.

As for keeping a log, I really do feel that I have benefited from it, as I give some thought about what has happened on each session, and if you are a surfer, or for that matter, doing some other stokey activity, you may want to write a journal. It really helps me organize my thoughts and provide a basis for planning what I would do next.

Back to Surfing?

Last several months, I have been working on becoming able to take off on a more wider variety of waves, and especially right now, taking off on faster and steeper waves on my short board rides. This past week, there has been a significant progress in this area, and I am happy to say that there are still more progresses being noticed on my part.

The first noticeable point of this is that now I am riding a lot more waves than before, and now I try to catch anything catchable from the outside first break to the inside reform breaks. I find, for me, that riding is one of the main goals, so I don't really care whether it is a reform wave or the "first" wave. I know that's not necessarily the way with other surfers as many of them try to catch the "first" wave and they'd wait as long as needed outside. For me, I set a session time, which is usually 90 minutes, and within that time I try to catch as many waves as I can, and so I paddle in all 4 directions. I guess I am doing this because when I first tried out for a competition, I was told to "catch as many waves as you can, since they count the top 3 rides."

The second noticeable point is that I am now wiping out at different part of a ride. To recap a brief history of taking off:

? In the very beginning, pearling and being toppled was the number one cause.
? After a while I learned not to pearl. Then generally the theme of not taking off was being "Left Behind."
? Then I try to take off on steeper situations and the theme become more like "Thrown over the falls" type situation with frequent hold-downs.
? The latest, I now can get up on the board, but then I get knocked over from behind by the closing waves + I know when to go for the wave, or not.

I am personally considering that the latest occurrence is a good sign because I am actually getting up on the board without pearling or being thrown over the falls (I am not saying that they never happen, but they happen less often.) I am deducing that the reason why I get knocked from the behind is that I just don't have the enough speed after taking off. But along this line, I am even seeing some sign of avoiding this. One of the techniques is that I can actually take off diagonally even at a sharper angle and I can descend away from the closing wave, and that provides me with a time to pick the line.

It will still take quite a bit of practice to make this part consistent, but if I do and build up the courage to take a bit bigger waves, I am finally be able to look forward to really take time and start to work on more advanced turning techniques.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Session 5061

With the NW wind getting up and also the NW swells filling in, we opted for the Jetty this morning as early as possible to avoid the crowd and also the low tide at 11. The first part of the session worked out really good and I had some really good long rides. There are more times that I get up on the board when I previously have bailed on. However, I am not yet getting a hold of the control of the board soon enough. Obviously, faster take off needs faster action to shift the weight. Ride quality, when succeed in controlling the board sooner, is also improving significantly as the length of the rides are getting significantly longer. Again, the key here is to find the line quicker and get into it by turning faster and more committed. Stoke 8.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Session 5060

Continue to work on taking offs. The close outs are just becoming more fun!