Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Session 5223

Session 5223

I will be back to Japan for about a week after tomorrow, so I wanted to have a good session this morning. I got a chance to surf with another close local friend of mine. I have not surfed with him for quite some time, but it was nice to surf with him. We decided to meet up at a local break at 7:00 this morning. I decided to head out to the beach, took care of some phone calls, then still had some more time so I decided to get down to the beach and took some extra time to stretch. It is really nice to be able to do that, just all by myself with the ocean in front and just relax and work out the muscles before getting in the water!

Surf size has gotten a bit smaller than yesterday, so it was more fun for what I liked, and with that added confidence I was able to work the waves better than yesterday. I am just still a bit overwhelmed when bigger sets come, and definitely the fall and winter waves can bring decent powered sets. And a good part of working these types of waves is to have good strength, and especially in the paddling strength department where I feel that really need to paddle harder, stronger, and a bit longer to match the power of the waves. This is part of my plan to re-work every aspect of how I am surfing. It is very important for me to get back to the basics and re-look at everything I do and make small improvements in each part. I can equate a lot of this to learning how to play a musical instrument. I have been in music for quite a number of years, I can play fairly decent. It is often good to challenge some new charts and I would break down each part, play slower and work out technique. It is sure fun to just play freely but sometimes I don't make a good progress, so in surfing too, I can surf somewhat OK, but now I need to do similar technique, and build up another layer of experience upon what I already have.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Session 5222

Session 5222

I like it when the session number "rhymes" with the date. Today is the 222th session of my surfing this year. The surf and the weather continues to be great with the sunny sky and not too big waves where I can play in.

In the last few sessions, I was thinking about why my progress have not been so visibly improving lately. One of the things is that I am now need to push my self to the next level or I would be stuck in current level. The next level that I am thinking about is actually challenging a bit bigger waves so that I can have more time on the waves.

The reason why I think this is an issue is because I have been in several sessions where better surfers were catching bigger waves and getting much better rides. Should I been able to take off like them, I could start practicing more riding technique.

But from my level to the next seems to be a bit of gap that I need to cross. One key issue is that I need to be able to deal with bigger and stronger situation, and to do that I need to really build up more strength to do that.

I have not decided to take that route yet. I can still continue to enjoy the size of waves and work with them, refining technique, but to catch wider variety of waves, then I think I really need more strength all around.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Session 5218 ~ 5221

5218: FRI 11/18
5219: SAT 11/19
5220: SUN 11/20
5221: SAT 11/21

Obviously, I have not been good at writing lately. Lots of personal tasks outside of working with computer has kept me away from writing WaveLOGs. I know there are many people reading my BS for all these years, so I first apologize for disappointing people. The majority to the time consumption is due to our move, and we still have many boxes in our home that need to be sorted out. The garage is still a mess, but most importantly, I have not quite gotten the system down to get set up for surfing and cleanup after surfing. My wife no longer allows me to use the bathroom to hang my wetsuit so it is like starting all over again. It is very interesting how a move can disrupt the surfing routines!

What a phenomenal week we had in HMB! We got continuous warm sunshine and no wind plus some good swell in the water! I am almost running out of the sun block!

In terms of surfing, Friday morning, I had the Jetty all to myself, but very embarrassingly I did not catch any waves. I was just positioned now right and the waves were breaking at wrong places or dumping right when I took off. This is my version of Zero Wave. I must really looked like a fool from the highway! I should have hit further north as I found out later on.

Saturday and Sunday I have avoided all crowded local breaks and picked a spot further. With the dwindling swell period, we were hopeful. Saturday, two of my long time friends came over from the East Bay, and I apologize for putting you in the situation, as the current was so strong and there were some periods with huge close outs. But again, my buddy Dog Haus showed up in the middle of the session, and he was ripping so it is not the waves, but it is my abilities. Plus I discovered that the rail had developed a crack and water was seeping though creating a stress-line type issue on my Rusty 6'3 board, so I was a bit bummed. The size of this is big enough that I think I am going to pay to have this fixed instead of fixing it by myself. Fixing dings can be fun, but with all these stuff going around me, it would be better to pay for it and save some time (to spend more time in the water).

Finally this is Monday and I did a quick session at LM because spots in between looked rather gnarly when I went down and taken weekly water samples for the Surfriders. But I had to pass by these spots and in just an hour or so time, the sets have really calmed down. But it seems to always be the case, the waves always look good from high up.

I am back in some period of not making much significant technical progress and on this Thanksgiving I will be flying back to Japan and be back on mid 29th. Surfing, as usual, is very difficult sport to learn and there are some periods I just feel that I am just moving backwards and feeling like being such a dork.

