Monday, December 26, 2005

Session 5239

This was another day of quick surfing session while I interweave remainder of Christmas activities. In spite of a few thunder and rain last night, we woke up with sunshine and not much wind to speak of. Got the gear together, suited up and then drove over to the Jetty, but it was just a real messy looking with only one person trying to surf. Gone up north and saw Montara breaking really big, so that was out of question. The last hope was to surf at Linda Mar. The AM low tide did not help but at least here there were some, I thought to be, surfable waves, but as it turned out, I only caught one wave in one hour session, so it was not that great.

The frustrating part about the condition like today is that I would think that a set comes in, hoping the wave to take on a shape, but once I take off, it just crushes and closes down and there was no way for me to surf. There were several of those. So I decided to switch the program and tried to surf the inside, but that did not work out too well either. While the crowd was fairly thin given this was still a holiday for most, added with a fairly small take-off spots we were competing on, it made difficult for me to take some good rides.

But it was good to get out, at the end of the session; I felt like I have burned off a lot of the food that I ate in the past few days, and even felt hungry, ready for more food!

The surf is going to get really huge this week and also the weather getting messy again, this could be the last session of 2005? we will see, but 239 sessions isn't too bad given many adversities I had to bear this year. The year seemed to have gone quickly, and felt that I had work hard to find time to surf, especially in the second half of this year.

Hopefully, next year will bring all of us more quality stokes!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Session 5238

A bit late on my WavLOG report, but on Saturday morning, I did go and it was super fun at the Jetty. It has gotten significantly warm and the waves were breaking wide and on top of that I basically kept my own wave for the entire session, while many others crowded by the breakwater. I had numerous and long rides packed in two hours session among other holiday "obligations" and also rebuilding of the new StokeMaster.COM web site on my new platform.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Session 5237 (Friday Session)

Today I am going to be a bit technical. You might all wonder why these things are coming out from me, like the WavLOG on the Blogger and the StokeMaster StokePORTAL (

One of the things that you notice when you enter the site is current conditions panel on the site on the left. This is something that I am actually rather proud of. When I started to surf, I used to rely on free web sites like Pacific Waverider and also STORMSURF.

Oh man, when I first found about STORMSURF, I was so intimidated! Listen to the sound of it, STORM and SURF. I thought that real surfers only go out when it is really stormy out to catch huge waves. What am I getting into? In fact, back then every time I went out basically it felt like Storm Surfing, I could not barely paddle out, and that was on luckier days. On some unlucky days, I was taken out by rip current, and now I was ten times more scared about getting back since my arms are already numb from paddling. But turned out this site was the site got me going to understand a whole lot about the ocean and the wave, the tutorial section on this web site is so much detailed and helpful.

Back to web sites, so I found myself going to various web sites to find out the information about today's condition, and also soon learned that I can get more accurate information directly from NOAA web sites than relying on the interpretations of each of the web sites. So that was the start of the Stoke Console product that I created which is basically an engine to pull all of these government web sites into one page, so I don't have to open multiple windows. This worked out good. But I also wanted to get a summary of current condition, that's when I developed the SM2005 product which is the engine behind the current conditions panel you see on the home page. It actually gathers numerical metrological data every hour then performs trending computation for up and down trends. I am hoping to improve this further.

So I decided to do two things, one is to share to others what I know, and instead of just telling what I know, I have decided to structure the information so that people and even I would know the process of how I have acquired the entire "learn to surf" experience. Hence the start of the Blogging.

So that basically sets the tone for this blog and web sites. Part of the purpose of all this is that I am actually trying to expose all of the ignorant things I do, I think, I assume, and my struggles as I try to understand all of this.

What end up happening though is that when you strip away all of the technicalities for the weather and surfing technique, is basically a personal dialog for my quest for life, and I think that you will find that popping up between the paragraphs I write.

I surfed the Jetty on Friday morning on a real full tide and looked like the swell was going but too much water basically killed the waves. I had a few waves. But it was really good to paddle in the morning.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Session 5236: Only less than a week before the Winter Sostice!

Since I started surfing, I think I have really got in much more in touch with the nature. Especially the areas that I got a lot more keen into are astronomical and metrological part of the nature. I even admit that I am not (yet) into animals and creatures in the sea, even then I have surfed to close with the whales, dolphins, otters, and know a lot more about the birds.

