Saturday, February 24, 2007

Session 7025: A Long and a Short Of It

Thoughts after Surfed Pleasure Point and Inside 38th. Stoke 8

When I got to Santa Cruz, I usually pack a long board. My current favorite is Walden Magic 9.0, side fins pulled out. It paddles easier and also catches waves easier.

When I started surfing a lot of us talked about "growing out" of long(er) boards. But I am now totally convinced that one could never grow out of a long board, and I've written about that more than once on the WavLOG.

While I was surfing by Pleasure Point with a long board, I thought, "it would actually be easier if I surfed with my short board today." Mainly because there were more than one occasions where I could really made some nice deep turns should I been on a short board, when I had to turn a big honking surfboard to make it where I wanted to go.

Turning a long board requires a much more motion on the board and because of that I need to calculate the wave much ahead of time; at least, in my case, it would be certainly smoother and longer the ride would become if I try to read the waves a few seconds longer than I would on a short board. On a short board, I can make a last minute correction even if I made a minor error, for example if the wave starts to close out up ahead, I could cut back out of it and take more of a straight down approach.

Try to do this on a long board, I am not quick enough, the board with myself on it get tumbled and that would be the end of it. Of course, if you are skilled long boarder you'd have some tricks up the sleeve to get around it.

So I continue to debunk the myth that "long boarding is easy." It is just as difficult and it is just more of a trade-off of characteristics.

Second myth that I believed early on was that it would be difficult to get out with a long board. I thought that because you cannot duck dive a long board, it would make it difficult to get out compared to short board.

This isn't true either. On a longer board, you can go over smaller white washes easier and also with the speed you can actually get out much faster. So there is a trade-off there.

So I really recommend people to surf both short and long boards, it really teaches you a lot about surfing technique through these trade-offs. All of my Half Moon Bay local buddies do too.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Session 7024: How You Surf with Friends Changes Over Time + A Tip

How You Surf with Friends Changes Over Time

Surfed the Jetty in the morning.
Some fun swells, spread out,
and a bit disorganized.

In my early days of surfing, surfing with friends meant that we set up a session, get together at the same place and same time and we all go paddle out.

But more and more, surfing with friends, and especially locals, take more of an "organic" form of coming together and ending. They "just happen" to a greater extent.

We start to find that a certain group of people favor certain spots, certain time of the day and even some conditions. So I can almost guess who is going to show up given the condition. And that usually avoids needing to call up to set up a session, and also that also avoids situations like who's been included or excluded from an invitation. You just go and hope you run into someone you know.

But even when you do show up and there are someone you know is there in the water. We say just "hi", but as we all know with surfing, we actually can't surf together, and especially a lot of serious surfers, they don't fool around but we just catch waves, not really engaging in conversations etc.

Sometimes you meet someone just getting out of the water. We usually do some quick surf report. "Hi. How's it?" "It was not good here but you see over there... what the tree is... there is a channel and right next to it there is some fun surf. Have fun, man!"

Then when a session ends, we just go on to respective "next things" in life.

It all appears to be not that friendly sort of things, but I think that goes with the sport, it really is an individual sport, and because of it, the sport attracts the type of people who are into being individuals and value the time being themselves. Which, I think is actually a healthy way of leading life.

We are, however, bonded with this common interest, and at important times we do come together. Like helping a surfer getting injured or moving away to a far place.

Watch Out for the Velcro Collar Tab on the Neck

Ouch! This is the second time that happened. I did not completely align the little Velcro collar closure tab that wraps on the collar yesterday and surfed. Actually I did not realize a bit of the teethy part of the closure was exposed. After the session was over I got a big rash. I ought to be a bit more thorough, perhaps use the mirror on the car to take a look next time get in the wet suit.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Session 7023: Another Really Fun Day with my Mom!

I actually took my mother to see me surf this Sunday at Linda Mar, and it actually went well. This is actually the first time of her visit back in the U.S. from Japan since I took up surfing, and after parting with her husband last year but I am happy that we did it.

As for surfing, it was great too. The size and shape of the waves were just perfect for me, and the F4. I was only out for less than an hour but that was quite adequate because just about the time I made to the outside, I could take a ride. It was not super crowded like it usually is and many rides were long too.

I was really relaxed, and I was able to feel my arms dangling, more or less to speak, and my shoulders fully relaxed all the rides. I was really enjoying every turn I made.

It was nice, calm, and a bit warm day between the rainy days we had.

