Monday, December 31, 2007

Session 7176

Final Day
Surfed 176 Days in 2007

The final surf day this year was back at the my home break of Half Moon Bay Jetty, and the condition was poor. Just myself and another woman surfer for about an hour. I must say though 07 was a good surf year for me and made a lot of advances and also some stupid stuff like going home when I was qualified for the next heat in a surf competition.

Thank you for taking a surf journey with me for 2007.

The journey continues in 2008. And that's less than 24 hours from now! May your surfing life filled with a full of Stoke.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jetty this morning


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Session 7175

Day 175 (of 2007)

With the swell going at 10 ft with 16 seconds+, the local home breaks are starting to fire and beyond the Pillar Point, there are some big white top of the breaks that we could see from the lineups. It is amazing that just a few mile down is the world famous big wave spot and then us, the "regular surfers" can still take advantage of the long-period Alaskan juice.

I pulled up to the "dirt lot" across from the Jetty break. The clear sky and cold weather over night has frozen part of the ground solid and other parts starting to thaw back into mud. Even with a pair of booties on the sole of my feet starting to sting with the cold penetrating from the ground as I waited for my buddy to show up. It is definitely in the hight of the winter surfing time.

I gradually walked into the water and started to paddle out when I was shoulder deep. Even I was wrapped in a 3-mm hood, gloves and booties, the first duck dive beats any cup of coffee as far as "waking up" department is concerned. The most waking up moment comes when the water seeps through the neck into the back of the suit just as I tuck the tail end of the board into the water and the I am already deep under the wave.

When the period is taking longer than 14, 15, 16 seconds, things do get more powerful and breaks occur further out. At one of the take-offs, I messed it up, and gosh, the amount of time I was dragged on the leash almost seemed forever. The board kept tagging my right ankle for a good amount of time. This would not normally happen on smaller summer waves. Paddling out to the lineup took me a bit more effort too with the distance I had to cover and also a few waves that I had to go over or under. This is where a long boarder and stronger surfers have a better advantage.

Some bigger sets closed out a big time, I know enough now not to take off on most of them, but somewhere in between were some really fun rides where I could paddle in as the wave jacked up just in time for a take-off. When that works, and when I can just drop right into the pocket of a wave, there is nothing that's more pleasing.

With the tide being a bit too high, the size of the bouncy back-wash waves were just equally big. I caught a nice wave, kept a good line, but the ride ended up in a huge smashing bang as the incoming and bounced waves collided and I got knocked out and stumbled forward a big time. I did not see that coming, honestly. I should be more careful about that. That's when I decided to get out of the water and ran for a hot cup of double cappuccino.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Session 7174: Christmas Day

Day 7174
Christmas at The Jetty

There are a few days out of the year when it is a holiday but not many people go out and surf. Super bowl Sunday is one of them (especially to avoid agro male surfers), Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving Day and a day after that and Christmas Eve and Christmas Days are usually less crowded and the lineup tends to be less aggressive. Last Christmas time, the condition and the weather was getting bad and for two weeks after that there was no surfable waves, but this Christmas we were presented with a fairly fun waves right in Half Moon Bay.

As usual, the picture cannot justify the types of the waves we had today (they almost always look slow and smaller), but with WNW hitting us up to 14 ft and 14 seconds type range, our local break was alive again, and without much winds, the paddle out was relatively smooth if you do nail a few duck-dives through the sets, which was also fairly well spaced out. Wish that I could get out on a bit lower tide as the Jetty was filled with water with a high tide and the water was bouncing back out a bit hard.

Thinking that I ought to attack the wave from the outside earlier, I first took out the 7'4 Egg but I had a hard time negotiating for the surface of the wave, so I got back and swapped with the 6'5 F4 and the rest of the session was much more fun. Also with a shorter and lighter board it was easier getting out. These days, the length of the board is no longer the main factor in my ability to paddle out, which is really great.

This, still is not the Trestles and so there are many more close out waves and such but among the sets there were some fun and over-head size waves that popped up. Some drop downs were fun a bit challenging but after making them, it was fun and was able to continue on to the doubled up sections for some time.

Jty this morning

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Session 7173 Back at Home Break

Day 173
Back at Home Break

I was back on Friday so yesterday, I could have gone out. In fact, I should have as my friend "E" told me that yesterday at this home break below was just great. But after a week of SoCAL surfing, I was a bit hesitant to go into cold water. Today also there was a small high school meet there so I got to surf with a bunch of local surf kids as well as some of their parents.

I watched and shot several pictures (below) and as you can see the condition was really fun and the high school kids were having a lot of fun competing.

As for my own surfing, I had a few nice deep drop and of course the speed here is something that there is a plenty of here in these breaks. The Takayama Egg 7'2 has performed well when the size goes up a bit as some of the breaks were clearly above my 5'5 stature and gaining a speed with this board is quite a bit of fun and thrill too.

The buoy water temp was reading 51 degrees F today, but with a 3 mm hood, 1.5 mm gloves and Mysterioso rush guard, I was completely warm and comfortable throughout the session with a 4/3 mm suit.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Session 7172

Day 172

What is this picture of Carl's Jr. doing on a surfing web site? Well, because if you know anything about California surf scene then this ought to be a familiar sight to you, and if you don't then you should somehow find out where this is.

As for the surf today, things has gotten significantly smaller and sets have gotten less frequent but the wave did hold and I had a lot of fun. Today I took out the F4, and I had a lot of fun with it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Session 7171

Day 171
Other Side of the Track

Another Day in Paradise...

As I promised on my last WavLOG, this morning, I did drive south, walked half a mile and go under the wooden railroad trestle, and surfed good two hours.

Probably the condition was nothing to write home about by the people who frequent here, but the it was sunny, no winds, and "A"s were popping here and there with up to my shoulder level.

I took out my Takayama Egg 7'2 today (though F4 would have worked just as well), and caught many waves, almost all of which were the kind that you can see the wave walling up next to you, and take off was not too hard either. What really great, especially compared to yesterday, was the quality of the break. Waves just broke more ideally. The swells came in slowly and clearly and also grew slowly and very consistently at nearly the same spot. All I had to do was to go there and just wait for the wave to come, and everything came and shaped as predicted at the pace I could handle. This is usually not the case with, say, surfing at Montara where everything happens so much faster and stronger and ends fast too, so there I would be much more in haste and also exhausting to ride.

On Sunday, Luke asked me whether I feel any differences between the F4 board and others, and I was thinking about it since then, so I will try to answer this in the way that I am experiencing it.

One thing that is going with this board is the F4 board is one of more stable short boards I have. Ever since I got it, I have been noticing that this board was noticeably easy to get up than other short boards. This is likely that the I am more used to this board.

Once up on the wave, the speed feel is good and I can challenge myself with turning more aggressively. I am definitely under-skilled for the board's potential, but anything I tried so far, the board responded as I would expect, and the response was very positive and quick. One of the boards I owned before caused the tail to become very unstable under some speed, drifting left and right. This board has never done that. The board also rarely slip out of my feet when I get up on it.

Comparing the F4 to the Egg that I used today, I am presently surfing the Egg with a single-fin configuration with a big center fin only (as Luke puts it "A Soul Surfing Board") This board is a breeze to take-off with and speed is good. Even it is 7'2 I can and have to walk towards the nose when needed and overall it really rides like a long board; really smooth rides and really likes to be turned on a large radius on bigger waves. But it definitely is harder to turn compared to the F4. For example, let's say that I just did a bottom turn and now I am going up on the wave and when the wave unexpectedly decides to close. If I was on the F4, turning on the top against the wave and cutting back is a bit easier task. I think this is largely the skill issue with myself as I have seen many long boarders can do some amazingly fast turns.

