Friday, June 29, 2007

Session 7073: A Magical Morning with the Magic

This morning was small, glassy, and the water was balmy 55 F. Just one of these perfect summer dawn patrol here in Northern California, and nobody else has found us surfing, at least for an hour or so. So just me and a local buddy of mine each owning peaks. Nice rolling sets gets bigger every once in a while, and when it does, we paddle to the outside... or during smaller sets, we paddle back in a bit and continue to catch waves, or rest a little by paddling back further out.

I don't know about you, but it is like sitting in front of a mixing console and having fingers on the sliders, bringing them up and down to get the best mix out.

This morning, I took my Walden Magic out. It was lightly fogged in, a nice backdrop to perform some Magic.

Presently I own 7 surf boards, but the Magic is the one that I take out these days when a long board condition is called for. I pull out the side fins on all my long boards, and put a little bigger center on it.

The board never feels heavy in the water. Even if I screw up a bit and get in a situation of a "late" take off, it lets you take off. I call that a Magic. And when it comes to turns it seems I can create all sorts of turns with it and whatever I try, the board seems to easily accept my command. It lets me go where I want to go.... like I mistakenly take off in the other direction, recovering from that is just as easy. Just step back a bit and look in the direction of where I want to go. Never a disappointment.

I had some of the most fun long board rides with it in Santa Cruz connecting one section to another starting from the Hook and end up at the Privates stairs. I hate it when that happens because it is a long paddle back.

Do you have a magic board of your own?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Session 7072: Please...

So this morning is supposed to be a crappy day. I even wrote in my surf forecast that it will be crappy.

But we did go out anyway, and I had a blast! Small crappy waves have challenges of their own. I need to be in a constant movement, predict where the next surfable bump (if you will) would pop up and in which direction.

There were just two of us out.


Because the stupid surf media have told you that it will be a bad day.

If you ask me, and if you ask many seasoned surfers, that's not surfing is all about. Quite a lot of you continuously ask me. "I don't want to waste my time, so tell me exactly where and when I can have fun!" "I don't understand your charts and numbers."

Surfing is not about instantly satisfying your appetite for your very own immediate happiness.
It is about getting together with the nature. Understanding what is is, and what it is capable of, and more importantly what it would be if we continue to just ignore it and kept ourselves thinking only about "me"and how great your surf board is.

It will take a while.
It will take a patience.
You will also need to explain it to other people who don't understand what this is all about.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Session 7071: Morning Surf, Water Still Frigging Cold

In addition to a lot of wind that prevented us from surfing for the past several days, the water this morning was in low 50's and it was cold. Like I wrote just a few posts ago, the first duck dive is the one I just really hesitate... Even with a hood on, the cold water just has to come in from the neck through the back, no matter how tight I try to make my collar adjustments. Once that passes it is OK the rest of the session. I've heard people surf in the winter in great lakes and northern east coast spots, I am not going there! I cannot imagine what it would be like even if you wear the 5 mm stuff all around. And it is suppoed to be June in California.

Once I get throgh this initial ritual through, the surf was definitely doable though, breaking on the outisde at least at high part of my chest. There were several short boarders out there and at least a few people were actually ripping at least a bit. Like I always do at this spot, I wait for the bigger set to come and ride the reforms, or a bit smaller waves that breaks inside that's much less aggravation than really going for the biggest because bigger it gets, faster they closes out, and more punishment if I screw up.

The water looked really clean and deep blue and it was sunny to start with so that added to more excitement of being out there. Tomorrow, the wind is going to reduce further so I am definitely going to check the Pacific ocean out.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Session 7070: Desperately Surfing the Wind Chops

OK, we have just about had it with this strong winds. I have decided to go out "anyway" by trying to find any place that I can surf by heading south from my home in Half Moon Bay.

