Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Session 5204

Well, on Thursday I will be flying back home to Japan in a non-vacation and non-work circumstance where surfing is totally out of question, so I was hoping for a really fun wave in the afternoon. I decided to hit Montara. It was really sunny, clear blue sky and nice out. But waves were not cooperating. It was a soupy frothy mess and not easy to get out and even when finally out after burning 200 calories the waves were not shaped easy enough for me to surf. On top of that there was a very strong N->S current going by the shore so I could not get to where I wanted to go easily.

I was though happy to see Dog Haus, though he was not surfing but playing with his daughter in the sand, and I got out after 4 get-out attempts. Picked up a 6-pack of Kona Longboard Ale, headed to his house and consumed it. And that's the extent of this session.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Session 5203

Session 5203

It is always nice to get a call at 6:30 in the morning from someone near by to go out catch some morning sun and the waves. Quite often, things do not work out with buddies then I am all alone out in the ocean.

This morning was unexpectedly fun! It was fun because we were the only two surfers out there within our vantage point and we caught tons of good mellow waves that I tend to prefer, perhaps up to shoulder level, but still there was enough power in them to mess me up good if I screw up. That's fairly typical of the beach breaks we got around here.

It was a real blast and fun and I felt that I have started to make some progress again and my buddy commented about people having different surfing style and there are some of our friends surf in more bold powerful style, but mine, he said, looked very graceful. What a complement, I really like that.

The reason I thought I caught more waves is because I am not consciously paddling harder and not giving up paddling until I know for sure I did not catch the wave. The video my wife took this weekend was very educational, so I am about to show you what I am talking about. This is the part of the video that I did not show you last time because I was a bit embarrassed about it.

You can see that I am really late in committing to take off and then once the wave comes I am totally missing it by not paddling in hard enough and fast enough. If I saw another surfer doing the same from the shore, I would have advised the surfer to paddle earlier, faster and harder. That's exactly not what I was doing. So now I know. I am going to work on it more in upcoming sessions!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Session 5202

Session 5202

What an awesome fall afternoon! The sun was out completely (which is rare in this area), the wind has stopped (which is rare when the sun is out in our area), and we did have some good close out waves in our local beaches. A local buddy of mine also showed up in the mid session, and instead of surfing, we decided to paddle to and from one state beach to another (though I cheated, I walked back since I was already paddling up and down for some time before he showed up and I was on a 6'3.)

I requested Wendy she would come out and role the camcorder for me, so here it is. With all these sessions I do, you might be wondering why I am not a pro surfer yet, but I guess there are who make it and there are who never will. But you all know I am having fun.

These are but just a few of the best rides that were recorded in camera. But I have really learned that I am not paddling hard enough and giving up too soon based on other footages that you did not see. So that's what I am going to work on next.

You will find that the video taping helps a lot on your skill improvements. I suggest highly that you do that. The technology is within the reach of most surfers. So do it!

Session 5200 - 5201 (Thu and Fri)

Session 5200, Thursday 22 September 2005

The work is now super busy and also I need to wrap up much of the outstanding work before I head back home in Japan for a week. Again, I tried to focus a lot more before and I get in the water. It has really been a good practice for me to do this since there have been a lot of distracting thoughts and events that have been happening lately? most of them are happy events but intertwined with some rather sad events too. So, I would like to make sure that I will allocate a small piece of a day just for myself, which I should do even when there are no other major stuff going on. Then once I am done with that I should then focus on other things, instead of being distracted by the thought of surfing, and I am really practicing hard to get that switch to turn hard in one way then to another way depending on the time of the day.

So in terms of surfing, I had only an hour of session time left in the morning, and with this being a NW swell day and also I really did not want to venture out to other places that I decided to get back to Linda Mar. I has been a while I surfed here but I think that with the NW swells increasing and the summer onshore wind calming down I will be coming here a lot more, unless it gets really big then I can escape back to the Jetty or something.