Please share your experiences with different boards!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Session 7170 Huntington South Pier Visit

Day 170
Huntington South Pier

"The Surf City USA" that is the legally registered trademark of Huntington Beach, and as most of us know that there has been a bit of battle going on between Santa Cruz and Huntington over this title.

Until today this is the spot I drove past by on the way to other spots further south, but as a California surfer, I should give this place a try. Of course, one session will not justify a review of the spot, but with that in mind, I will write on.

Apparently one of the hottest lineups are either sides of the pier. So as a "tourist" I shot for the pier and already the north pier take-off spot getting too hot, I have opted for the breaks much further south of the pier. I would have paddled out just under the south of the pier if there was no contest going on (on Monday!?). Otherwise, I could have tried my pier shotting skills and wrote about it today ;-) Of course, I had to look cool so I took out my Stretch F4 Quad today.

By the time I have arrived there the tide was on the way out and getting lower as the session progressed and wave quality has starting to suffer. The waves were similar to what I am used to, mostly close-outs with occasional makable shoulders, so like I wrote yesterday, I did opt for the occasional inside shoulders that popped up. I must also admit that I was probably 20+ years older than anyone there in the lineup (it was Monday at 9 a.m. mind you!)

However, when the "makable" shoulder happened, it was quite ridable and I really had some fun rides that gave me a chance to go more "vertically" (relative to myself that is). So in a nutshell, I really enjoyed surfing here at Huntington.

It really reminded me of surfing at OB with very very strong side-currents going and it is relatively shallow all the way to the lineup. Paddle out was not too hard, but by the time I paddled up to the lineup I was down south at least 2 or 3 city blocks. Then I catch a right, then it would be 4 blocks down. So for me walking back, paddle out, take a ride and walk-back was the strategy I have employed.

This can be only my subjective impression, but at most So Cal breaks, even when the wave closeds out, it was not so over pounding like I would get to experience even in a summer 10 ft 8 sec days at our local beaches at home breaks.

Overall the waves were a better quality than yesterday at El Porto, but then the quality was not superior to anything I am used to at our home breaks.

Tomorrow morning, I think I am going to head back to the lower Trestles.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Session 7169 El Porto Visit

The WavLOG
DAY 169

This morning, I hooked up with Luke who has been a StokeMaster member for several years, and who has recently moved from the Bay Area to LA.

As much as I liked the long smooth wave of San Onofre, a bit faster closing out waves with occasional makable shoulders is where I really shine in surfing, especially with short boards, so when I saw the crappy condition today in front of me and not many people are catching, I was kind of happy that there will be a chance to try catching as many of these waves as possible.

How did I get to be like that... In a nutshell the darn almost consistently crappy "home breaks" in Half Moon Bay area. Of all the sessions that I put myself through, there simply are not that many days that could be called really fun. It usually involves either very small shapeless waves or paddling after paddling through white water then only to be pounded in massive close outs from the outside lineup and being adrift in strong side-currents forcing me to constantly adjust the spot.

But those situations have taught me some important lessons and if you have been a devoted reader of WavLOG, you've read this all along, but if you have just joined here is the summary.
  • Wave selection is extremely important. Usually the biggest ones in a set will close out so I don't go for them. About the third wave tend to be the best as the first and second will fill in and up the water level so it would be mellower and have some shapes.
  • Another important wave selection department is the positioning. Even if it is massively closing out, if you look long and hard enough (observe a lot before you get in) there will be a few spots away from the main impact zone that start to form a ridable and catchable shoulder.
  • Reforms are your friends. If people are not catching 100% of the set waves from the outside, and instead boards are flying all over the places, then it is time to consider sitting inside and reforms to be produced. Who cares? We are here to catch and ride waves, right?
  • If you find a shoulder, then you are half way there. Very strong "side" paddling and angular trajectory taking off seems to be another key. This won't happen though until you get really confident and strong in paddling. It took me at least 3 years and I just seems to have cracked this part of the puzzle. I am going to work on it more so join me.
  • Reposition, reposition, reposition... Keep your eyes on the incoming waves, and also the surrounding. On beach breaks you can be moving a lot to find the next best spot that is coming your way. Moving both along the beach as well as going inside and outside.
  • Don't be discouraged. It is something a lot of us are going through. Keep at it!
Tomorrow I might try the "Surf City USA" Since I've never surfed there up to now.

Let me know how you are progressing on the StokeFORUM!

Session 7168 Long Long Boarding

Day 7168
San Mateo to
Long Long Boarding

This week, I am surfing in Southern California on vacation. We can really tell surfing really is a lifestyle. As such we try to do it before work, after work, and on vacation, and even some literature suggest that surfing is only a few of the sports that do not require other types of conditioning. Even professionals train only through surfing and a bit of stretching exercise.

From Northern California, we almost always drive here, so I (can) take a large chunk of my quivers. On this trip I took Walden Magic 9'0, Takayama Egg 7'2 and my "work horse" shortboard Stretch F4 which is 6'5.

Yesterday I took out the Walden 9'0 and I went to the San Onofre's Old Man's and while waves were small overall there were some fun shoulder level waves. People are super mellow and multiple take-offs are OK here to a good extent, and when I'd catch a wave, the ride just lasts a long long time. The wait for the sets was long, but once they came it would last for 3-4 waves so just let the first one go by and there are plenty to catch.

The water was surprisingly colder than I thought; of course it was much warmer in any of the Nor Cal spots this time of the year. After getting out a lot of people were shivering though I had just a very comfortable session. I think that they probably wear 3-2 s and I am using 4-3s. People were wearing anywhere from spring suits to just a trunk!

Today I am going to meet an old Stokemaster buddy of mine in Manhattan so I think I am going to go for either ones of the shorter boards.

(I need to continue to apologize for my crappy English. I need to crank those out very very fast and before I know it I am out of time to read it over. Rather than to sit on it, I just push those out hoping that I can accomplish most of the communications of the stoke.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Session 7167: 9 Days of No Surfing

Day 167
9 days of being out of the water!

It has been 9 days of being out of the water and that's amazingly a long time for me. I must admit though that this has been a busy time for me at work, then the condition deteriorated for a long time too, adding up to the total of 9 days.

Every time I go out after more than a couple of days of non-surfing, I start to feel like I am rusty and my muscles have already atrophied. That fear is usually cleared after catching the first wave.

The waves at the Jetty this afternoon was very small; not bigger than the hip size. I took out the trusted 7'2 Egg board and that worked out quite well though the rides were short and the waves were crumbling not giving me much chance to get a long ride.

I have been itching to get out and amount of frustration accumulates for not surfing for so long, so I was so glad I was able to get out under the clear skies and not much wind, and crisp 52 F degree water.

Have you been surfing lately?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Session 7166: Condition Getting Worse...

Day 166

Not much to report from this morning's session. Waves were really crumbly and not fun to catch. The swell size, most of which seems to be wind chops, has been increasing afternoon and into the evening. Does not look like a surf day tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Session 7165: Technical Update

Day 165

Personal Technical Update
The Imporatnce of the Focus

One of the areas that I have become very aware of it lately is the focus. As a recreational athelete (of some kind), I have become more aware of the area of focus lately. I got to know a few atheletes through surfing and also race-biking etc., that this is one of the attributes they got but which I need to improve significantly. Frankly, I am more on the camp of attention deficit group of people so I actually need quite a bit of a skill development in this area. My high school teachers as well as my mother will testify my attention deficitness especially then.

