The week stint in Waikiki with a long board was great. They were definitely a great confidence building and also a bit of ego boosting. The confidence building came in two parts. First, because of the gentle waves and waves not so big, they were easy to catch and so I felt like I was so much better. Another confidence building was that these sessions were done mainly at a distant break from the shore. This was the first time I had to commute to a break just by paddling by so much distance. May be 1/2 a mile one way! I actually do paddle that much or more from the stairs at the Hook to the Pleasure Point peaks, but I catch waves inside on the way, and usually I gradually migrate there rather than in one shot. At any rate, still, these Waikiki breaks were quite far away from the shore, whereas in SC breaks still are not happening that far out from the shore.
So after coming back to Half Moon Bay though, I felt that I am much more comfortable being "further out" in the ocean than before, and can gauge the feel of being how far more confidently.
A bit of ego boost part is the following. My board rack at the hotel was a bit further behind the beach and when I take the board out, I had to go by one of these beach front restaurant areas. Needless to say, I attracted a lot of attention carrying a 9'2 ft hunk of plastic through drinking crowd each time causing a bit of sensation and making a scene.
So I do highly recommend this Waikiki experience for those who just hit kind of an intermediate stage, you have a good command of your board under most situations. I think these long-board waves can really help you out tuning riding skills, especially the rides are usually much longer than the ones you get around here.
In terms of my recent progress, I have actually feeling much more confident working with a bit more hollowed waves. One thing might be that due to the highway closure, there are less people surfing here and so I tend to be able to "own" waves better.
Much earlier on, on this WavLOG, I have talked about this issue of taking-off when the waves are faster, and I talked several experienced people about this, and the general
answer from them was that you do need to take off diagonally and not straight down. It is not that straight-down approach does not work, but basically you do need to have both options available. I feel that mastering the diagonal take-off is really important on these nearly-closing out beach breaks that are abound around here (and this goes along with a requirement to master clean duck-diving technique too).
Now, this diagonal take-off thing is not that very easy to do, and the success rate is not that great yet, but I feel that the consistency is improving quite a bit lately, and that is with my 6'4 board. Several of key elements in getting here were
? Becoming a much more stronger paddler than ever before. You basically need to grab a lot of water fast. Diagonal take-off means there is much less assistance from the waves to take off compared to going straight down.
? Become better at assessing the wave break spot and direction.
? As with all take-off technique, be really agile on getting up on the board. Diagonal take-off adds a bit of balancing challenge to get up on the board.
? Overall comfort being challenged by more hollow breaks
For me, attaining the stronger paddling was probably one of the key mastery that took me (and taking me) a long time to get to.
Getting up on the board quickly, to me, is very important because once I am standing on top of the board; I can be in much better control of the board. I can easily correct the line for speed, and position in the wave.
It is really a lot of fun when this take off works into a nice smooth pocket and I can extract all the power from the wave, yet it is almost hard to explain how quiet, smooth and fast some of these rides are, when they start out right!