Sunday, April 29, 2007

Session 7049: Back to Xanadu 5'6

Now that that we are moving towards the end of the spring, I am starting to surf on 5'6 and also a long board. Quite a bit of contrasts but that's what I love to do. Surf on small beach breaks on these short boards. I think that this year, I am going to compete on both modes on local contests.

As for the session today, it was another fun day with the waves not overly threatening and doable for me and not much crowd to speak of. I am willing to take crappy waves over crowded waves. Also crappy waves are more fun because there is some serious challenge to read the waves and paddle to where it is going to break next. It is a lot of work out and a 90-min session can wear me out in the morning. Get home, eat lunch over a beer, then take some nice nap in the afternoon. I cannot ask for better!


Well, some of you might be wondering what's Manabu up to? Right now, I am passing through a period where I need to polish the art of "getting up on the board" much faster and tighter.

Here is what's going on. I am starting to be able to challenge myself with finding and getting into a more critical section of the wave, a bit faster, a bit bigger and bit more power than I have been used to. It is "moving up" to the next level. The board catches the wave, it goes fine, but often times, I waste so much good part of the wave by not getting up on the board fast enough.

Learning how to surf for me is a very iterative process. Once you can surf a bit, then you'd want to catch bigger and faster waves, and in that situation, I am all as if I am starting all over again.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Session 7048: SC East Side

Due to the LogJam contest, I was not planning to go to the East Side but I did with an long-time friend of mine. Due to the contest and not knowing exactly where the contest boundaries were, we drifted from the 38th to more or less in front of the Privates.

Long boarded, and gosh I had some really long rides.

Perfect sunny warm day with very mellow waves!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Session 7047: Freezin My Butts Off

I had one good ride. A good ride to me is at least one bottom and one top turn.
With the HMB bouy reading 49 F, it was definitely a "Freeze my butts off" session this morning at the JTY. Sorry no pics today.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Session 7046: Retreat Before Gettin Ugly

Sorry these phone cameras can't do a justice to today's condition, but it's better than nothing, right?

This was what I was afraid of yesterday! This morning, I scored no wave. With the WNW pumping at 10 ft 17 seconds, my hope of catching any waves locally went crumbled away with the powerful closing sets.

I did get in, I did try to catch waves, I almost took off on a couple of waves, but I had to pull out as I know they would be crushing. Finally the third time, it ate me, and that was it. Before it gets any uglier, I should retreat.

When the period hits more than 14 seconds, things can really get difficult. When a wave crushes, there is so much more water that pushes from behind that it will be a longer drag and longer stay under the water. Not to mention, this morning, my hood came off and ripped one of my ear plugs out of my ear. Luckily that was the extent of today's damage. I always stock the next pair of Doc's plugs in my surf gear bag, but now I have to go get the spare, a $11.00 setback.

Just about everyone was retreating this morning quickly. This one guy I saw getting in did not stay there for any more than 10 minutes. I was tearing down the gear, changing to the street clothes, he went in, and by the time I was done and ready to leave, his car was already gone!

Sure enough, the swell and wind continued to pump up, I checked the waves this PM on the way home, and things has gotten really big now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Session 7045, DP, Jetty

The picture looks kind of flat. In fact it was rather flat for some time, and I thought I would be paddling back without catching any waves, but there were good periods of some reasonable size sets. As with this place, most of the set waves crumble.

It almost seems that the first or second wave set fills in the water, and while the water is filled in the second stuff comes in and it is a bit smaller but often smoother. It just seems that way but I will observe further and write more about it if I find more about it.

I just watch the pattern for a while, and I would usually let the first one go and see how it breaks. Then adjust the lineup a bit, and paddle slightly outside of where I think it would break next.

There are a couple of things that are starting to work better for me recently. One is that I have more confidence in paddling so I can try from a bit further out than I have been doing. This seems to actually be one of the keys, but until recently I have not been successful at it; as I did not have enough paddling power to get that initial impulse power cranked up. It is also a whole body effort. I am paddling hard and kicking hard all at the same time.

Another thing, which is also due to improvement in paddling, is that I am starting to be able to insert myself diagonally more consciously and controlled during the take-off. I still need and want to take off straight down but as soon as I feel the board and especially the tail caught the wave, then I will paddle strong one or two strokes with the outside arm of the turn to set up the initial direction, and I also tilt my body a bit to the inside of the turn. It is almost like the body boarding take-off technique!

Ironically, while I am a regular foot, my right arm seems to be stronger so I have a bit easier time inserting to left!