So what have I been doing about it?
My main work actually is to eliminate as much distracting things as I can. Here is a list;
  • I need to build individual skill set well so that any one of them would not become a distration. For example, paddling technique, stand-up etc. This is actually very important because it actually takes quite a bit of time to perfect each of the motion. But now each part has improved to the point that they are less distractive now.

  • Being mentally focused. For example, I have been paying too much attention to other surfers, or even people at the shore, how they do, how they look at me etc. I need to be able to completely isolate myself, at least while I am taking off and riding. It is a really a bad habit of mine. You can tell I have that show-off tendecy; Who else would start a web site and blogs about my own surfing!
  • Fear is someting I talked a lot about on this WavLOG, but the fear is probably the number one cause of distraction at the moment. When I am more truly focused, I should be focused enough that I even shut off the fear part of the distraction. This part needs a significant mind training. But having had so many surfing accidents, I still am a bit afraid often. Also another part of the fear that interferes a lot is the fact that I am still afraid of the open ocean. That prevents me from challenging otherwise good bigger waves at many "less surfed" spots.

In my past 5 years and especially in the last year or so, I have been making much more progress in each of above areas, and I am much more confident and less distracted surfer today than before. Everything take a very very long time for me and we just need to keep at it one small piece of puzzle at time. Three steps forward and two steps back.

So to summarize this, these days, there are more times when I say to myself "Heck, I am going to go for this!"

Surf Report

This moring in Pacifica was really fun. Not too many people were out. Closeouts were there as usual, but there are many makable waves. I caught many fun long rides with some more "vertical" turning actions. Large circile cutting back around the wave face is some of my better skills and when that happens it is a real treat! I am starting to get the trick of riding some of near-close out waves; I need to paddle hard, turn hard into the wave and then hop more towards the tail side of the board for a bit then push hard forward. The board start to do the booster take-off then! Another trick is to make sure to find the area where it is going to turn to the shoulder. The Takayama 7'2 egg board, presently in a single fin configuration, was just great especially when I am receiving a lot of power from the wave on a bigger face.

Surfing is Difficult!

See you out there!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Session 7164: The Fall Continues... The Cosco Stuff...

WavLOG DAY 164
When I Thought Summer Did Not End, Now When The Fall Ends? And Our Environment.

It was not too long ago when I talked about summer lasting too long. That was when I was referring to the wind being non-stop into September and even probably into October. The last several weeks, though, the wind situation has been quite good, and so were the swell conditions. First some south started to fill in earlier and now we have fairly solid 14 sec+ swell filling in one after another... thanks to some good wind activities up in the northern Pacific ocean. Or, perhaps we may not be so thankful. This could also be an indication of irreversible climate changes.

One of the highlights and real good bonus for us was this Thanksgiving weekend. We just had several days of solid WNW swells, and it was such a lucky break for all of us here in Northern Cal when we were so frustrated and mad about the Cosco Busan Oil Spill accident.

With respect to the recent oil spills, but I've read things almost sounded like;

"We should stop all boats from coming to SF Bay"
"We could ban the use of certain fuel in these ships."
"We should stop trading with China!"

I understand these sentiments, but I must also ask those who are saying that if they can survive without international trades. Do they not love their iPods, Sumsung or Sony TVs, Subarus, Honda Elements, and such?

Personally, I think that the focus ought to be on prevention and not going for some "seemingly good intentioned" but too simplistic of a request for a solution.

People tend to do that a lot.

Suppose that someone would be killed from surfing at some local beach tomorrow. The first thing that people would think is "let's ban surfing because 'I' don't want to see people getting killed there."

A simple "ban" on something because it did bad one time to me is a band-aid solution and it is not a cure to me. We should think wide (globally) and with a long term picture in mind. Not just 2-3 seconds in front of us and 10-20 miles radius around us, which of course, a lot of us would accuse of many businesses and Wall Street doing.

Let us not fall into these traps!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Session 7163: Back To Pacifica + Only in California!

WavLOG DAY 163
Back To Pacifica + Only in California!

This morning, I was really not planning to go to Pacifica. I thought it could be too messy or too big up north, so I was planning to return to a spot much further south. However, I can never refuse a chance to surf with our StokeMaster's Surfing Mama, Ren, I found myself paddling in front of "Bathroom" again. This has been quite a while, last time was while the oil was still spreading around the ship a few weeks ago. I must say though there was no real sign of the oil.

Speaking of the oil and tar balls and pollution, I remember the time I visited the island of Tshuima which is right across from the Korean peninsula. This was when I was just hitting the teens, I distinctly remember two things at the beach. There were many pieces trash with Korean writing on them, like Coke bottles (I was very fascinated by them) and also quite a few tar balls buried in the sand. After playing in the beach my feet will pick up a ball or two of gooey brown stuff that was very hard to get rid of. Recently in Mexico, I was also a bit disgusted with a lot of plastic trash washed up on the beach. I guess back in these days in Japan and today still in many countries these kind of problems are rampant probably because people don't even think about it.

When I surf at Rincon, my board often get murky yellow from local natural oil seeps so I am sure that the amount of the oil in the water is much less than on a regular day at Rincon.

Compared to those situations, Linda Mar looked so much more cleaner. I did not step on tar balls and I did not pick up any oil on my gear.

Surfing was actually fun. Breaks were just about my height, and asides from occasional closeout sets, there definitely were some fun waves out there. It did not get huge and messy today, and I got a few nice rides as well as many "just" rides. Took out the Takayama 7'2 Egg today, which performed well.

Stopped by at the Linda Mar Safeway to buy some lunch stuff before heading home. There is a Starbucks inside the store, and there were two women surfers in wetsuits having coffee. I thought, I would see something like this only in California.

Sessions 7161-2: Losing Buddies, Keeping Them and Gaining Some

The WavLOG Session 7161-2
Losing Buddies, Keeping Them and Gaining Some
Manabu Tokunaga (StokeMaster.COM)

You don't feel is until you lose one, but this year was a bit rough for me for having lost my surfing buddies, at least temporarily due to an increased incidents of surf related injuries, and when musculo-skeletal issues occur it can put people down for months at a time.

I am not talking about some people I know and say hi at the beaches, these are the people we surfed a lot together. I have those, and some people are amazed how many people I "know." But if you are hanging around at the beach a lot, this will happen to everyone.

Some people also got a change in the job, requiring them to travel a lot. I'd be really cranky if I don't get to surf, but as for surfing itself is concerned all of us are not making a living with it, so that has to take a back seat.

I've lost some surfers due to more at emotional level such as difference in opinions and such. This is probably the hardest loss, but I need to swallow it and move on.

It is kind of rare for losing a close surf buddies due to them dropping surfing altogether, but it did happen. This is also a very difficult one because we surfed together a lot in the beginning.

God forbid, but I have not lost a buddy yet for taking the last wave.

On a very positive note, I also know many surfers, especially from the StokeMasters who stuck around with us for over 3-4 years. I am really glad to say that this and last year we've started to add some new "regular" faces, and it really is a pleasure to surf with them and also introducing each other on our outing parties. I know it is due again to have some form of paddle out of beach party.

So, I just have to say that surf buddies are part of my life now, and for those stuck around with me and surfed with me, I want to send you big thanks.

Session Logs:

Day 160: Day after TG at Local Half Moon Bay Break. The pumping west swells were in. The waves were closed out here but we did it. My surf buddies cousin from Ventura joined us and he used my Walden Magic, he was ripping and walking the deck, catching waves one after another while I was just being buried in closing out waves. I just can't beat a 25-year veteran. I was happy to see there is no sign of oil at this home break.
Gosh water was getting cold, I don't know how long I can last without the gloves. Took out Takayama 7'2 egg.

