Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Session 5102 and 5103

In Japanese old saying there is something to the effect of "Take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back." Learning how to surf to me has always been in this mode, in fact, it is more like "Take 3 steps forward and 2.5 steps back" has been my modes operandi. We all agree that we all feel like a beginner all over sometimes. Well, today, I ended up having done two sessions and it was quite a contrast when this morning I really did not feel I have learning anything all these sessions. Then during a middle of a day, my local buddy called me up and saying that it was almost glassy despite the wind, and so I promised him that I would check it out on the way home from Pacifica to HMB and give him a call. The Montara beach was just about as bad as this morning when I took the weekly water samples for the Surfriders and I was hoping that there will be something for me at the Jetty. This was so that tomorrow DP, I got some place to go.

Well, it was irresistible after looking at the break that I had to go in. Just a perfect size of breaks anywhere from the shoulder to head high breaking, and it was starting to blow but I knew it will hold up for the next hour. I opened the tub with already wet stuff, and it was sitting in the warm car for all day, so yes, there were some fermenting action going on, and the rash guard was especially stinky, but then there are priorities, right? So I put all of them back on and headed to the break.

Turned out that I had some of the best take off practices so far yet! And basically everything I went for, I did take off. Which, it is actually remarkable because I could even take off into closed out waves, and I was actually riding in the gushy white stuff! Speaking of riding inside the white water (and not in front), it was actually fun, but the balancing inside the water was a bit delicate. The term "go with the flow" really fit the description; you cannot go too far forward or back, but just maintain the even balance and you do stay inside of the breaking white water but keep going.

But I was also able to take off on head high stuff as well as some smaller stuff right when the waves are breaking; not perfect but I was able to go for and succeed a lot more than I was able to before. So I finally am at the point that I can notice an improvement in taking off on a short board on steeper waves.

As you have been following my progress, this has been one of the most difficult stuff I had to deal with, and so I am really happy that there has been some noticeable differences in my recent sessions, and these are and more other stuff will still be very slow in coming.

And the more I try this sport; I realize how difficult and deep surfing is. If you read how often I go try this, you might think that I have gone nut, but the more I try, more I need to find out where it leads to next, and it is something that I just cannot wander my mind to other things while I am at it. It demands a lot of both mental and physical commitment to feel that I'd be satisfied of it. This is not the same as "I am being better than someone else's surfing technique." But it is more of a quest of finding out "how good I can get myself." It requires both mental and physical commitment for every part of it to be built up, from the foundation to the roof like building a solid house, and if any part of it is weak, it will crumble.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Session 5101

Due to other engagements in the afternoon, this morning was a quick local session. With the return of the NW wind swell this morning, it was actually a bit more challenging fun type waves than I have had for the past several days. In the typical summer wind chop mixed swells, the getting out got again more time consuming, but with a shorter board under my chest, I managed to the outside consistently.

The outside waves were breaking at good shoulder to head high range, just the perfect size for me to continue the quest for a better and consistent take-offs and I am please to say that this morning was the first time I have felt some amount of confidence even in these dumpier situations. I think I am getting a bit better at catching the rhythm of finding when the lift up power starts to apply so that I would take advantage of that force to get up on the board. When that works out, even when I thought the waves was rather steep, I can smoothly and rather "quietly" go up and then start to execute the descent. Of course, the sequence after that happens after that is not completely built yet, so I still cannot get immediately onto the wall fast enough.

Better surfers I usually share the waves with do start to rip at this point of time have in no time descended far and further down the line, and would be on a climb line with a cut back or off the lip type move, but now that's the next in my agenda of things to build. One thing for sure for me is that I am not doing is that I am still not aggressive and not trusting the board enough with the motion of causing the speed and turn. I can tell you this because today I got into a one nice line, and for a heck of it, I whack the tail rather strongly to go climb up the line thinking that I would either just slide off the water or stall and wipe out, but what happened instead was that the first the tail held in the water and board basically pivoted up around then the next thing the rail bit the water and the board made a nice upwards gaining the speed! This kind of happened in the past as "an accident" but today I was more fully intending to do it and kind of worked out so that made me really happy.

