Sunday, July 29, 2007

Session 7095: Sorry I Was The One Catching More Waves...

If you saw a while long boarder guy today and catching a lot of waves, that could have been me at the famous beginner break in the county.

Actually I was thinking about this for a bit while I was in the water.

In 2004 or even 05, I would go out and I was extremely frustrated that why other people catch so many more waves and when it was a wave I could catch, there was already someone on it. It was really frustrating, and it is still frustrating because there will be other occasions and places that the same thing happens still.

But here are some things that I am starting to discover;
  • If you are catching a lot of waves, then you tend to catch more. Somehow, other people tend to, perhaps, submit to you a bit?
  • I am much more aware of what is happening around me. I know who's better than me, and I know who are not catching, messing up all the time, or showing up with totally inappropriate board for the condition, where they are relative to me etc... A set comes, and if that better guy goes first, along with the people who paddle for every damn wave, all of which usually happens, then I let him and them go, because I will be on the next wave where everything is all clear.
  • I catch second or third one in the set that can be a bit smaller, and less desirable, but by now I have built a little more confidence that I can muscle through some take offs on smaller ones in the set.
  • I usually manage to find sub peaks so I avoid competing with the best surfers out.
  • I show up with a longer board.
  • I paddle a bit further from the outside, so people know I am going to get the wave.
  • If someone is font of me to catch the same wave I will be, I will shout, "I am Up!", "Going Right!" etc.
I never have to have an aggressive attitude, and I always give waves (especially the ones that blows up ). "Go ahead! It's yours!", but as soon as the surfer start to paddle in I would also shout "Hey Don't waste it!" (Oh, what a pressure, I am excreting!)

Session 7094: Walden Mini Magic Riding Impressions

Finally the summer-like wind swell condition has settled in this past week or so on our area. I like this type of condition because waves can still be challenging for my skill level and at the same time it is not as threatening like when there is south 20 seconds class swells. Summer swells are easier to handle when I mess up, whereas longer period swells can really pull you down!

It was nice, sunny and not much wind at the shore, and Jocelyn, who has been a devoted StokeMaster member offered me to ride her Mini Magic.

It is a 6'8 length board. Not much longer than what I usually ride which is between 6'4 and 6'5. But Mini Magic is a mini-long board. I also have the full Walden Magic 9'0 so it was even more interesting to try this one out.

The condition was about shoulder level, summer mushier beach beak in a popular beach in Northern San Mateo county, and it was very crowded with even a surf competition going at the middle of the beach.

Jocelyn also asked me to help her learn how to duck dive so I handed her my Xanadu Rockhold 5'6 model board and we paddled out. Initially I could not duck dive the Mini Magic, as the nose was so full of the area and foam, but after 4th or 5th paddle back, I got a hang of it and I could perfectly duck dive through it. It does require a bit more effort in the initial front push. The back push is just about as easy (or hard) as my other "more conventional" short boards.

Taking off on this board was significantly easier than on my short boards, and I actually ended up scoring quite a few waves both from the outside and inside, one time the wave was closing on in faster but I made it and so it was good there as well. Taking off on this board does really feel like you are on a long board, mainly from that glidy feeling you get. Once the board starts going, it is actually going, as you get that feeling of the paddling resistance suddenly gone. It is a nice feeling that I know I am going to catch the wave. Whereas, on my short boards, I sometimes need to make sure that they are going, by adding a bit more paddling strokes, and push the front of the board down.

I have caught both lefts and rights, and it was really fun to ride this board. The turning does need some getting used to, and like the Haut Egg 7'6 egg board that I tried before, it does seem to require a bit more weight towards the front to maintain the speed. It was a bit confusing at first as the board did not feel "loose" enough to turn, it does require more long board style turning with more dramatic weight shifting. Or at least that's what I think was happening.

The board comes with 3 fins. But like all of my long boards, I would take the sides off, put a longer fin in the middle and give it another shot.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Session 7093: The Only Game in Town

Every once in a while "the only game in town" situation occurs. It is like a high-school reunion. Everyone... people like me who is not very good but surf a lot, and then there are super champions at local competitions, and peopole whom I never see on this side of the slide all in one mix, all bunched up in one spot, and all at the same time!