Day 161: Saturday Morning at a northern tip of Santa Cruz County. Having experienced the close outs I have decided to escape to further south. It worked really great and I was able to rip a bit, but not as well as the best of the people who were there. Both lefts and right and the wave type and size were fun for short boarding. I wish that I could convince more of my buddies to come there, but it never works out due to time and probably a bit of fear factor? I can do it, so you can. Come with me! I took out Stretch F4 6'5.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Session 7160: A Week of Hiatus Finally Gotten Out

This past week, I have gotten actually busy with the work and the oil spills. As for the oil spills, I was busy dispatching information both on the Stokemaster and Surfrider San Mateo web sites. It is amazing that so much information come through!

With this oil scare, and rather poor condition out there, I did not get out until today, which is actually just over a week.

I could not go much further south, but in order to avoid the possibility of encountering the oil, I tried to south. All San Mateo beaches looked really gnarly and big, and finally ended up at Waddell Creek. I must say that condition was not that great, but I had to get in the water just to make sure that I have not forgotten anything.

The current was strong, and getting out was a bit of challenge. It was a kind of a day that no matter how much I paddled I did not make much progress. And even if I made to the outside, the waves were closing out fast and so it was not in any real shape for me that I could ride.

I gave up in about an hour and headed back.

I hope many of you have made back to the ocean this weekend!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Session 7157-59: Taking Off - The Life Story

The single most difficult part of surfing to me is the "take off" phase. It has been when I started to learn how to surf, and to this date that is the most difficult. What makes it more difficult about this is that when I can take off on smaller and easier stuff then I would want to take off on more difficult waves, and without doing that there is no progress on improving the actual riding.

This is even more so as I will challenge faster and bigger waves on shorter boards.

The latest theme for me is the board slips away from me. The wave comes behind so fast that I just don't seem to have adequate time to stand up, or perhaps, not adequate muscles to do the action fast enough.

I should be able to stand on the front part of the board as soon as possible.

So I am now seriously needing to focus on this aspect to move on to the next step.

As we all know it never ends.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Session 7156: Are You Looking For The End? Not!

My wife and I do not get to eat dinner together often these days because she is out to school two nights a week, and with her new novel just came out, she is busy giving talk to writers groups and signing books etc.

So I often eat alone, and when I do that I really don't feel like cooking just for myself, so I go out, and when I do, I'd be at the "bar seating." I have lately though finding this an interesting way to spend time alone to just listen into what various people talk.

Tonight, I was sitting next to two young women who were engaged in talking about their future men. I am going to bore you with the details, but the gist of the conversation was to finding the right men, at right suburb with a nice house and a golden retriever. I am going to be blunt and honest with you. But to me, that's basically is talking about the end; it might as well be the same thing as picking hospital, funeral home and the plot you are going to go. The conversation did not extend much beyond the golden retriever bit. The whole summary of the story was to basically find the end, and they'd want that end to last forever. And that's as I know it is the death. I know that basically that's what most people want, just wanting to arrive a comfortable, constant place.

And that brings to the sport of surfing, which is almost completely opposite. In this sport, there actually is not the ultimate comfortable place. We might attain that temporarily but then when we achieve that level, we'd want to get out of that and go for more, say bigger waves, other places, other buddies... whatever... Things are in a constant change, and we beg for these changes. It certainly is not a very comfortable stuff. A mere 5-second hold down can make us really appreciate that we can breath the air, and a wipe-out from a big break can really invigorate us that we actually are alive. Catching an overhead break (or even smaller), and riding it if you luckily caught it requires us to be fully awake, paying attention for the every moment. And when it is going to end? The only thing I know is that some day I will catch the last wave, but then I don't know exactly when that will be. I just keep on paddling for it as long as possible.

And I think that makes the surfers realize some important stuff in life. We should all appreciate what we have accepted as our life challenge!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sessions 7154-7155: Surfing is Still Hard!

I was in a restroom at a restaurant on the other night and on the wall was some advertisement matrix that included an ad for "Extreme Adventures" outfit. There were many outdoor sports listed from Bungee Jumping, Sky Diving, (Indoor) Rock Climbing, Balloon Rides... But I've noticed that there was no surfing included in this.

Would this be an omission or not? I probably should call the outfit and ask why. But I can guess fairly well the reason why.

The most of the stuff listed in the ad can be done by an average person without much physical training and at least one would experience the sport in one morning or afternoon. It is possible to get that "instant gratification" people want.

For getting an instant gratification, I think surfing is so much more difficult to achieve. First of all, a lot of people do not want to get in the water. It is probably advisable that a person getting a lesson should be able to swim a bit so that on the first wipe-out the person won't be drawn. Plus, the condition is now always "beginner" quality and no outfit can guarantee that condition ahead of time.

And to be able to surf reasonably as a beginner would take about 3 months of two-day weekend sessions, that's 24 sessions.

Beyond that one would need to modify their life style and have some commitment to the sport.

Speaking of that, I have met many people who have transformed their lives. I know many people from the early days of my surfing who have since moved to Santa Cruz, doing the hard commute over the "17." Some people bought a condo or rented an apartment.

I do not have that luxury of surfing in Santa Cruz all the time but I have made a commitment to make myself be able to surf these "crappy" local beach breaks, by going for them as many days as possible. It is still taking a lot of time, but lately the effort is starting to pay back. I am now starting to get a most out of these situations. Now I am starting to find this sort of "fun challenge" to go find and be able to surf; like identifying the best shoulder spots, staying inside between big sets, finding & paddling out into rips, riding reforms, and equipped myself with more powerful take-off technique to out do these waves.

So if you are on the same journey as us, I hope you will stay committed, and be thankful that this sport requires a huge commitment to be good. The occasional rewards of catching some long and nice rides, when they come, they are so much more meaningful to us.


Saturday Linda Mar session was actually fun for me with a strong offshore wind, balmy "Santa Ana" like condition. While the waves were mostly closed out, there were a few gems hidden in these waves that allowed me to take some long rides.

Sunday Jetty session was a "reminder" session that I can still practice a lot more to catch more of these peaks that this spot is famous for. With less crowd, I can catch more, but I need a lot more confidence here to make sure I don't get into trouble. Neverheless, I feel I am "moving up" out there. Took out the Rocky 5'6 board which was siting in my garage for most of the summer.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sessions 7152-7153 The Confidence

Lately I have been thinking of the whole thing about the confidence. Of course, it is one of the things that I think quite a bit, but this is to say that I am thinking a bit more about it each time I get out in the ocean.

Over the years I came to realize that there are basically the following categories of confidence that I mainly have been dealing with.
  • The confidence that I know I can deal with the condition when I paddle out, and basically "no matter what" is the situation, I know I can safely make it back at the end of the session, or shall I say, I know I can end the session at my will.
  • The confidence that I know I will safely deal with the break when it is coming at me; either not to take it, take it, or what to do after I have taken it even if I did not ride it. For this one , the improvement in the confidence also comes with the improvement in the power of the break that I can or I am willing to take.
The history of my surfing has always been in building up this confidence. Actually not; in very early days, I was ignorant enough that nothing really mattered, I went for bigger waves, poor conditions etc., and suffered the consequence. But now it is a bit different, I've acquired quite a bit of fear about the ocean, the wave, and even the danger of surfing in a crowd. Then it started become how to deal with these stuff correctly at all times.

