Thursday, June 30, 2005

Session 5134

Another PM surfing this evening, but the wind was mellow and the swells were in. Linda Mar looked good, but after what I had to go through with the crowd, I said, "No thanks!" I was thinking of going near my house, or the Jetty. But after seeing the Gray Whale having some nice swell lines coming in, I said, "Heck, I have not been there for a while, I ought to give this a shot." This place is just plain finicky for the times I have tried, and along with Montara, it is one of these places that look good from the cliff top but once you get in there, it is just a hell to paddle out and when I'd get out, I'd better be prepared for the set that "I thought" were small. Of course, this is a beginner talking so, yeah, if you have been at it for a while, you'd say, what the heck am I talking about, and I agree. Regardless, this is kind of a spot that if you don't know what you are doing, it is best to not to hit it. It is definitely not Linda Mar or the 38th.

Lately I was thinking about this.

What separates me with a pack of good or better (technically) surfers from me? That is something that I have been contemplating lately.

While I do catch a whole lot of waves, and more than most people out there even this afternoon, my rides are of the types that start way inside and short. When I spot some of the better surfers they are on the outside look good catching waves, and this is also exactly what happens with my local bro that I surf with. But here is what I've learned;

- He's got so much more paddling power that he can easily move to where the next break occurs. I know where it happens, but it takes me a lot more effort for me to get over there, and he catches twice more waves that I can do.
- Along the same line, he can always position himself to a better spot than I can be.

A lot of this got to do with the paddling power he got that I don't have yet (still).

Another factor is this. He can rip on more waves than I can, and so he is more consistent. For me, I am starting to do this, but I have to let the wave help me. If I happened to be at the right place and the wave shape is about right then I can take long rides and making a lot of cut back turns along the way. But chance of this happening is very rare, and I am not sure if I would do it, and it usually happens when nobody is looking at me. But I know it is a part of the slow progress I am making. Since in the beginning, there was definitely a phase when I was not consistently catching the waves, and again had to rely on "good" waves to do good rides. So I am still hopeful.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Session 5133

I was planning to hit Montara on the way home today, but then I saw Linda Mar firing rather unusually nicely, so I said "What the heck, let's get in there." The parking lot was already 90% full, and it was like finding a spot at Stanford Shopping center day before Christmas on high tide. But I did find a slot, so why complain? The initial part of the session was rather sweet with occasional good powerful (enough) sets rolling in, and I had some really nice rides. I was enjoying my own inside peak. Then more people started to arrive and at the same time the peaks started to happen in smaller patches, and that was basically the end of the story.

Today I took out my 7'5, which I though was the right answer at first, but then after a while I was not taking off right, nose buried, diving under and then some minor hold-downs. So I really need more courage to stay in the pack and take the waves, but I must admit, that's something I don't like to do very much.

I am still keeping a bad habit of surfing all the way to the shore. There was one San Onofre moment when I jumped off the board and there were a pile of cobble stones under the water, which I was totally unexpected, and landed knee cap down. That was a bit painful. No damages, but could have been worse.

On the way back when I passed by Montara it was totally fogged in. Glad I have chosen Linda Mar this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Session 5132

The good south driven sets continued when I arrived at the beach late in the afternoon. Worked on the following areas;

+ Get up on the board as soon as possible and get in the control. This will still take some more time.
+ I feel that my upper body and shoulder are still stiff on rides. Turns and moves require to be more fluid and power driven.

I had some good long rides and I was able to cross into the inside section, regaining power and speed. When that happens it is a bonus. But I really should stop riding all the way to the shore, and start thinking about learning how to pull out.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Session 5131: True Broism, Big or Small

South swell 5 ft 17 seconds was what I surfed in this early evening. I was glad that this kind of the swell was not hitting square into Half Moon Bay. When I arrived at a local beach there were two guys checking out the waves. One did not go in and another did. The one that went in said "get what you can get." For me, it was going to be a bit of a hefty wave to deal with. Once again, all I ask for is a nice clean gentle overhead beach break and I will be happy with a boy with a cream puff in his hand. The set waves were just about above my head and rapidly closing-out, leaving a very little shoulder that is also rapidly closing out. The challenge here was to paddle up to where the next shoulder would pop, paddle like hell to get over there and paddle like hell to get in to the pocket. If I've done that then the wave would be mine, not to mention getting out there.

In contrast to yesterday, the ocean surface looked smooth and easy out, but for me, it posed a moderate challenge since at 17 seconds period, the water movement has been much more, making the duck through a much more effort than the "normal" wind swell stuff I have started to become at ease with in this season. The main issue for me to get through these types of waves is that there is so much turbulence under the water while I am going through it that I feel like the big wave just swishing me out of it. I do get through but I am barely hanging on to my board on the way up, and I would just ask the board to just shoot up though the turbulent water. Sometimes, instead of popping out on the other side, I would be in the middle of a huge close out and get deflect away and back to where I came from.

Since there was this guy I don't know and myself, I did not try very hard to get further out, which as usual, I really should, and I will tell you why. After about an hour of trying surfing, and I did catch some decent waves, but it was not that satisfactory, I got out and started to get ready to head home.

Then, as I was ready to unzip my suit, Ed, who is the chair of the San Mateo Surfrider Chapter showed up. I was happy and not happy at the same time. I was happy to see him, but I was not that happy that now I'd have to paddle out, and when I do, I would need to paddle further out on a rip current. And that's exactly what he was stoked about. He went on to tell me a spot that there is a rip, and he would demonstrate me how to take advantage of it. In my mind, I'd rather not want to be taken advantage of by the rip (as you know by now, trapped in the rip is one of the biggest fear I have when I am on a short board) But on the other hands, he would be a kind of a bro who'd watch out for me, so I told him "Yeah, I'd surf a couple of other waves".

At that very moment something I was really afraid of happened.

The cord that pulls the zipper up broke as I pulled it up again. I knew some day this would come some day because the metal part of the pull was getting pretty corroded to start with. And the inevitable did happen, and I was lucky that Ed was there to get me out of the suit if I had to. But now that it is zipped up (I thought it was) I went in and paddled out to the "out side" with him.

Turned out, and it also never fails, that when I surf with experts I also tend to be more confident and do better, and I caught like 3 more waves on bigger sets, and I was making rather aggressive moves (for my standard of course), and I ended up having a few quite nice long rides. If I remember, I have not really had this kind of long ride on my short boards so it was somewhat of a remarkable experience. And as much as there was a lot of water in the waves, it was soft enough that I did not bother me too much about the chance of messing up the take offs, and I did not mess up on take offs so I was really happy about that. It really is a good thing for me to have so many local bros, and just be in the water with them gives me so much comfort and confidence. If I stayed there by myself, I would have had that much fun; especially it was kind of drab and foggy day too. When bros like Ed shows up, and we paddle out together on a rip, I know how easy it is to get out and catch these bigger outside sets, and as a result of it, I would do better too.