I am glad I did it and she also now understands what's good and bad waves!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Session 7022: Perfect Session

Session 7022
I wake up, and the first thing I do is to flip my MacBook's top open. The computer wakes up from the sleep, and I click the Half Moon Bay condition page, the page I made to make my surf planning easier. It was faithfully collecting the local information over night while I was dreaming of, probably, surfing.

5 ft, 11 sec, W swells. Mild offshore. Same spot, a bit smaller and later than yesterday ought to do it!

Getting out of the car, and I felt the feeling of the spring coming already. Balmy, no wind, and sunny, and all around it is green and dotted with yellow mustard plants and purple ice plant flowers with the beach still barren with nobody except for occasional joggers. A bit of the bushy smell pass though as I take a deep breath. A surf beach parking lot used to be a place I had to deal with a lot of upcoming fear, but now I can take the surrounding as more relaxing, inviting and invigorating.

The sand dunes blocks the view, but definitely there is the sound of what seems to be surfable waves breaking as I walk out to do the surf check. The anticipation and the stoke level goes up, as my body gets ready to pump blood into surf muscles.

As I climb up atop the mound of sand for a better panorama over the beach, I see nice break here and there. They are all breaking in the size that I am comfortable... and there still is nobody out. This is the kind of condition and the moment I wait for many many sessions, but it does happen.

As I jump in the water, all of the getting out motion works smoothly; my paddling arms moving at a relaxed slow pace and each stroking arm deep in the water, and I know when I am at the outside. It suddenly becomes more calm and peaceful than most any other places I know.

Here, and especially today, I have no need to be in a hurry. Set starts to happen and I just let them go by and check them out looking from behind. I usually like to wait for the bigger set to pass by, then there would be smaller set. That's when I paddle back in a bit and now, I am seriously looking towards the horizon, and now I am at the right spot, well, more often than it used to be.

When it is the right wave for me, it looks like as if there is someone just opened the gate to a nice smooth road down the hill. It is still infrequent, but when this happens, I get almost pulled onto the road, from there the wave hands the full control to me, and it is amazingly quiet even though wave can be good size sometime.
And when everything works out like this, I can call it a perfect session.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Session 7021

With a note from a local friend of this spot being "phenomenal" this weekend, I decided to do a pre-work session here. It was not too big and the ocean seemed like they are producing surfable waves.

Paddle out was not a problem and so I did make the outside without much efforts. But, like I wrote about on my Saturday session, it was still mostly close outs once I was out there, or at least, where I chose to sit they were.

It was kind of a bit frustrating situation where when I look left and right of me there were "Darn, I should paddle out there." Then I do, and where I was starts to happen.

But, it was nice, balmy, and I had the whole place to myself. Not too shabby, as the last place I want to be would be a place where there are a bunch of hot surfers and there is no room for me to take off.

And when waves are closing out fast, I still give a try, since some people around here can surf on this kind of stuff. I would be like them some day.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Session 7020: Find Treasures in Mostly Close Out Sets

It is often amazing that good surfers seems to be able to surf in the situation where many of us cannot. But they do and they look just as good as any day. They seem to be at the right spot at the right time and also can execute the take off and the subsequent rides with a finesse.

I, of course, am very long way to get there but I am not doing badly either.

Before I get in, I now usually check carefully where the peaks and shoulders are happening (though they all shift often), and correlate them with the feature on land. Around here, there are logs, old tires, some pattern on the cliff walls, houses past the dunes. I sometimes, pick up a big piece of drift wood and stand it in the sand to make it a marker. Though it is very difficult to say on course as very strong side currents exists especially closer to the shore. When and if you make it to the outside, you can tell I'd be hundreds of yards to the left or right of the land marker. If this happens another strategy is to walk up the current then get in. So paddling out, in of itself requires some strategy and careful navigational considerations!

While I am paddling out, as I duck through oncoming waves, I now always look which way the waves are breaking just before I dive my head under, this way I can get some general trends of where and which direction.

And finally I don't mind being in the inside a bit... you all know that. There seems to be more waves to catch especially when big waves tend to crush hard on the outside making it impossible for me to catch them.

So doing all that I can usually core some, if not great, rides almost on any conditions.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Session 7019, DP at the Jetty

Just a quick session before getting to the desk. Wish that ALL of the state parks opens before 8:00, but they don't so the options are rather slim within my commute distance, so the condition dictates. It looked good earlier in the session but as the tide came in it quickly deteriorated.