It was a short session, but with a lot of effort getting out and having had some very satisfactory take offs and turning, I had enough in a 90-minutes session, happily went back home for the afternoon.

Stoke 9!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Session 5100!

My 100th session of the year was today, and I have not been in SC for quite a while, so I decided to go there since my wife can also come. Manresa was small, and probably I should have not gone all the way there, instead, I could have surfed Scotts Creek this morning. But on the other hands further south we went from Scotts Creek, the sky got more clear and that was a nice benefit of going all the way there.

I got in the water at 1:30 PM or thereabouts, and there was about chest high beach breaks going on a low medium tide situation. The wind was initially not there and that allowed some of these breaks to happen. In the area where I was, there was one better surfer than I but between him and I, we were the only one catching and riding the waves, and on the outside it was not crowded at all. Even getting in to the parking lot was not a big deal at all even though this was the Memorial week Sunday.

But within an hour or so, the wind started to pick up and the situation has gotten really junky and finally it did not break at all for quite a while, so I gave up and got back. Rest of the PM, we strolled the Pacific avenue and got back.

It was still a good day to practice taking off as "late take off" seemed to be more appropriate for this kind of situation, and I still worked a lot on getting the good feel for the take off weighting and timing, and it was actually perfect for this as the condition was not very threatening for any screw ups. Today, the front still dug in too much so I do still need to continue to work on the weighting a lot. These three fins are there for a reason, and I really should use them, and honestly, I did not even realize that until very recently.

Well, the adventure continues!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Session 5099

This afternoon I was hoping to surf at my neighborhood beach at Kelly St. After waiting for 10 minutes in a line to get into the park, I checked the condition and it was basically fruitless. So I decided to hit south, and ended up at Pomponio, and while the surf was not excellent, but still fun. The waves were breaking close to the shore but still going at about shoulder high, in the standard beach break dumper fashion of fast down and fast dissipating. But I did not care; I am still learning how to take off into these kinds of situations like many other good surfers can do.

I also love the feeling of making through under the waves, when the waves are smaller and I duck through, I like the feel of the waves falling on my spine from head to tail? it is kind of like a shower massage.

I got to practice a lot of take off today while the rides were shorter, but there were several good short boarders taking off and ripping right there too, so they were good reference point for me to shoot for. Right now, my success rate of taking off in "faster beach breaks" is continuing to be better as I now have starting to (especially today) grasp better idea of how much weight shift and stand up timing I need to do just immediately during the take off. The next problem though is that I am still not either skillful or strong enough to get completely up on the board and get in the control losing a balance and wiping out rather quickly. But I know that's the next step and it will be the next phase that I need concur.

Nevertheless, there were a few successful situations so I am very encouraged. But other surfers were doing "off the lips" on a regular basis on similar quality breaks right there so, yes, that's the next stuff. I am fairly certain that I can get there but I don't know how long it will take given my athletic ability and fitness at this point of time. Like I have been doing, I am planning to take this in strides. There is no deadline for me.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Session 5098

To this date, I am continue to be amazed by the literally infinite variety of surf conditions we get, and it is really safe to say every day is different from another, and you really cannot surf the same wave again. This morning, we had a large negative tide at Montara which is not really a good condition for a beach like this one, but the swell height was 3 ft but still going for 10-13 seconds and there was no wind.

Under this type of a situation, small knee to hip high waves were popping up very very slowly, like someone pushing a sheet of carpet on a smooth floor on a slow motion, and the bump in the water start to grow slow like lava flow in Hawaii or something, and then start to break. It was very beautiful to see this. It was definitely not very surfable type of a situation, but since I did not have much time before work, I had to go in, get wet and do the best I can. So I paddled out.