So even though, sometimes, they would challenge my abilities, I really appreciate the fact that they are happy to be in the water with me, and I think that is really the true broism there is in surfing. I was also thinking about another time with my regular buddy who is really an excellent competitive surfer and he and I would go on a knee high day at the Jetty and share the waves and still he'd shred the hell out of the puny waves, and I also have fun catching ton on the waves too, totally having a blast. So I am so very fortunate to have found these two of my local buddies.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Session 5130

I have been thinking a lot about Surfing being really a self centered sport. We all know that we really cannot share the waves, even though we say we should, and when we go out together, it isn't something that we can do it all together at the same time, say, experiencing a raft riding or a dinner cruise.

Today is also a kind of a day that reminded me of one more dimension to this, that is the preference of the types of the waves also gets into this self centeredness. Today's story involves another friend of mine and I just want to make sure that it is not written in a fashion to blame for having someone along. I just wanted to describe the situation. I have not been surfing with this buddy, may be a few times in the past couple of years.

Well, I was kind of set this morning to go to Waddell, but on the way we checked out a couple of other places. We checked Pomponio and it was looking to be OK perhaps when the time would come up, but we passed on that spot. I have described to him that the S swell is in and from 180 deg so we ought to check further south. When we arrived at Waddell, the tide was still low but there were some clean breaks, I would prefer riding, though they were small, and definitely nice smooth waves, easy to get out, and there were some people trying to rip. But I my friend thought that that the waves were too small, so we headed back to Pomponio.

I went in and already the onshore wind was picking up a bit so it was getting a bit rough to get out. There were some surfable breaks way and way out side, which, when I ride short boards, I am not so confident with the situation because I just don't know what's going on with the current. In fact I took a rip current out and it was rather strong, and so getting out that far was not difficult and then that freaked me out too. I just don't like the idea of paddling a long way back against possibly some currents, and it is especially hard to see from the outside to pick the rip currents. I know I am over sensitive to this, and like yesterday, I don't really have an issue for paddling for a mile at a time in clam SC bays going to and from 41 St Ave stairs to the outside PP. but I just don't have the confidence to do that on a wide open ocean beach like this one with "just" a 6'6 underneath supporting me.

So I went out, sat there for a while. The waves were just mushy as hell and there was not even a single take off opportunity for me and a short board. And after a while I felt that it would just be a prudent for me to head back. Heading back was not actually a big problem, so I know I can get back, and doing things like this from time to time would give me a more confidence. From that point, it was a bit of confidence building session today.

In the past, I was talked into going to places where I really was not comfortable being there, so for a fun of riding, I should really listen to my gut more and just go where I know I am going to have a good time; shoulder to overhead size outside or inside reform waves, smooth paddle out, not too much wind and not too crowded. One difference in this is that if I am with my regular locals, my confidence level will go up a notch or two as I know they sort of are watching out for me, and I know they are really good surfers.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Session 5129

Yesterday was a long day at work, and I was so exhausted that after a dinner I just crashed, and slept on until 7:00 this morning. I am usually up by 5:30 so that's kind of late. I would also usually to go my place in Santa Cruz on Friday night and try to go for a DP at the crack of the dawn, but I had to give that up too.

But I did have a surfing dream last night. As much as I surf, I still do not get a dream of actual surfing, usually my dreams, if related to surfing, are about going to a place, but not riding the waves, so it is probably the first time that I had a really a vivid dream of surfing. It was short, but it was about taking off, and it was about taking off into a very steep wave, and it was about getting up on the board, and it was about pressing the back of the board really hard to stay in the wave as it started to close out. It was a physical dream in that I was actually feeling the response of the board and my knees and all of the gravity changes that happens right at the moment of taking off, and I know exactly where this happened, it was a bit north of the showers at Linda Mar, because it was a right hander and I was looking at houses on the south end. It was almost real. But I don't remember how I got there and I don't remember how I finished the ride.

~ ~ ~
When I woke up, I called Jocelyn and what she was up to as we talked about hitting SC this morning on the message board. It was a drab overcast morning and I finally got my things together for surfing and headed towards Santa Cruz. I picked up a large coffee and a Danish, as usual, and usually put on some classic heavy metal music on, to get myself totally awake and alert. As I drive the highway 1, my eyes are periodically checking the waves. This morning the situation was rather pathetic all along the coast. Usually there are spot or two that would be happening. Even at the Waddell Creek the tide was super low it looked more like a lake than an ocean beach.

When I got in Santa Cruz, I checked out the Pleasure Point and along the way to the 41 St. There was a lot of people out there, on the really flat water. So I called Jocelyn and told her that it was really flat and so we all decided to head out again a bit later on. This turned out to be a good move. While I waited for the tide to fill in a bit, I cleaned the windows at my apartment and also checked out some wet suits that were on 50% off sale at the SC shop. They were very friendly and when I asked for the size MS, they said more will be coming in at the same price. I also really wanted a 3/2 suit for the summer, spring and So Cal, but the guy said the demands on the 3/2 is so low that he does not carry one. If I surf in SC, I will wear 3/2 all the time, it's so much lighter, and easier to dry. Finally it was 11:30 and I got a quick Mexican lunch at the Vallarta. I thought of going to Paula's but that place always has a long line plus a wait after I order something. The place looks like only one guy cooks for 60 customers. On the way back from lunch, I discovered that there was a brewery I did not know about on the 41 St. , it was closed, but peeping inside, it did not look like it was closed down, so I should check that out next time.

It was about noon I finally got in the water. I got in at the Hook, where the sign on the stair now has a new line drawn with surf fax that says "Long board to the 38th". I stayed at the Hook for a bit but then I started to paddle towards the 38th where there were some pack of the people were. The Pleasure Point peaks are just amazing place. No matter when I go there and no matter what the swells are, there always seem to be something breaking out there. So I gradually moved towards there, and after a good 15-20 minutes of paddling I was finally in the pack of the PP line up. After a while someone was calling my name and that was Luke.

There were many waves I'd consider were catch-able but I did not catch that many. For one thing there always were someone else from the outside who gets on the wave before I do, not matter what I do or where I position. They all got 10 footer with 50 inch wide in the middle or something and they would practically make their own waves if you ask me. This might be the area where my recent adventure in short boarding got me some bad habits. I just don't paddle long and hard, instead, I tend to wait until the last minute and paddle hard but by then there are two people on both side that are up. I had a long board on and I really felt like I lost the touch, plus I am still not used to surf with more than 2-3 people (and are not my friends) on the line up.

So that kinds of sums up my day.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Session 5128

After I came back form SD, I have not had much luck in finding good waves to ride, and the same theme continued this morning. The tide is your friend and an enemy at the same time. It is an enemy when I had to do a DP and it gets to be a super-low negative tide situation, like this morning. I used to think that tide got nothing much to do with the surf, as I thought that if the tide is lower, then the waves will break further and when it is higher it would break closer or higher to the shore.

But since then I have been to numerous beaches and situations and now I now know that the tide plays an important factor in the surf condition.

So this morning, I had to go to a beach break right at the bottom of the negative tide, and the ocean was draining very fast too, and the waves were just closing out a lot and so it was quite a bit of an effort to find anything that I could ride. There were so many waves that I'd just take off then just a bunch of white water piled up on me from behind not letting me take them, and even my favorite reforms were just powerless mess.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Session 5127

This morning was again very hard surfing with very variable wave quality in a local beach. I guess "shifty" fits the description to the extent that a ridable wave popped here and there where we were not, requiring a lot of paddling left and right, and when I arrived there, then it started to happening exactly where I was.

