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.