At any rate, between these two tings, I was able to get two really satisfactory take-off and rides this morning, that kind of event always brings a lot more powerful stoke at the end of the session and the rest of the day.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Session 7044: Sunday at the Jetty Late PM

This Sunday, I waited for the tide to come back up later in the afternoon and went to my home break which is the Half Moon Bay Jetty. It is my home break because I can walk to it, though I usually drive there as it would be a bit of walk especially in the wet suits.

The condition was not all the great, mostly closing out, but what can I say, I don't have to drive miles to get to the water, and that's enough of an excuse to get in the water and catch a few waves.

I actually find it more interesting to be in these kinds of situations because, number 1 when it is crappy like this not very many people surf here, and number 2 it is kind of a challenge to find any consistent spot, and actually there would be a few spots (usually shifts between sets) that do break somewhat nicely. Though you need to paddle up and down, or sometimes walk.

It is also often the case that when looking from the shore, it looks really crappy, but once in the water and faced with the breaking waves, they are not so bad. I have not figured out why, but definitely waves are more surfable looking up close than looking at them from the shore. This is usually true but also the opposite can happen.

There are some spots around here where you can look at the waves from high above atop a cliff. From that angle all the waves look very surfable, but, boy, when I get in there, there would be infinite number of duck dives and then closeouts waiting for you.

So I am trying to not to be fooled. If I am looking at the waves from the ground level, and they look bad, it is worth a try, and if I am looking at them from high places and if they look good, I am cautious.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Session 7043: Saturday LM Late Morning

This morning's session started out OK, I think I caught some bit of fun waves, but the tides were still low. Someone told me a long time ago that immediately around the Easter we have a period of negative low tides and it works out good in Santa Cruz. He was probably right.

At any rate, I had fun for a while. But I have to figure this one out. On an incoming tide when there is much stronger tide surge like the one this day when the tide go super negative to super positive, I think there is a period of time when some big sets breaks. I have seen this happen many times, but I will try to observe if this is actually the case.

At any rate several of us who were there were creamed by these big overhead set waves that broke over shoulder high depth and it was a bit frightening, because having been too late to paddle to the outside, I went all the way to the top of the wave then took a dump and smashed on to the bottom, held down there for a bit. Good thing nothing broke, but one would never know when this sort of thing happens.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Session 7042: Relaxed Afternoon

Sorry no picture today.

Instead of a DP, I went into the office early then I surfed in the afternoon on the way to home. It was much more relaxed to surf that way. On a DP, I have to make everything efficient. I load everything in the car the night before, pack the change of cloths too; it almost look like I am going on a week long surf trip, and in fact there is not much difference between the two. Perhaps, one of these days, I may not come back for a week!

Once in the water, I am also racing with time, making sure how many minutes are left for the session, including the time to tear down the session and get to the office.

So it is not very relaxing in the morning, but it is intense very focused surfing, no single good wave should not be missed. I compete on surf contests and it is exactly like having a 60 minute heat. It is good though, it is a good training for surf contests and I constantly paddle which is good for my exercise.

I have not been surfing in the afternoon, but it was really contrary to the morning surf.

There is no worry about beating the commute traffic, I know there won't be a con-call or a meeting. I just paddle out, enjoy, and if other surfers "steal" my wave or paddle up and tries to "share" my peak, I am totally cool about it. I don't have to peel my left hand glove to check the watch...

Just calm, enjoy being out in the sun and surrounded and moved by all the liquid around me. Don't even care if the condition is not so optimum. I take time and wait for the best wave, and there always are few.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Session 7041: Still Not Optimum But Almost

I could not wait as the time was very limited on weekday mornings. Due to the new moon this week we have been having negative tides in the morning and also in the afternoon just when I could also try to surf on the way home.

With almost a week of continuous blowout days, this is the first day I could go out.

Definitely the ocean surface has smoothed out, and with the increased swells from NW, there were some spots in the south that were way too big.

And the current. It was very strong this morning as the ocean is getting started to be fillled in, and it was the kind that would take you up further north where the colose outs were much bigger.

Almost all the waves were either backing off before breaking, or just immediately closing out. I succesfully got up on the board but there simply is nothing I could do as the waves just dip fast down and then the water crumbled under me in to whilte soup.