My 6'6 is still in the board bag with the rail still wrapped in the pipe insulation and so the last few session I have been using the narrower 7'0 board, but I have really been having a lot of problem gaining the initial speed to surf faster than the closing shoulder. It still got to do with my skill and strength, and I cannot excuse that one, because at one point my buddy and I were taking off on the exact same wave and he gets the wave and I don't.

Nevertheless, I am really happy these days that I just don't hardly pearl any more and I do take off (if not standing up) on basically any steepness waves I go for. So I really need just to practice more on getting up on the board and get a hold of the control of it as soon as possible. And that's what my buddy does really well. I see him get up on the board right on the tip of the wave and then in no time his rail is set on the wall and takes long long rides, regardless of what kind of waves that come at him.

Along the line of getting up on the board, I have adjusted my habit of where to put my hands on the board and that's now way behind my shoulders and flat handed on the deck. That has been a tremendous help in steeper take off situations, and plus grabbing a lot of water in my paddling hands in the direction of the break to make the board already set to take off in an angle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Session 5126

Yes, it was damn flat this morning at the Jetty, but I had to do it because it was too early to get into the near-by state beaches, and also I did not feel like going through the Devil's Slide with one way traffic control ongoing. Now going to Pacifica for a DP at 6:30 am in the morning will be like going through The 405 via Santa Monica for a while. I really hate that aspect of it.

So it was flat, and I was trying to catch waves only a couple of long board length away from the #13 rock and still. The tide was super negative and there simply was nothing there to ride. I felt like a rug pulled under my board after phenomenally good conditions both at SD and yesterday.

Well, I have decided to convert this morning's session to do some turning around practice and also paddling conditioning. It was fun.

It was definitely the smallest day I have ever surfed in a while.

On the way to work, I stopped at Twinberry and guess who were there, the local Mav's big wave crew. What a contrast on a flat day like this.

So that concludes this morning's surfing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Session 5125: Summer Solstice/ International Surfing Day!

In just a day, from no wetsuit surfing to "booties" and "gloves" surfing again.
Speaking of no booties, in SD, I went completely bootless and was not slipping at all. Also when I went and got the new fins, they gave me the Sticky Bumps Blue wax, and that's the same we use up here, so if I am going to do bootless here, I ought to get even softer wax, like the Sex Wax Purple.

This morning was a one of the rare occasion in which I could walk to the beach and surf. Even though I do live within a walking distance of a beach in Half Moon Bay, it is rather rare that very good break occurs, but with some S swells a few ft and 17 seconds on the average that was a plenty of water pushing from the ground. Plus it was just extremely sunny out and no wind, so it was just a perfect type of a surfing day, but the waves was a bit stronger for me though not big in size today, and I could not have satisfactory rides.

Even though this is the closest beach to my home, I actually know very little about this break, and being in an unfamiliar situation makes it one notch more difficult to catch the waves. I actually surfed in San Diego more often than here. So when I tried to catch the waves, I was not just getting the enough speed or something, and soon I a lot of water gashes from behind me, get held down for a bit and it was all over. There were just several of those and while it was fun, I?d wished that I could have caught more waves. Of course my local buddies were doing well on those, so I really should have paddled out further with them. But the peak they were on had already been shared by 5-6 other really hot guys so I shied away from that peak. I was about the worst surfer in the whole pack of people out there this morning, and the level was really high.

So there still is a long way to get up there. But I did take part in the Summer Solstice International Surfing Day. Now, the days will get shorter each day, kind of sad isn't it?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Session 5124

The work conference started this afternoon, so I decided to head out early in the morning. It was already crowded at 7:30 AM on Sunday and I had to actually park on a street in the neighborhood. After "cooking" in my Nor Cal 4 mm suit, and seeing many people heading out with a pair of board shorts only, I decided to just put on the shorts and a rash guard. It is the first time I would go without a wet suit on in California!

The initial splash was a bit cold but soon I got used to it and as I paddled out, I felt much freer in movement and the feel of the water passing over my arm was really nice. I felt like I was so much lighter and faster in paddling out. Whether I was actually going fast or not, I do not know. I was also going bootless too on this trip.

In my previous log, I forgot to mention that I had to swap the fins, because during the session at Del Mar, I ended up using an emergency breaking system built on my board. That's "fin break" and I forgot about this spot was actually a reef all the way to the shore, though the beach is all sand. It is very much like how Waddell is, and speaking of that, even Tourmaline is basically reef underneath as I realized this morning. I was trying to figure that out why the quality of the breaks are so much different in this area. I could not tell whether it is reef or sand, but it is kind of the mix of both, and that's something I really like, sort of like Linda Mar and Santa Cruz mixed in one. May not be a justifiable description, but to me that's what it felt like. The closest ones we have around in my neck of wood is probably Waddell Creek. Anyhow, my fish now sports a set of Rusty fins.

I would almost wish that I should really have taken a week long surf camp type deal here in San Diego breaks. That would have taught me a lot of things much quicker. And if you are at an early beginner stage, you may want to come to SD and try surfing here for several days. I did this both in the winter and now (early summer) and the break quality has been very similar.

Today, like yesterday, I tried to focus and relax while being up on the board, and that has been very helpful, I thought, in overall quality of rides.

Well, tomorrow there will be no surfing. So I look forward to get back into the cold Nor Cal water again on Tuesday!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Session 5122-3

We were going to hit north and go as far as Carlsbad or Oceanside this morning, but as soon as I hit Del Mar, it looked good so that's where I decided to go. Further north of the town there was an area with a parking lot etc., but closer to the "old town" area where you'd park in a neighborhood street, cross the rail track, down the steep cliff, then on to the beach. Crossing the rail track and seeing the train pass by from the lineup always associated me with surfing in So Cal Often when I am in a strange place, I usually follow other cars with boards on top and that usually lead to some interesting beaches.

In a new location, it is still hard to figure out the waves. The difficult part is to find where to go for the best spot for me to catch the waves. But finally I find the sweet spot for me, and I was able to practice a lot of riding today and when it happens, of course, it is a lot of fun.

This morning, I was really thinking about relaxing in the waves. Part of the challenges I get when surfing in a new place is that I tend not to relax as much and when that happens I tend to mess up more.

Session 5123

After the morning session and a lunch, and a nap, it was already.

We checked out La Jolla Shores beach, which is actually a nice big beach with a lot of parking, but it was blown out rather badly, so after a few minutes of surf check, we headed back to Tourmaline spot. It was surprisingly not crowded there and I surfed more closer to the "pier" side and there were some nice moment where I was able to hold a longer ride. Of course, if I tell that to my wife who was staying in the car just reading, she would not believe that I actually "ripped" a bit.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Session 5121: SD Day 1

Today we flew to San Diego for the weekend surf + work related conference. I also wanted to use this opportunity to test transporting a surf board on a trip.