Usually Montara gets really deep really fast but this morning I have experienced something I have never yet: I paddled out about 200 yards out and try to turn around. Then the tail of the board got stuck in the sand. I stood up and it was only about 2 ft deep. There was amazing amount of sand accumulated so much further out! And also the water looked really calm and flat but then once in a while set of waves start to bump up. They were so small that it was hard to catch them, but I did have a few short rides.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Session 5097: Summer Wind Swells

With the super low tide and to put out some fire that started to smolder while I was on vacation (and this never ever fails to happen.) I decided to get to work early and catch some waves on the way home.

This afternoon, I knew for "sure" that the spots south of Pacifica would be deeply socked in the fog, but in Pacifica there was still some sun so I decided to go in there. The summer pattern is definitely "in" here with a lot of wind swells and some chops plus dense fog. Speaking of the fog, I actually like it, especially in the sunset time. Without it, what happens is the sun is right in the smack of the ocean making it very difficult to see when and where the hell is the swells coming. But with some fog, especially when it is far out or high up, I can still see them without straining my eyes.

These short distance swells are really fun as they are usually not too big, and when they break they are more like cotton than in a winter time when the swells are pumping at 20 seconds, and when that happens it feels more like a concrete mixer pouring tons of stuff over, especially when I go over the falls and get some major pounding. In the summer like situation, taking out short boards and stay way inside and just catch a bunch and that's my idea of fun surfing. So it was a nice welcome condition for me.

Me and this other guy, we were caching a lot inside and it was so much fun, as the waves were not so regular either so it was fun doing some good turning actions too. There were a lot of cars in the parking lot, but we had a plenty of space to catch waves too.

Something I ought to mention regarding take-offs on short boards under fairly steep situations. Good surfers sure know how to put the weight to the tail while paddling in for take-offs. When I am watching them from the side when they try to take off from relatively steep breaks, the tails are really digged into the wave; they almost look like splitting the wave into left and right halves. Then once they start to get on the board, they look more like jumping down onto the board. So with that realization, I am starting to do that and I think I am seeing additional improvements!

With so many waves I caught, I would give today a Stoke 7.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Session 5096

I have been out of the sea water for over 10 days and for me that's a fairly long time, and that's exactly the point. Being close to and in the water is very important to me, and more I get away from it, more I appreciate how much I like about it. Let me admit that while visiting my parents, brothers and nephews in Japan are great, I was also really looking forward to come back, feel free in the water.

I actually still can't quite articulate why I like it so much, but one thing is for sure is that I sure miss it when I am away from it. I actually don't care if I don't catch any waves, but it is more important for me to be in the water, paddling around, ducking under the water and just the feel of being in the water is something that I really enjoy. If you'd call me I am addicted to surfing, I am actually addicted to be in the water rather than the surfing aspect of it, though, if I don't have a board that would reduce the enjoyment of being in the water, as I am still not feeling that secure if I don't have something to hang on to or sit on. From that stand point I admire people go out just swimming in the open water.

Here are some reasons that I can think why I enjoy it so much;

? It is really awakening and invigorating being in the water. It really set the mode for the rest of the day.
? There always is a situation or two, at least, where I must be fully wide awake; be it caching waves, wiping out or whatever other surf moves I need to take. It really forces me to get rid of any other thoughts.

May be many others that I quite don't know but I am thinking about it so that should come our in a more concrete fashion a bit later on.

It is always interesting to tell people, especially in Japan, that I surf basically year around from winter to winter, but come to think of it, it really no longer occur to me whether it is winter or spring, I just go when it is safe to do so, but I do get some kick out of when people do get surprised when I tell them that. The only exception to this is my mother, who thinks that anything short of reading book is very dangerous thing to do, and should stop immediately if I want to live longer. I am not entirely sure if I would live longer if I just sit on my chair all day and read books. Perhaps someone can do a study on this.

Back to this morning's surfing, well the condition sucked with mostly close outs, but I did catch some waves and I did get in the water for an hour and did come home unharmed so it was really worthwhile. Due to the poor condition, however, I would give today a Stoke 4.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Session 5095: Summer's Here! The NW Wind Swell Back!