This past week I often surfed alone, or with one or two more people in places and these people never show up, so it must be that they must really surf totally different places than I do and they know what's better.

As for the session goes, it was still walling up and not easy fun wave, but the best of the breeds were making some good moves on the wave. Definitely I am planning on getting there.

Also, this morning, I had a late late start of 9:00 as I had to work on a customer issue right when I got up and took for a while. So it is also the case that some of the better surfers just spend all morning finding a good spot. Not for me, I have to get what comes for about an hour and have to get to work!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Seesion 7092 Two Seals - Better Get Out Of There

Normally I won't be spooked, but when two seals showed up and I was all by myself out there, well, I'd rather not want to be on tomorrow's newspaper. I am not so scared of getting eaten up. Today is just as good of day for me to die than tomorrow. But I really am more spooked of the idea that the the papers, web sites and TVs can sell more ads because of my death. I consider myself much more expensive and precious for that!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Session 7091 Why Is It So Hard To Get Out?

Finally things are becoming usual and typical of the area... It definitely looked doable from the shore, there were some sand-bars, and I go to the outside in one shot the first time, but after that getting back to the outside got so difficult. Every time I end up in the impact zone and cannot paddle away from it.

Finally I gave up, paddled back to the shore, got out and looked at the situation.

I walked down the beach for good 2-3 minutes and got in. The first part was still difficult, then suddenly it got quiet. Looked back I was both carried down further south and also to the outside.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Session 7090

This morning, thinking like it would still be a repeat of Sunday, I went back to the same spot. As I was pulling in, another local guy we know just pulled out, and there were no other cars, so I have guessed that the condition was not going to be that great.

These days, I know enough faces and their cars that the moment I pull in to the spot, I know it is going to be good or bad.

I would have paddled out even if it was all by myself, but sure enough the waves were just a mess and a lot of backwash waves were already causing the area bouncy in the inside. Sometimes these backwashes can be horrible as the bouncing reflected waves collide with incoming waves and make a huge splash.

I gave up on the spot and I drove up a further north. By then I only had 50 minutes to go, so I went ahead and went in. Paddled out no problem but could not catch a wave. They were either too closed out or backing off.

But water was exceptionally warm, and I was hot in my 4/3. Good paddling exercise as the current was, as usual, very strong there and if I stop paddling, I would be washed way outside and way to the south. It still scares me a bit when that happens, especially when I was all by myself.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Session 7089 Technical Note

I forgot to mention some of the struggles I had with session 7089.

In a great number of take off attempts with a long board, I just kept burying the front of the board. I thought that waves were makable but they were jacking up too fast. I actually do not care if I ride the wave through but the board should go forward without burying any part of it.

There are several possibilities;
  • Weighing too much forward of the board during take offs. This could be. Switching between short boards and long boards especially on the same session seems to cause this problem.

  • Should have gotten more momentum. Should have started out sooner and stronger and should paddle strong while taking off especially when the tail is jacking up really fast.

  • Waves just closed out. Could not have ridden. I kind of doubt about this one. Sure there were some huge close outs during the session. They break at rather shallow water and earlier in the session I was pounded all the way to the bottom.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Session 7089 Repeat of Saturday But At My Spot

This morning we went to the sport where we were supposed to be yesterday, and it was actually more fun than yesterday. The first half of the session, I have taken out a JC 6'4 and I did not catch much, so like yesterday, I went back and got my Walden 9'0 and I started to catch good and long rides.

Of course, it all matters with the skill levels of surfers. Some good short boarders were getting their fair share of waves. For me, I took the long board out, paddled out to where nobody else was. But as soon as you take a couple of long rides, then that's usually is it. The peak I was owning to myself is now discovered and one by one, people starts to paddle my way.

No problems with me. I just paddle over to yet the next peak. Then before they know it, I am back on the original peak!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Session 7088. Surprisingly Good and Don't Mess Around

I have a policy that if I go to the first spot and if it looks good enough, I don't mess around looking for another spot.