But, still, it was good to get out, and paddled around hard up and down. Burned enough calories, I am hungry now, and I can order anything I want for lunch. Which is also a blissful thing being a surfer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Still blown out

Strong onshore, increase in wind swell, super low tide... What else!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Spring in Half Moon Bay

It is the spring time and the wind starts to kick up for days. Instead of surfing, I took some pictures around HMB on Sunday. Please check out the new Stoke album for more pictures.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Session 7040: Calm Before A Storm

This morning's session started out fun, no wind, but quickly turned ugly when rain and wind kicked in. wish the weathwer held up.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pretty Flat

Well, the wind did not die down totally, and waves were powerless.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Session 7039: Self Confidence? Try To Stay on Top

This morning, the Jetty was on a messy side, but once in a while, there were surfable looking waves. As you know my morning surfing session time is very limited so I just make a go/no-go decision quickly, and I usually lean towards on a GO side, unless it looks down-right dangerous or impossible for me to get in.

One thing about today. I smelled like a fish for a good part of the day. The water was murky and I am sure it stirred up some foul smelling stuff among the mess.

There were at least 4-5 of us in the water. Not crowded, and people were taking occasional rides, but mostly we were all struggling to catch waves as the waves did not shape up but mostly closed out on us.

I tried to catch too but most of the time, by the time I got up, my board was already submerged in the white water not giving me a chance to go forward, let alone turning in any directions, even though I thought I negotiated the some quick flick up.

However, once in a great while, the wave takes a shape and the timing and all that works, and it was actually coming down rather fast for what I am used to. Not so confident yet in some of these situations, I'd jump off a board or would wipe out, but this time, I tried to stay on as long as possible. The force from the board was much stronger and that required me to make more forceful move to make a turn, but all that worked out and the board turned, which picked up more speed and so it got even more scary but I still persisted. After the second turn, I was managing the speed and the ride, and when I finished the ride, it really did feel good.

I paddled back, but the waves were just not getting much better, and so I turned around, caught the white water, and belly boarded back to the shore.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Session 7038: More Mess, Bit Bigger than Monday

HMB did not look like breaking well, so again headed LM this morning. It was bigger than Monday but about the same level of the mess.

Mostly strugging to catch than taking rides, but I did have one nice long right.

One nice ride just makes so much difference.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Session 7037: Monday LM

According to various flu reports, this winter's flu outbreak had to wait until March, and there are a lot of people in the coast side who have been sick in the past month or so.

I too had to miss some action for over a week since I had been hit by another virus attack. I could have gone this weekend, but I decided to be extra careful this time not to get back into the sickness. We were thinking that for the next flu season we will get a shot. I always have been but since the vaccine shortage of a few years back, we decided to be good citizens and allow other people who do really need them to get them. But it looks like the shortage has been over.

This morning, I looked at the Jetty and it was not very appetizing, so I went up north, thinking that if Linda Mar is not going to work, I'd skip surfing and go straight to the desk. I almost did not surf, but then I wanted to see how bad of a shape I was, and I thought that I should just make sure that I paddle even though there was some stiff onshore wind and waves did not look good either from the shore.

Well, I was actually glad that I went in though. This, almost always, seems to be the nature of surfing. There always are waves to surf even if it look pretty bad out there. And especially more recently, I actually can get the most out of the worst, thanks to surfing years in these mostly fickle local waves. I did catch some waves and though the rides were nothing to write here about, it was a good practice.

On these small poorly shaped waves, I had to paddle extra hard to get the initial speed. I also had to try to get up on the board as soon as possible so that I can scavenge any time left on the surface. And the positive side of this is that it really help you tune the take-off ability and actually getting up on the board and trying show that it can be surfed is quite rewarding.

So, if either you or myself think that it is not good to get out, we should think again, there might be some challenging waves out there waiting for you!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Reflections: Staying Healthy - Ultimate Durg to Self

I have not been in the water for a while. The cough and soar throat thing came back last Saturday, and finally I am feeling a bit better. But it really sucks.

We often know from the experience that when we are sick, we really appreciate the time when we are healthy. This morning when I woke up, I felt pretty good, almost like I could jump in the water. It is actually amazing to really revisit this "feeling good" feeling is. You know, for example, we all take some medication to relieve pain or cough or whatever, and we begin to feel a bit better, but feeling completely healthy can't beat these slightly elevated effects.

To this effect, I must say that being completely healthy is like being on the ultimate drugs, and no drugs can really produce that effect even though we are bombarded with information otherwise from the advertising media.

So life-time exercise like surfing is really the way we can stay fit and healthy. I tend to trust the studies about reduced onset of memory loss to preventing back pains through being active.