Today, I know much better about when I can be totally confident, and conversely when I should be a bit more cautious, and more importantly when my fear is starting to take over and that I need to boost my confidence; for example when a steeper break is coming up. Even though it could be a bit fearful, I make myself listen to relax, I can handle this, I've done this before...

Doing this kind of stuff over and over has also been helpful for my everyday life decision making process.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Session 7151: I Have An Illegal Watch Now!

We all know that there are fake Rolex and such that are highly illegal in the US. If the customs official determines that your watch on the wrist is a fake, then they can confiscate it. They can because it is a violation of the law.

This morning, I was enjoying a morning session, looking at watch and saying "hey, I must have gotten here early. I got one more hour of surf."

Well, as it turns out I ended up showing at work hour late. Because my watch decided to adjust itself this weekend. And it is because the law is now different as for when the DST changes back to the standard time starting this year.

Up to now, I did not realize that this was done automatically in my watch, but according to other web sites, many tide watches sold to the surfing market do adjust according to its programming.

So strictly speaking I now own a watch that violates the current law of the US!

You might be careful though too because your surfing merchants may hand you the obsolete watches which is not programmed according to the new law. I would imagine there are thousands of these obsolete watches out there.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sessions 7149-50: Trust Your Equipment

I still distinctly remember one thing about learning to drive a car. It was learn how to turn the car. That was to put down the gas as you get out of a turn and let the steering wheel go. I remember this because it was actually a bit hard for me to do. It was hard because I did not want to let go of the steering wheel, especially when making a directional change and then you also need to punch the gas a bit.

But after a few tries, it just worked as exactly the driving instructor said it would. One distinct thing about this is that I had to trust the machine to do its thing, thereby actually being in control of the machine.

Similar stuff goes with with any other stuff, but when it comes to surfing, sometimes I do not trust the surf board enough and that can be the cause of why I do not progress as much. Quite a bit of it is a control issue and the fear that goes with it.

But one would not realize once you have established a relationship with a surf board, and trust it that it will do its thing, even when the wave is jacking up and going hollow, or when you feel like you are going to drop straight down into the bowl of the water in front of you, a moment of letting your own issues and trust the surf board, and perhaps the whole situation of the moment, a magic would occur and you'd realize it is indeed good to put some trust in the whole situation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Session 7148 Girl Section!

So, I have this super-surfer woman, and on the other day, she was talking about surfing with other girls at "girl section."

I was thinking about it, whether there really is such a thing, and come to think about it there really are such sections, and the reason I did not really realize this until now is because that's usually where I hang around.

This does not mean that girls only surf at the "girl" section. I also surf at all over the places and there are women surfers all over the breaks.

What I admire about the "girl" section is that are that they;
  • Selected nicer and cleaner breaks when "men" surfers goes to places that are impossible to catch waves; they are just bigger and that's it. From this respect women surfers actually know more about the "good" waves than some "stupid men" surfers who only see "bigger the better."
  • Tend to be friendly and share the waves.
  • Are actually really technically super surfers found in these breaks, it is really a joy to see them catch waves with really great effortless forms.
As I have been writing many times over, women surfers tend to progress significantly better than men because they really tend to approach the sport more organically, going with the flow, than men who try to work it out more defeat it mechanically when I think that waves tend to be better handled organically a lot of times.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sessions 7145-7

I almost always carry two surf boards. These days, I carry the Takayama Egg, that's 7'2 in length. Then depending on my mood and my guess to what's out there I would pick a 5'6, 6'4 or 6'5 quad fin board. Lately I am carrying the 6'5 quad board. To be honest I think the 5'6 is a bit challenging for me, but it is something I should take out often to see if I am ready to use that one more regularly.

When I get to the beach, I would first scope out the beach for the location, the size and the directions of the break, as well as where the water has ripped open for a nice, or could be a dangerous, channel out, then I pick one of the two boards.

It is a hard decision though. I always feel like I would regret not taking the other board, if I did not. But I tend to take the longer Egg most of the times, because I know it would be easier to catch waves.

Short boarding is really really hard. It just take so much more energy to be successful, and I must admit when I am in a lineup with a bunch of surfers, there always are a few surfers that just got so much more energy to out paddle into the waves; sometimes, I am very amazed how they could get into the waves even on shorter potato chip boards. I must remind you that I have taken a longer board, and I am still “behind” some surfers on these regards. So

So to compensate for the lack of my arm muscles, I tend to look for a sweeter spot where the wave is just about to break and get me a bit of push. This works well when it happens, but that also require a constant adjustment, and here again, some surfers would show up from “nowhere”, and be there on the spot before I can get to it. It is again, one of the amazing stuff some people can pull off.

Not only that before I try to get to the next bump those who took my first wave away is already back at it!

Coming back to my car, I was glad I did not take the shorter board, but I always would wish that I could surf as well as some of these best surfers with the shorter board.

I am not so frustrated by all of that, but it just continues to tell me that I still have a long way to go. What has changed to me lately is though, I know I am getting much closer there this year.

Session 7145: I went back to the JT, a day after the Stoke 10 session in SC. Total mess and junk. It was so difficult to negotiate any shoulders.

Session 7146: DP in Pacifica was on fun side but still a bit of close-outs.

Session 7147: DP in Pacifica again with ME. Fun to share A-frame with you. You go right and I go left! Nice and clean with shoulder level A poppers + nice and balmy Indian summer morning.

Only 147 sessions so far this year, it looks like I would not make 200 sessions this year!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Session 7144 SC Board Meeting + Use Front Of The Board

Today, I met my long time friends from Santa Cruz as well as a new face. As for my long time friends, I've known them almost from when I started the web site. I've met all of them online! But looking back then and now, we really came a long long way. Everyone has gotten so much better, and we are challenging some of the best waves in Pleasure Point breaks.

As far as the online niche I have created, and now with a lot of people joined and helping keep the fire (want to use the word, "flame" here but that's sort of sounds inappropriate for the online community) of stoke burned continuously. Asides from the fact that we all surfed, we prior to this, we have not met or known each other, but today we are united as great surf buddies.

Well, back to surfing, it was surprisingly on a "small" side this morning, and when occasional "big set" came in, we all went for them and some waves were really fun.

After lunch, and stopping by at Patagonia store, and a few others, we went back out to Capitola. When we arrived, the swell size has gotten even bigger and it was breaking all over the place, in addition, the shorebreak has gotten really huge too.

I opted for paddling out much further south, and that was cool. There was even some outgoing current and so that helped quite a bit. With the waves a bit smaller, but still well above overhead on major sets, I caught a lot of waves there and with the condition a bit challenging, the crowed was not a factor any more. There was a lot of power to the wave, and I was able to gain substantial speed in my rides that allowed me to connect sections, and thus very very long rides. Some of the rides had so much speed that I could completely out-run the wave and do a really clean final pull-out and paddle back.

So all in all, it was Stoke 10 day!

Get More Water Contact, Use The Front of the Board!

I was watching a lot of good surfers today, and especially the long boarders too. One thing that I have been noticing is that a lot of people who are "almost good" do not take advantage of the front part of the board, and it is almost frustrating to see them stalling on otherwise great waves,. When and if I was there, I would step forward on the deck, get the board to contact the water more, and I know that the board will gain much glide and speed.

It is understandable that during the take off, you'd want to sit in the back, even when making the first turn, you'd want to sit further behind, but you may want to try stepping forward! You will be amazed!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Session 7143 Still Need To Work on The Break Selection

Back to the Jetty this morning, and off to work. It was significantly smaller than yesterday, and probably because of that there was not really anybody out in the section I was surfing on. Probably there were other breaks that worked better. For me, as usual, the time is a big factor in where I am willing to go.