I have this policy because,
  • Time in the water is prcious to me. If I know I can ride the waves there, I don't get greedy. I want to get in the water, and now!
  • There is 50/50 chance that other location can be worse or better. I have been "burned" numerous times, and wasting lot of gas and time in the process.
Sometimes, though I cannot enforce the policy if I am not by myself. In that case, I give it and my buddy a benefit of doubt and I switch the gear and enjoy wave hunting as activity.

I have another policy. Take more than one boards with me. Especially a longer and shorter board (given a condition). This has helped me on this session. I had hard time catching these outside waves without much power with my 6'5. That fixed it when I got back and gotten out the 9'0 Magic.

See You Out There!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Session 7087 Small, A Bit Messy, But Beautiful Morning

I was able to get up extra early this morning, and get out to a local break.

A few weeks ago, my alarm clock crapped out due to continuous dropping from my side table (not by me, by someone else!) So I decided to get an alarm clock with a CD player. As much of a computer and gadget geek as I am, I actually have not done something like getting up to a music, but I plugged in a Brian Eno CD to it, and it is great because the music comes up really from low volume and the gradually builds up in kind of an organic mood. I listen to a lot of Jazz but waking up to Art Blakey's drumming is not quite my idea of waking up. This is ideal, and I have been kind of stoked about this because getting up early and smoothly is a requirement for my surfing lifestyle, and getting a good relaxed session sets up for the rest of the day.

It was a beautiful morning with not much local winds, sunny skies, warm 56F water, and just a gorgeous beach, and crystal clear water to get into. I had basically the beach to myself. There was only another surfer out, but this surfer was all the way to the other end of the beach, so might as well not count one.

Waves were small, and a bit disorganized, so I was tempted to head further north, but then I thought, why screw around, lose time, aggravated with crowds when I can surf here basically by myself, and hopefully a few of my friends will show up in a bit, and that would be fun too.

I took my 9'0 Walden Magic. As usual, the inside was already blocking my way out with white water after another. But I am tuned into the channel and I get on a conveyor belt if I pick the entry right. Later on my Japanese buddy showed up and we surfed the second half. We decided to walk back to the channel and retry as the strong side current will continue to push us towards the direction of Pacifica where I did not want to go. Re-entry idea turned out to be a great idea. I started to catch some fun hollow waves.

My buddy pointed out to me in Japanese that I really go for the edge of late take-off ("Kiwadoi"). That was a fun ride, it was more like how I'd go for with a short board. I was actually thinking about that for a while, and I came to the conclusion that I am basically a lazy surfer.

I am lazy to the extent that I don't want to consume a lot of energy, because I don't want to show up at work all exhausted, and I am not that strong of a surfer either. So over the years, I tended to opt for late take offs to let the wave help me take off rather than paddling really far and hard. Same way with paddling back after finishing a ride. I use the channel or if there is a lot of white water coming through, I just either get off the board and wait, or sit up or if I am on a short board, I would just keep ducking in the same spot then when the time is right I start to dash forward.

I still admire a lot of local experts who finish a ride and paddle right back. I am starting to do that, but it will be a bit more time in the water.

While the condition in the water was not so optimum, anything above was. As the sun started to go up higher in the sky, the color of the whole place changes and it was just gorgeous and we should be thankful that we have these marine sanctuaries for all of us to enjoy, free. Having lived near the ocean now, I have realized that we cannot take these things for granted, but we should fight for them, and there always are threats.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sessions 7085-6, More Summer Surfing

One of the things that I am starting to realize is this.

Local wind swells, especially mixed in with background level swells, make it very difficult to forecast what is going to happen.

In Northern California, many of us are familiar with micro-climates, but they also apply to local swells too. Also, it really proves me the point that wind swells are really ridable. Of course, if you ask people who venture out in the middle of winter in the Great Lakes all know about it.

The waves come from all directions, and also not consistently but it is kind of a situation where if you wait long enough there can be some fun waves.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Session 7084: Summer Wind Swell

After all of learn a bit about the swells and such, a lot of us tend to ignore the summer local swells, or consider them as something bad or to avoid.