Last night I have carefully placed the water pipe insulator all the way around the rail of my board. The total cost of the material was just under $8. I used masking tape to hold them on. The insulation come in cut up pieces about 4 ft in length with 4 in a pack.

The cost of transporting board on a United flight was $80 each way. I bought the board at $350, so that's something to consider. A bit steep, but I already had the board with me, so I could not do much about that. Well, renting is an option here but usually most places won't rent short boards and still we would need to deal with returns etc.

Interesting thing with carrying the surf board is that I felt the universal language of "surfing = fun". The guy handed the board back to me in SD gave me a nice smile and many other who saw me hanging the board from my shoulder were looking at it with kind of a smile and gaze of "I wish I was surfing too!"

We got a cool black Toyota Matrix and arrived at the lodge, unpacked everything and repacked the surfing gear only back into the Da Kine duffle bag, and headed out for the late PM surfing.

Since Jocelyn told me about this Tourmaline spot in San Diego, I have been really liking the spot. Other spots like Swamis are usually crowded, impossible to park and once in the lineup, it is just so impossible to get a chance to pick up a wave or two.

First, I have to say something about the water temperature. With the water in mid 60s, the 4 mm suit that I brought was overkill and in fact, I could just have gone in with board shorts and a rash guard, and it was a bit too warm inside the 4 mm suit.There were girl surfers in bikinis and several were just wearing a board shorts.

The waves were just about shoulder high but in a good rolling mode so it was more ideal situation for long boarding and in fact a great majority of the surfers were long boarders here. While I ventured into the territory of long boarders I did not do badly at all with the fish board. I was catching a lot of waves, more so than the most surfers out, and it was a great moral booster for catching so many waves.

There were so many waves to catch that I just had to restrain myself. Letting a wave or two go for others to catch was not an issue because I see the next set coming on the horizon.

Tomorrow, we are going to head up north and check out Blacks, and areas up near Swami's. I love riding my 6'6 Fish! It is so portable and I can ride long board waves with it as well as a bit more challenging situations.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Session 5120

The life is a full of ironic turns that you make. This morning, I was up early to help out our east coast business partners, and as a result the work has stretched from 5:30 to around 7:30, normally my sweet spot for DP during the summer months. As I passed by Montara that looked very tempting and in fact that's where my local buddy went this morning. Cell phones and emails have really revolutionaries in inter-surfer communications there days. In conjunction with what I have on my hands with the measured data, I also get fed with lot of live data too.

At any rate, I had a short session this morning as I had a long day ahead at work, so I had to cut the session rather short to just under an hour. But the waves were phenomenally good. It was just one of the dozen days out of the year where the waves get really nice, smooth paddle outs and A-frame breaks popping all over the places! It was more of a kind of day that "long boarders rule." And in fact many long boarders were catching tons of waves and paddling swiftly back catching double the number than a developing short boarder like me.

So I my short session, I must have caught countless number of waves, and with more improvements in my take off technique, I had so much success today. Though, I must say, the wave yesterday was much more challenging and in terms of more ripping type moves, it was definitely the yesterday I had more fun. On waves like today, it was softer and mushier that getting a good speed on the wave was a bit difficult. Of course, if you were a professional level surfer, you'd rip on them too. But that still is not the case with me. The waves were "pockety" too but rapidly lost the power. I guess this is one of the differences between the SC waves and the Pacifica waves. The SC waves will keep you going even the waves are thick.

Even though I had a short session, the condition like today can be really tiring because I had to paddle rather hard for the waves in order to take off, and I'd also paddle out for more waves more frequently.

This weekend: Look for me in San Diego area waters. I am brining in the 6'6' fish with red on the bottom and yellow on the deck, plus a dorky helmet (all the time!).

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Session 5119: Keep Stoked, Man!

I am going to write a bit backwards in the order of events, but later in the afternoon I got a call from Ren to the effect of "How come you were able to surf at the Linda Mar beach when it looked poor." Well, I guess it must have been the local wind. This morning the wind was basically nil, but yes, the condition was, as a "SurfPulse" would put, would have been on a poor side.

Surfing is really difficult from many aspects, and condition is one of them.

But this is the thing with me these days, I am determined to find surfable waves, and even if that means that I need to wait around among the close outs, I'd do it. And so far, I could. Even if it looks like just a mess out there, if I paddle out things tend to get a bit cleaner than from the vantage point of the beach, and even more, if I'd wait long enough, there will be a short window of time that the ocean becomes completely calm then start to pick up again. That's when I paddle to the outside and catch a few waves. Granted that I have a luxury of getting out practically every day, but even if I don't I would go, unless it is really dangerous looking.

To some extent that I have paid enough dues out in the ocean that I now have a bit better options than to hope for the best condition, be it cold or junky. I will try to find the spot where I can catch waves. I have no issues catching inside reforms, it is a lot of fun, but I know there is quite a bit of stigma attached to doing that. Who'd want to ride the soup? But I do, because some of these soups can build up to be shoulder or even bigger in size waves and they have the walls to get into, and if I was more skilled I could rip in them a lot better. I probably don't look good catching lot of waves like them, but then a majority of people I see are sitting way too far out and not catching as many waves as I do in a session. I am simply stating that that's my idea of surfing fun is, and obviously that's not necessarily the case with many other surfers surrounding me.

Also, whether it is the summer or the winter in this area, the best condition days are only a few dozen days (and during a limited window of time) a year, the rest of the time it is either a mess or flat, and only at a select few places if you happened on them. In the winter it is too big, and in the summer it is either too windy or too junky or whatever.

So, discussing the condition is one thing, but I would like to encourage people to get the most out of any condition days unless it is down-right dangerous. The last thing I would want go in is to start complaining everything wrong about the situation, and quitting altogether, and when I start seeing that in my surf friends would be really sad.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Session 5118: More adventures in close outs

6:45 AM: I stopped at the Jetty for a few minutes, but it looked rather small on a low tide, so I headed out to Linda Mar beach. Of course, I looked at Montara, but it was already a jumbled up mess plus close to or more than twice overhead set going. No way, I would not go in there all by myself. Not because I may not catch the waves, but I might get pulled out on a strong rip current and would be a hell to get back in if I had to paddle back. I am still very afraid of that, especially when riding shorter boards.

7:00 AM Arrived at the Linda Mar and it was also a full of just white closed-out mess, but I was not ready to get back to the Jetty as I am racing the clock to hit the office before 9:00. There was one guy getting ready and another may be two people in the water at the south end. Surfing any point north of the parking lot would also have been a huge battle with the close outs, and would not be fun.

Though it was closed out, when I paddled out at the south end of the beach, it was not too bad. This happens sometimes, hidden behind the mound of white water sets are some quite ridable waves, and especially as I paddled further and further out, it gotten more ridable. I also waited out and there are period when the ocean calms down a bit and reveal some ridable waves. This also seems to be a sign that the situation is improving when the tide gets a bit higher and when the time passes. Plus when there are overhead size close outs that are coming from the outside, I just sit tight inside and wait for the waves to reform and they are just perfectly fun ridable, and even rippable waves.

