Monday, December 29, 2008

My Summer and Winter Surfing

My Summer and Winter Surfing

I've skied a lot in my collage days, and while chasing for the best (powder) condition is something skiers do travel many miles for, surfing requires a lot more local traveling for the "acceptable" condition.

In the summer in Northern California, I tend to look for places where there is the least influence on the prevailing NW winds. The NW gusts often continues for days and weeks at a time. Avoiding the winds is on top of my list and it is often the case that in the early morning the winds are not as bad. Come to think of it, when I used to wind-sailing, we look for about 2 PM when the winds pick up the most. But now I am a surfer, I tend to get up early and go surf before the winds kick up.

The additional complication of course is to find the place where the waves are breaking. In the area where I live near Half Moon Bay, California, most places are open to W to NW waves, but also unfortunate fact of this is that NW winds blow straight on-shore, and that makes it quite difficult. This require me to explore many places. I tend to cover more beaches in the summer going Half Moon Bay to northern Santa Cruz county.

In the winter the situation is often completely different. The NW winds still blow more often than not, but not like days and weeks in the spring and the summer. There are few days, probably every other week or so, of impossibly huge swells. That will make it almost impossible for me to get out, so I substitute surfing with indoor balance-board exercise. As it turned out for me, that was actually quite helpful in short-boarding, so I would really recommend to anyone who is planning to transition from LB to SB or just to keep the hip and knee strength up. I think that the result is really noticeable and dramatic.

In between these big swells are really sweet periods, but unlike in the summer, as for the spot options are concerned, they become more limited. For example, going anywhere south of Half Moon Bay is generally not an option unless you go past the county line, and Montara is no longer an option either for me. But on the other hands places that are sleepy all through the summer (except for the south swell days) all wake up, and after a few big days, the sand-bar seems to form back again. When the buoy says it is at 8 ft or less and 12 seconds or less of the period and often the wind has stopped or slightly SE/SW then we are in a real treat in this area. With a few surf checks, we can tune in for a right spot for us and go in, have a good hour or two of a session on really shaped up waves and a lot more power than in the summer time.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Winter Surfing Safety Checkup

Winter Surfing Safety Checkup

How I Have Been Reducing Surfing Injuries

The winter surf season is upon us, California surfers like us as I remember our past, most surfing accidents did occur in fall and winter seasons. It is the time when the swells are more powerful, and also the wind speed and direction change frequently. Not being athletic, I had a lot of injuries at the beginning but I can say that the more I surfed, the more I got a skill to surf defensively and so I managed to significantly reduced the total number of injuries I get per year. I am surfing a lot too so this means that the overall statistical chance of getting a surf injury for me has gotten significantly smaller.  Should the statistical rate of accidents remained the same from the start to now, I would be writing more WavLOGs dealing with injuries but that did not quite happen.

My Relationship With the Board

Surfboard, for me, is just a tool or means to surf and so I do not really have any personal love relationship with any of them. I don't go out of my way to protect it and if I am not on top of it, I will stay as far away from it as possible. For me getting the board dinged up is part of a business so unless it is functionally affecting the board (e.g., leaks) I won't even bother fixing it. And when I am just about to end a ride and I cannot cleanly turn the board back around, which is most of the time for me, I usually push the board as away from me using my knees. And after a major wipe out, especially with a long board, I will stay under the water for a while since I almost always know when the board has shot up in the air. Knowing whereabouts of the board at all times is a skill being gained as surfers mature in their art of wave riding.

What happens if a big set is coming at me and I have nowhere to run?  I honestly say, I'd bail big time if it is safe to do so.  It is safe  if nobody is around and instead of paddling out frantically I would throw the board toward the shore as hard as I can just at the moment the wave is ready to crush over me then I'd dive under the water. Doing this, the board won't fly up in the sky and at the worst case, you'd be dragged under but it is otherwise safe. 

Speaking of this, if it is crowded and if it is big, we should both know that it is way beyond you and my ability to safely surf. I won't even go in in the first place (and I now know that), paddle back if it is building up or find another less crowded and possibly smaller spot that suits my abilities. But, if there are people around, I will do my best to hang on to the board. When it comes to huring others, protect the others around you and you come the last.

Looking back, though, whenever I was injured, I was there in situation that were way over my limit. To be very very honest though the worst part of that is that I was not aware that it was way over my limit or I was acting unnecessarily cocky. The nature knows this very well and it will always teach you to be humble and make sure I know I was a bad boy. Especially the ocean is both gentle enough (will not likely to completely kill you) and harsh enough to demonstrate I was way over my limit (come back with shiners, broken bones, teeth etc.)

Keep Your Mouth Shut

I've been punished several times by keeping my mouth open while I am surfing that during any critical maneuvers, say paddling out, hitting the shore-breaks, and especially when taking off. I will keep my mouth and clenching jaw. This really helps save your teeth when the board comes up and hit your lower jaw. This actually happens more often at Half Moon Bay Jetty where the waves double up a lot. An open jaw can invite injuries from biting tongues to cracked teeth.

Wearing a Helmet

This is something I used to do a lot, but as dorky as it looks, it has really helped me from getting more injuries. I think of all other safety equipment, this is probably the one of the best investment a beginner can make. One time was when the board shot in the air and came straight down on top of my head with the tail edge down. Should I not have had a helmet on, I could possibly have been knocked unconscious. Helmet can also prevent your jaw bones which can be expensive and time-consuming to repair.
I will still wear it in crowded situations especially there are a lot of long-boarders around. I really don't trust other surfers.

Sanding the Fin Edges Down

Dulling the edge of the fins is a bit of good idea to prevent cuts from the fins and for most of us the performance difference is not noticeable.

The Mechanism of Accidents

There is a reason why things happen when you are least expecting, but as we all learn the surfing skills, we begin to have a bit more information processing power in our brains as to what to expect and become being able to know the surrounding and situations. Good people always are keenly aware of their surroundings whereas beginners are almost always oblivious to everything in surfing environment, not seeing the waves, constantly dropping in or being drooped in, colliding and such. I must admit I had to go though that phase but as I learned the skills, I had starting to acquire a lot more about how to understand the surroundings. This is actually difficult and does take time because we normally move in essentially a 2D world where everything is solid, and we are not so used to navigating in a 3D world where everything is rather soft (and turn nearly solid at times.) And the problem begins there. We try to apply our 2D experience into this soft 3D environment, and often it does not work at all.

Be Humble

One thing being in the ocean and outdoors taught me is that we have to approach the ocean with the humblest of the attitude every time. Many of seasoned expert surfer friends told me times and over that when they got some accident, they could only blame themselves for it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Step Right Up Front Please!

Step Right Up Front Please!

Every so often, I do get some candid advise from fellow surfers. I was surfing on a break near Ventura a few weeks ago, and this surfer told me that I need to be on the front of the board more. That's after I screwed up one of the take offs. I was actually having fairly good day, catching many waves and taking long rights. And one time I screwed up a take off, this guy was watching me. This was also a beginner break and people are very friendly along that line so that may be a part of the reason why.

At that moment, I said, "Thank you." and paddled back out.

But every time I get some comments like that, I should take it very seriously. Because whether the advise is really true or not, it does make me think like "Have I thought about that lately?"

The truth is that no I have not been thinking so much about that. I actually have been thinking about taking off more and more deeper into hollower waves and how some people can do it and cannot. That thought have been occupying me for quite some time.

But come to think of it, definitely, I do have to give another long thoughts about stepping into the front of the board. Lately I have been having some problems about the board slipping out of me again a lot. I know in theory that's because I am not stepping forward quick enough. But until I was told this, I totally forgot about the importance of it. What might sound funny though is that I was very consciously aware of putting the weight forward during paddling into the wave.