This morning was a perfect example of this. There was nobody out, but I did venture out on the local 7-8 second WNW swells, plus a super low tide, and the fact is that I did have some fun rides.

These summer local swells on beach breaks are actually fun. They don't come all in one big huge wall that cover the whole California State Park, instead they pop up here and there. I used to be a bit more desperate and paddled to the direction each time one broke. I've learned a lesson, and now if I see one I paddle out there and just sit tight and wait. It seems to come in sequence, one further left, another closer to my left then at where I sit. Sometimes, it does not come but I just relax and wait for one. Eventually sets start right where I sit.

So that's what I surf in the summer and many of Half Moon Bay locals are really pro at this. They would come out, ride them really well doing things like "off the lips" and such, and before I know they are all gone.

This morning, none of the locals pick the spot where I was, but I did have some good waves. The problem is that nobody saw me, so I could not prove I was there!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Session 7083: Fun Summer Ride, Post Accident Report, SiteUpdate

Post Injury Report

This was the first session since I screwed up my finger. I have now loaded the Morrey Boogie board in my car just in case I thought I cannot flick myself up, but today it was about chest high on a gentle side so I took out Walden Magic 9'0 see if there are issues and I had a blast. I wrapped my finger with many layers of tape.... That's another thing I should share with you. If you need to tape your fingers, cut smaller pieces and wrap them around over one joint at time. The result comes out much cleaner, easier and stability is good. Also gloves fit over much easier. Also as soon as you get injured like that I go for a 600 mg of Ibuprofen right away to control the immediate onset of pain and inflammation until you get to the doctor or ice first. [Note I am not a physician.] Carry and stock your first aid kit, though, because you never know when and what, or you may be appreciated by helping other injured surfers.

Long board is much easier to get up on, and since I do not need to duck dive, there is less grabbing of the rails. Sometimes, I start to wonder why do I even bother with short boards in the summer... It is so much fun and it is just as difficult.

I also have told you about flat-palm flick up method, and I have switched over to that today to get around the finger problem and the result was really good. I think it is safer and so I will try to use this technique whenever I can. I know, I know... there are differing thoughts on this, some people adamantly "believe" that you need to grab the rails to get up. I have read about this from various surf instruction books and the opinion are also different. Some recommend one method over another. This seems to mean to me that either ones are OK.

StokeMaster Web Site Update.

This gets into a bit technical, since StokeMaster is an Internet based surfing club, I ought to share with what I have been learning.

Yahoo seems to be mounting a full blown fight against Google. In the past few weeks, of not a month, the StokeMaster web site has been indexed at unprecedented amount. In fact, it is the biggest bandwidth consumer of this site. I though that MSN bot was very aggressive but the Yahoo Slurp goes at least double that. Even though I send in site maps to Google, it has taken a back seat in indexing this site. I won't be surprised when Yahoo gets back to top position in traffic delivery by next year this time as far as this site is concerned.

I think that I can see the result. It used to be that Google and MSN brought the most traffic to this site in that order, however, now, Yahoo is superseded MSN and coming to the second place in the number of traffic.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Session 7082: Accident!

Damn! I had a somewhat of a setback.

I took off on a closeout wave, the board wabbled, and the board knocked my finger #4 (#3 if you are a C++ or C# programmer), and sprained it. I surfed the rest of the session, but afterwards the middle knuckle was swollen and I bandaged it to to immobilize it.

I know it will take 6 weeks to heal. Between my acclaimed collection of motorcyles and surfing accidents, I know and I even don't finish all of the prescribed Vicodine just in case this sort of things happen.

I will be surfing on my Morrey Boogie for next several sessions. Perhaps, I will try to re-develop the "palm on the deck" flick up after that. A while ago when I posted about that technique some people disagreed that that won't be a good way to flick up. But they will see.

Oh well, what did I tell you in my disclaimers all over, "Surfing is a dangerous sport..."

You all be careful. You never know. Smaller waves seems to be more dangerous!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Session 7081: What A Dedication!