When I announce that I go on vacation, people have a way of planning their emergencies right up to the day I leave. Also servers and apps that I manage at work tend to break, and more people try to venture out into the features that they never use, and you got to hear this I encourage and beg them to use these features when I am not on vacation, sending messages and training materials!

So that means I can only get to do a short session in the morning. And I had to do it in the morning as the summer pattern seems to be settling in with afternoon onshore crappy gusts. But as for the swells, I like the smell of the NW wind swells in the morning. It smells victory!

This morning, it was on a bit junky side plus the negative tide right at when I wanted to go worked against my plan, but nevertheless there were a lot of steep breaks to choose from and I was having a blast trying to catch them. This is when I just put away the longer boards and use the short boards, duck through ease to the middle side and catch bunch of waves after making sure that there is not a long boarder crossing from the outside.

And so I had a few very satisfying take offs as well as "bury the nose and flip forward" type situations too. Only thing I'd wish there were would be longer lasting walls, as after I take off there is no more wave left or right of me!

So the session was a bit short but was fun. Now I will be dry for the next 10 days or so!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Session 5094

This morning, I really was hoping to do an early session at the Jetty like yesterday, but it was disappointingly flat, so I drove on north to Montara and that's where I surfed. Again, the waves looked great from the top of the cliff and once I got in there, it was difficult to get out with a lot of duck diving and turtling needed. I don't know what it is but this always seems to be the theme here, looks good from the top, feels like in a hell when you are in the water! I did my best to catch some of the waves and definitely the "vertical" take off is improving further more by counting the number of waves I caught, and that brings to the Mavericks.

Last night, I was watching a DVD of last year's Mavericks surf contest (courtesy of HMB Board Shop) and I was trying to relate their take offs with how I have been experiencing it. What really was interesting about the contest was that it is basically judged on take-offs, so the most of the contest footage was focusing on take-offs. This is quite different from "regular" surf videos where the take offs are usually cut and only see the ride moves. Another good thing about big wave take-offs are that they are big and so you can actually see that better. On small-wave take-offs, things happen so fast that it is almost hard to see what is going on. So it was actually very educational for me to watch the contest video and since the video brings up these surfers so much closer that was even better!

So back to my take-offs, one thing that I noticed is this. When taking off from more steeper and faster situations, I could see that even from my vantage point the wave look almost straight vertical wall down from the top, the board is capable of catching the waves and will hold up the surfer. We see that thousands of times from films or other good surfers doing it, but I am a bit more awoken or alert about this situation. So basically that's something I ought to put a more trust in the board and my ability to hold on to the surface of the waves even when it looks so steep. In fact there are more times, I dropped down into the wave and I was still up and still going. I know it is not just a matter of the trust, and I need to polish the technique to get into that kind of situation better, but I now can sometimes focus a bit more on that aspect of take offs too, and I can practice that even on shoulder level waves so if I do get plummeted, it won't be so bad as doing it in 20 ft wave faces!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Session 5093

The wind has shifted to NW this morning but continuing to blow. Fortunately, we were a bit more protected from this wind at the Jetty so I decided to get in there. As the condition was relatively poor and the swell size small, the crowed was very thin. There were only four surfers total including me.

Recently I am really into taking off extremely close to the breakwater rocks. That brings me back some of the things I have seen when I started to surf and went to the lighthouse in Santa Cruz and see people take off right under the cliff so close to it. I thought that these people were either insane or had so much confidence in doing that, because if you don't take off right (i.e., not left), you would be smashed into the wall. Of course today, the sets were not much bigger than the chest high, but I have been trying to take off closer and closer to the wall since that's where the breaks were also happening nicer. But I have definitely gained more confidence in taking off to the right immediately in a situation like this. So I caught mostly small waves but once in a while bigger sets would come in and I will take off into those and had some fun.

Speaking of the confidence, it is probably good for me to turn the clock back again and review what it was like, especially during the first two seasons when I started, especially now that I took Laura to situations this weekend and I could relate that what she was feeling like.