This is a bitter reminder that surfing requires a complete total execution of all the steps. While I do say that practicing each aspect of a take off or a ride is very important, unless all of them come together, I would not have a completely satisfying ride.

This, of course, is true in anything we do, and that surfing really does teach important life lessons.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Are You Planning 6 Seconds or 6 Days Ahead?

Are You Planning 6 Seconds or 6 Days Ahead?

I used to ride a Ninja sport bike and took it to race courses like Laguna Seca. One things I've learned from that experience is the importance of planning your ride several seconds ahead. You need to make a split second decision as to where you are going to be to maximize the speed of your ride, especially getting in and out of turns. It is also a good skill to have in driving regular streets both for safety and comfort, and to avoid hitting brakes, which affects the fuel economy.

When it comes to surfing planning ahead is just as important. The longer ahead you can plan your ride, your ride can be made better. Many beginner surfers do not have any clue about it. They are mostly trying to ride as things happen. This is one of the reasons why they look awkward on the wave, totally lost and even to the point of being dangerous by totally unaware of their surroundings, colliding or be collided.

I gave this a bit of thoughts and see what I do. I can say, my surfing starts looking 6 days ahead, along with planing just a few seconds ahead. Here is how it goes,

6 Days or More Ahead

I look at global weather and swell charts and see the swell, tide and wind trend. For Half Moon Bay area, I actually came up with my own tool called StokeConsole, and basically this is all I need to do this type of planning. With a bit of skills in reading the information that flow from public metric sites, I can usually pin-point whether any days 3 to 6 days ahead can be surf days and where it would be optimum. If you want to know more about it, you should come to my StokeFORUM and ask questions.

1 Day Ahead

The metric data will become very accurate within 1 to 3 days ahead of the surf day. So I do check my StokeConsole regularly to check the condition a day ahead to figure out what time to head out and where to check.

1 hour Ahead

I check to make sure that nothing has changed as planned before I head out.

15-30 Minutes Head

Now I am at the break, I will look at the breaking pattern and see where I should have the most fun for the next hour or so of my "daily" session. I pull up my cell phone and use my StokeMaster Mobile Console to check any surf parameter changes. Of the condition, the wind direction and speed can change by the minute, especially in the winter surfing.

2-5 Minutes or So Ahead

I am constantly checking every set that come and planning ahead now in real-time to adjust where to line myself up for the next take-off spot.

5 Seconds Ahead

Now the set is about to come, I will make the final correction to the lineup and start to paddle out.

2 Seconds Ahead

The wave is start to break as predicted, I am paddling as hard as I can to catch this wave "no matter what!" I am looking behind left and right, make sure that other surfers has not taken off on me, and which direction it is going to break and what angle I am going to inject myself.

From this point on I am making my surfing decisions 2-3 seconds ahead of myself as to the pattern, direction, shape and rate of the break to set the course, or make a decision whether to cut back. To total culmination of the decisions I made starting 6 days ago. I am not only looking ahead of me with my head up and but also checking my surrounding quickly to see for my safety and to see if totally cutting back will create a longer ride. I am a bit proud of my ability to execute long full-sweeping full cutbacks.

Minus 1 Minutes Ahead

After the ride ends and I paddle back out, I usually make a mental review of the last ride to see how I would have done differently if I caught the similar set again.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Why Is It So Darn Difficult To Find The Best Surf?!

Why Is It So Darn Difficult To Find The Best Surf?!

I am sure that we have been all frustrated here and there when we try to go out with friends and the surf condition do not meet everyone's taste. Also, how about when you get surf reports from your friends, and you go out and it is nothing like what your friend described.

I was thinking about this for the past few sessions, and basically I came to the conclusion that there simply is no really a perfect condition for everyone because there are just so many parameters affecting the surf. Even just for one person it is more like dozen times in a year or two everything would work out perfectly (given that you get out a lot!)

The basic ingredient is the swell, and it can come from all different directions, all different periods and heights. They almost never are the same.

Then the tide which will change on an hourly basis on top of a larger cycle that changes over about 28 days.

Then comes the winds. This one is probably simpler ones out of most of the parameters. I just tend to like "no or little winds." Too much offshore is just as bad as onshore, and sometimes I like onshore conditions. It just soften the things a bit especially then things get a bit bigger.

Around here, we need good sand bars and that just shifts all year around and in the summer and in the fall, we just lose them altogether until the next few big days happen.

Then there is the skill of a surfer. The biggest I am willing go for is about 10-12 ft face, and my comfort level is about 4-5 ft faces. Some people want even smaller and some people I only see them in the parking near the break when it is at least double their heights (But actually I do not know they actually surf these waves.)

If we were to wait for all of the above to be the best for you, then you need to not only wait but look for quite a while for all of these to line-up. And if you add something that would work for everyone in your surf group. Well, might as well forget it!

We often hear about "you have to be in the market to catch the upside." As someone who go out pretty much "no matter what the condition" I had quite a few great conditions I was in and nobody else was in the water!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Fear Topic. Again?

The Fear Topic. Again?

Well well well, my dear friend Ren has done an excellent article on on Surfing Injuries. As the mass media presents to us, the young surfers are continued to be depicted as "fearless" stupid people who are continuously under the "Darwinian Pressure" for the selection of our future generations (have we really gotten any smarter yet or are we still needing another 5 million years before we can laugh and say, we've leaned our lessons.) Then we also see bunch of old folks on Wall Street Journal ads about condos, retirement investments and such with photos of them clad in the black westuit with a shiny (short) boards. The picture here seems to me that "they've lived long enough, what the heck they can now be stupid." Do you agree with me or now?

But if we all look at this, it is all about the "fear within us." Isn't it? Here are some thoughts that evnoks me when looking at these situations.

The basic scenario seems to be that surfing is a "stupid" sport because we paddle out, risking shark attacks, hypothermia, drawning and (fill in the blank _____________).

Justifiablly, yes, these are something that we could be accused of being stuipd. "Stupid" because we tend to do something the "regular" people won't do, like sitting in the office all day, steal hour or two just surfing the wave for stupid YouTube videos of stupid surfers.

Why is it so "stupid?"

I think because you could possibly lead a safe life if you did not do these things. You could just sit in front of a computer, a satellite TV etc., and enjouy just watching us doing things that you don't do while you just wait for your final day to come. And that's what your parents told you to do. "Don't get hurt!"


Because we are all being afraid of the real world.

I totally agree with you too.

Just about every time I get out, I am actually quite scared of lots of things. Sharks? For sure. I always think about which angle I am going to shove my board to these suckers.

And even when the waves are just about head high, I always think about. "OK, if I screw this one up, am I going to head down into the sand or some rock?" 99% of the times that is unwarranted worries.

But the thing is this. I did go down head in to the bottom, and my neck hurt of a couple of weeks after that. Thank god I did not break my neck. I did break the nose of the board a few times. I did hit the rock or came really really close to it... like this morning.

So I am afraid of a lot of that stuff, like you do when you watch that surf video on Fuel chanell, but somehow that won't stop me going back to the water, and I will continue to be fearful.

The challenge to me is to be how relaxed I can be under these situations.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Personal and Progress Report


The Personal and Progress Report

First, I must apologize for many WavLOG fans about my recent lack of posting. It is not that I was away from surfing but I had to allocate more time to other things that are happening. First, my real job has gotten really busy, but furthermore, I have been spending a considerably more time on my life long passion, which is music. I have been at music since as long as I remember. I will share that information a bit more later.