So the idea of the Winter Solstice really stokes me quite a bit. It is the shortest day of the year, but with that notion comes the idea of renewal, spring, birth and the stuff like that. It is also believed that Christmas is basically derived from pagan ceremonies that surrounds the winter solstice, and I am fairy certain that back then people were much more in touch with the nature that they actually experienced these celestial events, say compared to most people who always have roof on their head, being at home, driving, or in the office. And being a surfer means at least some part of my day, I am either being outside influenced directly by these events, or if not I am thinking a lot about it, like, a farmer would.

With the server down notification at 5:30 this morning, the plan to do a DP was shot, and I was rather aggravated by this because nobody else was really interested in helping me taking care of the issue. So I just put on work clothes over rash guard and headed to the office right away. But it turned out to be good. As I was driving past all the beaches I hang around (they are all lined up on the way to my office near San Francisco), the swell was considerably up and with the minus tide going on (due to the full moon) all places look rather not fun.

So I decided to cut the office early and surfed at the Jetty this afternoon for an hour before setting winter solstice sun. I have been doing these low light surfing in the past several sessions.

One paddle out was really beautiful as the waves started to break right in front of me, the setting sun was shining through the lip of the wave like I was in a deep green cathedral in the late afternoon where stained-glass with some pieces with sun shining through.

There is not much I can report on the rides because the waves were not just holding up due probably to the negative tide. Some small lefts and rights were just fun to take off on but not creating any real rides.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Session 5235 (****)

Well, I promised to talk about how I am managing my leg cramps rather nicely these days. For more information on this or want to discuss further, please visit my StokeFORUM at


From this topic I researched a bit about how to prevent getting the cramps. When I started out surfing and up until a few years ago, I often got a very severe calf cramps. Early on, I had it almost every session, but now I only get it rarely.

I don't know if this will work out for everyone, but there are two things I do that are really helpful for my situation.

The first thing is that I do a reasonable amount of pre-session stretch incorporating a lot of Yoga type move. One of the things I think is very helpful is that I hold the stretch for a longer period of time with a deep exhaling action followed by a relaxed deep inhaling action. I try to stretch all the muscles in the lower leg. One nice bonus for me along this line is that I have become a bit more limber than I have ever been in my entire life!

The second thing I think is also very important is that I dink a lot of liquid before entering the water. Usually at least two cups of water or more. Some people might have an issue with substituting that amount with coffee but as far as I can tell both seems to work fine.

By keeping these two things I have been able to avoid a cramping issue quite a bit. If you have similar situation as I have, you may want to try.


This morning's session was really fun, as I was actually being able to maintain the ride with more power in turns, which is a building-up on the stuff that I have done yesterday. One thing I am really pleased about is that the ups and down actions are becoming more vertical in nature than ever before. In other words on the "ups" I feel that I am more like going up on the wave than just maintaining the same "altitude", which was just perfectly fine on long board trimming action, but for short boarding, by being able to go back up higher in the wave, I can extract more power and speed. Of course, I am talking and writing about this in a relative term with respect to me. If you are watching me from the shore, you might say "What vertical you are taking about!" Also the power of the ride has been on an increase a bit too. By this what I mean is that I feel more pressure on my knees and feet throughout a ride, and this tend to mean that the power is ON longer, and that connects to being able to do things with more speed. More speed is actually nice because the speed tends to open up a lot more options, from going up the line or use that credit to power through the next turn be it in the bottom or on top. So I am sure to be refining that stuff for a while, but I must say that starting the session yesterday, I think I broke off from one phase to another, in more of a consistent manner than before.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Session 5234 *****

This morning's session was a short but sweet! First of all the waves were not that big today than I have anticipated, though, as usual there were some close out sets but between them were nice glassy paddle outs. I surfed with a friend, with our recent move, is now actually a neighbor.

First, I must talk about the approach of the Winter Solstice. Winter solstice always is one of the time of the year that I am very stoked, the opposite of it, the Summer Solstice is one of more, should I say, "sad" time. Winter solstice is where I start to look for longer days, the spring, and then towards "surf until 9 PM" in the summer, and all the good waves that I will be hitting in the rest of the winter too!

Winter surfing is fun, but in order to put in good surfing before work gets really needs a lot more quick action as even at 7:00 it is not completely bright, especially when it is cloudy in the morning and then I have to put in a much shorter session to show up at the office on time! And if and when it is raining, which usually means stormy the waves are just a mess, it really makes me feel a bit depressed.

Well, back to this morning, though, I really thought that everything worked out really nicely with the shape and the size of the wave and finally I thought that I have extracted a lot more speed out of the ride and the turns were really clean and crisp, and every move of what I wanted worked out too.