Well, to make this blog post short, I did not catch much in the way of satisfying ride, but after I got out there were 3-4 more waves that looked like catchable. That basically means to me that I should still learn to position myself better while I am in the water.

That brings to the fact that some people I know have a much better knack at this than I am, and it is often the case that if I get out with them, I end up catching more waves (than they do.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Session 7142 - First "Big" Day of The Season

The first "big" day of the season started today and looks like it will hang around with us for the next few days. This morning, it was a bit questionable whether I could surf locally. On a day like this the option can be limited since I do have to show up at work at a reasonable time, and I have a problem with my software at work that I could not figure out for the past few days, and I have been praying that this will be solved soon.

When I got to the Jetty, the waves looked a bit surfable, surprisingly on a "handleable" size; not even overhead. There was one guy out and another local person I know was also checking the surf. I told him, let's go!

So I did go in. Thanks to the calm wind, even though the waves were powerful, I was able to get out with only a duck through.

Well, everyone seemed to have had a lot of problem taking off, and the waves were just plain closing out quickly. I paddled around to see if I can find more defined peak, but just about every one of the swell line that came in ended up not breaking. As I try to take off, more water built up in front, go up then just crushed into a mess.

I was determined to catch one though, so I kept trying. You can underestimate the power of waves especially when it is a longer period one. I messed up one which was a huge close out. I had no option but just bail. I pushed my board as far aside as possible as I was starting to have this feeling of jacked up, then pounded under. And that's exactly how it happened. In addition to that I was treated to underwater tumble of spins... 1, 2, 3... it kept going. The best way for me to do now is to just hold my breath, completely relax all my limbs and wait until it stops... 4... 5... 6... now I am starting to worry... 7... 8. Finally the spinning stopped and the surrounding got a while lot brighter. I popped my head above the water and "Poooof!" exhaled some of the water I took in. And took a nice deep breath of fresh air.

This is a rude reminder that we are land animals, designed to breathe air.

I did not give up though. I paddled back out for some more. Possibly another tumbler. But the time was running out, I started to paddle back in, just then there was a small break that happened, and took that as the last and the only one ride of the session.


When I got to work, I checked the build configurations, there was some errors, and the program ran without an error. That made me feel much better.

Oh, I also have decided to put my helmet back on when it can be dangerous for my taste.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Session 7141 - How Heavy is the Water?

I often go and stock some mineral waters and beverages in the office.

Have you experienced how heavy is a 24-bottle pack of water? It is really heavy. If you stuck three of these packs it would be a bit of work to carry them up stairs. And what is the amount of water are you talking about with respect to surf. The amount of the water that I carried is just a tiny fraction of the water even in a very small wave condition.

But come to think of this, us surfers are dealing with a huge amount of water, and just experiencing how heavy a pack of drinking water makes me really appreciate the power of the waves and what kind of power we are dealing with.

And it is almost unfathomable that this kind of wave activity is going around the world non-stop every day, and has been for millions of years.

Where all that energy come from? It comes from the Sun and it is just a very tiny fraction of the energy the Sun puts out.


This morning, I exprienced a bit different surfing.

After a while I was in the lineup, the rain started to pour. Each of the rain drop formed little pearl-like bead on the surface of the water.

Then the sky has projected a nice full rainbow over the Pacific.

Under the rainbow were a couple of dolphins going in and out of the water.

I am so blessed being a surfer!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Session 7140

I had a really excellent session today. It was a rippling day. A local friend at the lineup told me that I should have been there yesterday too. I was too afraid of getting mixed up in the Pumpkin traffic. As a matter of fact, I was watching the traffic grid lock on the 1 highway yesterday from the lineup at the Jetty.

Today was an excellent day. The waves were not closing out like usual, but still fast action, long rides and a lot of up and down action on the face of the wave.

Which brings to the talk about the stoke in all of us.

Why do we come back to this sport so much and so often?

I thought about that more after the session. The reasons that brings me back to the ocean as many days as it has been are many.

It really has a lot to do with perfection that we all strive for, or let me put it another way, it is the road to the perfection that we strive for. We all know that there will not be the perfect condition, because the moment we experience it, there will be the next level of perfection that we need to attain. Right?

It is always so common experience with all of us that as we get out of the water and while we change, we continue to look at the ocean to see if we did not miss out of anything. Invariably, there is one or two more breaks we could have caught that could have been better than all the waves we were in and look forward to the next time we can get back in the water.

And after all, surfing does make us feel really good.

To me it is like perfection the skill and the art. The skills are something we need to build, and the art part come upon it. It is the creativity of the rides themselves that I want to really perfect.

Therefore I do not call this as an addition, but it is passion in all of us that bring back to the water.

Session 7139 Smashing Into The Rocks - The Danger of Surfing at The Jetty

People surf at all seemingly dangerous situations, like in So Cal, people go under the piers and here in HMB Jetty people take off and surf extremely close to these rocks (I've heard they are called riff-raffs.)

I live within a "walking" distance from the HMB Jetty and as a result I surf there often, though this summer, there a stretch of months where there was not real good surf there.

But when it is happening, it is a fun place to surf and also watch people surf. I firmly believe that the traffic slow down there especially on weekends is drivers watching people surf.

Ever since I saw people surf there, I always amazed how close to the rocks people take off and surf and they never seems to collide with the rocks.

But, amazingly, not very many people get hurt, let alone smashing directly into the rocks, and that kinds of adds the element of "danger" into what we all do.

In addition to colliding to exposed rocks. There are also cluster of submerged rocks there. The picture here shows where they are. You should be careful when the tide is lower. I know some people who have twisted their ankle and lost fins. If you surf there, be careful.

As for myself, I am one of those people you may have seen surfing dangerously armed with a surfboard!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Session 7137 ~ 7138 Towards More Hollower Waves

In my past WavLOGs, I have written about some of the changes that are starting to happen with my surfing. Please bare in mind that my progresses are very very slow and often inconsistent so by reading this, do not think that I am surfing significantly better than most of you. All of my stuff is being described relative to my own progress.

Having said that though, some of the significant ride quality changes stem from the fact that I am going for more difficult types of waves than before; namely the hollower waves, and by this what I try to mean is the one looks like the Surfirder logo from the side, that forms a bit of tube in the end before the wave completely crush.

There are two things that I am starting to understand better to take advantage of these types of waves.

One is lining up. I am much more careful in choosing where I am going to be and then sit tight and wait for the wave I want to happen, or correct positions. Either ways, I am string to make my position more accurate than before. Another thing about this is to position carefully to where the ridable shoulder would form. It is especially useful on beach breaks around here where a few feet in positioning can make it or break it.

Second is the selection of the wave. I am starting to become more keen on when the wave will totally close out or would form a ridable shoulder.

Third element is the paddling power. Then forcing myself getting myself in the direction of the break early and higher in the wave.

Finally, doing the take-off with much less fear, and more confidence.

When all these elements come together, the type of the ride is dramatically different from what I have been doing. Rides are much faster, and also the power and force of the wave against my knees are significantly more, and by making turns appropriately, the power can be maintained or even more power can be drawn from the wave.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Session 7136

The part that took this long to get to is to more consistently and quickly be up on the board. But, finally after close to 4 years of trial and error, things are coming together as one.

I am starting to enjoy the sport at a different level than before, that is to mean I actually enjoy the ride and not struggling so much with anything that happens before that point. Things are starting to work more consistently and cohesively, and as a result I feel like I can more confidently focus on the "job at hand."