Back to surfing though. Have I been making a progress? Lately I am not so sure. It has been taking a lot more time to progress to what I consider to be the next step and this, I have also written a lot about in the past, and to some extent I do not want to repeat myself and bore all of you. I do think though the beginning stage of learning how to surf was much more interesting than I am going through today. There simply are more "drama" about bunch of failures, some successes and mostly mcuh struggle, and these stories are far more interesting than what I can write about these days. So if you are starting to learning how to surf now I highly recommend that you keep your journal or better yet, start a BLOG page like many of us have done.

If you have read this far though you might be curious how my progress has been.

First, if you have been following my progress, I have been focusing on the speed aspect of surfing. Although the speed is the key to surfing, this is also one of the ultimate goals to achieve by any surfer. After all these years I have finally come to understand, and to some extent, being able to execute this though on more consistent basis. Simply said, the key is to stay on the surface of the wave. This is very simple sounding but it has been so hard to do. First, I need to be able to take off on a wave that I can ride, and the more I need to get the speed, the more powerful wave I need to challenge talking off and then there are just a long process of getting ready for that moment.

I can take off on more types of waves than ever before, but typically I would go straight down and then stall. The reason I go straight down is because I still do not have the ability to negotiate the first turn higher up in the wave, and this is the area that I am very struggling at some of the latest sessions. There are a lot of parameters, like finding the right condition, finding the right spots in a session, and the strength and skill to negotiate the first critical moment.

So to a good extent, I continue to to be the beginner of the next big step to come and so the struggle continues.

Side Story: The Danger of Crowded Lineup

Yesterday, I was looking at the crowded lineup on the southern corner of a particular beach in our area. There was one long-boarder who was letting go of the board when the wave broke. It flew sky high. Glad I was not around there. Then later I heard from a buddy who happened to be at the same spot a bit later on that he collided with a surfer. No damages were done, but I was lined up at a spot breaking much bigger than there, and who is saying that bigger waves are dangerous. We should really be aware that more often than not, other surfers can pose more frequent and immediate danger than the waves.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Red Tides, Sinusitis, Nasonex and Astelin

Red Tides, Sinusitis, Nasonex and Astelin
NOTE: While this article deals with medical topic, I am not providing this as a medical advise to you. If you have a similar problem like I had, please consult your physician, an ENT or an Allergy specialist.

Last two years, I had a bit of struggle with Sinus infections. This all started when I went into the murky brown water in the middle of the summer in Manresa. Immediately after the session a runny nose did not stop for a day. A few weeks later my nose became really stuffy and for several months after that I could not smell a thing. For someone who like to drink wine that was a bit of problem.

Since that happening, even if there is a bit of a sign of red tides, my nose will get stuffy. This is even if I did the nasal rinse religiously. Not only my noses got stuffy, there was quite a bit of odorous discharge which did not go away. This is a standard symptom of infected sinus. 

I consulted a doctor on this and I was prescribed  Amoxicillin for two weeks.  This actually did work. But after that treatment was done, the infection came back, of course I did not stop surfing (how could I). I also continued to do the nasal rinsing. I was also recommended that I use Nasonex in conjunction to reduce the swelling, and also to use Mucinex D to thin out discharges to help it drain. The Mucinex did work to temporarily relief the congestion and the sense of smell did come back while I was using it. But it had pseudo-ephedrine and I did not want to continue to use it too much.

As the condition came back I asked for the second dose of Amoxicillin for another couple of weeks, but at the same time the doctor advised to give Astelin a try, and for me that seemed to worked the best in preventing the onset of the reaction to the red tide component in the water.

This year I have been out in a condition several times where I was afraid of getting the infection back. But as soon as I have gotten a sign of runny or stuffy nose, I sprayed Astelin and it basically prevented from the nose from getting fully stuffy and then get into the infection mode.

I have spoken to several other surfers including many members of StokeMaster.COM and the symptoms are very very similar to mine.

What I think was going on my case is that going into red tide infested water causes an allergic reaction, which closed up the drainage, and caused secondary infections. Once the infections set in, it is very difficult to get rid of except using antibiotic. I am susceptible to many sort of nasal allergies since I was a very young child and also has a slightly deformed septum too (and on top of that I broke my nose a few years back right under my eyes from surfing [what else!]). 

Nasonex in my case did not work well and requires a long-term use for it to be effective, but Astelin, being an antihistamine works very quickly, preventing the onset of a full blown inflammation of my nasal cavities and in my case, that really helped me because I don't know when the red tide strikes or attack me or accidentally paddling into floating pile of brown raw smelling foam. 

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Session 8098-8100: The Final Daily WavLOG

The Final Daily WavLOG
Day 98 - 100

Well, I did 100 sessions this year so far, and I am pleased that this year I have made some key technical progress than the previous years. In a nutshell, the key progress was made in the area of taking-off, and it still continues to need further polishing up, not to mention a consistent keeping up so that I don't lose it. 

In summarizing my progress so far, I have to say that if you have the will, you will get there though it can take a while depending your fitness and overall athletic abilities. 

I had a really late start in this sport and there were quite a few times it was very discouraging, and it will continue to be more discouraging to some extent, but once I realized that it is a long journey I have undertaken, it no longer bother me. I was able to prove that I can take on the people who have been at it 30-40 years in my 4 years or so of gearing up. 

So if you are thinking about picking up the sport, or want to start all over again, I think that perseverance and patience will really pay off a big time. And that's also goes for anything in life.

Thank you!

Session 8098 (Thursday): The swells from both N and S got so small but there was some potential of NW re-building. I want up north for a short session in the morning, and I did manage to catch a few. 

Session 8099 (Friday): At a local "hard-core" spot. A buddy checked out the spot, thought it was junky and did not get in. I did get in a caught some decent size waves with some fun shapes. I had one really good wave which broke, cut back around, and caught another section breaking inside and continued on. When that happens I am so happy that I get more power paddling back out!

Session 8100 (Saturday): The same spot as the previous session. It was a bit more crowded as it was being a weekend and such, but I did basically the repeat of yesterday with some nice build up sections. On couple of waves were just strong and fast and could barely go straight down, but the speed and pressure on my knees were much higher than usual. Once I got a taste of it, I would want to get more to do better turns the next time!

This concludes my daily session log. I thank you for taking a surf journey with me, and I encourage you to keep your own surf log either online or a small diary book. It is always fun to look back a few years later!

The WavLOG on StokeMaster.COM will continue with less focus on daily sessions but more focus on surfing thoughts, ideas, tips and philosophy, hopefully at least on a weekly basis. Hope you come back and check, and write a comment or two, or write a personal email to me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Session 8097: Why StokeMaster.COM is "Surfing For The Rest of Us?"

Day 97
Why StokeMaster.COM is All About "Surfing For The Rest of Us?"

You have seen our slogan. Our slogan is "Surfing For The Rest of Us." It has been approved by our "VP" Ren Volpe who contributes "Surfing Mana" articles (according to Google SurfingMama is more popular than StokeMaster.COM!, Perhaps she can write better than me!)

Why is it that us all surfers appears to be so defiant about everything else. And that's something I think about a lot while I am waiting for the next wave. Dammn it! I wish that all these distracting thoughts do not come to my mind so that I can really focus on just surf!

So, this morning, I go out to a bit more deserted, less often surfed beach. We know there is a tad more chance of us getting eatan by a bigger fish (Ren calles, a visitor in gray suits, or something to that effect.)

Perhaps, it could have been that I could have been bitten this morning, and I would have been back at the garney at Seaton Coastside emergencies. And the next thing I could imagine happening is the equivocal uttering of messages from my own mom and my mother in law -- "You should quit surfing!"

And even if I would be in a great pain and such, that would be the last thing I would want to hear about it.