So it was actually fun. I was able to get up on just about every wave I went for and rode a good number of them practicing a lot of cut back turns where I am starting to act more determined or committed (but not forceful) on each segment of the moves. Ones I did not ride are mainly the ones that closed out right when I took off, and I was just in the middle of the white water bouncing up and down rather hard. Kind of fun too!

A day like this also allows me to really burn a lot of calories getting out and riding. When I finish riding, I am breathing fast and hard. When paddling out is more like a long uphill hike, riding the waves is like dashing 100-m at full speed.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Session 5117

After, basically surfing my brains out on Saturday, when I got home I had to crash for a long nap. So I took a day off from it on Sunday per Wendy's request. So I stayed home, slept in, took care of over-due oil change on my car then headed out to see Wendy's mom. It was a nice change in pace. In the morning, Ren called me and told me that the Jetty was non-happening and the Linda Mar was too much of a mess too, that really helped me to part with the idea of not going in the water on Sunday.

Now it is Monday, and with a lot of NW wind going out there I was not so hopeful, but when I passed by the Jetty it was a perfect condition for me, so I had to go in. The sun was fully out and the waves were going at chest to shoulder level, a perfect "Fish" opportunity for me. So I paddled out into the 50 F water. Compared to the warmer water in Santa Cruz (SC) the initial splash in is a bit more painful, as the water seeps in the suit. As the water fills in, I gradually walk through the water to the shoulder level and start to paddle out. Then the first duck through, which is probably the part I hate the most. Additional water go through the head and a bit washes over and through the back too. When I pop out to the other side, I start paddling extra hard and faster so that my back muscles start to generate the heat, and when I finally reach the outside, I am finally all soaked in the water and it starts to get comfortable. I have done this many times, but this initial ritual is both invigorating and also cold no matter what time of the year.

I am still working on fine tuning the take off technique, and today I have been modifying a few other parameters. That's the initial weight shifting while paddling into the water. The main issue is this. When the tail end of the board starts to lift up, I should really be ready to push the tail part of the board even when I am taking off. This is easier said than done because in theory you could just lay a bit behind the board. But if you do that then I have to sacrifice the initial glide that I can get out of the board. So basically I still must maintain the neutral position on the board during the paddle in. However, one way to control the weight distribution is to use the weight in my head. I can put my head closer to the board during the initial phase of the take off, and as I feel the back lifting, I would raise the upper body and the head so that the overall weight will shift more towards the back of the board, then flick up toward the tail of the board if necessary. One thing that is really helpful with shorter board in this respect is that the effect of moving the head position does have a pronounced effect on the overall weight distribution, and I can even tell that the nose is diving or floating and can make minor corrections as I paddle into the wave. I focused on this aspect of take off today, and I was actually amazed that some waves I thought was too soft or too early on the take off were actually catch-able.

Come to think of it, on a longer boards, the less sensitivity to the initial weight position are kind of nice, because if I know I would be catching a bit steeper wave, I can sit a bit toward the back of the board, and paddling won't suffer as much either.

Now that I got the initial gliding to happen and the tail is biting the wave, the board goes without pearling even when the waves get a bit steeper (than the steepness I could catch). The great testimony to this advance is that even when the waves close out (poor wave selection, yeah, I know, don't tell me about it!) I am already up on the wave often. More of less, gone are the times that I got left out and wave passes by or totally thrown forward over the falls.

But I still need to get up on the board faster and more solidly every time, and I need to continue to work on better, faster and more sure footed flick up routines. These smaller summers "wind swells" have really been a lot of help in getting me trained up for the next phase. Finally the lower body strength and the lower body agility are starting to become the next hurdle in my quest to rip.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Session 5115-6 SC East Side

This weekend, I have convinced my local HMB buddy "J" to come to SC with me. Stay over night at my place in the east side then surf at the crack of the dawn. Well, when we arrived, we went and got a 6 pack and ended up talking close to 2 am, then it was already 5 am, and it was already light out. I was originally saying that I might sleep in but it was him who was sleeping when I turned the lights on and get move his butts to get started on surfing. Between us we had a quiver choice of 6 boards and we decided to take long boards, he had an 8'0 and I took out my trusty Takayama DT4 which is a 9'0. On the 41 St. Ave already there were one car after another having strapped with long boards having the same idea as we do.

We walked to the 41 St. Ave stairs, and there always is a moment of anticipation. But if I hear the sound of the wave breaking, the stoke level goes up a notch even before going to the deck and see the waves. Without a hesitation, we splashed into the Hook at about 5:30 am, with only 3-4 other surfers, and immediately we stared to catch several waves. My buddy has a very smooth style doing cool cutback actions. As for me, I started much closer to the left end where the breaks were bit closer to the shore but more powerful. Catching the waves at the Hook is always a great deal different experience than anywhere near we live. It just have that nice smooth nice quality to it. Especially with a long board, setting the rail to the wall, stay high on the line and just keep cruising all the way. This is where a smoothly executed ups and down actions on the board just give such a nice ride.

After a while I saw the Pleasure Point peaks breaking better so I signaled Jack to paddle to the PP. But on the way there as we were passing by the 38th, there were also some sweet inside breaks nobody were taking so we stayed there for a while. But as the time went by, more and more people paddled up, and I opted for moving further and further up to the PP.

Finally we have reached the inside of the PP, and there the breaks were more frequent and regular and they were good long board breaks. We rode there for some time until 7:30, then my buddy said he had enough (enough!?) and we got out, got some breakfast. That was the first session for me today.

We have also arranged to meet other Stokemasters friends at 9:30, so we had a relaxing breakfast, and my buddy went back to my place and relaxed the rest of the morning taking nap etc. Meanwhile, I was back in the water at 10:00, and padding back again from the Hook to the inside 38th. That was OK for a while, but then it stopped happening again, so we paddled back to the Hook and stayed and caught more waves, and the sun has came back out again to make this a really nice day.

Surfing in Santa Cruz on a condition like this is really nice and relaxing. It is totally a different pace of life style, and I must admit that I am the "East Side" fan. There is that 41 St Ave culture supported by a lot of surf shops in the area and places to eat, and then there is just a wide range of places to surf at the same time. The quality of the waves are just what I need both in smaller days and a bit bigger days in the winter, and the water is always a bit warmer than in Half Moon Bay.

It was the first time I took out the long board in a while, and it was a lot of fun, and I felt I was really rusty on riding technique compared to short boarding that I have been doing a lot of recently. But on the other hands, what I have learned in short board take-off technique and strength have been working much better, since the confidence in taking off has just improved so significantly that even when it gets rather crowded, I have a better handle of knowing to position where and when it is "my wave" and take off. It is actually a bit surprising that even in the crowded condition, these "my wave" condition happens when the wave is just perfectly shaped for take off and nobody else is on it. I distinctly remember when I started out; I was wondering how these people managed to take off in Santa Cruz, but now I also have a bit better handle on it.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Session 5114: Caught in Rip, but not RIpping

This morning I headed to LM since I had a short session window before hitting the office. I thought that the waves were decent but I had a bit of difficulty finding waves that were more suitable for short boarding. It was rather thick or not as organized as I wished. I did catch several waves, but the quality of the ride was a bit disappointing, probably due to the low tide situation. Towards the end of the session, the waves started to clean up a bit, so it would have been better if I could stay longer.