The first couple of years of surfing, for me, was dominated by the feel of the fear and working myself up to deal with it. Anywhere my friends took me, surfing was actually not that fun because I did not have any confidence in paddling ability, and like Laura said, I thought that there will be a drain hole somewhere out in the ocean that I would be drawn into it and never to be able to come back. And when there is slightest current in the water, I would be really scared, and paddling back trying to get closer to the shore would seem forever which caused additional panic.

Looking back, the initial break was that I had finally started to have the confidence in paddling that even if I don't or cannot surf back, I could paddle back, and this was especially helped by going to a longer 8'6 board (note I was basically talked into getting a 7'0 board as my first board).

Today, I am not completely fearless, in fact, there still are situations around in this area that the current is so strong that I would temporarily panic. Some times, when I am "invited" to go out with some of the long time locals here in HMB, these guys would paddle outside, and I am following them. I am doing OK on the way out, but sometimes, I did not realize how much rip currents they were taking advantage of and by the time I tried to cross the rip, they were way ahead of me, and I am actually way and way outside from them. Now, that's pretty nerve wrecking.

Then it comes time to take off, and they'd give me some waves to catch, and there is so much pressure to catch them. Now, they are actually good at wave selection so what they are doing is to make a point of telling me to catch the wave, and 6 out of 10, I catch the waves they tell me when to do and I actually do remarkably well riding, and they'd even be surprised about how well I have gotten. That's when basically the summarization of what I have been learning occurs.

And that brings to another point. There is one way to keep thinking that "I am a beginner and I only surf at Linda Mar or the 38th only on a good day." But then I really think that it is good to get challenged with much better surfers than you are. Sometimes a bit of a pressure goes a wrong way in proving that what you really can do.

And that goes with anything in life. Be it carpentry, cooking, or science. A part of the fun is to get challenged and some external pressure is a good boost toward that.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Session 5092

Sometimes, there are days and situations that are not possible to catch any waves, and this afternoon turned out to be that kind of a day. The pre-existing and prevailing S/SW wind was causing so much chop that chops were bigger than the swells, and when that happens it is not possible to ride, as it seems. Though from the far out, it looked like I could surf, I actually tried but the wave just did not happen.

I probably could have put model pirate in the water, and if I filmed it up close, it would like some huge stormy voyage scene out of a movie!

But there always is a positive side to this - practiced a lot of duck diving!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Session 5091: Storm Surf

Recently, I have not been sounding like a humble beginning surfer any more and I actually am starting to hesitate to write about about it. I am rather conflicted about this. On one side, I think it is important for me to chronicle my surfing life from the start to finish. And on the other hands, I am starting to sound like I am full of myself, boasting how good I have gotten lately. I have been thinking of the idea of exploring more and more of the inner workings of my minds when I surf, but articulating that has been a challenge too. So here goes again, in my current style of what I can put out.


In one day, the condition turned relatively ugly, and as the day progressed, it gotten worse with more rain and very gusty wind. We tried our best to look for spots up and down the coast. We went back and forth finding the best spot and finally settled at one location, two of the people came with, looked at the condition and immediately dropped off, that left me with Laura and we continued on. I did not think that surf was that big, but definitely it was a bit of mess with the wind already picking up.

Well, I was not thinking much of it, but now come to think of it, should this been a couple of years ago, I would not have ventured out in the condition like this, and honestly if Laura would have gone far outside with me, she would have caught some nice long rides with her South Point long board. At any rate, we were there for about 30-45 minutes and she paddled back in, so I went and suggested that we should hit a different section of the beach where the breaks were a bit less gnarly looking. But I could still see in her face that she was a bit hesitant, so we decide to hit Linda Mar, and finally I broke my record of not have had surfed there.

I was hoping that the wind would be a bit less here but that was a wishful thinking and at the same time the waves were really small too. One saving grace was that the general direction of the wind was more like side to side-off shore so getting out was not much of an issue. But wind was going at least 35 knots if not less. In fact at one point of time, I saw a wind surfer venturing out at Linda Mar, which is actually an extremely rare scene.

