Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Joy of Frustration

This goes with any skill based activities, but learning a skill can often be very frustrating and stressful, be it learning how to play music, learning to write, and of course learning to surf bigger, faster waves with shorter boards. When it comes to surfing though, the consequence of trying something and it not working can be physically punishing, and I know as spectators that punishing part is just as fun to watch as a surfer surfing in style; like someone going over the falls then creamed by oncoming mass of white water. But as far as that part of surfing goes, I am not so frustrated about that. Being calm and relaxed in the situations like that is almost a requirement to take on "more difficult" waves.

The true frustration sets in when there is a good ride you have been dreaming of executing, and on day that happens, but then it never happens again. Once you taste a "dream" ride in a situation that you have not executed before then it is really exciting. It is either I was lucky or my whole system, from my mind, body, and the choice of equipment are starting to work together. But when you paddle back to the break that never happens, sometimes for days or even for months, and that's one aspect of become being very frustrated with the inconsistencies.

But surfing is probably one of the most inconsistent sports around. The nature itself is very fickle about providing consistent conditions. We don't take the waves for granted, we often be forced and seek them, or paddle around from peak to peak on a single session; tide changes, wind changes, and swell direction, period and height changes constantly, the sand bottom shifts, a rip opens and closes down... So by the time you surf for a few years, you kind of get used to all that.

Come to think, many of my good surfer friends I aspire to are mellow, patient and have established their own philosophy in life.
So it always comes back to me that we should enjoy the process of learning how to surf.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Meeting with Mike Munoz

I actually did not know that I met him until recently. I actually have been thinking about whom I met that was so famous, but it downed on me that that was who he was!

I wrote about how mellow surfing scene is. It is often kind of an experience that you are living in a neighborhood who is really famous, but you'd taken that for granted and thought that it was some other regular old guy next door to you, and much later in life that you'd realize that, "Oh, gosh that's what my dad was telling me about!"

Well, I actually met him and shook hand with him one day in San Jose. It was at the time when the San Jose Museum of Modern Art was doing the Surf Art stuff that started in Laguna Beach Museum of Modern Art, and with a strange coincidence we actually know the person who used be the curator at the institution, and last time I've heard she was going out with a surfer!
At any rate, Mike and Steve Pezman of Sufer's Journal was there, and I took a tour of all of the exhibits with them, and I asked a lot of questions and talked with both of them quite a bit.

I did not realize at the time that he was known for his board shaping so much (I know Mr. Pezman did introduce him to that effect) but today, for whatever the reasons, I have realized that he is one of the significant names in the history of Hawaii and California surfing.
Read this web site, I think you fill find it very interesting


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Need More Home Work!

Back at the home break today. I am glad to say and also sorry to say that one of the most difficult break is right within a walking distance from home. I thought I could "do it," but I scored zero today. What a difference a day makes. One day I have what seems like a 30-second ride and the next day, zero, nothing, zilch! But there was others who scored a few nice ones. It was a very sunny day and there was hardly anybody out. One good surfer was commenting, "I am surprised nobody has dropped by!"

You know I have been talking about two things, still some lack of ability or willingness to take on these rapidly falling waves, and also not be there at right time. But days like these also really teaches me a lesson that surfing is not an easy thing to do, and once I think I am OK, then the nature is going to throw another curve ball at you.

One thing though recently, the more relaxed about it, the more I feel I am up to take the challenges. I am right there with others who are taking these waves, and I am now feeling totally at ease being there.

It goes to say that a lot of this is the mind over matters, then the body. When all of that get harmonized then I know I will be getting into these waves.
After the session I took out my submersible camera and took some pictures from inside the water. It sure is a much cheaper way to do surf shots than buying a huge telephoto lens. Of course, there is a big trade off, I was pounded by the waves a few times holding a stupid camera in my hand. I won't envy the life of these surf photographers like Warren Bolster who just moved on recently.

More of my pictures are -> Here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Walden Magic 9'0 - First Riding Impression

Truly a Friendly Board; Walden Magic 9'0

I now have acquired a new Walden Magic long board. It is a 9'0 length with about 22.5 inch in the middle, and it has an interesting squarely tail to it.

The reason why I got this board is because earlier this summer I was going to get a Robert August board for fun use and also for competitions but because of various local issues I was not able to buy it locally, and since then I have been making much effort.

Last week when I stopped by in Ventura, I bought it directly from the hands of Steven Walden himself. I think you already have read that part. Party because when October rolls in I am going to get busy so I wanted to take care of all of the remaining quiver building this month.