Just as I passed the Jetty, however, I got hoked at. It was a long time local buddy of mine. He was just checking. I got a call right away from him and I told him that I was heading south to get away from this wind, and skipping all the spots in the bay altogether. But I have decided to make one stop before I left town and called him back telling, if he is willing to come I'd paddle out. It was really windy but there were some ridable waves up to about chest level. These waves just local wind chops, they were really mushy. He said he was coming after picking up his gear from home. So I did the same, I went back home and grabbed a Walden Magic 9'0, which is now my favorite long board.

Getting to the beach was already kind of a workout because of the high wind, holding onto the board was difficult. It was a relief almost when you can set the board in the water, but with the oncoming wind there were quite a bit of chops and it was not that easy to get out of the inside. Luckily this time, the shallow sand extended quite far out in to the ocean so we basically walked out until it was about shoulder deep, at that point we paddled really hard before the next choppy stuff came in. Slightly to the outside of this we did see some ridable waves. In fact they ended up to be fun.

It always takes some adjustments to go back and forth between short and long board riding. The typical of which is to bury the front of the board when taking off. So for the first one or two waves, I always tend to perl. Then I start to adjust my take-off weight towards the tail, and I'd be OK for the rest of the session.

I actually had some fun long rides, the kind that I can go on by connecting 2-3 sections. If I do that right that makes me really stoked.

One thing I have realized today that works well for me to get in to the trim quickly is to do this;

While I flick up, I basically let the board slide ahead under me by stepping back towards the back of the board while pushing or weighting towards the wall of the wave. Sometimes I hang onto the outside rail while I lean inside (though as though it looks like I am pulling the rail, it feels more like I am hanging onto the edge.) Doing the combo of these sort of things the board turns more easily and by the time I am up on the board the board is going in a good trim, and I don't have to bury the front. The board is actually slipping ahead of me while I stand up. By the time I get up, I am standing way in the back of the board so it is already set up to correct the direction quickly, and once I set the direction, I step forward, and there the board starts to glide down the line. From there I can utilize the rails of the board to make longer drawn turns, which I prefer.

I will try to see if I can continue to refine this technique.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Session 7069 Back in NorCAL

Back again at the regular home break this morning. The summer fog is in full swing, but this morning, the wind was blowing SW. I have been shut out of my home breaks.

A lot of wind means there is still a lot of upwelling bringing chilly water. People were surfing with swim trunks or just a jacket. What a difference a 5 hour drive south can make!

I put on a squid head and a pair of gloves, but the first duck dive is something that I still hesitate to do.

This morning, with the offshore condition, there were some small but fun waves to continue to work on the wave selection and more consistent take-off technique. Surfing definitely takes a long long time to become good at, it is a collection of a lot of small improvements in various areas.

Oh, one thing I have starting to realize. I did not look left and right of me well into paddle in. For some reason, I just happened to do that in the past few sessions, and the results were really big. I can figure out the line to take much more confidently. Why did I not think of that sooner! Previously I looked at the wave before paddling in and guessed which way it broke, and while paddling I looked straight ahead.

After having had this experience, I started to train myself to be more conscious of peripheral vision. So even when I am driving my car, I try to become aware of more objects in the side of my eyes while I am basically looking straight ahead.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Session 7067-8

I had a long weekend of surfing in at a town much further south from where I live. The photo is not from this trip but from my September trip last year. On this trip I stayed close to the beach so I ended up walking to the break, so as a result I did not have a camera with me.

At this point of my surfing skills development this is just about the very perfect spot where I can really practice some of the things I have been working on. Trying practice in Santa Cruz has been difficult due to really a huge crowd and also some of the breaks are still beyond my level for careful practice. So it is worth 5-6 hours drive to come here every so often. A change of place is also good because the change in break quality also gives me a bit more insight. Somehow, surfing at familiar spots too much tend to give me a bit of habit, and whenever I out to places much different, I get to realize that.

Waves were much smaller than the picture but what's really nice is that even smaller waves hold some shape, and if there is a shape to the wave, then I don't really mind the size whether big or small. In September some of the bigger sets were above my short stature here, but on this trip even the biggest set were just below my chest.