Hopefully I can surf next two days, and then on the 30th, that will put me to 225 sessions before December, I am hoping that I can put in 240 sessions before the New Years this year.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Session 5217

A message indicator of my cell phone on my desk was blinking in the pre-down darkness of the room. At this time of the day, that usually means a friend has sent me a text message telling me they are going to be out. I gathered up the gear, and put on the wet suit and started to head to the ocean. It was unusually warm and sunny morning with a local weather reading indicating light offshore wind and not only that the swells are winding down for a more fun level surfs that I like to surf in. As I passed by the Devil's Slide, I stared to check the swell line directions and the size to gauge today's surf. The full moon has not set yet, instead I saw it was shining on calm ocean, its long line of light casted in the middle of the ocean with purple dawn color background. Surfing really is not just all about getting in the water, but the anticipation of getting in the water, and checking out the ocean but things like experiencing ever changing seasonal climate is actually a part of the whole experience!

No matter how early I try to head out, though there already are people who are out already. You hear the familiar sound of a long boarder waxing her board, and some cheerful voice of surfers getting ready in the parking lot. There really are dedicated few that are willing to do this, and I still like to tell people that I get up at 5:30 in the morning, and get in the ocean year around. Needless to say, you get various reactions, but in most cases, there is always an element of surprise and also a relief on their part that they are not forced to do what I do.

But it I really learned to love the dawn patrol. Sure enough, it is really cold when I first dip in the water and then getting over or through the first wave, but once that part is done, then I feel that I am more of a part of the water world!

Something I have noticed recently is that how much warmer I get once I start to paddle a lot, and from that standpoint, so long as I paddle and ride a lot, I can stay warm.

In terms of surfing, it was a bit crowded this morning, but it was just an excellent chance for me to learn a lot more about efficient turning and extracting more power from the waves. Smaller waves and days are really fun that way because I can often ride longer distance as waves tend not close out into just white water mess.

Session 5216 - Sunny Glassy Fun Mid Morning

I was originally going to do a DP, but then there was a request for a phone call from the Netherlands this morning, so I had to stay home and work out some issues, followed by a few follow up emails to the team, I decided to just stick around at home for a bit longer and got rid of few other outstanding work items for the day. The day, however, was gorgeously sunny and finally I was able to get in the water with my buddy Dog Haus in one of our favorite local spot.

As usual, I still need to be ready to take the similar type of waves like him and all other of his local friends can do, but it is always good to be around much better surfers. I also did not fare too badly. I had some great long rides. One thing that I really like my 6'6 board with a tri-fin set up is that I can ride it rail-to-rail fashion as well as executing tighter turns through the tail of the board too in tight pockets that if I happen to catch a good wave then it can get really fun.

So, I meant to write about making waves.

Have you been to see local surf competitions held at the spots that you normally surf? Of course most of you have had (and if you have not, you should.) Up to more recently, I was wondering why on competition days, waves tend to look so much better.

Then it dawned on me that it is actually not the condition, but the surfer that make the waves look so much better than the regular time. During regular days, the number of good surfers is few and far in between, but during the competition, you are basically seeing about 80-90% of the surfers on the wave who are really good. So they all go at the waves, obviously waves look much better.

So, this basically means that better surfers know how to extract the best out of the waves, and therefore they are more like making the waves than waves making them to surf. I am, still, at the stage where the waves have to let me surf. This is gradually changing; for example, I am starting to catch more waves and scoring longer rides than most people on a line up on normal days. So that's a kind of reward for paying some dues getting up early in the morning, surfing as many days as possible etc. But now that I know this, it looks like there is much more dues to be paid, and at this rate, I don't know whey I can pay all the dues!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Session 5215

A few sessions ago, I have broken off a Rusty fin out of my 6'6 board. So I decided to some modern design fin this weekend. The fin I have chosen is a 4.5 Future Vector Fin which the inside surface of outside fins have some contours.

This morning, I took out another set of the Rusty #6 fins out of the Rusty 6'3 board then put on the new set of fins. Dalyn at the Board Shop told me how the fins makes turns much faster., but as I was doing this, I was still skeptical as to whether this will really make any differences. Once the fins are on the board, I have also realized how softer these fins are, and also they are thinner.

This morning the condition was actually really good and fun. It was just sufficiently challenging but not too big. The last time I surfed this type of condition was at Del Mar on a South swell. It is kind of unusual to have this type of condition out here, and then of course I only surfed Del Mar once so I cannot say anything about it either.

There was a professional looking person already catching a lot of waves. I am going to describe that one on my next WavLOG under "Making Waves" so look for it.

On my first ride I was surprised that the board had a totally different feel, but I wiped out. The next few rides were really fun. The board has gotten noticablly faster and definitely the turns felt smoother too.