Yesterday, I finally got around to wax the board and put the 8 inch center fin, and like I have been with the Takayama DT4, I am not putting side fins. Now that I said that though I just put back the side fins on the DT4 because yesterday the waves looked rather hollower at the "P" spot. Which was a good move because I actually was able to ride these waves rather aggressively (note I am always talking "in my own standard') and trying to make faster turns and rail switching.

This morning I took the Magic to Santa Cruz Pleasure Point middle peaks and I can give you some initial impression of this board.

As I dipped into the water and started to paddle out, I instantly felt that it was really easy to paddle like a really friendly long board. The DT4 seems take a lot more effort to paddle, probably because it is narrower and thinner, especially in the front. I used to own Dale Velzy 9'0, and I thought that that board was probably easiest of all the long boards I have experienced in terms of paddling (but it is now just a recollection).

Today we had very clean sets up to chest high but very long wave. I had two rides that lasted all the way from the outside to just in front of the stairs next to the green house.

The Magic board caught the wave so much nicely. At one wave, I thought I would not catch the wave, as it felt it was passing under, but in one big jolt of paddling hand, I got into the wave. It is something that I've seen a few people do on my So Cal trip this past week where they just wait until very last moment, and just a single jolt of wave pushing is enough to get them into the wave. So this was something I was really looking for in a long board. For today's condition, the board took off gently into the waves and then "asked me" how I want to go. Here the DT4 is much more sensitive in exchange for a less stability, but on the Magic, I felt that I had a plenty of time to react and when I do ask the board to turn or stay on the trim it just gently accepted my commands and executed them in a very solid manner. The deck felt really stable at almost any speed and walking back and forth on the board was quite easy to accomplish on this board.

After the couple of good waves, I really was pleased to have made this choice. It is going to be a very friendly stable yet fast board to go out with my friends on friendly conditions. I know this board can be used for much bigger and hollower conditions, but for me it really works well for mellow, well shaped waves. (Should have bought it on the way to San Diego!)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Back in Nor Cal

Do people get tired of surfing. For me, I get tired from surfing, but somehow I don't think I would ever get tired of surfing. Do you see the difference? Well, Part of this WavLOG should explain what I mean by that.

So I drove back from Ventura yesterday on US-101. So what do I do? Everywhere the highway turns close to the ocean, my eyes are on the ocean. Is it breaking? Where? How big? I know thats all the surfers do. Next time if you there is a car in front of you suddenly slowing down, then, they are most likely checking out the waves, surf shops or other surfers. Whatever it is it has something to do with surfing.

I kind of know why this is. We are all in the quest of a perfect ride, and we drive up and down the coast, sometimes hours and days to find the perfect place, or at least, the best we can do at the moment. Notice that I am taking about a perfect ride, a singular noun. Yes, it all takes that one perfect ride and we are all content for the rest of the day until, we get out of the water and see another break that happens, which we'd all think "Gosh, we should have stayed in."

So, I drove back from Ventura yesterday on US-101, and what I was thinking? Where should I go when I get back home.

And so my day starts this morning. I get up, and I look at all the local charts on my web site I built. Many people have asked this sort of things in the past; "You must be making a ton of money on your web site." Guess again. From Google, I only take in about $20-30 a month in the summer and in the deep of the winter, zero! It is just enough to pay my ISP. The rest come out of my pocket. But I need to use every skill set I have to keep on surfing. Some people have good physical strength and athletic ability. What is going for me is a bit of geekness going on plus some strength, a lot of enthusiasm, and also a short stature where the waves are almost always overhead! Thank god, because my buddy who is probably hitting close to 6 ft tall would take 2-3 more seconds in the wave period and 1-2 ft more in the swell size for him to enjoy what I get to enjoy every day!

This morning, the main swell component to go for was the WNW swell 4-5 ft at 10 seconds. My answer is to go south. With small amount of wind, we were ready to hit the beach. I was fully equipped with Takayama DT4 as well as Xanadu and John Carper to catch whatever the ocean throws at. I've already guesses where it is going to be, and when we got there, I was right on. Already there were a lot of familiar locals shredding the scene.

So I was back on the Nor Cal water after a week of nice warm and sunny surfing, and did I miss the So Cal surfing today? Fortunately, and I did not. I felt really at home for being pulled back by the white water, pounded by the shore breaks, and took a long time to get out. I really felt that it was a welcome back home treatment. And when I get out, it was some nice peaceful moment in the outside just for a bit then a big set just ate me, held me down and tagged my leg dozen feet down.

I did have a few nice rides though.

I did have a few bad rides too.

And, you know I am going to get back in the water again tomorrow!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Meeting with Steven Walden

Today is actually the last day of my week-long So-Cal solo surf trip. I must say that this trip has been so phenomenal.