This morning, I was caught in a rather huge rip current, and since Ren has posted a message about the rip current being one of the most life threatening situation in any beaches, I must report this on this log. As I have been experienced in the ocean, it was not a major deal, however it was kind of a surprise and also a hassle to get back in, and should this have happened a couple of years ago, yeah, the panic level on me would have been 10 times worse.

One thing about the rip current that I am now used to is that it can be strong at times but then it would be less at another time. While if you'd think about it, it is obvious but there always is a period when incoming sets are huge and frequent and there are some lull period.

What happened was this, I wanted to get out and I did find a rip are and I rode it out. As usual with a rip area, the waves do not break but it was really a rough ride out with lots of large ripples to get over, typical of rip area. What I did not realize was that the size of the rip and I was paddling out like, "Oh, finally I am in the rip." But the when I turned back I was way to far out with the buildings and cars so much smaller now that I know I have ventured out more the distance that I was comfortable with, and there were about 5 or so people in the lineup and at the point the rip was still going out.

Now I had to cross this current and get back in, and that took a little while, since there was really nothing to ride but just a lot of water moving around me. It was not an easy feeling as I just wanted to catch a few more rides then get to the office for the scheduled meeting and the time was running out. If I had more time, I would have just relaxed more and wait it out until the next lull of the waves. Luckily the sets have died down the current started to ease, and I could quickly paddle back.

As for the rides, it was an OK day. I did not have much to write about.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Session 5113. Fog Surfin

Finally I got back into surfing on school days with my local friends. Looking at the buoy reading, I thought that our regular local spot would have just been perfect today, except for the tide. When I started out surfing, I thought some of my Santa Cruz friends were crazy to be so obsessed about the tide. But the beaches are very sensitive to both wind and the tide. Given the infinite variation in the swell height, period, and the direction, surfing will always bring something different in each session we go out. And when it comes to it, we should realize that how sensitive of the natural phenomenon that is. Now I realize that a minor and careless alteration of the environment near by can cause a significant effect in how the beach breaks out the waves. I only inhabit the ocean a few hours a day, but there are million other factors that will affect the everyday inhabitant of the area, like fishes, dolphins and even the sharks! But, I digress.

It was a foggy morning, and I could not hardly see the waves, but luckily my local buddy T has checked the waves and so he said that it would not worth it, so we quickly made a wireless communication to other buddy J and we decided to hit further north. J has told me that yesterday him and yet another local buddy of ours had a lot of fun, so I was hopeful.

We pulled out into the second spot and it was happening complete with an outgoing rip current that is ever present at the south end of this spot. Paddling out was easy, and two of my buddies were already looked like 500 or 600 yards out, while as usual I stayed inside about 200 yards or so out. I was still pissing in the pants (OK, wetsuit, and I really did too) about getting so far out because I still feel am not so confident to get all the way out there and then need to fight the current back if I had to paddle in. It actually isn't a big deal, but they got long boards and I was on a 6'6 board so the speed to reach the outside was just so different especially these guys are very strong paddlers too.

Well, I am sort of glad I did not go so far out as at one point, my buddy told me to come along, the waves started to get really big and got around head and a half, and another surfer got sort of creamed. Nothing major, but I was sure glad I know I can handle duck dives in these situations.

Then the waves started to get mellower probably as the tide started to come in. And today I did not have much luck, as good waves always started to break further to the left or right, and if I paddle there then it started to happen just where I was! Though the waves were just perfect size and shape, they were a tad smaller than the outside overhead waves and rather soft. And when I thought the waves would break, most of them were fizzling out in the inside too. Really should have ventured to the outside; next time!

One thing I gained more today is the realization that I had much more confidence and comfort in the water ever, and now I can almost always surf (and not paddle) back to the shore at the end of each session, and negotiate the pounding shore breaks to get out, at the level of getting and out of a home, and indeed it is kind of a home to me now.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Session 5112

I woke up with the sound of water dripping through the rain gutters. The sky was not blue any more and there was no sun shining through the bedroom window. But it was just a drizzle so I checked the current buoy wind on my web site. While there was a drizzle, the wind was next to nothing and water looked glassy at all the places I hang out locally. I had to go to the office, so I had to skip some of the "better" spots and headed to the usual.

Doing a consistent down patrol is not always easy, and this morning's issue was the low tide, nevertheless there were breaking waves out, the water was glassy (hence no wind), so even it was drizzling outside and I pulled out the fish and paddled out. It was so shallow to quite far outside that when I tried to duck through, the board hit the bottom.

The waves were mid chest level max, I shared the area with a long boarder, a decent surfer and she was taking long rides. Conditions like this can bring some different challenges for short boarding. First, the breaking part of the wave is so small that if I don't get up on the board there basically is no rides, and second, to get into the wave I have to paddle really hard, strong and fast until I catch the wave.

What I have been building up to this point has started to apply well with smaller wave situations, and I managed to catch and have several quality rides too and that resulted in a lot of fun. In some ways, sessions like today are more tiring than on "bigger" days, and I like to keep training my paddling and flick-up muscles, agility to be on the board quickly to acquire the control of the board and also in this specific situation, an accuracy to "rip" in small conditions. I find the experience like today is just as valuable as yesterday when the sets waves were larger and more powerful.

That brings to the issue of equipment. It is true that a fish can catch small waves, but still, if this was a year ago I would not have had enough skill and power to do that. But now I seemed to be starting to approach the board choice these days more for "What kind of riding experiences I want to get out of a session" than say, "I need a longer board so I can catch the waves." So the equipment is now helping the surfing style rather than dictating the skill. This is quite different in thinking because when I started out, I often had very frustrating thoughts that my boards were all no good because I could not ride let alone catch the waves, even though looking around there were all different riders having a lot of fun.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Session 5111

As I was finishing last evening's session, it looked like the wind was getting smaller and the waves becoming a bit smoother, so I was hopeful about this morning's condition. Last night, I had some other things from my work in mind and this morning I woke up at 4:30 as I found out some key thing, so I was working on that stuff. So I was able to have an early start.

On weekdays when I have to go to the office, I usually stop at Jetty or Linda Mar on the way. I'd love to surf at Montara or the Cove but if there are nobody else around that spooks me out thinking about if I got in some kind of a trouble. I like to ride the fish but I don't want to be chewed by a big fish. You know, today I was thinking about Linda Mar. Linda Mar has some stigma attached to it, and whenever people utter the phrase Linda Mar it usually comes with a word "but" too, like. "Hey where do you surf, man!", "Um, ah, Linda Mar, but?" I really think that people ought to surf the waves they can regardless of where. Even Montara or OB can have some nice mellow beginner days, and in fact, that's when I venture out to these places. There really is no need for me to surf 2 x overhead waves right especially when I cannot even rip on shoulder high breaks, and furthermore, there are better surfers than me who do and can rip in the same small waves I frequent. So presently I need to get there before I think about outside OB or big Montara days.