In terms of the waves though, however, there were occasional ridable waves and I did ride a few hip sized ones, but I only had the JC 7'5 so I could not win the take-off race with 10 footer riders form the inside.

Earlier in south San Mateo, I missed a take off and wiped out while on the surface, that caused the board to get pulled under and I was dragged under and held down for a good a bit, that is, for me, relatively a long time, as I know 35 seconds is about the most I can take.

I was actually thinking though back in the crowded lineup at Linda Mar, about which should I prefer; to risk colliding with other surfers or to be out powered by the wave. And at current state of my mind and confidence level, I would rather fight the wave than people. I think that the risk of actually injured is fairly big if I was to be hit by a long boarder with a long dagger sticking out of the tail (approximately 200 lbs or more in motion) is rather high. In fact, I have witnessed more scalp and body cut injuries there than any other places that I have surfed so far. Of course, I surfed there a lot (and continue to do so) so that's the part of the reasons, I am sure. This is the reason why I wear a helmet all the time, because I need to protect my head from the people when it is crowded, and that has happened in the past and I was glad I had a hard shell covering my head.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Session 5090, another Stoke 10 Morning

It is almost amazing that we continuously manage to catch good waves yet with good weather and not much wind to speak of. This morning Ken and another new surfriend of mine at the Jetty and decided not to surf at the Jetty, instead we drove south to find the a better spot, and as I guessed there were quite a few spots that were throwing overhead size, but gentle waves.

The bigger sets were definitely overhead or a bit bigger especially by the time they shaped up in the inside. But the breaks were starting really far outside so when bigger sets came, they were easy to get going on and then by the time we were on it, they grew even bigger in the inside that just gave us a lot of fun. The John Carper Equalizer 7'5 was working out so well in these waves where I could catch waves equally well with a long boarder, but once I was up on it curving the bottom and going up was a snap!

This morning, I let everything and all the theory go and decided to just have fun and that worked out really well. I was very relaxed for the whole time and caught many waves and rode the face and cut back with an ease. This is in contrast to surfing with local advanced bros, since I do often feel a bit more pressure to perform well in front of their eyes.

The waves had so much power that I was actually been able to do a better pull outs than before and that's something that needs a lot of speed to get up on the wave and then kick out.

With the blue sky and balmy condition both inside and outside the water, it was just so perfect of a weekend!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Session 5089

When I am not surfing with local friends, I often go to the Jetty myself. It is still a safer and a bit gentler choice for me especially today. The sets were coming in up to shoulder level maximum with the average of hip to chest level. I decided to take the 7'0 and headed directly to the breakwater, and did a bunch more of take-off practice. I cannot get much in terms of the ride length, but the wave bumps up right at the corner and catching them are really a lot of fun.

One thing is that it happens at really shallow water of probably hip level depth.
Don't we hate it when you turn the board around to catch the wave, the back of the board grinds the ocean floor and miss a wave. So on these type of situation, I just lay on the board and not sit on it.

This morning, I got to get a lot more feel on the very initial part of take offs where the wave jacks up and then immediately drops down, but at that point I am basically knocked from the back pushed forward. It seems to happen in this 1-2-3 timing. (1) Paddling part to catch the wave. (2) Wave bumps up and that exact moment I start to get up. The wave actually helps me get up on the board, like someone pulling you up. (3) Then the moment of weightlessness where I drop down into the wave. This is where I would use my knees to try landing softly on the board while I decide to try whether to go tail or neutral on the weights.

Lately my approach has been on extracting every bit of energy from the wave from the take off to pull-outs. Looking that way, I can see where I am still lacking in the technique and for not-so-athletic myself; the only way get at it is to keep at it surely and steadily. I still have as much of a curiosity as to where it will take me to next, and also how "far" advanced I would get as the first day I hit the water. And that's probably the top reason I keep at it, in that sense this has been more of a creative endeavor than just building a lot of muscles around my body.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Session 5088: Stoke 10 Continues

It has just been the most remarkable weeks here in Half Moon Bay! This W/SW swells have been so consistent. Wind stopped and got so glassy. The waves neither get too big nor too small. They just continue to throw really nice beach break waves. This morning was, of course, no exception, and actually was one of the better condition days among already the best week!