Some highlights of this trip includes;

Two solid days of South Swell fun surfing at Cardiff. I could not ask for better. I had so much fun both with my new Xanadu board as well as a rented 8'6 South Point board. i was really be able to put all my skills I have acquired to this point to to my own best version of ripping and shredding, and surfing by my own meant that I get up when I felt like, I was not dictated to eat meals exactly when everyone is supposed to eat at noon and 7 PM. (I can hold out for food when the waves are good), pick and choose when and where to go without coordinating shopping center or district logistics. (Note that I am not complaining about it, rather, I am saying that I could operate on a different mode for a change.) Pure surfing from the morning to the end of the day! And to top that off I got to see world's top surfers like Kelly Slater, Taj Burrows and Andy Irons up close for the first time, and then spoke with Mike Walden himself, and as a result, I now have added a Walden Magic 9'0 into my quiver.

This has been a recurring theme on my trip, and when I talk about that I am not just talking about this trip but about the life long trip for being a surfer. Surfing is really a mellow sport. What other situation allows you to be up close with the world's top athlete, shoot photos etc., then the next moment you get to get a surf board purchasing advise from yet another world-renowned surf board shaper? I have met people or even exchanged few email messages and shook hands with people like Matt Warshaw who was the editor for the Surfer Magazine, and Steven Pezman also was the Surfer Mag guy and runs the Surfers Journal, and you see him on bunch of surf documentary videos! So that's how down-to-earth surfing is. I am really glad to be participating in this sport.

Anyhow, when I walked into Mr. Walden's shop, and he was explaining about a board to another customer, and he notices me checking out the boards. He says, "You've been in here before, right?" I don't know whether that's his regular line or not, but at least that made me feel really comfortable. I think I would use that line at some point in the future; a very good idea.

Like many surfers, he is a short statue guy like me and a whole lot of surfers, but he just can explain so much about the boards he makes, and he also started to manufacture his own EPS core boards. I was asking about whether there are any differences between his glass boards and the new EPS ones (note that I am a big fan of EPS boards because of its strength). He said that the board behaves a tiny bit high-floating than his glass boards, but otherwise they all perform the same. He took an EPS board on his last trip.

He was just so friendly and so enthusiastic about surfing, and when I explained to him about me living only a walk from Mavericks he asked me about Devil's Slides and his last trip from HMB to Wise Shop in SF... all familiar stuff.
Long boarding is really fun, and I know I am going to enjoy it. That's what I told Steve Walden when I left the shop.

Technical Update

Taking off on a wave continues to be one of the most difficult part of surfing, and especially when you are trying to do this on a shorter boards. One thing though, I was just watching several of the top surfers and I was a bit relieved to know that they sometimes are struggling with that too, especially when the waves are smaller. This really makes the playing field level, and so gives chances to many surfers. To this effect, while surfing do require some strong muscles, it also requires a bit of creativity. I have met many surfers, but especially at recreational levels, I found that good surfers are in general very creative people, and they are usually are in a profession that requires that; in other words, they tend to be musicians, artists, physicists, programmers etc., (note that if you are not one of them, you probably did not explore deeper into "real you.")

But here are a couple of my observations.

If they go for a wave and if they take off, it is just a matter of 2-3 paddles into the wave when the wave takes shape. I am not including the counts of the paddles to get to the wave. I cannot define that here but if you go there and see it, you know what I am talking about. So I figure that if I need to paddle more than a few strokes, then I must say that I am not choosing the correct wave. The wave selection really is one of the key factors in a successful take-off. You might wonder what "wave selection" is.

To me they are;
+ Be at the right spot. Good surfers are actually on the move, and know when the next set is coming and where the wave is going to pop.

+ Know when is the right set to catch. This is where I often see some surfers going for every wave, and not catching any.

The time to take off and be up on the board is actually quite variable, I've noticed. There are times when the board does not quite get in the wave and surfers would "wait and see" if the board catches the wave. So getting up on the board quickly is not necessarily the norm. However, the true difference here is that they do get up on the board quickly when they decide that it is the wave to catch.

In the past two days, I have observed the world-class best surfers and also local-level top notches compete and I highly recommend that you go and check out the good surfers make the "best" out of the conditions that they are faced with. This makes the surfing very interesting because you cannot control the environment and condition like you could, say in professional Bowling. And of course, that makes surfing a whole lot more interesting than many other sports.