I was actually trying to figure that out why it would be so. It now think I know the answer. It is because surfing gives me the true sense of freedom from the rest of the conventinonal world where we need to ovey the conventions. And that brings us to "Surfing for the Rest of Us."

What does it really mean to us?

It actually sounds contradictory, but being the "Rest of us" do not actually mean that we are actually part of the part of being like everyone else. The real "rest of us" are those who are in a continuoius quest as what is truly to be being the "rest of us."

OK, so I have confused you.

Look at current situation is surfing. There seems to be a great effort in homogenizing and defactoring the surfing public like anything else. I am talking about the "mass marketed version" of surfing. What is the idea of a being a typical "cool" surfer? Perhaps you are strugging to become one. You would get a short board, you would go to Huntington, The Trestles, or The Lane, and you follow the pro scene, buy magazines, get brand sunglasses, sandals, and get the pro brand surfboards, wetsuits, board shorts and I am fairly certain that that is considered by most as "surfing."

But the "rest of the surfers" are not quite like them. We really cannot surf the same kind of the boards, nor the waves you see on surf videos (even though we got thsese boards).

And if you are coming to realize that then I think we will begin to see what it really we man by being a "rest of the sufers."

It is really the time for all of us to realize what it really means to you as being a surfer, and that's far more important than to become a part of the mass.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sessions 8093~96 Get Your Mind Some Excercise

Days 93~96

The primary reason why I surf is stay being healthy and that's the key importance for me. Whatever the means you got available to do so, I think you should do it. Surfing requires you to be fit, especially in paddling out and negotiating through waves, it requires quite a bit of muscle work. 

But it is also often forgotten that your mental health is just as important, and surfing provides ample opportunities to both nature and challenge us mentally.

One of the things I have realized lately is facing the ocean and the wild nature in front of us. I was talking to a local buddy of mine a lineup this weekend about this, and how scared I was the first time I went out at the same spot, and gradually I have been able to  build myself up to the challenge, and I am not as scared as used be, and I was thinking about how valuable that experience has been. It really gave me additional boost in confidence in other situations.

I think that it is important for most of us to experience this kind of a situation, as it will open up our minds a bit more to realize our very own existence with respect to the whole universe and also knowing how the very basic foundations of body and mind would react to it. In coming to terms with where the fear arise from and how we can be prepared to deal with them, I think we can provide ourselves a kind of mental exercise.

Day 93: Thursday was fun at LM with some nice right peaks perfect size and level of steepness for me to practice taking off and staying high on the wave right at the take-off.

Day 94: Friday, it got a bit smaller than thursday at LM, but continued to practice more take-offs and wave spotting. Ren has requested that I'd the party wave on the outside, so I took out my Walden Magic 9. I caught some fun waves until sets started come all in one big line and closed out the whole beach.

Day 95: Saturday the wave power continued to dwindle but the wind situation was quite good so more local spots opened up. I opened up the north-end of a local beach on Saturday. But as soon as people found out that I was "ripping" out there, dozen more showed up. I should pretend like I am having a bad time when people are on the cliff scoping things out :-)   Continued to surf on Walden Magic

Day 96: Sunday was quite flat all in local HMB locations so I drove a bit further south. I was almost ready to give up and ready to head home and I noticed a local prominent surfer friend getting out. He told me that this is only the name of game today. Glad I want out with the Takayama 7'2 Egg and also I double boarded with my trusty JC Ugly Stick 6'4 (with 5 inch vector fins in the back!). The Egg worked out quite good, had some fun and a couple of significantly long rides on about chest high waves. I don't know what about it was today but we were all pig-dogging our boards to keep the board in a trim. I guess because it felt like these small beach breaks were going to close out behind us any moment. It was a kind of bit fun to paddle through fresh-water lagoon to get to the beach.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Excel Wetsuits Repair Update

Excel Wetsuit Repair Update

I am happy to report to you that my suit is back like brand new. The repair job was so good that it does not look like someone actually fixed something. It was fixed under "warranty."

Basically the following is the timeline:
  • 1 day for them to respond to my original request
  • 1 day to fill out the form and send it.
  • 1 day for them to get back with an RO number
  • 2 days to send it over the UPS Ground
  • about 4 days to get it fixed
  • 2 days for the shipment
So from the start to finish it is less than 2 weeks. I think that's quite good.

The quality of the fix is great and I am very happy with it as I can probably get another full year out of the suit.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Session 8092 Giving Up Donuts and Coffee After A Session

Day 92 (T-8) Giving Up Donuts and Coffee After A Session

First, the session this morning was on a fun side but I must say that I should have gotten out with a longboard. But that's life.

So today's topic is all about Google AdWords.

As you know I have put up some Google Ads to let people know about the StokeMaster.COM web site. I tend to do things for the "heck of it," and I almost always end up learning things or two after the fact. Right now, I am not so much interested in attracting the users to the site but what it tells me is that what people are interested in, and whatever the terms the people are interested in, Google would ask for more money per click. For example, if you were to use the keyword "soul surfing" that is a $5.00 keyword for a site which isn't much about Bethany Hamilton.

What about Bethany Hamilton got to do with a $5.00 click? Well, she "wrote" a book called "Soul Surfing." The book is a big seller and thus everyone wants a piece of action regarding her incident and the book and such. I happen to think that my web site has some element of "soul surfing" in it so I would very much like to "feel" that soul surfing is a relevant keyword to my site. But the real world is a much much tougher place than that. So right now, if I want people to click an and get to my site based on a search "soul surfing" I must pay $5.00 or more. I actually think that's quite fair, and it is interesting. It is even interesting to the point that what the general public think of "soul surfing" is about Bethany Hamilton, and I am not sure if I can agree with that or not.

To tell you the very honest truth, I don't know what "soul surfing" is, and I am sure that there will be many different ways of looking at it. To me, a true soul surfer won't be blogging like me. I think that someone like that won't even have an email address or an web access, and it is a rare occasion that I'd be even get a chance to be surfing with this person.

Then, I am also very confused now. My religious teaching tells me that I ought to basically document and share my experience with others, and that's how I can live forever. Then on the other hands, I should not really boost myself to the point to induce some form of envy or lust in other peoples minds.

What does it got to do with giving up my Donuts and Coffee after a session. Well my routine after a down patrol at Linda Mar is to go to Happy Donuts, get a coffee and donuts. That's usually about $3.00 a shot, plus some friendly grief I get from the owner couple. It usually got to do with my appearance like the length of my hair or what I am waring, or not buying enough donuts etc. Today my Google AdWords budget is 60 cents a day. Mind you, I have some very high quality keywords (over a year of hard work on it), I can get 2-3 clicks out of this meager budget, but if I were to give up my coffee and donuts after each DP session, I can have up to 10 or 20 clicks from users to come to my site, with that I can vector the users to visit my StokeStore and get them to buy $200 Nixon watch which I can get a handsome commission from Amazon! What's wrong with that?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Session 8091: The Retrospect

Day 91

I think I am going to stop logging "every session" when I hit the Day 100 on this year. It is a lot of work and I have gotten busy with my new job, and frankly, it is very very difficult to write something each time I get out. This blog will continue, though, at a more relaxed pace and I know there are many long time fans of this blog, so I will not disappoint you. My new posts will have more concentration.

This morning I want out in the morning at Linda Mar and there was this guy who was just standing in the inside trying to surf. This morning was not exactly a small kind of a day, and I did have some fun catching "just right" steepness of waves for me, and I did pack in quite a few rides in the limited-time morning session scenario. Back to this guy though. He was just standing, holding boards, not paddling in our out, in a waste high spot.