If you have been following my log, you know that I have been working on more solid take-off technique for the good 4-5 months now. It is not that I could not catch waves, but I was not catching good ones, and finally there has been a sign of improvement. As a result of it, I am now taking off into situations that result in more speed and power. That's great but then the next weakness is showing up, that's not getting up on the board fast enough and getting into the control. Now I continue to build the take off more solid, I need to build the next part of it.

Today there were some good powered waves and I was taking off more solidly than I have been able to, and there were many waves in which I just did not stand up fast enough. Should I have been able to I could have set the rail and do some turns, but I just don't yet have the speed to execute these steps yet. This is, in no doubt, the first stage into a real ripping, and I did experience a couple of good solid take off and flick-up that I was able to cut back rather solidly without the board coming off under my feet. Instead I felt a decent amount of pressure on my feet and knees. The closest way to describe this would be that you would be one of the Log Rides in SC Boardwalk, but instead of sitting inside of the log, you would stand up at the top and keep standing until it splashes down, and if it makes a turn at the same time, and if you are still standing then that's it.

Once I can get a good speed from a get-go, then I finally would be able to rip continuously for the duration of a ride, and that's where I am aiming for this season.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Session 5110

The wind has finally started to ease today. This morning was a bit of a squeeze for time for surfing so I went in this afternoon at LM. I actually should have done the Gray Whale Cove, but that place is so inconsistent that I opted for a "safer" option.

The waves were still disorganized but the place had some power from the outside and I saw one long boarder just having such a good time! I wish I brought my 9'0 Takayama and I could probably have had a lot of fun. But these days, my focus is to learn how to take off on "all" waves with a short board. This, of course, is a quite a callenge to me but nevertheless, I did catch several steep take-off waves.

There were several waves that I did not stand up quickly enough and I ended up belly boarding down good half of the way. This basically means that I am still whimping out for not getting up on the board and getting a hold of the board control. Now, if a surf teacher will tell me that, I would talk back to her, and tell her that it was going too fast for me. But that's exactly what I got to do, be up on the board "as soon as possible!"

And that's basically where I am at this point of time. I need to be in the control of the board as soon as possible.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Session 5109

It was already 7:30 in the morning and I was a bit relaxing half dozing off thinking that I would take it easy today, but then the familiar ring tone on my Pocket PC started to play at a distance in another room. "Oh, man! It's my buddy again, what does he want, I am sure he will leave me a message." So I got up a few minutes later and checked the message and sure enough it was my buddy. I was thinking that he would want to get out to the Jetty or something, but now that he knows I am the local cheap version of Mark Sponsler and he was already telling me that it is "Blowing out there." There goes a local surf option, because if is blowing here then basically there is no other places right near by that isn't blowing.

Now I am wide awake, and also the sun is fully out (this is to mean no fog), I was a bit stoked to drive down to SC, and turned out that he wanted to go too, so I did another drive back to Manresa because I know the town breaks won't be happening for sure.

We kind of lucked out as we did start out at 9:30 or so at Manresa beach (again) this morning as the wind was still mellow, then by 11:30, the wind started to pick up.

We were catching ton of waves on small beach breaks.

I really like to surf with him because he has been at it for dozen or more years and he does have a nice smooth nice style of ripping, much like his personality, and he also share one very important aspect of surfing with me that is about how much we agree on catching waves. We are both fortunate to be local to many breaks but then we also know a lot of people who just don't go out when the condition is not optimum. But we are different in that department; we just go for anything from hip high condition at the Jetty to 15 seconds 8 ft days at Montara, and he will look after me on bigger days and gives me a lot of encouragements, and as a result of it, we got to share some of the best waves I have been.

Another aspect of my buddy is that he would not let me alone! Just when I get a bit tired of surfing (yes, that happens to even to me) and let my mind wander away away from it, there is either a call or phone message waiting asking me to get out and catch more waves! But that's what really a bro is for. We all share the waves and the board and the wax and squeeze our time to go and surf!

So that brings to the point to me, it is always good to get to know the people who are better than you, and there is always something to learn from the buddy, and also help him give some of my new surfer stoke power.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Session 5018


Today, I had a few not so surfing related errands to do in Santa Cruz. But having said that everything I do in Santa Cruz, or for that matter, anything I do leads to surfing, right? At any rate, driving to Santa Cruz means to take the highway 1 and that means basically my eyes are cocked 45 degrees away from the highway.

On the drive down definitely looked disorganized gnarly mess until Waddell Creek, at that point I am fairy certain that Manresa will be breaking, but not in the city breaks. Took care of fixing the bathroom fan in my apartment and by then it was close to 4 PM, and it was now on an incoming tide so we (my wife and I) went out there. It was sunny in SC and that was good but a bit windy and cool. But the wind basically mellowed down at the beach so we had some decent beach afternoon there.

When I got there, it looked like the typical summer wind swell breaks at Manresa with a lot of chest level breaks inside and some shoulder high level breaks from the outside that came may be every 5-10 minutes. So I pulled out, as you know already my favorite Fish. This board has been performing so well in my past several sessions that I am so happy that I got it. It was in the used section of Freeline shop with fairly shotty rail ding fix work, so I took it and fix it up "as we go." Now it is in a very decent shape, and it just let me catch just about every wave I go for in these types of conditions, and especially with some recent advancement in take-offs, I am doing a lot better in terms of the initial get-go parts now.

Today my wife was watching and critiquing my surfing. I tried my best to show my best ripping available, and usually when she is around I don't do very well or when I had the best ride in a session, she was looking the other way etc. I did warn her that I do rip every once in a while but these are very rare so make sure to keep watching every ride. And finally she saw me one ride, according to her "I was trying hard for it."

So this confirms the following aspects of my current state.

? I am definitely catching just as many waves as some of the better people. That's good. The initial take off positioning is better now and also I have much more paddling muscles to get into the wave regardless of the size or the speed. Along this line I am judging the wave a bit better too that is contributing to the success.
? I don't have the speed and agility yet. I am keenly aware of this issue, and I still hit the bottom of the wave too soon and too straight too often then stalling out. Better surfers seem to manage to do turns sooner towards the top to get into the wall soon then gain the speed as they descend on the wall. This means that they are up on the board even sooner than me and taking advantage of the power of the wave.

So while I try to polish up the take-off skills, I now need to start to perfect what comes after that, the actual riding part of the wave.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Session 5107

I have "squeezed in" one more session at the Jetty, and I really enjoyed this evening. Even though it was a Friday afternoon, people were just not surfing, so I had my own peak for the entire duration of the session! Then I finally met Baldwin on the way out so I told him to hit the spot I was at.

I caught so many waves in just about an hour session that I was so worn out and I had to get out.

Perhaps it is a good time for me to recap from the start where I was and I am today.

In the beginning, I had this NEV 7'0 board that I was talked into buying because I would "Grow Out" of a long board if I got it. That was in 2002. I could not even paddle on the darn thing that every time I went out with my friend, I was so freaked out and scared.