This morning the surface was glassy and it was an easy paddle out, at least where I was, and I caught a few fun waves. It is really fun to read the waves and connect the rides, there were just a few of those I could do but even when the waves are relatively small when that works out I am just so happy when I get out of the water!

Session 5201: Friday 23 September 2005

Another short stop at Linda Mar this morning before hitting the desk. The amount of work is getting very busy due to a travel I have to do at the end of the next week back home.

The swell has built up over night. The waves were closed out, as very typical of this spot, especially looking from the shore, but as I paddled out ducking through a lot of white stuff, the waves became looking more surfable, and there is some kind of magic to this feel. As I paddle further out, getting out gets easier and also see the waves in different shapes as I thought they were from the beach, in fact, quite a bit more surfable looking than from the shore.

I caught several fun waves with a bit of effort to getting back out. But I kind of liked it because I really got a good amount of exercise before hitting the office!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Session 5199

The last several sessions were so difficult that this morning was a real delight. While the rest of the beach was basically closed out, I picked the south end of the beach with real smooth paddle out with just some push through or going over the waves to get to the lineup. The sets were a far and a few in between, but when they came, they were clean and relaxingly small enough hip to low chest size. It was really nice to surf these waves, since they are so unthreatening and yet when I catch them correctly on my 6'3 Rusty, they worked wonders. Besides, there was just me and another long boarder. And that's another interesting part that started to happen; starting this year, I have started to catch waves on a short board along side long board surfers. I think that this is attributed to more increased paddling power I have gained over time and in some cases I can even paddle from further outside. I am really happy about that.
But even happier part about that is that I was really able to focus more on the waves and become the part of the surrounding, and I continued to realize how much I enjoy being in the water.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Session 5198: Become A Surfing Animal

I was hoping to catch some remnant of the S swells this morning at the Jetty.

I also made a commitment to myself this morning that I am not going to fool around too much in the morning, instead, I become a surfing animal -- I just get things together and get out and only think about surfing for the next couple of hours. There are many things going in my life right now. I am not going to get too much into the details what they are, but definitely there are some "a few time in my lifetime" type situation that is happening, and so I have been rather distracted and not being able to focus.

So I wanted to get away from all of that and just find a moment of solitude for an hour or two. And my wish did come true.

It was almost embarrassing to show up in the middle of rush hour traffic, being the single surfer in the beach, probably looking like a fool paddling up and down to find waves, but not finding any good waves.

But the water was smooth and not too cold. It really felt good on my body as I slowly stroke my arms through the water. It really brought back some of the important reason why I like participating in Surfing. It is kind of a sport I can really enjoy myself alone and also even if I don't catch any waves, just simply being in the water alone can be a nice thing. Even though was just a few hundred yards away from a stop and go traffic, when I turn my board around and gaze at the horizon in the general direction of where I was born, it really soothes my mind. It is a kind of a void and quiet place where I can allow myself to get rid of all the thoughts and just focus on one basic thing; to live and play and become a part of this totally liquid world for a short period of time. I am realizing more and more about how surfing places me in a totally different world than being on a solid land with people and associated stuff that goes with that. I do like to be in both worlds, but the fact is that I now have the key to both worlds and that's something that I was actually not expecting to realize when I entered the sport because it was some challenging or fun thing to do.

As I looked over the horizon, I saw a large black fin sticking out of the water. Then two other fins converged to the first fin, and then started to swim around. They zigzagged the surface of the water sometimes completely hidden and sometimes doing the standard dolphin-through moves, but swimming very slowly, in a relaxed pace, the same way I was paddling around. I was also pulled out to the outside on a slow rip currents, and eventually we came just a few yards of each other. Dolphin encounters do happened often enough in this area, but this morning it was really special because I was totally alone in the water and I really felt that they are now my friends sharing the water with me; a part of an experience to become as much of an ideal surfing animal.