After I switched over to the JC 6'4 board, I have not had a chance to get a long ride, instead, I was either left behind by the waves or when I took off, I stalled out rather quickly. I was actually starting to be discouraged a bit, but two rides I had this morning cleared all of the concerns I had. It is always more thrilling to take off into a situation where I was pushing my own limit, thinking that I would not take off, but then when I took off, I had much more speed and also the control. The pressure on both my feet and the knee was pleasantly strong and the pressure was thrusting the board at a very good speed, and I was first able to build the initial speed going back up from the turn 1, then execute a cut back turn that against the high part of the wave more a bit more like ideal snapping type turn. As the other side of the wave became got into my field of view, I found out that the wave continued on the other side and then I just kept going on and found another change to do the same on the other side. And to top that off, I did almost the exact repeat of again on a next take off!

It was so much rewarding, and I must say, these kind of rewarding sessions are still extremely far apart and a few in between too. This is kind of random reward system is kind of similar to how a gambler might get hooked into the games. Obviously, I now have to go back and see if there is a repeat performance! And that's part of the stoke!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Session 5233

Session 5233

Sunshine week continues with a good power in the swell and not much wind. If there is anything to be said about the winter season, one of the things is that we don't get the summer onshore wind, which can be horrendous at times. But then, looking back, I really had a lot of fun this summer, and I was thinking about what's so bad about the summer? Sure there is a lot of onshore flow, but with that we do get these summer Cape Mendocino wind swells that are just perfect in size and shape for my level of surfing. There are a lot of people who say "Winter is the best." Yes, definitely for those who can handle 15 seconds 15 ft waves, but it is not for me, and frankly is it for most casual surfers? I had a lot of fun on 8 sec 5 ft days in the summer, and when the swells are hitting 12 seconds or more, I am starting to have more limit of the places where I can really have *fun* surfing.

Since I have started surfing, I really became skeptical of other web sites and press about all these "great" conditions, and even reading posts from various web sites and the like always talk about these conditions, but I am really convinced that mostly that most people don't admit that these conditions are totally out of their claims. Case in point, I have been out when it was cranking at 20 seconds at 5-6 ft (nothing to write home about from professional standards). Did I see you out there? I would say no, because I was with the people I knew who could handle these and there was just us, and I was struggling like a hell to get back to the shore on the first set that rolled in. Surfing the waves was totally out of question. A few things saved my life were, I knew how to catch the white water and that I could belly ride back in, and also I knew that I should make sure to relax if I was pummeled until I would surface. Plus other buddies were still out having "fun."

I am hoping that eventually, or actually soon, I would be working in the realm where I would look for a 20 second 6 ft days, but until then I would be contining to struggle to rip as I have been in the past 3-4 years.

Session 5232

This morning, the session continues locally. Thanks to more westward swells, a lot of local beaches are firing up, and even with some offshore wind flow. There were some really nice tubular waves forming, and if you were good you could get tubed a bit (of course, I am not there, so I just was looking from the shore and saying that.)

Have you ever been on a lineup on offshore wind? I am sure many of you have, but I always notice this. When the wave start to life up the air around the wave moves really fast and makes this kind of noise. "Hooooffff!" And another thing is that should this have been onshore, the waves have already broken off, but in this case, the waves do not break, but when it does, the waves make a kind of special shape that I'd think that I won't take off into it, but then I can. And if I do, the surface is smooth but wrapped up. I think it would break into while water mess but it does not, often it does not and I can actually ride that smooth surface, especially when I am really lucky and I was situated where the lip of the wave is just about to cave in, and I just paddle a few stroked and I am up and going exactly diagonally on the surface of the wave exactly how the wave pushes me into, and when that happens, then I think there really isn't any other feeling that I can even explain with the combination of words that I can create.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Session 5231

It is Friday and it is sunny and the swells are not big. I headed up north, stopped by at a beach on the way to work. I thought that the beach was empty and I was hesitant to go in, but then I saw a head of a lone surfer in the lineup; I was really relieved because I really d not like to surf totally alone, especially here, as this beach does lose at least one person a year, never a surfer but always some casual visitor, or in the case of last winter, some swimmer. No matter how many times I head into the ocean, there always is a fear of it.

There was a guy parked next to me and he was looking at the ocean as the background was getting orange to the daylight hue. He said, "Hey, go, man, go." I asked, "Hey, are you going in?" I was hoping the he would too, so at least there were some more company. He said he did not surf. I said, "Ok, it is kind a small but, I need to go. It is a free gym membership for me.", He said, as I was putting in my booties in, "That's the way to go. God bless you, man."