Trips of "The Lifetime"

If you are just reading the blogger WavLOG, the rest of my travelogs are posted directly on the StokeCOMMUNITY as posts. Please catch them there -> Click.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

San Diego Road Trip Day 1

As many of you know already, I am between jobs. I left my previous job at the end of August and I am starting the next one in October 1st. I am hoping to take this time continue with my quests of "What is the life all about, and how does this relate to surfing?"

So I have packed my car last night (Saturday) and start to head towards San Diego and stop by many of the spots on the way to and on the way back from there. The first stop was in Santa Cruz. I tried to find a motel there to stay overnight so that I can do a DP. I had a late start so I did not leave until 11:00 PM or so. My first goal was to find a motel. Actually it was not easy on Saturday night. But I saw a familiar Vacancy light on in one of the motel. I could not read what the outfit was but by now it was close to midnight so I had to find something quick.

Have you see the movie "Sideways." Well, the place turned out to be one of the Hitching Post Motels. But this one was really in a bad shape and I got charged $89 a night, comes to be $99 with tax. Anyhow, it was a very old building inside and out. I slept OK, but when I tried to take the shower all the hell broke loose. First the shower did not work. I pulled the thing on the faucet to change to the shower mode and it did not work.
Next I tried to take the tub bath, and so I switched the knob to the tub mode and the drain did not close. I stuffed the towel and the emergency patch was completed, but gosh, how these people deserve to get close to $100 a night for such a crappy place!

But I don't dwell on things. I have moved on to Coffee Topia near the Hook for a reliable coffee and pasty before checking out the waves. By then it was already 8:00 AM. When I checked out the parking situation, all of the spots were full on top of that the water looked pathetically flat.

Of course, I now know Santa Cruz like the "back of my head" so I went on to Manresa Beach, which I consider the spot as one of my home breaks. I have to describe why I like this spot a lot but in short I like this spot because it is a beach break and it really can spread out. A savior on crowded day in Santa Cruz, and my surf training is on crappy beach breaks, so I actually tend to enjoy this type of break. But look at how clean it was braking this morning, and my Xanadu Rocky brought me some good rides!

The only problem is the red tide and the water was definitely all red-brown. Right now, as I write this, I am now bit suffering from the stuffy nose! But then this is a surf trip so I am going to live with it. Hopefully this will clear as I surf further south.

The next destination was Rincon and Ventura, so I headed south on US101. I have been on this route so many times on surf trips that I really feel at home driving this route. I can actually say that the entire Califronia coast is kind of my home break, since I have really surfed so many places on the map, stayed there and got to know the towns. Right now, I am writing this at a cafe in Capinteria, which is a town south of Santa Barbara.

When I arrived here, one of the first thing I wated to do was to get a spring suit. Or at least I thought I needed it. I jumped into a surf shop and the guy there told me that water is so cold that he surfed today with his 4/3. Good info. I got to save some money.

After taking a bit of nap at a motel, I headed out to Rincon. It was flat! Check out the picture 2.
Tomorrow morning, I will check out Ventura breaks and if that is not working out I am going to head straight to San Clemente.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Voyage with The Xanadau Rocky, Day 2

The M spot again with the Xanadu this morning. Today?s test was to see how the surfer and board together can make the best out of the junky situation. When I woke up in the morning, it was cold, foggy and soggy. It was definitely not an optimum type of day for surfing for sure.

I waited for my buddy on top of the cliff in the car, hoping that the condition might improve a bit. The enjoyability of the surf continued to be questionable. But my buddy was on a limited time basis so we had to go in.

To get out at this spot at this type of condition requires a bit of planning. First, there is a tremendous amount of side-going current present. Over the years, I have learned where there will be the start of the rip. One thing that I now need to mention is that rip currents sometimes do not go straight out like the diagrams on many rip current descriptions. Here the rip goes diagonal to the beach for some time, eventually dissipates out; and it is for very long distance. At least 400 yards. So if I mess up getting out, I would walk back out on the beach and try to catch the current to see if I'd get out. The tactic here is also try to paddle straight out, and in the direction of the side/rip combo current. If I did that I?d be in the inside impact zone in no time!

I must admit, that I was not that successful in getting out today, I did it a few times. We were there just barely under 1 hour but the workout was so tremendous that once we were out of the water we were just breathing so hard that made talking about the condition difficult!

But then, I did have a few fun rides. To some extent, a 5'10 board is really fun in this type of condition where the waves are popping up all over the places, and I love to ride all these bumps and now the board fits more into these nooks and crannies that making rapid turns to connect among these bumps were really fun. It is definitely very different type of ride than trimming on the wall of a wave on a long board.