I remember, I used to do that. Back when I started, I did not have any ideas about how surfing worked let aloe having enough muscles to negotiate incoming waves to paddle out or to paddle into the wave. I do hope that this person would not get discouraged and some day would share waves with many others from the "outside."

From surfing, I got to got to various places in California, Mexico and Hawaii and really enjoyed the aspect of surf travels, and I am certain that my reach will be expanding even further. Just on the other day, I was talking about going to Nicaragua next spring and such.

I got to know a lot of great friends though my StokeMaster.COM web site as well as Surfrider foundation buddies. Got to meet some very famous surf figures live, and also through the sport it opened my mind up to the ocean and the environment.

I think I am also in a great shape physically and I can deal with fear a bit more than before, and even when facing the death, I am a bit less afraid these days.

So I would like to thank everyone who really have helped me to get here and I hope if you are starting out now, keep on stoking!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Session 8085-90

Day 85-87

Day 85 (Sunday): With the South swells arriving, I headed out much further to the spot that is in the slide show below. It was a bit of work, especially with the Walden Magic longboard to get down the cliff to get to the break, but it was certainly worth it. Not very many surfers and occasional breaks were fun. Note that last slide is a bit strange looking but it is due to some artifact of the camera and not actual waves.

Day 86 (Monday) and Day 87 (Tuesday):

Back to my home break with the south swells continuing. Smooth get-out and occasional breaks, typical of south swells situation, gave me a lot of time to practice.

Especially I had a few nice rides on Tuesday. However, also I cracked the nose of the board by trying too hard and surfing too close inside to the rocks. That's one problem with surfing. There is no break built into the board. You just cannot stop on a "dime."

Nevertheless, I am starting to get a hang of the "top turn" right after taking off and being able to do that really makes a difference in taking longer rides. But it definitely isn't easy, especially for me, and I cannot still be consistent in doing it like other good surfers who came today.

Day 88 Thursday:
Day 89 Friday July 4th:
Day 90 Sat July 5th:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Session 8082-84: You Got To Be "In" For the Upside!

Day 82-84

Perhaps you are all new to the stock markets, and if you have not been and if you ever will, you will hear from other colleagues telling you to the effect that "You have to be in it to catch the upside." I am now going to talk about the surfing, and surf condition and how well you do in them.

The key message here is that whether it is investing, your career or surfing if you are looking for the great opportunity, you have to always be in a lookout and the only way really you can do it is to be there all the time. For surfing, you do have to get out both on bad conditions and bad conditions, and even more bad condition days and then occasionally you run into a great condition day; all by yourself. You just cannot simply expect show up only on up days ignore all bad days. Even if you were able to, I think that the gain is probably modest.

I believe that this really goes for anything you are passionate about. You got to live through bad days and then you get to see and live the glorious days, of which, I also warn you that are very far and few in between.

So don't be so F greedy. Show up at the beach as many days as you can. Paddle out with me on poor days, fair days, and occasionally good days, and share every moment of it with me!

I will see you out there!

Day 83 (Friday): The wind has eased even more this morning and also the choppy waves. The overall swell size also has decreased a bit, making it smooth paddle out and nice rides especially for long boarders. I should have brought my Egg board! But I only loaded short boards as I had to put carry other loads a few days prior.

Day 84 (Saturday): The swell sizes were dwindling but the morning winds were small, and I enjoyed surfing at the "M" spot both with my Walden magic and also my Ugly Stik in the inside. It is always nice to have a long session where you can switch a board in the mid session and try them out!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Session 8079-81: Morning Surf Report + Surfwise

Day 79-82

The state parks do not open until 8 am, so this morning I had a bit of relaxed start and checked out the water from the Jetty down further south. I will let you decide which one I surfed at this morning. But I must say that the level of the people at this spot is usually pretty high and I was definitely at a lower end of the totem pole. Many people were older than me, but some were ripping quite nicely there. It was mostly small but lined-up all across the beach on bigger sets and so without shoulders and also them being shifty, it was hard to keep up with where to be. On days like this, the best option seems to be to stay put in one spot and wait for sets to come rather than moving all over. I have been burned quite a bit in the past by paddling over to where it broke last then quickly penalized by nice waves breaking at the spot I was just at. It is a bit frustrating you know.

At one point in the session though, there were two waves that came one after another that was at least double overhead in size and when we saw this coming, everyone started to get to the outside frantically. I was too late and too slow and at the worst spot to be. I was treated to a nice flight followed by the trip to the bottom. I hate it when that happens.

So in terms of the quality of the rides, it was not that great for me. Sure glad it was not a competition day... would have been a brutal defeat day.

This evening, we went to check out a "consolidated documentary movie" Surfwise, which is a documentary film of a Stanford graduated physician Dorian Paskowitz who set out to raise 9 of his children on a long surf-trip and a wife in a 24-foot camper van.

Among my close surfing friends, we often talk about quitting everything and surf for the rest of life. And this guy have actually done that. I am not going to spoil the movie for you, but boy, I am glad that I have not done that. It seemed to have a number of 9 kids, who could not get conventional education. The movie has quite a bit of surfing footage in it and it too. I think you will find his opinions about life and education very interesting, and especially in this day of us thinking and driving our lives more and more with greeds, it does give some interesting perspectives. I would not necessarily agree or disagree with, but it definitely worth seeing and hearing why he chose to do what he did and what he thinks about the current state of American culture. With most surf movies showing people "just surfing their brains out", this movie involves the persona of each family member, and so it is actually a bit of a departure from conventional surf related "documentaries." I would like to continue to see more surf film makers focus on the surfer aspect of it than just technical riding part of it. That's far more interesting in terms of the stories.

Day 80 (Sunday):

After being punished a bit on Saturday morning, I headed to a beach further north on Sunday morning. The NW winds definitely picked up quite a bit and as a result of it the water also became quite choppy already. There were some SW sets still coming in. I have not been riding my Walden Magic for a while so this time I took it out as it was on a small side.

Well, I did end up "catching" waves a lot but it was difficult to take off. The small ripples were substantial enough in size even under bigger "catchable" waves. On just about every wave I took off on, there was a stair-step effect, and so as I get up on the board, I would skip over a ripple and land on the wall that's ahead with a big bang. It's similar to getting a bit of air off a bump on snow. Sometimes I got knocked up in the air so hard that it was a bit scary and difficult to maintain the ride, especially when I get up, my knees are not unfolded yet, so there is not much room to absorb it.

The fog and NW returns to Northern California this week. It is going to be a bit tricky to find a good down patrol spots...

Day 81 (Tudesay): Pretty crappy at LM.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Session 8078: Reparing XCEL Infiniti

Day 78

I bought Xcel Inifniti suit with "standard" back-zip configuration a while back, and I really like the fit of the suit and also I like the rubber that is much gummier and stretch-er feeling than other make I have. It is holding up well, but one problem with all of the Xcel suits have in common is the overall weakness in the collar area. For one thing, the collar area usually does not have the finished look, instead it just look like someone took a pair of scissor and cut the opening. As a result, this is the area where it both tears and the cloth lining is coming off.

At any rate, I looked up in their web site and they had a repair order instruction. All you have to do basically is to write to them an email (or call too), and within a day or so someone from there will return you an email asking you with more details about the issue you are having. Then they will send you a PDF form with a return authorization number.

You box it, write the RA number outside of the box and send it either to their location in Hawaii or in Irvine, CA. (Note that it is a real waste of money to send your stuff anything but UPS ground if you are in California since within CA, UPS Ground will get there in 1-2 days, I know this because I use UPS a lot to ship stuff out of my office.)

So yesterday I sent my suit in for a repair. This story to be continued...