I thought that I could own the whole beach by myself this morning, but there was one guy already doing his StokeCHECK and it was one of the local regulars, though I have not seen him in months.

At any rate, I was happy to see that at least one more person would get out with me, especially at this spot, it is a bit spooky when I am just the only one out.

You know what he told me though is even more shocking. He said that his wife is having a baby today! He said that he will put 30 min of session in then head to the hospital!

What the %&$@? What a control!

I am not going into medical details. It is basically routine stuff these days, I guess...

But if I was him, I would not have gotten out today.

I told him that there are many past buddies of mine who completely quit surfing and became dedicated parents. He said that he would never do that again. I would believe him having seen him so committed to surfing today!

He is a really good local surfer and he was just in good control, and sure enough he was there for about 30 min, got out and waved me good bye.

Good luck to you and your wife, man, and see you in the water tomorrow!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Session 7080: DP

The same spot as Sunday PM session again. The swell size has decreased a bit and so did the wind, so I thought I would check here first before checking further north where a bigger crowd awaits.

It was definitely "doable" especially compared to yesterday, so rather than fighting the crowd, I decided to go in. I was hoping that by getting out someone else would join. But I was there for good hour and nobody else showed up. Mondays are often like this, and I have been in some of the more phenomenal conditions on Mondays.

I almost felt guilty, but kept on surfing, and the time came to get to the office and there still was nobody!

I was amazed.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sessions 7079 A and B

This weekend surfing was quite challenging. The prevailing NW local swells has gotten quite powerful, unusual for this time of the year. Of course, this local wind situation has gotten a bit out of control this year, and "upwelling" has been talk of the town. Even Half Moon Bay review has run a special article with Mark Sponsler being interviewed. Apparently, though, last year we did not have enough wind and hence the upwelling activity so that ended up not supplying birds and so a lot of them died.

In Buddhism we talk a lot about karma and that's kind of a situation when one thing causes (or not causes) another and eventually much further down the line something is affected. This is why we should not take our environmental issue so lightly. Eventually it will come and get all of us if we don't watch the whole of what is happening.

Back to local wind swells, it has gotten a bit powerful to the extent that it woke up the bay as well as in the north part of the county. I made a previous commitment to surf with my friend in Moss Beach and he came over to a spot in the bay in the morning. It looked surfable to me but once we got in there it was just a bunch of close-outs, and I did catch a few but basically it ended up not as much fun. He got out in half an hour. I got out with him, but then I went back in and caught a few waves that was actually not too bad. These conditions can change by the minute especially when the tide swings much.

I thought that that was the Sunday session, but later on I got a call from him again and he was going to do another spot. I said I had a lot to do and hang up the phone, but then I thought after a moment. What the heck, let's get out again. This is a weekend after all.

So I went out.

When I got there two other locals I know were just watching and hesitating to get in. There was only one body-boarder out at the spot I was interested in. The waves were much bigger than the spot in the morning, and I too was a bit hesitant because it sure looked like my upper limit when bigger sets came in.

But I sort of bluffed at them that I am going so they should come. It took me about a good 10 minutes worth of begging to get them going. Eventually they went back to their cars to suit up. I hopped down from the rock I was sitting on while I was talking to them, and run to the spot where there is a constant rip out.

I kept my calm and paddled out. Just in about 10 strokes I was carried easy to the outside to where this body boarder was. I don't remember if I had to duck through or not now. I sat inside a bit to see where the break is happening.

A bigger set rolled in and I gave it a try but I pearled and as a result I was held down for a bit. This basically repeated throughout the session and so I did not actually got a ride that I can say I did. But I kept trying and kept paddled back for more.

By the time I got out though there were just three of them out.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Session 7078

With prevailing NW winds in the ocean and also locally at the beach, we were shut out of the north county spots this morning, and in HMB, there was not much waves either. So I headed much further south to escape from the chops and the winds. I know there is a reliable spot when this happens, and sure enough, it was going about overhead and actually rather hollow. I took out my shortest board which is a 5'6 Rockhold model, and headed out.