The next season I got 8'6 and it was remarkable how easy it was to paddle out and starting to catch some waves. Once in a while I brought out the 7'0 but the story was the same again, I could not paddle on the darn thing, let along sit straight on the board. Then I went to Club Ed camp at Baja for a week with this 8'6. That was probably one of the most remarkable time in my surfing as I surfed two sessions a day for the entire week, and I've gotten much better or at least much comfortable with the notion of being in the water. I met my friend Clio there and then we surfed for a good rest of the next year together almost every weekend basically blowing off her boyfriend's Valentine Day, and her kids Mother's day (not to mention my in-laws'). That was when I found out that going to Santa Cruz at Cowells or the Hook was a lot of fun, so that's another reason why we went there so much.

Then I've gotten the Arrow 7'5 board, and started to try that. By then my arms were stronger that I could paddle on that thing. I surfed that a lot in Linda Mar. But I was not making a progress not that much. Then I got a Velzy 9'0 and that was something out of the world. That board caught so many waves on so many different situations that it was unbelievable! It worked especially well in Santa Cruz 38th.

Then I started to see a lot of people surfing the "Fish" and so I wanted to ride, and one day I found a used fish board at Freeline shop. Without hesitation I got that and then started to use it. It was "only" 6'6 but I was able to paddle out on it, and catch some waves wit it. Since then I have taken it to the Trestles, San Diego breaks and all over the places.

Why am I writing about this? Well, I am in a realization now that the whole reason that I can ride shorter board today is because I have gained so much more paddling power and skills. I happen to believe the importance of this aspect of surfing. Since I started out when I was not engaged in any physical activities, my paddling muscles were just not there, but as I surfed more, I started to gain more.

And even today, the part of a big struggle in trying to take off into steeper waves just simply require a lot of "impulse" power on my arms to do that. Without it, I cannot insert myself into an angle and won't be able to take off with a heavy tail weighting that is needed at the start of taking off. So if someone is sticking a gun at my head and need to take off into even bigger waves a year from now, what I would do is to work really hard to get my arms in the top shape, and I think that that aspect of surfing is not very well taught in any books.

Today, on my 6'6, I caught unbelievable number of waves, and they were actually very small, but as it turns out smaller waves are more work to catch.

Also now that I have started to catch waves more consistently (on short boards), I am now starting to experiment with more aggressive top turning, and that would really be the key to surf like experts.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Session 5106

Like I wrote on the Stokemasters message board this morning, I was literally hang over from surfing this morning as I put in total of 4 sessions in the last two days. Plus I was still getting over the jet lag that we have acquired from the Japan trip. I honestly don't know how pilots and flight light attendants can handle it. The "east" bound is always so hard to get over because when you get back the whole day starts over, whereas when we go "west" all we got to do is to "sleep some more."

Well, on way to the Jetty, I looked at the Linda Mar beach as well as Montara and these places were covered with the roaring waves that would not be so fun to get out, let alone catching those waves.

But when I arrived at the Jetty, the spot was breaking just like the past two days, mostly shoulder to head high, while there were a some close outs, there were a quite few ridable shoulders. I really can claim this as my home break and even if we move to the North Shore of Hawaii, I would still proudly call the Half Moon Bay Jetty as my home break. I had some of the hardest time here as well as some of the best surfing I have ever done as a beginner surfer, but the place is not just for a beginner, there still are a lot of challenges for me to surf there as good as the best surfers I see.

As with yesterday, I took out the Randall French 6'6 Fish board. I must say that this is also THE favorite board of mine these days especially I missed it for a month. Compared with a true short style board, this board affords so much more stability and forgiveness to my lack of skills and give me a lot of fun letting me in on the wall and when the waves power gets less, just a pump or two and it would just get me into the next section of the wave letting me have remarkably long rides even on smaller situations like today. So much fun!

When I arrived there, there were only a handful of surfers out there and with the set size dwindling a bit more (though the swell size is supposed to be bigger today) than yesterday, there were even less people out there as it seemed to me. I had a wide variety of sections to choose from so I basically paddled, surfed and walked back to the starting point several times to catch some of the most fun waves. And of course, I continued to explore the quest of catching waves, and I must say that today, I did well, as the success rate for the wave I went for continued to improve.

One thing that I have really realized lately was that I was not putting my weight "back" enough when taking off, especially when I switched to shorter boards. Even though for good two seasons, I thought I was doing it. But this type of weight shifting is really difficult because I am lying prone of the board so how can you really shift the weight? And if I am too far back, paddling power will suffer. So the key here seems to be that I have enough paddling power to compensate so that I can sit a bit towards the back of the board, and also I had to become more limber on my upper area so that I can start full prone to gain the speed but as the speed goes up, I would do this "cobra" position to start shifting my weight toward the back. Easier said than done especially being limber isn't something I was not good at even when I was 6 years old. And paddling is another area that really needs a lot of building to do. Thirdly, as soon as I feel that the board has gained the speed to glide, I should get up on the board without a hesitation, and perfectly land on the center line of the board and continue to press hard on the back of the board especially on faster breaks. If I do all these right, I now know I can take off on waves that I thought would have not been possible before.

Now, I understand this a bit better and experiencing it, the next work to do is to perfect it by making this part of the action consistent, so basically if I pick a wave, I basically take off. Only then my ultimate goal of practicing for a Roundhouse Cutback become possible.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Session 5104 and 5015

Another day with double sessions today with the sun already up by 6:30 AM, and not setting until 8:30 PM. The morning session at Linda Mar beach was an OK session with lot of close outs and not much to catch like yesterday, but I did venture out and did catch a few waves. I was again concentrating on catching every size of wave using the 7?0 board, but after not having so much rides, I decided to head in and called my buddy J for the routine surf report exchange. He is also connected with other local surfers so I feed the news and he will feed me the news from other surfers too, but we agreed to surf again at 6:30 at the Jetty since I said I had fun in the afternoon and while the wind is going to be strong, it is going to be the side shore direction so we thought it would be OK.

Throughout the day, I checked the wind condition, and it did not look too bad and also the NW swell was already building up to 11 ft at 9 seconds so we know some of that will spill into the Jetty wrapping around the Pillar Point, beyond which is the famous Mavericks, as we all know.

When I arrived, sure enough there were good chest to head high range breaks happening and some good surfers were still ripping. I also got my 6?6 fish back from a co-worker surfer who was borrowing it from me for some time.

I must say that the riding quality of the fish is so much different from the 7?0 that I used this morning. One thing with the fish is that it is really good on straight rides against the wall and it just hug the wall if I get in the wall correctly after the take off, I had some of the longest rides again with it. It seems to like to be ridden more on even weight distribution than needing to turn and create more speed. In that way, it has a long board type ride quality to it. On the 7?0 it requires a lot of turning and pushing through the tail, which I even did not realize well until very recently.

So this PM, I was catching so many waves that I could not believe, and with a more confidence in taking off, I was able to get into the waves that I thought would not be possible before, and I am still working up to the level where better surfers are catching the waves. With all that I might finally be able to join the highly competitive lineups at the Jetty by the breakwater, or places like outside Rincon or the SC Pleasure Point on a decent condition day and take off on waves with more even skill level than the rest of the people. I have been there many times, but I know I was completely out of league, and it was very obvious to me and others. Today though I feel I still need more work to get there, but now at least I fell like I am moving towards in a concrete way.