Again, I have not scored any ride this morning, I took off on waves but they all closed out so I had to pull out on all of them. But I really don't even have to report on that aspect of today's session, because I have really found out more about why I like to return to the water so much.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Session 5196 (Fri) - 5197 (Sat) @ The Jetty


Got up a bit later in the morning, the sinus problem has started to clear, and the buoy was indicating 5 ft at 20 seconds. Clearly the south swells are still in. Finally I am back in the Jetty. Knowing that the situation is going to be crowded, I decided to at least paddle out in this condition, just to see how it was like. A total number of days that 20 seconds swell would hit us in Half Moon Bay are probably countable with the fingers on my both hands.
The breaks were all different pattern than the usual W or big NW swell days and how they built up are also different. Waves seem to pop up from the bottom of the ocean rather than more like "swept in" type pattern. So you'd wait on flat water for a bit then suddenly the water pushes up underneath.
As with Thursday session, I was clearly not up to be able to fully surf these types of condition. Getting out was not an issue but catching the waves were not possible for me yet. There is so much water movement that adds to the speed of the break that extremely powerful and fast take off is required and once you take off, again strong knee actions are needed to stay on the wave and make turns. If you can get that power and speed, I am sure it will be a lot of fun. But with the crowd and my current abilities, I opted to stay on the lineup, not really trying to take off and just enjoy being in there and see some of the best people take off and making great moves. Floaters, Roundhouse? you name it, some of the people were making those as if they do it every day. Where do they come from, by the way?


Initially I was not going to get out. I was going to rest. But when I saw my new blue helmet sitting in my room and a dry wet suit hanging, my spirit was lifted immediately and I felt a strong surge of energy pumping within myself. The Stoke is back and the ocean is calling me to come and play! Then there was a call from Luke that he was already at the Jetty, now I really have to go.

There were a lot of things I had to take care of this morning, but I finally got things together and got out to the Jetty. Sure it was crowded, I was really determined to go out but still well prepared to do what I did yesterday. Sorry I was a bit too late but did catch Luke on the way out. Which, of course, I was really happy to, because there always is an anticipation of hitting the waves and it is really good to see someone coming back "in one piece." No matter what types of waves are out there.
Once I splashed in the situation looked similar than yesterday, but a bit calmer, so to speak. There still were a lot of waves and water. It is interesting that all that waves have traveled from very further north to reach and showing the last show of the energy as if they are doing their best to show their end of the journey in our corner of the earth.
There was so much water movement out in the area that a constant adjustment of the position was needed. Like yesterday, if there are a lot of sets coming then a huge rip current would form and in no time I am way outside. So, in order to maintain my "comfort zone" position I was continuing to paddle.

I probably missed about 20 sets, then finally the set came, it started to break right where I was and I was smiling because I know I can catch that and I looked left and right frantically as I paddled to the shore. Of course the wave I was dealing with was much smaller version of the ones that were breaking by the break water, but still, I had to paddle extra hard to catch it, because if I do not catch it, there will be a consequence of either thrown over or held under or both. But this one I caught and it was a good wave! I love it when I see the wall forming right of my eye as I take off. I look up as hard as I can to set the line and I try to crank the bottom turn as hard as possible to get back up on the face of the wave. Then the darn wave start to close faster, and I made a hard left turn, then there was a big backwash bump. I hop over it and then with the very strong impact of that I jumped against the bump and dismounted. I was way up in the air as the board also shot up too.
So there was only one ride but that one was really fun!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Session 5195

Thursday September 15th

The South has not given up yet. A few weeks earlier in the South Pole region were some strong relentless wind blowing for several days continuously. Some, if not all, of this enormous energy started to propagate in the form of long period swells.

In the meantime here in Nor Cal, and more specifically to my body and the immediate vicinity, my sinus problem has started to clear away, and I was definitely enjoying food and wine last night with the full dimension of senses. You never appreciate all the senses you have until you lose even just one. And when this afternoon at the beach I was able to get the sense of the bad ocean smell due to blossoming red tides.

Long period swells give different kind of breaks even when the swell height is very small. They come up as if from nowhere and the mound of water start to build up and before you know it, the breaks are already overhead and when they close out, there is just a massive amount of white water that forms.