Already there were some good people catching waves, but the waves were breaking harder than I thought, and it has been quite challenging to catch waves. Usually when a situation like this happens, I would panic and that makes the situation even worse, but I usually cannot control the panic part... that just comes, and so when it comes, I just need to control it.

The main problem I have is that I just don't have a lot of confidence yet, and that causes a bad loop causing me to mess up on take offs or not catch the waves when I can catch otherwise, that makes me feel even less confident. It is actually worse when I don't have someone with me that I can look up to sharing the wave. If there is a better buddy that shows up, he (or she of course) would show me that there really is nothing to it. If I see my buddy take off just next to me that really make me feel more encouraged to do the same on the next set.

Several times in the past, I was taken to situations with more advanced surfers that I would never set a foot in if it was just by myself. Much bigger waves, much further out in the ocean or a spot that I have never been to. I was so scared but in the end I came back all intact and even caught some of the waves they were catching. After doing so many of those, eventually realize that "Hey, this is exactly like the time before with my buddy. I can handle this." And so I go out and have really fun.

And that's the kind of things that I wanted to tell you. It is often important to find a mentor surfer. I think that give you a lot more confidence.

And don't use me as your mentor. You've heard about the expression "A blind leading a blind."

Friday, July 06, 2007

Session 7077

Fog has lifted off at the beach, and the local wind was almost none. Enjoyable.

Thoughts of The Day:

This morning, I have been contemplating about whether blogging every session, or blogging about sessions in of it serve any purposes. It occurs to me often that some people may take this as myself just showing off how often I get to surf, or how well I am getting at surfing.

Then I remembered of a movie scene from a long time ago, it was about someone appearing on "PBS" show and while the person is getting the "make up" for the show, the beautician told him "It's a PBS show, nobody is watching." So that's probably the situation I am in. It is actually more for my own satisfaction than for the others and so it really does not matter. So I might as well continue on.

As usual with most any sessions, if I go out, I usually feel very good afterwards. Hope, if anyone is reading this, you also feel good when you get out.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Session 7076: Now the North Kicks In!

In the morning, I do a quick check of local buoy and wind reports, post that to the home page and the StokeFORUM and then plan where to go for surfing before I hit the office. Posting a StokeCHECK is not a big work because I check the stuff anyway so why not share what I've learned, and that's all about all my web contents.

So, when I checked this morning, I was surprised to see close to 10 ft of swells and they were coming all from NW. In the past few days, I was so focused on the south swells that I have totally forgotten about the NW stuff coming in. But that's where all these programs comes in to picture. They are all faithfully recording the changes all over night without complaining and I really think that's really remarkable, and that's something we should all not take them for granted.

Already at 6:15, there was a live surf report from my local buddy with the north county all mess etc. So I opted to go for a local break, and checked out a spot further south. It was actually a huge mess with lots of waves coming in. It certainly looked like a paddle-out hell.

Then remarkably further up at the Jetty it was almost flat. It is so amazing just 4-5 miles can make so much difference, even I know that would be exactly what happens logically.

So I decided to dip in at the Jetty as the first surfer. I used to really hesitate to do that, but now I don't care. I really don't have a whole lot of time. I do love to get in the water and even just paddling keeps me in good shape, so I don't really mind even if it is totally flat. There were some ripples on the water but it was otherwise glassy and I really enjoy paddling in these waters. I just feel like I am going smooth and fast out in the ocean.

However, every once in a while some waves did come and I caught a few very short rides, or more like a take-off practice.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Session 7075: South Got Stronger...

Today, the south got stronger and I did not have a whole lot of time so I headed out to a beach near-by knowing that it won't be that great. When I got there, it was standard "mostly close-outs" situation. I was pretty much the second person out.

Practiced mainly on getting up faster and nailing the turn #1. I know some people can still ride these waves. I need to get there, since if I do, I know I can enjoy a lot more with these breaks we get around here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Session 7074: Start of the South Swells

Finally the south swells hit the area, while the onshore blew from the west, the waves were decent and so we hit the spot on the picture. The tide was too low in the morning. Wish that was not the case, but otherwise I got a few really satisfying rides.