Today the waves become more A-frame and start to throw some nice pockets in the mix, and I was right smack in the center of the pocket that formed. What's really cool about pocket ride to me is that it sets up the initial direction so without much thinking or efforts, I am up on the wall and behind me is mini-tube forming, just like squeezing me out of a tooth paste tube rolling up as you go for a better result.

Then there were bigger set periods and then there were some small set periods and we paddle inside and outside and we try to catch them all. Me and my bros were just flying lefts and right like bees, making cutbacks and pushing our rails solidly against the green walls.

We all brought two boards and we were switching them too as the shapes of the waves change from fun to mushy then fun again. My JC Equalizer 7'5 worked out so nicely too with so much speed and feeling solid against the wave. It is just another one of the magic boards that I have owned. But I love the 7'0 too, with its heavy rocker; bottom turning was just so much fun. And when I finish the rides, I was so much more eager to paddle back fast to catch more waves. This is kind of a day that I wish I could dedicate it from the dawn to the dusk, but all things have to come to an end and back to the real world!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Session 5087

This has been one of the most memorable spring surfing I have had so far. The condition has been remarkable and the weather has held up for so long continuously. No fog and no wind for a long stretch of time, and this morning I headed for a quick session at Jetty before hitting the desk at work.

As many of you now, the waves do go down rather quick at the Jetty most of the time, and this morning was no exception, except that waves were not very big, probably the shoulder level max. They were breaking shallowly, so when I get plummeted, hitting the bottom was inevitable, and on one of the take offs, I went head down in the water, but I got my arms above my head and I was doing a head-stand and this cart-wheel action in the water.

I was actually happy to know this morning that the waves were smaller because I wanted to do various experiments on take offs. I think I will be doing this for a while, and in fact, for quite a while and once I have better idea of what is going on I will be sure to write about it, but one thing for sure, there seems to be a lot of things going on during the crucial moment of take off, and to a good extent, setting up for a take off.

Well hope tomorrow the weather will hold up.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Session 5086: Ripping Stoke 10

I had a rare triple gratification day today. Surfing is definitely fun, but more often it is a really hard sport: We get up at a crack of a dawn, breathing out white air, get into cold wet suit, go out and get plummeted, get held down, drink a lot of salt water, spitting sand out of my mouse and nostrils and paddle back for more, and we call it a "fun." And the funny thing is that when I hit the sack tonight, I'd be thinking about how soon I can do that again.

So when the occasional success comes in form gratifications they are even more gratifying. You know what mean, I hope.

Gratification 1:

Another one of the great condition days continues this morning, and I was happy to hear my local buddy use "ripping" in describing how I was surfing today. May is the start of my 4th surfing year, and I'd probably surfed over 500 sessions, but the progress is still extremely slow in coming, but finally some form of recognition! So thank you J (I know you are reading it regularly now).

Gratification 2:

This morning, when shortly after I pulled up in the parking area, another local surfer pulled up. He is also a real hot surfer and, man, watching him take some of the outside breaks are just magnificent. He does one of those very powerful rides getting a lot of speed from get-go and then of course, he's got ups and downs all mastered so he even gets faster!

Anyhow guess what he tells me, "I am enjoying your BLOG."

Gratification 3:

After getting out of the water as I was walking up the path to the car, I have noticed so many flowers on the ground and they are now in full blossoms. What a treat! There were Purple Owl's Clover, Lizard-tails, Coast Daisies, Ice Plants, and California Poppies. I have came to learn a lot about the nature, and surfing let me get so much closer to the Whales, Dolphins and surfing with harbor seals are just now seeing a neighbor dogs running around.