~ ~ ~
Speaking of wetsuits stuff, here is another little trick to keep your stuff last longer. Close all Velcro like leash cuffs and booties stuff before you throw them in your bag or tub when you are done. I previously wrote a tip about throwing them the last, but just closing the Velcro is much easier.

~ ~ ~

Half Moon Bay local surfing continues to be on a small but quality side. I really had a lot of fun this morning again! Thanks to the south swells that have been ON for quite some time now!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Session 8075-77

Days 75-77

Last few days at my home break were really fun. With some south swells hitting and no wind, the waves were on small side but there definitely were some fun peaks, lots of rights and some lefts too.

I am continuing to work on speed on the waves and I think I am making some more progress in the past few sessions. The most change, I think, is that the rides are becoming even more defined and also even more interactive with the wave.

I must say that it does take some effort to work with the waves, and I think that the primary difference between the people who "just surf" and "look good" are from this aspect of it. Every notch in the improvement gives a lot of excitement, but I feel like I am probably passing through one of the most exciting period of learning how to surf for me as the speed and the extra energy that comes with it support more "room" to maneuver given a situation, for example, it is now starting to be possible to think about "Should I go up next?" or "Should I shoot straight down for a bit, get more power and then go up?" etc.

Session 8077 (Tue, 6/18): Still the same spot. The waves are getting smaller a bit, but once in a great while a series of set kicked in. Some fun rights, and the usual moguls that form from backwash waves... 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Session 8072-74: Importance of "Just Getting Out"


Day 72-74

I have been guilty of this especially of late... some evil thoughts have been distracting me to shutdown**, stop writing WavLOG, and thinking that surf a few times a year in Hawaii or CR would be OK...

So this article is directed at me as a reminder, but hope you can also can relate to it too.
As people get "better at" surfing, I have seen them setting higher and higher expectations about the quality of the wave and such, and in some cases, their expectations get so high, they almost stop surfing altogether in search of the best condition or location that never come.
This morning after I got out of the water I had a bit of conversation about this with a local long-time surfer. He has been surfing for more than 40-years from OB to Ventura. We were at the same spot yesterday too. In fact, he is usually out when I am out too because he knows the best bet locally. He is so experienced that he can basically catch any types of wave - big, small, crappy... whatever, when, in front of him, I am still a struggling beginner surfer.
One important reminder that came up in our conversation is the word "life-style" and that is where we both agree strongly about surfing. I was then thinking more about that and I too have made a lifestyle decision to be a surfer and also this needs a constant reminder to myself that I have done that. Now here is no turning back.

An example of the difference between this and other sport I'd participate in is like this. I don't bowl much, but I do every so often, but my life will not revolve around bowling. I just go when, say, a friend would want to go. I rent everything and once I am done with it, it's all forgotten. I can hit strike sometimes and I can also thrown the ball in the gutter. But it's still fun.
Surfing is a kind of sport that require a life-style change decision because the depth of the sport is a life-time learning event. We need to be committed to it and so that requires that the sport have to be woven into your everyday life. It would take years of practice to hit an equivalent of a strike, that would be riding a nicely trimmed surf line for 10-20 seconds straight... not going up or down... just across the face.

And the point about setting high expectation is this. It is not a kind of a thing that you just only go when the condition is the best, rent some gear, get out and then forget about it afterwards. So as a part of this, we are always compelled to "get out as often as we can."
Another case in point. This past weekend, I was talking to a non-surfer person at a party, and he spoke of his surfing friends in terms of "Once he started it, he was hooked to it."
But more accurately, he made a life-style decision to surf, and once someone would do that they really can enjoy wider variety of conditions like the old buddy I was talking to this morning. It really takes an active and often pains taking efforts in "being hooked." The force affecting addiction is more of an external nature. You could give someone addicted to alcohol an expensive wine and he would be capable of enjoying it. You could give me double-overhead perfect wave today, and I may not be able to enjoy it immediately. I need to take a rain check, give me the same wave two years from now for me to enjoy it. But let me remind you, I am working on it and I think I can get there.

So today, you could be at the edge of making this commitment to your life and that could tip your life fully in one side. I think I have.

And it always feels better when I get out even when I did not feel like it when I get out of the house... and yes I am grateful to everyone that I can make this choice and I will continue to share my stoke with the world via the net.

Session 8073: Same spot as yesterday. Quite a bit smaller but clean and still fun. Not much in terms of longer rides but worked a lot on taking off and continue to work on making the turn #1 towards the top of the wave. I am not still there and some waves just closed out quickly.

Session 8074: The condition at Linda Mar was fair, but then this was probably the only ticket in town. But here is the deal. There were a few good surfers, both on long and short boards, that were managing the condition. I caught a few waves, but it really goes to say, if you are good, you'd get the most out of it.

**However I am thinking about re-doing the site on Google App Engine.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Session 8071: Squid Hood or Integrated Hood?

Day 71: Squid Hood or Integrated Hood?

Many people who are not familiar with the Eastern Pacific coasts, they would be puzzled if I tell them that the water can be coldest in the year in May and June. As it turns out that California coast side is one of more unique places in the world that upwelling can cause some havoc in late spring or early summer season.

Upwelling occurs when the wind blows hard, especially along the shore. Because our planet Earth is rotating at the same time as the wind blows in more or less N-S direction, it causes a "vortex" effect in that water swirls around and then after that it starts convectional current that moves up and down deep into the bottom of the sea floor. When 30+ knots winds blow for a week or two then the buoy water temperature reading start to go from our seasonal low 50's into even mid 40's sometime.

When we get out in this type of situation, it is like dipping my hands and head into ice water, and especially for me, I would have to think twice before I do my initial duck-dive though the water. Once I do this, no problem after that but the very first one is significantly uncomfortable, wake-up event especially on early morning sessions when I still have some afterthoughts about whether it would have been much more comfortable should I have decided to be in bed instead of in the Pacific.

At any rate, one key component of being a bit more comfortable in this situation is to wear a hood, and I have been wearing a 3-mm "Squid head" (I don't know why they call that though.) hood. This has been helpful, but last week I have noticed that my beloved hood has been showing a bit of wear and tear (though it lasted me at least 2+ seasons.) So I decided to give a try on an integrated hood with a rash guard, thinking that this might be a bit better in terms of water seeping duck dive situation. I actually hesitated getting it since I did once had a wetsuit with an integrated hood, and when I put that on I could not swing my head left to right freely, so I only used it a few times and gave up. This one is a 1.5 mm hood integrated with rash guard and it is a bit better in terms of head movement.

So here is the report from this morning.

Putting this on was a bit more awkward than the squid head model. I felt like whether which one of the holes will be the one to put my head though. But tucking the bottom of the hood was not so hard.

My first duck dive was definitely very comfortable, but I actually could not find a significant difference between the squid hood situation and with this. I would say it was noticeably more comfortable, but not super different.

While surfing, it was comfortable and I did not have problem swinging my head left and right.

So there. I think I will get a bit more hang on this and might end-up liking it a lot!

Oh by the way, I did have a good time this morning at the JTY!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Session 8069-70

Day 69,70

The nature conspired against me with gale-strength winds and non-surfable wind swells this past week, today, Saturday is the first time since last week to get back in the water. Actually today is also a gusty NW winds day, but I have just had enough of the wait, and I had to get in and keep my paddling in shape so I decided to get in the water "no matter what."

Luckily the winds died down a bit this morning, so I was a bit more hopeful. The Jetty was crowded a bit, and I did check points further south, but I came back to the Jetty thinking that the shape is a bit better there, and if not, I could "get out" a bit easier.