I think that I am not taking advantage of all of what the board and the fin can show, but I think that I did notice the difference and I think that there is quite a bit of room for me to explore more in this combination.

Upcoming log:

- Wamrth
- Making Waves

Monday, November 14, 2005

Session 5214

I was originally going to skip this morning, but as you all know two days of non-surfing, and I am already eager to get back in the water no matter what the condition was. So I did hit the water early this morning. Due to the high wind that must have been blowing since yesterday or what, the waves were a bit junky. But the crowd was thin this being Monday morning, I was happy to be out and caught some fun waves.

I am continuing to experiment with the speed building using mainly the tail of the board. Speaking of which, I got the Future Vector fins 4.5 high with a Rusty template on Saturday. I have not put them on yet, but I will try them soon. The inside of the outside fins are not flat like the classic thruster setup, but there is a bit of concavity inside. I am not sure if I can feel the difference, especially at my skill levels, but I am sure to report you if I find out anything.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Session 5213

Back doing a DP again before hitting the office. I was a bit aggravated as I paddled up and tried to see what the session start time was? No watch! I forgot to put it on, or may have even dropped it. One aspect of doing a DP is that I tend to operate in much more competitive mode than, say, a nice sunny lazy afternoon at the "inside 38th" I am thinking in terms of how many more minutes left, just like in competition where I only got 15 to 20 minute heat, and only the best 3 counts. I am not saying that it is stressful, but I tend to work things out to get the best I can both from the aspect of getting most exercise and as a reward for the paddle outs, I get to ride as many waves as possible. So, speaking of "as many waves as possible" I am a still bit puzzled to know that many surfers tend to line up way far too outside, and then when the waves come, they just cannot paddle into them at all. The waves leave them behind one wave after another. Then every once in a while even bigger set or two come and they just jack up so fast that even if they tried to take off, they just wipe out immediately. In the meantime, I just paddle where the most waves are breaking in the inside and I try to catch as many waves as possible. It sounds rather stupid, but it may not be so, because I also have figured that people tend to paddle out where they see people actually riding the waves. I do my best to avoid them, but sometimes they are just paddling out right exactly down the time where the sweet spot would be. Then there is another surfer that just follow me around too, and I don't like that either. I do my best to get out of his way, but the moment I paddle away from this surfer he's just come to my way. I was sealing my mouth shut as I was looking at this. This type of individual is also very annoying that any bump on the wave, he'd start paddling in to catch, and 2 out of 3 he screws up. So when this sort of thing happens, I'd just wait for the first set, wait him to wipe out and take the second set. The third set is often not easy to take because he would be at it by then. The point I guess I am trying to make here is that I can usually spot a danger that is coming, and I try not to take off around these types of individuals, and also try to make as much room as possible.

The interesting thing of this might be is that I was probably operating in that mode for some time as I was getting up to speed. I think that the problem is of being oblivious to the surrounding than anything. In a good lineup, admittedly I am in the lowest of in the pecking order, somehow, things tend to work out much better, for example if I am paddling out, I duck through and the surfer on the wave just do some turn and get by, and also if I take off first they know how to kick out.

Sorry about some negativity in this log, but I am a regular surfer with a mind of an average person, and sometimes, I ought to report honestly what exactly goes in my mind rather than always so being either too easy going or too uptight.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Session 5212

Another very busy week is just about to go by, and this is the first time I got in the water since last Saturday. We had to move our home and that took a bulk of the weekend and the rest of this week to settle in, plus I had several last-minute items that had to be moved which did not let me keep my boards inside the car all week. Finally though last night, I put all the normal surfing gear back in the car and put a board inside too to go surfing, and this morning I did go. October and the start of November was not good for surfing for me due to a relatively sudden trip to Japan, struck by a fairly severe illness soon after I returned and then the move. Changes in my routine impacts quite a bit in surfing! Also during the last session, I broke off one of my fins on the 6'6 board so I am now using the 6'3 Rusty board today. Just there are a lot of changes happening, and hopefully that goes with the improvement in my surfing skills.

So let's get right down to this morning's session. I had short session due to a meeting at 9:00 a.m. Don't we all hate when someone requests a meeting at 9:00, especially in the winter when the morning is shorter and it is getting shorter by day too! But the part that is even worse is that when I cut the session short and rush to work and only to find that the meeting was cancelled, and of course, that's exactly what usually end up happening.

Oppps! I have diverged again.