I have been pretty happy lately as I am starting to get enough paddling power these days that I can actually catch waves when previously I was just left behind, and that means that I can actually paddle a bit further outside of the break line, and that means that I can take advantage of more wave. Compared to this, I used to sit much further inside and wait at the spot where it is just after it breaks so that I don't have to paddle so hard into the wave, but a bad part of that is that I don't get to be in the wall of the wave as more consistently, unless the waves reform. I think that it one of the bad habits that I have acquired surfing a lot of waves that close out a lot. There, there really isn't much use in paddling from outside, unless you are on a long board. But many of these close outs end up reforming again in the inside and so I can often get fairly good quality rides. I still do that, but now I am staring to have the outside option as well.

I can also get a bit more speed from the get-go, so even if the waves is shutting down a bit faster, I can go further ahead of the wave, and when that works, then I am usually all set for a longer ride and a clean pull out, the kind that I just immediately lay on the board and paddle back.

The next project for me is to getting this to work more and more consistently. The consistency comes from two angles. One is more proper waves selection. I am still not as good as the top people in the water when it comes to it. Some of the people I observe are always at the right place and always pick the right wave and always ride for a long time. They don't mess around.

For me, I still paddle around a bit more than some of the best people, and I get too excited with any set that comes and often pick the wave that closes out on my both sides.

If I can get more consistent like that, then finally I will be free to experiment with and polish up all sorts of surfing moves on the wave. I can hardly wait, but it looks like still a lot of work curved up ahead of me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Session 7066, DP

Sorry I have not updated this session for a while. I was a bit busy getting the StokeFORUM restarted on Google Groups.

These photos never look that great do they. Well partly this is my fault, as I just get out of the car, take a quick shot, change and get in the water. I don't wait for the best set etc. Plus these waves always look significantly smaller. I am not a poor photographer, you can check out my photos at the StokeALBUMS section of my home site at StokeMaster.COM

Anyhow, it was not too bad of a session, especially there were some period when things actually got choppy but "big" choppy and riding those on short boards are really fun because chops and breaks overlap on each other making really fun surface and you can make all sorts of turns.

Well, it is getting late and I am going to get ready to hit the sack. See you all soon again here or in the water. If you have not joined my new StokeFORUMs on Google Groups, please be sure to check that out as well.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Session 7065: Monday DP Nobody Out!

With the types of swells in the mix, I decided head north a bit this morning. During week days, I have time constraints as I do have to show up at work after surfing like everyone else does. My boss is understanding that I show up a bit after the normal commute time and leave a bit after a normal commute time as well. I really think that it is good for the environment to time shift and share the road.

This morning turned out to be a fun morning. I was the only one guy out for quite some time until someone else showed up with his Fish board. There definitely were quite surfable waves out there so I don't know where other people went. Well, the tide was on a low side and probably those who can pick their surf time were waiting for the tide to improve, but that was not an option for me.

This spot is notorious for its strong rip currents, and I chose the spot that was easy to get out. I took a ride and tried to plow through oncoming sets, but it was amazing that with a bit of paddle to the side, it makes a world of difference in getting out. It is almost the point of being scary, and that's why I still don't usually go all the way out, but this morning, it was so easy that in no time I was completely outside. Still, some sets closes and some sets are decent and I tend to pick the bad ones!

I wish that I had more time this morning, as when I got out there were some more sets coming in.

Surfing continues to take a lot of time and patience to really learn the best skill set. Lately I have been sensing some progress and I see the door to the next step but I still have not been able to twist the knob to open it. There has been many number of these doors that I had to open, and I am certain that there will be more.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Session 7064, Only One Guy Out, A Bit Challenging

With the super low morning tide, I gave up on the idea of surfing early. Hanged around the house for a bit then headed out at 10:30 time frame. Drove further south today to get out of the fog. It is amazing that as soon as we hit the county line the fog starts to clear.