My guess was correct and I actually caught quite a bit of rights with a few lefts. You know I used to brag about the fact that I liked lefts but these days, the rights are working out much better to me. It is probably not really the left that has gotten worse, but the rights have gotten much better and that's the difference because turns are significantly more defined if I took of to the right.

Which brings to my current mission of improving the speed, and the distance. And I think I can feel some improvements especially in the area of turning faster and staying on top of the wave sooner after taking off. I am trying to make a concerted effort to do this, and just a thought of it can help quite a bit in understanding how it feels when I am doing a bit better or worse during each wave I am catching, and right now the biggest thing I am doing is to look at and look for the place I want to be; the top part of the wave. Each time I squeeze a bit more performance out of me, that makes me really stoked.

And when I can surf to the shore at the end of a session, that makes me even more satisfied, though, there always is hard to call a ride like that the last ride of a session!

Day 70: Drove from HMB to SC in search of non-windy waves, and ended up at Cowells, after remembering that that going to the East side would cost me parking fee. I am not against paying for it, but I have to pass though a specific place to buy the day permit. On the way there, there simply was not place for me to get into, it was too windy, big and messy.

Cowells was small and one thing I should always to remember, in the summer I should always bring a long board to SC! I could have had a lot more wave counts should I have taken my Walden Magic!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Session 8066-68: More on Speed

Days 66, 67

Friday was a small day again but I did get out at LM and caught some small waves. I actually do want small waves because that also help me really understand gaining the speed. I was often told from experts that bigger waves are actually easier to surf. I think I agree to an extent that if the waves are bigger but come in nice shapes, they are definitely fun and easier to catch. Small waves, on the other hands require a lot of paddling, quick flick up with not much room for errors and immediate top turn in many cases to make the wave and stay on top of it.

Saturday the shapes has gotten a bit better and I continued to work on the top turn. I must say though I do cheat a bit in this regards by actually steering while I am paddling into the waves. This gets remarkably easier if I can read where the shoulder would pop and I would be at the right place and the right time. Negotiating the top turn upon flicking up is also very very tricky for me right now since I need to execute the rail-in motion very quickly especially when there is not much speed yet developed, thus I have to get on the wave when I am least stable on the board. Looks like it will take a bit of time yet for me to get this mastered. 

Sunday the hefty NW winds returned and basically I could no find a surf locally from HMB to northern SC spots. We skipped surfing and went onto the Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Festival events instead.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Session 8063-65: Technical Notes on Speed

Day 63, 65

This past week was so windy that it was not really possible to surf locally in Half Moon Bay, at least that was my decision. Actually even under these circumstances it looked somewhat surfable at the the Jetty especially at the tail end of the wind-spell on THU and FRI. Nonetheless, I decided not go get out.

Last week I was at Kinokuniya Bookstore in Saratoga and bought a book with a DVD entitled "Surfin' Speed-Up Bible for Shortboarder." This book is in Japanese and so is the video so if you don't read Japanese and then I'd say don't rush and get it (instead come to my StokeMaster Core Meetings and I can narrate as we share watching this video) As you may know one of the things that I feel keenly about polishing is the speed aspect of my surfing technique. Now that I have more paddling power and more consistent flick-up, it is time for me to seriously work on the speed technique.

Anyhow, there were a few points out of the video I found that was very useful in my situation.

  • The most painfully felt aspect is executing the turn #1 as the top turn, stay on the top part of the wave and continue on.
  • The importance of using the rails and bottom of the board for the glide.
I've touched off and on about on contest day, the waves look so much better no matter which location we go to. This is mainly because people who know how to really surf know how to catch waves. Again, I must stress this important fact. It is really not your surfboards that do this, but it really is the technical skills and strength of the surfer.

One of the things they know how to do well is to stay on top part of the wave especially on mushy small waves; and that's more than 80% of the waves I (like to) surf. This I actually knew it all along but somehow it did not sink in to my head until now after watching the slow-mo analysis of the steps.

Another approach is to take more of a straight down then bottom turn approach. That was basically the mode I was using and polishing most of the time, and I can usually have significantly longer rides than most people in an weekend lineups, but I could not make them consistently because I still do not have the skill to stay on top of the wave.

After that it is standard ups and downs with rail switch-backs to gain more speed.

Well that's all right now, but be aware that I will gain more speed this year and write about it as I find out some fine points in doing so.

See you out there everyone and say hi if you see me!

Session 63 (Sunday): With the remaining NW swells, I headed to LM in the afternoon when the tide was coming in. It was a good call. I caught a great deal of waves even among long boarders and bunch of other short boarders in the mix. It was definitely a fun day. Started to work on the top turn, but sure it is not easy. After the session a Stokemaster member Bernie was out in the parking and recognized me from the fins of the Takayama board I posted. It is always great to see the people who hang around on the StokeMaster.COM site!

Session 64 (Monday): Back to the same spot. There was a one good surfer who was nailing lot of waves and he had the speed and staying on top of the wave. I watched him for a while and it was quite educational to get a demonstration of how to get the speed.

Session 65 (Thursday): There was no wave but as a part of trying to become a stronger surfer, we have decided to paddle for an hour. I always wondered about the buoy that is floating just about in front direction of the Milamar beach, and we paddled out there from the Jetty. It was a long paddle but game me enough excercise to go there and back. It was a yellow buoy made of mainly foams with PP2 written on it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Session 8059-62: StokeLAB Report - Added Baby Fins on my Takayama Egg

Day 59 Added Side Baby Fins on My
7'2 Egg

When I broke my leash on Wednesday session, I stopped by at Sonlight Surfshop in Pacifica and did two things. I did buy the new FCS leash (since Da Kine is the one that snapped) and also a set of fibrefglass FCS fins. You can see in the picture in this post how they look like. They are all fiberglass fins. Actually I tried this on Friday and so here is the report.

After adding these fins, the performance of the board changed significantly. Now it rides really more like a short board than a long board. This board is 7'2 and not a long board, but it is still long enough to walk on the deck and I can really ride on the front tip of the board once I got a speed on it when the board is moving at a good rate. So I have not given up on keeping the big center fin.

But for the "heck of it" I have added small side fins on the board and I've given it a try. As a beginner surfer I have not really believed anyone saying that the fins can make a world of difference before, but I now can see and feel the difference.

The part that was surprisingly turned out to be good was that the turns can be made more snappier than with just a single fin. This was especially true when I execute a turn toward back to the top of the wave and then I hit towards the upper end of the wave, and where I want to make a quick turn back down up there. This could had been done with with the single fin, but what made the difference is that the board seemed to have gotten more response to the change. Previously the motion had to be noticeably more intentional and also response from the time I was commanding my body to make turn to actually when the turn has happened was slower.

I do still like the way how the single fin worked out. It really made me do things more smoothly and in contact with the water more in terms of actual feel (and may not actually been that way.)

I will continue to ride the board this way for a bit and write some more about it.
Day 60 (Sat): Back to the same spot but this time it has gotten significantly more closed out. Caught just a few waves. Then some local powerful surfing figure appears and asked to paddle back out again. It was sort of hard to say no, so I did go out. Switched the board to the quad and I had one ride among close-outs. The trick for days like this is to sit patiently inside, look for either reforms or smaller sets and ride. {D, R}
Day 61 (Sun): The Jetty was small when I got there, but then there were some really fun rights that were just the right size. I was catching a lot of waves and someone asked about if I had an epoxy board. Yes, indeed. The board does help a bit but I think, honestly, in the end what really matters is the correct lining up and stronger paddling power.
Day 62 (Mon): Checked out a local spot. It was breaking but was doing the bouncy number. Determined that it won't be too much fun even if I caught waves. Headed to LM. It was puny as it was drained out a bit also, but I had some fun small lefts. Again, faster take-offs and lot of paddling will definitely pay off on days like this {LM}.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Session 8056-58: StokeLAB Leash Snap and Failure Analysis

Day 56, 57: Leash Snap and Failure StokeLAB Analysis

This morning, I went in the water, paddled out and tried to catch a shoulder level wave. I paddled into the wave and the wave closed out on me, and I got off the board. Next thing the normal tugging feeling of the board was gone. I had this bad feeling another time, and sure enough the board and myself got separated. I must say though this time, I was further out and I had to swim for a bit to get to the board.