The sets this morning was just right size for me, and on the "fun" range. Just about above shoulder on bigger sets. But as typical of our local beach breaks when some big sets get in they all close out not letting us surf. So on a condition like this, I just have to sit inside and hopefully these bigger sets won't come as often, and if they do, I'd paddle crazy to hit the outside and hopefully I can duck through them, which, of course I would, sometimes, be agitated in the mess of white water.

But there were some good inside sets that built up nicely. Sometimes I am a bit too far in, but I catch them anyways.

In past several sessions, I have been focusing a lot more on extracting the power out of the wave, and by which I mean to surf with building up speed, which requires a bit different in the way than I have been surfing, and the more I try this I know it will be a bit longer before I can master that part. What I am realizing is though; I had to do what I did up to now in order to get to the next phase. In other words, moving forward there is more need to refine all of what I have learned BEFORE I can actually move significantly forward. A lot of actions like take offs, flick ups, setting up and following through turns need much more refinement both in the agility of actions and also more pronounced weight shifting.

The good news is that I am willing to go through this, and even more than ever, I am realizing how difficult to master the art of surfing and how it require iterative means of building skills upon skills.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Session 5211

This morning, we did a late morning surf session with a local friend. The swell sized up to 11 ft over night so the picking of the location was slim. The bay was all but closed out and not surfable so we had to head north. The swells were coming more from WNW directions in this set of swells so the bay was getting more direct hit and that seems to cause close outs.

When we got there at the beach we met another local friend. I did not know that he rode a long board too because up until now we always surfed together with short boards, but he, being a good surfer (and lone behold, from Michigan) he could ride any board!

The waves were not walling up and closing out as usual, probably because the tide was high and also there was enough power in the swells that they were just perfect shape and size for me.

I have written about how important to be committed to take offs and so now I try really hard to do that, and with some more understanding with the use of the tail end of the board, my rides are really starting to improve, and after the session my friend told me that he has noticed a significant improvement in my rides.

At one of the waves, the take off was just felt great. I was paddling hard to catch the wave and I thought I was really going to be left behind but the wave jacked up even harder and with a huge impact I was blasted off into the wave. I was staying low and back and I stayed on the board being able to set up the first left turn. I had so much initial speed and the rest of the ride was so much effortless with just a small change in the balance I could steer the board any direction I wanted to go.

Please Note:

The world headquaters of StokeMasters is moving close to the Jetty at El Granada, California staring 5 November 2005 . We will likely have some net silence for next several days. You know how it goes; we need to make appointments with cable and phone guys. Wish us luck and keep it cheery on the StokeForums!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Session 5210

Another good down patrol with an inviting condition! Like yesterday, Jocelyn was there already and anticipated swell build up did not happen in the morning so the condition was just about the same yesterday, in fact, I thought that today it was actually better because I did catch a fair share number of waves and days like today where long boarder dominated the scene, the wide French 6'6 board worked just perfectly great. The board presently have Rusty 4.5 fins, which even prior to really getting into the fins, I did noticed some differences compared to the Safco fins I had on, which I lost them in Del Mar not knowing a reef right at the shore.

Right now, this is my favorite board because it is very versatile in supporting what I want to learn. It is actually "too big" for me in professional surfing situations, but for me it really works well to use in place of a long board.

Today, my mission continues to discover more about using the tail and fin of the board to get drive out of the thing. And I must say that I am starting to reduce the early fizzle-out situation of just letting the gravity pull the board down and try to harness the power of the breaking wave more. Having said that though, learning a lot about "ups and downs" of trimmed rides up to now have been a great help in getting to learn the next phase; whatever that will be.

The experiment I have worked on today is to see by continuing to press the back of the board what happens, and here is what I have discovered so far.

By pressing the back of the board, I am essentially stalling as I go down the line, so I feel like I did not get that initial rush of the speed if I glided down. I was previously afraid that if I kept pressing the back of the board so much, I would completely stall out, but that's where it is proving me wrong given some of these experiences I was getting.

Instead of stalling completely at the bottom, I am going slower but maintaining the speed and direction as I am using the power of the pushing wave to stay up going with the wave instead of moving forward faster than the wave. It is almost like I am actually going down but the wave is lifting up back to the same height and so I am moving and there is a bit of spray coming from the tail of the board, but basically I am staying at the same vertical height. That's of course what you see on tube riders, they are moving, but they are basically the same breaking and tubing up part of the wave as the wave moves; you are moving and not moving at the same time, which is kind of a strange balance you are creating.

Of course, I know that's not the only one way to ride the waves, but it is possible to use that mode some of the time, and or perhaps, pump the back a bit, go on a bit more neutral or forward weighted, maintain a straight down line, then bring myself up the wave through more of a bottom style turn or a cutback turn , where I can transfer the upper body weight to gain further speed, which I now know a bit more about how to execute that.

So more experiments continue!