I was, for a long time, wondering if this would ever happen.

But I think it is starting to.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sessions 7134, 7135 A Day in My Surf Life Style

A Day in My Surf Life Style

Yesterday we got together after a gig (so to speak) with our long friend Jocelyn and Dane, and a question of what my "day" looks like. So I think that's something to write about.

5:30 AM The CD alarm starts. I picked a music that come in gradually like Brian Eno or other "environmental" music stuff. I leave the musing running, but will get up by 5:45 or so.

6:00 AM (not going to write what I do here).

6:05 AM Check the computer to see if there is no customer issue that cropped up over night. If something happens then I must do a Plan B. On this post I will write only about Plan A.

Continue checking the web, make sure that StokeMaster.COM site is up and running then check my StokeConsole for the local condition (note I do not rely on Surfline or any other forecasting web sites.) I make a basic determination of where I will hit at this time.

6:15 AM I get in the shower, wash my hair and then shave.

6:30 AM If I am going to places close by, I just get in the wet suits with the torso dangling. Otherwise I will put on a T-shirts and board shorts.

6:35 AM Fill up the water jug with warm water. Load the car with the rest of the stuff. Board stays in the car every day.

6:40 AM: Leave the hose. I don't eat the breakfast. Continue with wave checking and coordinate morning session with local buddies via cell while I drive.

7:00 AM: Arrive at the beach.

7:10 AM: At the shore, doing a warm up exercise.

7:15 AM: Paddling out

8:45 AM: Catch the last wave of the day.

8:50 AM: Wash the salt off and change to the street clothes.

9:00 AM: Grab Coffee + Donut or a Pastry Off to work. But usually take care of phone calls stuff while I drive.

6:30 PM: Start to wrap up day's work. Write the WavLOG. Check system status and such before leaving the office. Check traffic report until the RT 92 turns from Red to Yellow.

7:00 PM: If the traffic status on 92 is Yellow then I will go, otherwise I will stay in the office and do more work until the traffic dies down.

7:30 PM: Arrive at home. Rinse the wet stuff, hang them up. I have the second pair of wetsuits and such. I have a washing machine right next to the washing basin, so I usually throw the wet stuff in there and put them through a spin cycle. It really works well.

7:45 PM: Dinner and relaxing evening.... If Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmare is on I watch it with my wife. Otherwise I am back on computer doing something, or pay bills or do things.

11:00 PM: Pack tomorrow's street clothes in the duffel bag. Then load it in the car. Then go to bed.

Session 7134 Friday Pre-Work

Thursday I did a short board, but Friday morning was a bit smaller so I decided to take the Egg out. I would say, yeah, I like the egg in the morning.

Saturday, No Session

Got a slow start, went to the beach, but having been small, I decided to take an hour nap in the car. Sometimes that's as fun and relaxing as surfing.

Session 7135

A very special local spot, surfed with Cynthia and Stevo. But breaking small, and I had a lot of fun waves.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Session 7133: Finally Speed Building Is Starting to Work!

Finally Speed Building Is Starting to Work!

I think I am finally starting to break through yet another step in “learn how to surf.” And that's the speed building part of the rides.

What do I mean by this?

Well, if you look at people who are “ripping” and who are just surfing, there is one distinct difference, among, of course, a lot of differences.

You see a lot of “regular” surfers who can surf decently. Their rides are reasonably long and their riding styles are not awkward. But there is one thing that distinguish from that level of surfing to the next level of surfing. They are just going along the wave, but not adding much to it, and speed fizzles out and that's it.

Then there are the “next level” surfers out there who can consistently pull-out of the wave with their own power and their rides are more dynamic and quite often longer.

I have been trying to figure that out. Of course, it looks obvious to most people who take up the sport there are visible differences between professional and “regular” surfers. What I have been trying to figure out is exactly what makes these differences, and more importantly how to get there.

I came to the conclusion, and that is summarized in just one single word. The “speed.”

So especially in this past year, I have really been focusing on how in the heck I can learn how to get the speed. Theoretically, I understand it. But as usual with my surfing progress, the theory and the body do not follow more often than not.

The theory part is the extraction of wave power through making turns. Gain the power at the top of the wave, accumulate it there, then release it at the bottom, then go back up again to get more power.

So what's the big deal?

It is a big deal for me because it has been a biggest hurdle for me. Because mainly what happens to most of us is that when you take off, we tend to take a straighter line down, and by the time you get to the bottom there is no power left. Stalling, the wave closes out from the back, then that's the end of the ride.

One of the things to overcome this are the wave selection technique and also a much stronger paddling power to get myself early towards the top part of the wave, and finally much more “aggressive” use of knees and hips to make things happen. Once I can get into that critical part of the wave and if I can consistently flick up then the rest is much easy. With that initial speed and part of the wave I have a lot more choice what the next second will be and where to turn next. The last part is the turn at the bottom. When I can set up for the turn with already going at a good speed, I am starting to really push hard on the board to get up back the wave, or sometimes, make a fast cutback to get back to the section of the wave where it is still building up.

So, now I am really thrilled to polish these skills up to a more consistent one, and to be consistent, I also need to continue to work on wave selection, take-off, and faster flick up.

Surf Reports

A member on StokeFORUM was curious why I made a fool out of myself on Tuesday. It was because I was again only a solo surfer. Everyone went to LM, SC, or OB but there. Sorry, again, I did not have a whole lot of time to go some place else.

Last two sessions were really fun at LM. Small but really ridable stuff with occasional shoulder size sets. The Takayama Egg worked like a charm for me.

The office building move was completed. I have never driven a diesel U-haul truck before. It was noisy, smelly and slow. It was so nice to get back in my own car!

Sessions 7131, 7132

This week I have been quite busy due to our office move. Tue, I made a fool out of myself again by surfing by myself at the Jetty. Wed was really fun at LM. This feature will resume may be tomorrow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Session 7130: Quite A Contrast - A Solo Session

If you happened to see me from the highway, yeah, that was me this morning.

Another day, a local break. I probably was making a fool out of myself. Nevertheless, I was surfing all by myself plus an otter, which is kind of unusual, but it was eating a fish on its tummy.

The condition was not good at all, but I had a limited time so I had to surf the home break.

The waves were braking closer to the shore most of the times and when a bigger one comes it really closed big time!

But I decided to take this situation to an advantage and practiced paddling really hard into the wave then force the board angled. This is one technique that is said to be almost a requirement when you start to catch some of the steeper waves. The idea seems to be that you really paddle hard as I insert myself into a angle of the the direction of the line. Then speed down the line before the wave closes. Really tricky move from both the stand point of getting in the direction and also flicking up.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Session 7129: Dealing with "Good" Crowds

I must admit! I do not like to surf in Santa Cruz on days like today. This was at the Hook (oh by the way, there is now a prominent sign that says "NO SURF SCHOOLS!", it used to be a graffiti, but now it is an officially city endorsed sign!)

Back to the crowds.

Today it was relatively small.
Waves broke only at the corner... basically.
There were a ton of people out.
Many of them were good too.
= Competition Heats Up!

So under these circumstances, I just cannot get as many waves as I want even if I am capable of catching them. Almost always there is someone already on the wave. They bring in all sort of weapon of mass wave "distractions", including Sponge boards, Liquid Shredders, 10 ft Softops... and will go for full blast when the big set come in and steal all the waves. Pretty standard pattern. I could count with one hand the number of people who were catching all the waves.

To keep the wave counts to a > 0 quantity for me, I had to move constantly, to inside between sets, to outside, and to gamble on to where it is likely the spot that will break for me as the bigger set approached, and avoiding those who are caching so many waves.

