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.