Sunday, November 12, 2006

Technical Update + Stretch F4 Quad Impression

Since I got a comment for the Stretch F4 Quad, I think I should give an interim technical update on myself as well as the F4 Quad (from here on the F4).

First the Technical Update

I should not boost my skill level progress too much. I still cannot surf like most of you, I am older and I was not born with a lot of athletic abilities as I have been writing repeatedly. But having said that, since 2003 I have accomplished this far;

I can go out on 1.5 overhead type condition with confidence and comfort. This is attributed mostly with the improved paddling abilities, and to a less extent duck diving. More importantly I can get to the outside, not as fast as some of the best people, but I do and I can.

Given a lineup, I am catching more waves than most of the people in these types of condition.

A major breakthrough happened around October of this year (06), when more or less suddenly I can take off on more "steeper" waves than ever before. One thing is that some of the fears have lifted significantly under the circumstances and also as I wrote a while back one important missing link was solved, which was to actually make the board go down the wave. As it turns out, I have been careful not to get the board to bury the nose in steeper take offs, especially on long board take-offs. As it turned out, this rule does not apply as much to short boards. I almost had to trust the board that it will go down into the wave. This is an extremely fear driving thing because basically it is equivalent of standing on a roller coaster right when it does the big first dip. This balance and timing is a bit delicate still, and if the board does not start you'd go down the fall, and now some of the problems I encounter is to get pounded at the floor, which is not fun. But, then some additional skill comes. When I big one comes, I often do not take off on it because I know some of the bigger ones are close-out sets. If you take off into those, there basically is no prayer. Usually good fun ridable ones happens inside after a few big ones pass through for which we all paddle to the outside and wait for them to pass. So that's another skill set right there for those who are trailing me behind a bit. I've seen so many dangerous people taking off on every single wave that comes. Proper wave selection (matched to your skill of course) is an skill in of itself.

So as far as that goes, now that I came that far, it is now refining and improving upon these skill sets, and I will be able to challenge more demanding situations.

It is probably not a coincidence that the arrival of F4 into my quiver has a lot to do with this success, and I have some theory on this. I could be totally wrong on it (and that's why there is a commenting capability on the WavLOG).

The F4, in my opinion, is an ultimate take-off machine. I have not been on any other short boards that basically guarantees a take off. The only thing that come close to was the 6'6 French "Fish" Model that I used to have. May be I have gotten stronger over time, but I do switch to JC 6'4 and Rocky 5'10 and they all just feel differently.

I theorize that with 4 fins out in the back, there is just much more thrust when the tail starts to lift, and so as a result I just get extra "kick in the butt" to take off. Since the power seems to start to apply sooner in a take off sequence, it is not a sudden jolt but a bit more smoother acceleration, which allows me to stand up easier. In addition, the board has a better straight ride characteristics. But I must dispute a bit here. On steep take off spots, sometimes the only one to get into the wave is to take off diagonally, and somehow, doing that with the F4 is much easier, presumably because two of the fins can still be in contact with the water and providing the necessary thrust.

Once on the wave, actually it is not difficult to turn the board, in fact, with this board, I can really aggressively aim to higher part of the wave the I was able to do before, so that's really great there too. Actually the board rides remarkably stable, especially at higher speeds the tail dose not "fish out." So that gives me much more confidence in push-tail-set-rail action. I actually think that if you are a better surfer, you'd feel that the board requires additional force to control it, but for me, the given stability and more pronounced action is better.

The closet dimension to this 6'5 board is my JC Ugly Stick 6'4. This is the board I also really like. What 6'4 gives me better is the smoothness and responsiveness in turns in my opinion. If I nail a pocket right, I would rather be on the 6'4 than the F4, but that does not happen often, and still, it is more important to take off on waves, and I think that F4 really can work in fairly tight conditions we have around.

What do you all think?

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