My hats off to those who brave there to deal with the crowds. I thought I was getting good at it, but like other aspects of surfing that's totally another skill set I have to master.

If you are one of them, be sure to share with me your secrets!

Session 7128: Short Boarding and Your Strength

I am continuing to discuss the disadvantage of starting out with a short board. This discussion applies to mainly to late bloomers like myself who would start surfing much later in life; not from being a grom surfer. For groms they are shorter, smaller and their relative strength to the situation is different.

One of the most crucial thing I have realized is that I (probably still do) not have physical strength and agility to handle a short board. Just to get that kind of strength requires either much practice on the water or on the ground. My preference with this is that I am focusing only on surfing so I do not do any other type of conditioning exercise. So this is the reason why I surf a lot, as I see this as my gym membership out in the ocean.

The amount of paddling that is needed to get into the wave successfully requires tremendously more power than on a long board, it is more so because you would want to challenge hollower and faster waves.

Once the board gets in the wave, I need to be up on the board as soon as possible. This is always the case whether the waves are faster or slower. Short boards are not very forgiving.

I am continuing to master above two. Should I have only done long boarding for a couple of years right from the start, I would have a chance to gradually and more consistently build up these strength and agility

Surf Report

Surfed at LM in the morning with Magic 9'0, and it was one of the better condition days. Other spots on the way there looked good, but on weekends I also am social. I am moving up much closer to the nose. May be if I log 4 more hours on the board, I hope to grab the nose with my toes.

Looks like this NW swells are going to be here today too. Go have some fun.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Session 7127: More on Board Stuff + Helmets

More on Board Stuff

We have been talking about single or multiple board stuff for some time, and I was thinking some more about the topic as I surfed today.

One thing I can say for sure is that one would need to get to the point of being able to surf a board; taking off, making turns, and stopping properly on a single board. I have seen, myself included, jumping the gun (pun intended in the context) and get next shorter or narrower or unique shape boards. But looking back, what I should or could have done better is to really master the long boarding first on small waves really well, then moved up.

I would say that for those starting out from the ground zero, do master the long boarding technique. I firmly believe that doing so is the shortest ticket to riding a short board, if that's what you want to do. Plus if you got the long boarding under your belt, you can ride much wider variety of wave sizes and shapes, including these summer mushy waves. Everyone I know who has progressed fast and even faster than me have taken that path. Many people I know who did not take that path basically are still the same way as they were several years ago, and great many of them stopped surfing altogether presumably in frustration. Typically those people would pop up on the forum, ask a question about "What board to get." Then I say "long board", then they go get a short board, go out for 2-3 months on weekends, then quits.

I happen to think that such poser trend is probably not a bad thing for the surf industry. A more new people enter, buy the equipment, and quit and some new ones come in the next year. Real surfers don't buy much, they hang on to old wetsuits and once they got a certain number of boards then they don't add too many boards. It in in fact so much to the point that many "surf" shops in inland shopping malls don't even have to carry surfboards to speak of. Can't or don't believe it? Drive to Walnut Creek next time.

Back to long boarding, this is a part of the reasons why I am going to commit myself to surf long boards as much as possible on weekends when I have a bit more time to haul the big board.

On Helmets (or A Surfer with a Brain)

I was getting in the water one day and someone shouted "A surfer with a brain!"

There was a post on the Google StokeFORUM about helmets. I do testify that it is very helpful. One day I was at a heavier break spot, and this was several years ago. I was on a long board and I wiped out taking a water-fall. I see this happen a lot with other surfers too. As I surfaced, I did not know where the board was. I absolutely could not find it anywhere around. It took me about 3-4 more seconds or looking around, and then there was a really hard "thump" on top of my head. Do you know where my board was? It was up in the sky flying! It then landed smack right on my head. The helmet saved my day.

There was another session that definitely saved my day on a crowed inside 38th. I was paddling out, and this gentleman decided to take off and thought that he could make it. Well, he did not, he hit my board and also knocked me on my head rather hard. He was apologetic all right, and I should not have paddled into where he might be. Almost any accidents are the results on combo of more than neglects happening all at the same time even though technically one is not at fault. For example, I've had some close calls at intersections where other cars have definitely ignored the traffic signal. If I was not watching out for them, yeah, I would have suffered some or a serious level of damage.

These kind of stupid accidents and damages are so rampant in early stages because you as a beginner is playing the negligent (and ignorant) part of the accident, and many many other surfers are quite negligent themselves too. Most other surfers are just as bad as you are or not much better than you.

Eventually though you will realize you are making less dings and less unexpected contacts with surf boards, braking less number of fins etc.

So I would say, until you figure yourself out in the water, more protections the better. Plus, you are probably doing some income generation activities that need to use your brains. That's one investment that you got from your ancestors that has a potential of making tens and thousands of bucks, even millions of bucks in income. I think it is worth protecting.

Today's Surf Report

I took out the Takayama Egg this morning to LM, and as I was being carried out to the north end, I caught some fun waves out there. Then I walked back to front of the parking a caught some inside small stuff, yet a relatively long ride though.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Single Toy or Multiple Toys Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote mostly about the single toy school of thoughts, but I now feel that I did not elaborate much on multiple toys school of thoughts.

I know a surfer who is very good and has many different surf boards.

According to him, he thinks that trying different boards teaches you a lot more about surfing and surf boards.

I can clearly see his point too.

For example, I am starting to understand the fore-aft weight shift aspect of surfing. On a long board, I can walk towards the front of the board to get the type of speed and glide. When the board starts to stall while the tail is jacking up, it is amazing that by just a few steps towards the front of the board, I can gain or regain so much better speed.

Now when I am back on a short board, I take the same approach, but the only difference is there is no need to walk the deck. I just send more weight forward and the board will do just about the same thing.

On a short board, when I am setting up for a turn, for me, it is more intuitive to set the weight to the back and sort of pivot the board around, then set the bottom or rail or whatever terms you know. Once you learn that the turn setup starts to become more refined. If you are seeing me doing that from the shore, though you may not see the subtle weight shifts. But then I've realized that it is one of the ways to also turn a long board on a dime; just go or walk close to the tail and pivot the whole thing around. That's what I often need to swing the board into the initial trim down the line right (or during) around take-off. Short boarding taught me do that a bit better.

Back to music, as much as I don't like to do this, studying classical piece can be very demanding, but after you do it, say master one of the Chopin's Nocturns. I can apply some of the classical finger moves on Jazz licks. After going through that, it is an awakening discovery experience that there are some chops that it would have been difficult to realize without going through it.

I do agree that sticking and focusing with one aspect of it for a while is an important thing. Every time I switch a board, I do feel like I have lost the touch for a while.

The whole point of this is that there seems to be no one right or wrong way of approaching this, and I think you as an individual need to decide. The whole point of it is to have fun, and for me struggling with learning to how to short board in of itself is a challenge and that equates with my notion of ultimate fun, because I tend to value discoveries along the road than being at the destination.

Also it goes with my career. Because I am more of a "jack of all trades" type, I work more effectively in a small startup situation. As the company grows, though, we need to hire "specialist" people, including those whose job has "always" been an HR, a CEO, or a programmer, or at least they built their career to be specialized. That inevitably happens, and when that happens, it is time for me to fade away, and go start another company! Well, I take it back. I am specialized in being a "jack of all trades!"

I have, however, seen or heard about many surfers who have continuously blamed their equipment for their own surfing problems, keep buying one equipment after another, and not progressing technically. I think that deserves a whole different set of discussion.