I started to paddle out and got one wave and paddled back out, by then the other surfer decided to get out. Now I am all alone. It is a very strange thing but I really dislike being crowded by then I really don't like to surf all alone. At least, at a distance further at the north end there was another surfer out there, which gave me a bit of comfort. The rare offshore breeze was getting a bit stronger and throwing some spindrift sweeping back.

The new JC 9'4 this morning performed very well, except that at one wipeout, I was sure glad that I was wearing a helmet, as after a wipeout, I thought that the board was just behind me, as I was looking for it, I did not find it anywhere. I thought I may have lost the board, but at the moment that I started to start to swim toward the shore in search of the board? .Whack! The board hit the helmet very hard. I was knocked back in the water.

"What the hell!"

The wind lifted the board up sky high and then finally came down only to hit right smack on top of my head. Should I not have been wearing a helmet, I would have either had a stitch on my head or a few days of painful sore on my head. You know this kind of thing is very rare to happen, especially these days, but it does happen, and I was sure glad that I was still maintaining the surf nerd mode today.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Session 5230

Well, I was almost not going to surf this morning, but when I checked the email, I got a message from a long time surfing friend, part of which that said.

Still, as always, the three cardinal rules are -
1. Never give up
2. Never give up
3.Never give up.

That was timely because I should continue to surf "no matter what." Of course when I say that I mean it is within reason? I would not go out if I determine it is life-threatening if I screw up.

But I think about this, I came to the conclusion that a lot of real give-ups happen because we make a bunch of small give-ups. Like this morning, I may have given it up this morning and then may be tomorrow, I might also become lazy, and one day by one day, and before you know I won't remember how long ago I surfed the last time. Luckily, today my problem is other way around? I go so much that I don't know if I often can't remember off the top of my head where I surfed yesterday, like, if someone asks me what I had for lunch on last Tuesday.

And I was really glad that I did not give up because when hit the Jetty this morning, it was really nice, as the waves were not big but starting to the famous pocketty right breaks right by the break water. It is usually so crowded there that I usually stay far south at the Turkeys but this morning, I was able to taste a few of those, and with my JC 6'4 Ugly Stik it was fun to catch those.

I won't and cannot comment too much yet on this board, but so far, I think I might actually end up preferring this board over the Rusty Piranha 6'3 board in wider range of situations. One thing that I have noticed so far is that the tail end of the Rusty's tail flutters and drifts left and right when the speed increases, and sometimes it is difficult to control it. The JC, so far, seems to stay solid over a variety of speeds. I don't know whether it is the surfer or the fins that are on the board. Actually I am using a bit smaller and softer 4.0 flex Future VFYU red fins on the JC. I also got 4.5 vector too so I think I would switch between them and see if there are any differences. Probably though, you are all LOL thinking what the heck I am taking about. I am willing to agree. But discoveries or process of discovering things like this is definitely a lot of fun.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Session 5229

Had an early work start and a couple of con-calls this AM, so I took a part of early afternoon and surfed at a local spot. It was gorgeously sunny. A bit windy from the side shore, and the sets were small and in the time I was there the tide really swung up and basically killed the whole situation, however I had the entire beach to myself which still amazes me sometimes. Of course, once you are out, others would want to come in, so when I got out and got back to the car there were a couple of surfers coming in.

In my last log, I said that I would write about my relationship with surf boards so here goes.

A lot of you know already that I am riding the Rusty 6'3 and French Epoxy 6'6 boards a lot lately. I really like both of them, and to this date, I really like the 6'6. It is my most favorite. I was really thinking about this for a while, or debating with myself in a sense. The main question is whether it is the board that likes me or it is me that like the board. And the forgone conclusion is the latter. I think that there is a big distinction here. I think that there are a lot of people who think that there is a magic bullet there. I used to think that too that there should be a board that would allow me to surf much better. So let's count all of the boards that I had gone through, there was a 7'0, 8'6, two 9'0s, 7'6 and a 7'5, then 6'6, 6'3 and also this past weekend I got a JC Ugly Stick which is a 6'4. So basically I have gone through 9 different boards.