We stopped at the county line but it did not look too good so continued on further south and arrived at the spot in the picture.

The onshore wind was starting to kick in as the water surface started to roughen up a bit. There was only one guy out and he was not doing too badly. To the right of him was a easier peak than he was going at.

As soon as I approached the water, the ocean was resisting my entry a bit, welcoming me with shore break that was definitely taller than me. But I did see that this was the entry ticket where the channel has ripped wide open beyond the beach break.

I waited for several minutes and then as soon as the lull hit, I leap frogged into the water, throwing the board ahead then landing on the board, then start to paddle really hard. My guess was correct and I was in the middle of agitating water draining back to the ocean. Then it dissipated, but I was totally at a further north break where it would be a bit more difficult. A wave came, I tried to catch but it crushed into white water mess. I paddled back right away and waited to see if I can catch the next one. Luckily it broke a bit ahead of me and I could just ride straight back in.

I walked back up the shore and back to square 1 but this time I aimed left. I was at the dead center of the rip and with not much effort of navigation, the rip took me to the south peaks that was much smaller and easier looking.

It was a bit of wait but when the set cranked up, there was a long period when the waves came one after another. I tried to catch the first wave and I pearled severely; drunk some water, but I went back to the rip and came right back out.

After a few more tries, there was a bump in the perfect shape that came at me and that was a perfect wave of the day. I paddled looking behind, and lifted my face high up to set up the direction. I could see the slope, the initial line and there is no threat of anybody coming my way, and I executed everything right (to go to left) into the little pocket it formed. That was fun because I was just riding fairly high on the shoulder for a while then be able to cut back and ridden out the rest of the wave.

I screwed up the other waves, but this one, I think I will remember for a while. I will make this kind of rides more consistent.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sessions 7062 and 7063 Speed Continues to Be the Key

On Friday I went to the spot on the picture. It was actually a lot of fun and a lot of exercise. I do not usually like to surf here because there usually is a lot of paddle out required, and Friday was no exception. Most of the times, I just get washed right back to the shore even if I am paddling 5 minutes continuously... It is really amazing that how strong surfers can just plow right through the stuff!

But over the years, I have learned a lesson. I just wait in the middle of the water and let the side current take me to the rip. The it happens is that there are islets of sand bars out there and between these islets there are channels. It is just amazing that almost no effort I can taken away from the shore and the calm outside. I used be very scared about that too, but again, I now have enough confidence and skill to come back so now it is a lot easier and fun way to get to the outside.

I had to share the with some of the best local surf competitors and a surf shop owner in town, and that usually means that the spot was the only game in town. It is always good to get out with these folks because they just demonstrate to you how these waves are to be surfed. It still shows that I have a long way to go, and I probably don't have much chance in getting as good as they are as I have really started surfing late in my life. That does not mean I won't try. I will keep trying, and I did make progress too.

Saturday Surf and Beach Cleanup at Linda Mar

Another real fun surf day on Saturday. Though the waves were smaller, I caught several fun long rides on my Walden Magic. Long boarding is really fun and especially now I am walking on the board that is a lot more challenging move practice I can try.

The beach cleanup was a big success with a lot of StokeMaster friends showing up. Hope that we will do more of this session again.

Technical Update: Speed Continues to Be the Key

On both days, I am still painfully reminded me of the speed. In order to get surf like experts, I need to move more radically on the board to positively produce more power. If there is more power then I have more option to position myself on the wave to extract more power. Executing a cutback is a good example of this. If there is good speed going and I see that the losing the power ahead then I can cut over back to where I came from. I can wait for the wave to build then continue, or simply do a pull out maneuver.

Being not so athletic in nature, I tend to be timid and don't work too hard with the board. Even if I catch a good wave, I just waste most of that just standing on it, or crouched down all the way down.

You will see me working on this this season.

See you out there!