Photo 1

Photo 1 shows that this time the leash did not snap nor broke from the joint. Previously I have known several people where the leash did become disjointed from the ball-joint and came apart. In my case it was the plastic base where the leash connected to the base of the ball joint assembly. Photo 2 shows how the leash and the cuff came apart. Again, note that the leash came out from the cuff and not from the joint. The root cause of the failure was the fatigue in the plastic base that was woven into the cuff.

Photo 2

Photo 3 below shows how cleanly it broke off from the base of the cuff. The plastic ripped right out.

Photo 3

The root cause of this is the plastic stress and fatigue. I actually should have replaced this leash at least 6 months ago because I have been using it for more than a year, which meant that it has gone through at least 100 sessions or more.

Everyone, be careful, and do replace your leash at least once a year!

Day 57 THU: After yesterday's mishap, I got a got an FCS leash which is not the same brand that broke. This morning was strangely warm, and offshore winds and no crowd but a lot of backwash that made it very difficult to ride even I caught waves (M)

Day 58 FRI: Owning the whole beach by myself and had some really fun long waves with the building W swells. I've added baby side-fins on my 7'2 Egg. (D)

Day 59 SAT: The same spot gotten closed out with more direct hit of the W swells. Should have gone to "R." (D)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Session 8053-55: Sack or Tub? + San-O Surfing

Day 53, 54, 55

I have been using a plastic storage tub for quite some time to store wet stuff without an incident, except one time. The one time I was changing inside of it, but a rock cracked the bottom through and it would have leaked. Fortunately I had a plastic bag so I made home safely without making the rest of the truck all wet.

This week, I am on a surf trip away from the cold water of Half Moon Bay, and I have found that carting the tub in and out of hotel rooms is a bit of nuisance. A long while ago I did buy a water-proof sack and I have not used it except for stuffing in extra wet suits stuff during a trip.

Whatever the reasons, I finally realized that I can use the sack instead of a tub to transport my wet stuff to and from the rooms. Oh, actually what made me realize is that most surfers that go to the Trestles use backpacks and bring a towel, suits and water and stuff with them. Me, being on a geeky side of things, I walk with the suits and booties on, but I must say I was glad I was not the only one who do that. But I realized that I did have a sack with a shoulder strap and I could do like they do. A habit is often difficult to throw away.

Anyhow, I did the sacking stuff today, and it was significantly easier. I also remember some outfit selling a change mat that converts into a sack and I think that's an excellent idea. I think I will look that up later on and perhaps add the picture here.

So if you have not tried using a sack, it can be very helpful in various situations, especially if you need to also bring other stuff like a board, another bag etc. from your own place of sleep to your car etc.

Surf Report

Back to San Onofore this morning, and I had quite a bit of fun. Except that a very huge alarm sound started to go off at the nuclear plant. I have had in the back of my minds about all sorts of "Catching the Last Wave" scenario, this being one of them. There were a bunch of surfers out there continue to catch waves as if a car alarm has gone off. I was quite relieved that a few minutes later the loud speaker announced that it was only a drill. But it looked like a full drill, since after getting out of the water, there were cops and state park officials blocking the roads and the whole number.

Now enjoy a few shots I took this morning.

Day 54: Oceanside

The swells in southern California is dwindling further this week and while the water temperature is very warm (for me) the sky has been cloudy all week due to a thick marine layer developing. So in order to get out of this weather a bit, this morning we drove from OC to Temecula for wine tasting trip first and then on the way back decided to swing by Oceanside piers to check out the surf. As for Temecula, it resembles Livermore wine country a bit as there are a lot of new big homes and the wineries are all clustered in about 5 to 10 mile circle. Surprisingly a lot of wineries operate restaurants, as that's kind of still unusual in Napa or Sonoma.

There is one thing in common between wine and surfing. That's the notion of appreciating the location. For wine we compare where it came from in terms of the taste and senses. I think of surf trip and trying out all different spots similarly. Each spot seems to have its own way of curving the water, and when we paddle out, we get experience a new place from all the senses we have, and I think that's the part of enjoyment in going on a surf trip.

Back to Oceanside, one of the claims to fame of this spot is that this is the home of Takayama surfboards. This is a beach community with a standard long pier with Ruby's and such, and even has a McDonald's stand at the beach (closed at the moment.)

Overall, the experience was similar to surfing at Huntington. It is a beach break and it is shallow for quite further out that I can almost stand on the sand at the lineup. Because the wave quality was low, and typical of jumbled wind waves, I cannot really comment overall about the waves here. But definitely there is nothing compares to here in NorCal. Just about the only thing I can say is that the waves of Manresa in Santa Cruz is sort of similar to these beach breaks.

Here are some pictures I have taken. Hope you get some feel from the place!

Day 55: Back to Manhattan, A Short 45-Min Session
Friday May 9

We wanted to visit some places in north LA proper this afternoon. So I had a quick stop-by at Manhattan. The condition continued to be not so great, but I did catch a few waves in this short session. It is always nice to get back to this spot, and also nice to surf with a couple of Dolphins. They seem to be here all the time. Sorry I have a couple of friends here but due to the short nature of the session I did not set up a session. We will be back in the area early October, and I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Session 8052: The Trestles, Remakable Even For Me

Day 52

We all know about the Trestles. We've heard all about it. This is where the world-class competitions are being held regularly (as a matter of fact last weekend!). We know that it is being threatened from a plan of toll-road being planned. I'd even wonder if what if Richard Nixon would have commented about the toll-road. It almost seems like everyone is trying to claim a piece of their own interest at this very spot.

And for me, it is still a privilege to go and being able to surf this spot. It definitely worth the 20-minute hike to the spot. Most people do it with backpacks, me, being a surf geek, I do this with with wet suits on and with booties on. Somehow, bothering with bringing down a backpack and sandals and towel to me is more of an over-kill, especially for just a shy-of 2 hour session.

At any rate, whatever and however you get there and if you see me how I handle the situation is all your biz, and I don't care what you think. My goal is to get there with the least amount of luggage, the least amount of worries and maximize the water time.

Again, like yesterday at lower T, it was just so much fun even when the waves are probably on the "mushy" side to experts, I had a great time, and even though this place is one of the most popular spot, I only had to share the break with only two other surfers. Especially for me, I don't have to be on the biggest peak, I am just content with some inside spill-overs which are just much better quality than most days we have in my neighborhood breaks.


It has been many years since I've paddled out in the water for the first time, I thought that I'd share with you what I still don't know about surfing. Especially at a place like I was last two days, people can give me a "painful" demonstration of many aspects of what I still cannot do (and probably never will.).
  • How to be best positioned to catch more waves.
  • Why there are other surfers that are always at the right place at the right time.
  • How to do "off the lip" (I sort of know why this is, I really should be more bold on every turn I make, so that I have more power in my surfing. I look smooth all right, but I got to be a bit more aggressive to extract more power, so that I can really hit the top the wave as though I mean it.)
  • How to go backward on my surfboard
  • How to get an air intentionally.