So even though I still have at least half of these things, I usually end up taking out the 6'6, and I now know why. I discovered that I really like to surf specific types of waves. I tend to prefer mushier waves and not really big, probably overhead is the maximum I would enjoy having fun. I've certainly surfed something bigger and even steeper, but at this stage of my skill and life, it is simply more fun to get out on a mellower condition on smoother water and catch a bunch of waves. But I don't want to ride long boards. Long boards are fun, but it is just a lot of hassle to load and offload. With short boards, I just throw them inside my car, and I usually stock two boards in my car, which consists of the trusty 6'6 and another board. It can be a 7'0 or a 6'3 depending on where and the types of waves I think will be out there. Even then by taking out the 6'6, it will fill almost all my needs at the moment. How about even shorter and narrower boards, a 6'0, 18-19 inch wide, more rocker? Well, I can probably be challenged with those and go for more hollower or steeper situations and the like but I really don't want to hassle with extra paddling efforts and possibly not having fun riding. The bottom line to me is get as many rides as possible at this juncture. This type of trade-off is pretty common in reality and eventually I would move to a next skill level that the combination of the conditions and the board selections will be different, but right now the combination of my favorite conditions and the board is what I am fixed into. Having different boards is teaching me good lessons though. From time to time, I would surf the same session with two different boards and I either realize I am not ready for it yet, or would come to conclusion that "Yeah! That was fun, may be I am really ready to go full-time on this board." Of course that's what initially happened with the 6'6. Though it took a while to get to the point that I would say, I want to surf the board most of the time, and that was a fairly lengthy period to grow myself into the board. Also conversely, I am very certain to be able to say that I have never grown out of the any boards that I have, and that includes a 9'0 foamy board, which when on a rare occasion I ride it, I am still amazed by the characteristics of the board, and it can still teach me some real basics on turns etc.

My future installments of WavLog, I would write about how I have not had leg cramps, and how I think I am avoiding it, then some interesting discovery about duck diving, and also about opening up more options.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Session 5228

I am thinking that I need a new direction in the WavLOG. I have talked about that on and off, but lately I have just describing the conditions due to a lack of my own creativity and to some extent motivation. To same extent I am getting a "blogger's" block, I guess.

So perhaps, rather than trying to log every session, I am thinking that I would gear this BLOG into more of an essay in terms of the progress and as a story of my surfing lifestyle in general.

Another thing, that I need to apologize to many StokeMasters and WavLOG fans is that my surfing lifestyle has changed so much and gone are the days we get people together and surf.

So perhaps I should touch on that topic now.

Looking back, I needed a lot of peer support to get my surfing going. Part of the reasons why I started my web site was to get to know with the people who are struggling at similar level and share the struggles and the excitements that goes with it with others (and also to encourage other people to get themselves together as they enter the sport).

One of the things started to happen in the past year or so is that the opening up of a lot more options to surf in terms of time, places and to some extent the skills needed to be there. This actually has started to cause a problem, because what I thought would be an easy surf out session turns out to be challenging to my friends. I am starting to have a difficulty knowing what's easier and what's hard for people. This is different from saying that I don't surf at beginner breaks, I do and I actually still like to, but on the other hands, if faced with a condition, I am starting to get an attitude that would say "Yeah, no problem, I can handle it so you can!" Of course I have an added advantage of living by the coast so I can and I do get out a lot more than other friends who can only find time to get out on weekends. Very fortunately through, I have anticipated this occurrence, so that's the reason why I have documented in "live" as I have climbed up the steps from almost the very start. So even if I forget what it was like we can all go back into the document (this blog and the web site) and re-live that again.

So, with a bit wider option to surf and also with the location where I am living, the way I do surfing is quite different now. It is now incorporated into my daily routine, just like some people jog or go to a gym on a regular basis, I go surfing several times a week, and when I do, I don't want to have an exact plan as to where and when. Also there are a couple of other locals, to mean they also live by the coast, that I surf regularly with, but typically how these sessions materialize is that we have a couple of "regular" spots that we frequent and we just call each other "Hey, it looks good at so and so, I am going to surf here." And about 2-3 waves later the buddy will be paddling up. We largely surf separately really spread apart too so that we don't get into each others ways. Again, though it is different from planning things out several days in ahead, sessions happens in real time and location choices also happen in real time. So even if I pre-announce where I might be there is about 50-50 chance that I would be elsewhere; whichever happens to be the "best" at the time with the wind, tide and the swell.

So you might ask why I do check into the conditions a lot? The answer is that forecasts do help as to when and where I would like to surf in advance. This allows me to shuffle work or other appointments with a reasonable accuracy, but then when it comes to actually picking when and where to do it, I still do go to the break and make the final decision.

On my next installment, I would like to touch on a subject of sticks, and how I am relating to them now that I have over 6 boards to choose from. I also want to go more into detail about what "wider options" really mean.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Session 5226 (Sat) - 5227 (Sun)

Fun surfing locally with all local friends. Amazingly great condition, offshore wind too and sunny!

Saturday, December 03, 2005