When I arrived at the beach, the wind was almost negligible and so the surface of the water was rather calm, but when the waves broke there was more of the thunderous quality to it. This is no longer for casual surfer's realm, but only the best and most experienced can really take advantage of it. While I knew clearly that some pounding and hold downs are inevitable, I had to go, because I was just curious if this is going to be my limit or not, and it almost was.

Getting out was different from the usual short period and wind blown breaks that I am accustomed to. Instead of one after another of waist high soup, this time, I had to contend with 3-4 seconds apart of chest to shoulder high soups. My usual shallow duck diving are no longer working, instead, I have to really put a lot of weight over the shoulder, submerge the front completely and then really move fast to the back and push really hard to submerge the tail. If I screw up and go too shallow, then "bang!" I will be thrown backwards and then jostled in the huge mess of white water, which of course, throw me back good 10-15 feet back, requiring me to get back out to where I just was. As I thought I was "outside enough" bigger set would come sometimes, and I'd screw up getting through those, but if they close out just right in front of me, then I'd be treated with additional burden of being held under a bit. All of which, at my current level of confidence, I can handle no problem, but still are very unpleasant experience, as I try to swim up, it almost feels like a long time before I reach the surface. These are kind of things you only hear about from big wave surfers, and what I am experiencing is a miniature scale episode, like when I started to surf, all the waves were huge!

I had one really good and fun ride on a huge reform. But the rest of the times, I was waiting either for a "huge" reform or small ridable waves; none of which came as I waited for waves in a safe outside zone.

In the meantime, there were a select few people who were really catching a lot of waves. So again, it has been a very humbling experience, and I am glad that I came back in one piece, so to speak.

Surfing continues to be a long journey for me.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Session 5193-4

Session 5193-4

I was finally being able to hit the water this Sunday morning. I was really hoping that after this session the sinus congestion problem would completely clear. Of course, this is Monday and as I am writing this with a box of Kleenex next to I and I did not surf today partly because I had a busy morning and also to hopefully give my body a day to fully get rid of this issue.

This has really been a lower stoke season than the past.

The story should go back to Saturday because that was the Nor Cal women's surfing contest day and I actually did not end up showing up. The night before I had a business trip in Atlanta and I came back still with the sinus issue and I was really not in a mood to surf or do anything related to it. Yes, it sounds rather strange coming out from me saying that. But, I quite honestly, I was actually not in the mood to go out late, try to find a parking spot and then not really surf but stand around for the whole day sort of things. I will even admit that I really have become crowd phobic, and that's another reason why I pulled out of Santa Cruz shared apartment deal altogether last month. I must say that this is the phase that I am going through? I hope so. But if you talk to my wife, she know very well that I get extremely hostile and cranky, if she asks me to go to the open mike session at the Hang. I just do not see any point in going to the Irving district on weeknight after a long day of work only to drive around for 45 minutes to find a spot, get the musical instruments and PA out of the car, haul it, then wait for another 1.5 hours and play a single song in an "open mike" session. Conversely she does not see any point for me driving a day out to some spot on the coast, camp out, and haul the surf board down a 10 minute hike and surf, and come back and sleep without a shower either! So the level of "hassle" we are willing to go through are directly related to the Stoke within us.

Also I was looking forward to seeing a lot of my friends at the Classic contest earlier in August and that was a bomb too, since and except one local buddy of mine nobody else came to the contest either, and during the heat I basically go solo without anyone else present that I knew. Long after my wife and my co-worker friend showed up.

Hopefully we will make all of this up next year, I will be a much nicer person, and also hopefully I will even be a much more competitive surfer next year.

So instead of NOT surfing on Saturday, I managed to get up early and get out and surf with my local friends, and I was hoping some epic waves right here near my house. But of course the session was all mixed with poor condition and guilts of not showing up yesterday with my friends. In fact, the first spot was so sucky and too big and too unshapely that some of us got out and went to another spot. Since I took off my suit and put it back on, that constitutes two sessions. And at the second spot it was even worse than the first. So I ended up not scoring any rides! And that afternoon I got even more congested, probably I have irritated my internals more than what it was doing to recover from it.