OK, enough of this Gratification Stuff. Here is the Technical Progress Report

I sill am in the long period of learning how to take off. I still cannot take off even half as good as these two locals that I surfed with today, and I know I am getting better, but every time I thought I was doing all right, there are always that "How do they do that?" occasions. Nevertheless, here are some of the things that I am working on refining;

- Got to commit even more: Solid and hard paddling until I know I got the wave. That also means more conditioning on the upper body. Surfing every day is my way of dealing with it.
- Faster reaction on the take off moment. Given my age and athletic abilities, this may not even happen, but to catch harder breaking waves, there really is no way around it getting things moving faster, judge faster and turn faster.
- Accuracy: A little off the center of the board when I pop up, and it is all over. Need to work on more solid pop ups and land exactly where I need to be.
- Better wave selection: Still I have a hit and miss. I should read the wave and also position better on the breaks. On beach breaks around here good people just seem to know when and where the breaks pop and they are right there.

The happiest ride today was the one with a perfect wave selection where it just jacked up the right amount under me, almost missing it, but then I kept on paddling and I caught the wave, the right top turn worked really clean and then onto the face where I am just seeing the lip of the wave about to be ripping apart, but in that mode I kept going for a while. Should I been able to control the speed, I probably could have gone inside of the wave a bit, that would have been awesome. But eventually it was loosing out the power, I had enough speed to do a complete 180 degree U turn cut back, at that point unbeknownst to me, there was a reform from the direction I was coming from and I basically had another ride on the face. That was one of the longest rides I have ever had.

There are the days to remember, as I think it can happen perhaps no more than a few dozen sessions a year.

Stoke 10!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Session 5085

More S/SW swells, so that means Jetty at HMB for a quick dipping before heading home. No DP this morning as I needed to rest my arms a bit, but then I could not wait until tomorrow, and I knew that would happen so I now always pack surf gear in my car anytime I go to work.

The condition was variable, sometimes fairly large close out sets then between them I got some nice long rides on my 7.0.

Some changes in taking off the past few sessions; When I have a very successful take-off, it is really quiet, smooth and actually the moment almost seem to go as if it is on a slow motion video, and usually the ride lasts longer. I am guessing that this is partially attributed to getting into a better break spot (right now, I am not aiming for that, it sometimes happens), and also more paddling power to really get ahead of the waves initially.

It is nice to surf just until the sun sets. Stoke 7.

Session 5084: Great spring. More Take Off Practice.

The great spring surfing condition continues in Half Moon Bay. My taking off practice continues. Given the same condition, there still are better surfers than me who can take the waves, and a majority of other surfers who don't or cannot take waves. My gut feeling on how I progressed is that for every 5 waves the good surfers can take waves, I can take 1 of them. So I would be happy if get to the stage that I can take every other one.

Something that I just realized today more clearly is this.

If I am riding the wave already and cut back to the wave face again, and if the wave jack up at the spot to similar situation where I would say "it is closing out" and "cannot take off". If I was already riding the board, and arrived there, I have a good confidence often in controlling it, and I can cut back again and keep the ride. In fact, if that happens, it is really a lot of fun because the wave just gives so much power in the second cut back. And as I am cutting back, I am already closer to the top of the wave then (or will get there shortly). So that basically means that if this were to be my initial take-off wave, if I take off and get on the board sooner I can actually take off.

Now back to being already on the board, what do I do then?

This would be a top portion of the turn and that means that I cannot easily turn through the rail of the board as I will be stalling out shortly. The option is to execute as smooth of a top turn and when the top turn is complete, I need to get back into the descent line to gain back the speed, and as I go down the line, the wave may continue to jack up for a while and if that happens I must weight on the tail hopefully it spits me out forward, if I screw this up, the nose would bury that that's the end of the ride. So it boils down to (1) do the correct top turn more like "pivoting" through the tail of the board, (2) Be prepared to do a balance shift to go back to heavy tail weighting mode.

So the next challenge is to connect the take off to above scenario, and that means to me that I should get the initial take off speed and doing so go up on the board as soon as possible so that I can exert the better weight control of the board, then also be prepared to do a top turn, and now I am a bit clear on what I should be working on.