Well, so in the end, it was fun and I was glad I went out. I think I can always get something out of a situation. In fact, I don't think I can remember any time when I went out and I had a bad time, even those on which I got injured badly.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Christening of The Xanadu

There was not much action this morning at the J spot, so I went up to the M spot. There definitely were clear swell lines from the NW so that got me excited. It looked fun enough, but I did see some close-out sets, so I decided to drive further up to the L spot to see if it would be a bit mellower, since I was going to to try the new Xanadu Rocky 5?10. With the christening of a new board, I tend to be a bit conservative.

When I arrived at the L spot, though it was closing out rather badly and tide was quite low, so I turned back to the M spot.

A 5?10 is the shortest board yet, I will be riding. I was thinking and fearing about it for a bit that this board may not work out right. But I suited up, and tuck the board inside my right arm, and run down the stair. Gosh, it is so light and small! I am a compact size person so when I started to surfing on these 22-inch wide long board, the board did not fit under my arm so the only way to carry it was to hold it horizontally. Though when I started to surf with Ren, another compact person like me, she does the same thing with her long board, so I was so happy to see another person in the same situation as I was.
In order to counter the length of the board, Kevin at 41 Surf in Santa Cruz equipped me with a set of FCS PG-3, premium 4.5 inch glass fins which is fiberglass composition with inside foil contours. I have also been really pleased with the performance of the Vector foil fins on my other boards so I was really excited about the FCS fins!

When going to a shorter length, there are a few other concerns, like, whether I have a hell of a time paddling out, or back in if I cannot handle the situation; I can stand on it or not; would it totally sink while I wait for the board, and of course once I catch the wave, would I even be able to ride it at all today?

So I am going to answer some of these questions.

Relief #1: I can paddle on this! As soon as I paddled out in the water with this board, it felt a bit strange to have the front nose of the board almost right under my nose! I felt like I was on a boogie board.

That?s how short it is. But I did not notice that much difference in how I moved forward in the water. It was probably harder, but not significantly harder like the time when I switched from a long board only to a 7?6 length. Of course it owes to the board construction, and it still is more of a fishy floating board on top of the epoxy/EPS composition which is lighter to start with. Today it was a bit messy out there and there was that usual current this spot is famous for, but I did not feel that I was overpowered by the current. Duck diving was a snap. It was so much easier with this board than any other ones I owned, including the Wayne Lynch 6?4 I used last week.

Relief #2: The board did sink a bit when sitting on it. But not that much. Now though I can look a bit cooler among others in the lineup where their boards are totally submerged. On this one, only a 5-6 inches of nose was out of the water. I can make it totally submerge but I?d rather sit behind a bit so I can turn around when a set comes in.

Big Relief #3: Well, today I had one really satisfactory wave, and rest of them were a bit too steep for me to catch. But then realized that I can actually go for more power in the wave as the board requires a bit more of that. In terms of getting up and riding the board, I did not feel any difference in the comfort to my 6?4 JC Ugly Stick which is the one I have been riding good part of this summer. It gave me much more supportive and controlled feel than the Rusty Piranha 6?3 I used to have. I felt really at home with this board and it ridden more like the 6?6 R French model, which I sold last month to Ren.


I have a good feeling the Xanadu Rocky 5?10 has already accepted me. I think it will be a fun, great all-around board for me to enjoy the types of breaks I like (inside, up to overhead). It will also be fun to add different set of fins to this setup.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

6 September 2006

Note, this turned up on my old NEO Alphasmart. It appears to be around September 2006.

Last week, I was looking forward to on more day of smooth south swell surfing, but the wind turned SW overnight, and when I checked the Jetty, it was already blown out. But today, the Highway 1 opened up so once again, we had a lot more options to locate spots to surf. A neighbor buddy called me up and said that he would want to go, so we decided to head to Pacifica, and that was probably the best pick for today. Here the SW wind is basically "offshore." And there were some NW swells which were actually kind of big.

I must say, though, I actually don't like offshore conditions here. What happens is that the waves jack up OK, but they do not pitch forward until much later than I'd expect, and in most cases, they just end up closing out in places I surf a lot. More often than not, when the offshore condition is that it can tolerate a much higher level of the wind than onshore conditions, and the surface of the water looks much smoother and easy to paddle out even when it is blowing like 15 knots.

Then there is something about big and small waves too. I've spoken to numerous surfers regarding this topic, and I am starting to appreciate why "bigger" waves can take less effort to catch than smaller waves. A lot of them say they get more tired at the end of a session going after smaller waves.

On things about this is that it still all depends on the shape of the wave, more so than actually they are big or small, plus as always, my own skill and the strength. Or even, sometimes, the proper choice of a board does matter in these cases. In fact, when waves are over a certain size and shape, a good long board is the only way to go.