So as for the surf goes, this weekend was more of the situation to gain from my mind disciplinary aspect than the regular surfing skill improvement type situation.

As the final stroke of the karma, I ran into the proprietor of the surf contest this morning as I was getting down to the beach to take this week's water samples at Montara.

Stoke 10

Monday, September 05, 2005

Sessions 5190 (Sat) , 5191 (Sun), and 5192 (Mon)

What a remarkable weekend this was since we had two nice sunny days at the beaches. It really is end of the summer and start of the fall.

For Sat, I headed down to SC to surf with Clio and pick up way over due wet suit repair from Blown Out Wetsuit. I dropped off my suit on 7/7 and it took me close to two months to pick it up. I was worried that she may have sold it, but she said that she never sells repaired suits. In terms of surfing the swells were not getting into both W and E side beaches well, so we opted to do Manresa again where the waves were not that great, so I am not going to write much about that. Of course it is always fun.

For Sun and Mon, Got to surf with Laura two days in row, since she will be entering the contest next weekend in 3 divisions! Wow! So the best place to practice is to where she will have a contest, and Linda Mar is the place to be.

For both Sunday and Monday, I felt rather awkward. I guess I am really not used to surfing in a crowded situation any more. I have mainly escaped to further north side where the breaks were less frequent. For Sunday, I opted for short boarding and I felt I did OK but if I had a long board, I would have been able to catch more waves. So on Sunday, I took out a long board and then I felt that I should just have sat inside and caught waves with a short board. But as soon as I start to blame the board for inadequate surfing, then I know it is really my skills set.

On Monday, Ren joined too, and she is still remarkably good at catching waves. She was catching many more waves than I was, so my hats off to her. I think she has a knack of positioning herself at good peaks.

I think that I will be going back to focus on short boarding for a while, I think that mixing the two is actually not a very good idea.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Session 5189

I have been a bit tired, mentally that is, for the past few days. I do not set my alarm clock. When I do a DP, I am usually up due to my own determination to get up and go. But this morning, the warm bed was more inviting to me than to get out and hit the beach before I hit the desk. I am sure you can all relate to that. I am sure I am back in track again especially I am now on a mission to compete as a full fledged surfer next year at the Classic. May be a wishful thinking but that is the goal I am aiming for.

Having said that though, this afternoon was another one of those humbling situation where getting out was so difficult and catching the waves were equally difficult. It is humbling because there are others who do, and can do it, ripping and shredding, and I am not there yet. I am not making the lineup easily and I am not catching waves like them.

So back to the drawing board? it still is a part of a long journey. It still takes more practices to get out as efficiently as the best people, and it still take more practice to take on more wider variety of wave shapes. I have a road map in my mind, I think I know how to get there, but I also know that the road to there is still a long and uphill battle. Yes, it is part of my nature to pursue this. Why would I want to do that? I need to know where the limit is. Have I hit it, I may have, then may not have, but I can only know by trying since I am still discovering a lot every time I get out.

Soon I will be hitting the 200th session this year!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Session 5188

The day started out with a call to me that one of our major systems at work not functioning. When this happens it is a hell of an issue because of the complexity of the system that I need to deal with, there can be dozen things that can go wrong, and if I find out the cause, it would still take a while for me to figure out what other people have done to it in the past. Eventually, though, we all figure it out. Otherwise I would not have even gotten out in time to catch the evening waves that would not have been fun.

But we did fix everything, and it was really a frustrating day.

There is somewhat of a ritualistic nature in session. When I get into the water, I do have to strip all my work cloths off. I use that chance to strip off all the other things in the "day" world and try to become a part of a sea mammal family, I will forget about everything and focus just on the waster, the waves, the smell of the ocean and don't even thing about anything else but just being in the water and live as simple of life as I can.

After I got out of the water, I really felt a lot better about everything.