Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Session 8047-48: Technical Update, Pushing or Pulling The Board During Take-Off


Day 47-48
Technical Note: Pushing or Pulling the Board While Taking Off

OK... for those who are bored with my philosophical logs, let's get back to some technical note right here and right now!

Learning a skill set is an iterative process, and surfing especially is. I must have written about this some time ago, but every once in a while I notice that a certain aspect of surfing get more refinements and realizing I am revisiting many aspects of the technique.

On this log, I am going to talk about "Pushing or Pulling The Board Ahead During Take-Off." I have found that being conscious to this shift is very useful in getting up on the board at different wave forms.

Here is my description of what happens.
  • I see a wave starting to come. I turn around, paddle in the direction where the break is about to occur. This means that I look back left and right and actually paddle a bit to the left or right and adjusting the pace of paddling so that by the time the wave hits the board, I will be in the right place to give the last few strokes before getting up on the board.
  • At the starting point of when the wave starts to lift up, I would paddle with my body more towards the back of the board. This is so that if the wave jacks up faster than I thought, I can still salvage the wave.
  • As the wave lifts up the tail end of the board, I would feel how fast it is coming up, and I will adjust the paddling power accordingly. In general when the tail lifts up fast, I need to also paddle very strongly and leaving the weight more neutral (and not too forward) with respect to the board. If this happens I also try to get up fast and towards the back of the board. If I mistakenly get up too far forward, pearling is the inevitable result. In this case, I will push the board under me forward a bit just before I get up. This seems to accomplish two things. First while doing this, the board does not bear my body weight so it also feel less effect from the wave. Secondly, by doing this, I can stand way back part of the board. The steeper the wave builds up, I try to do this faster.
  • If the wave is not building up as fast then I will still need to paddle hard in long big strokes because I could be left behind. In this case, I will also start to move my body forward in sync with the slowly building wave and try to apply my body weight and pressure more in the front of the board. This works especially well with longer and long boards when the board starts to glide down. If that happens, I know I caught the wave, and I can gently get up on the board and carefully execute the first turn and get back up on the wave.
  • In reality many waves are mixture of slow and fast parts, and also depends on at which part of the wave you are trying to catch. In fact, in order to get into some faster waves, the success seems to come from paddling early, faster (like slow waves) and adjusting the weight back and forth in rapidly changing situation.

    One thing for sure, one paddling position is not the "catch-all" solution. On short boards, adjusting the weight shift can accomplished by simply a lift of a head or the chest away or towards the board.

Well, I could be doing something wrong, but there is a comment section on this blog and you can fire off your comments back to me, that will help me learn even more. So don't be bashful!

This morning's surf note: JT was flat but I surfed further north this morning, and I had another high-stoke session on my Walden Magic. I love the board!

Day 48: Microwave Surfing at JT. Tons of puny waves. Great take-off practice on my Egg board with Nick!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Session 8046 Surfing with Legendary Locals

Day 46
Surfing with Legendary Locals

Another interesting aspect of surfing is that you get to do this with some legendary people. A couple of years ago, I wrote about competing in a local competition and regardless of your skill level you get to share the same wave with people who would be on a cover of a national surfing magazine.

Or like this morning, I know this surfer who has been at it for more than 40 years and he is surfing just like any other people in the lineup. Of course, he's got a style that you know its his... Seemingly (tell me about it) effortless take off and riding like a dancer on a stage, again with a style that's his own.

May be there are other sports. You could appear in a marathon, you could be on a bike race, but I would say that you'd not in the same pack as the top people. In surfing, that's not the case, you will have to share the same heat, basically the same waves with even the best local legendary surfers.

Sure, back in my ski days, I have been to a mountain in Utah where we "shared" the same slope with a very famous movie star, but he is not a pro skier, right?

What does it do for me?

First, it is a really inspirational experience, but a lot of us also take this more or less granted, and so we don't often realize this, and so sometimes, I hear about I was surfing right next to someone who is a real pro. That's also kind of nice because in surfing, to a great extent, "who cares about the fame." From other perspective of it, I also surf with other people who are not pro surfers but they are multi-millionaires, doctors and such. But on the wave, we tend to be rather equal, leaving all these bad things beyond the line on the sand. So what it does to me is, basically nothing. It is nothing to the point that whole thing is enjoyable without really requiring to be thinking about the fame, money and so forth.

I think from that stand-point surfing really brings a level of lifestyle that's not like most, and I'd dare to say almost all other sports.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Session 8045

Day 45

Should have gone to the Jetty and fought the crowd today.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Session 8043-8044

Day 43,44 My Take on Why People Are Inconsiderate or Selfish

I actually had a very invigorating session this morning with a clear sky, no winds and crisply cold thick water to duck through and a bit of punishing going down the falls. But rather than bore you with the same old "I had fun" or "I had not fun" type surf report. I am going to get a bit philosophical today.

I meant to write about this for a while, but today when I was getting out of one beach road-way, the traffic was jammed all the way, but it took 2 or 3 cars before they let me in, and that reminded me to write about this.

Whenever we encounter a situation like this, a standard reaction is along the line of "That person is a jerk." But I started to observe about this, and surfing, especially the lineup psychology, as well as being worked in Surfrider Foundation has really helped me to understand this a bit better.

First thing I have observed is that I personally know and met a lot of people who will act like inconsiderate people. Perhaps you might even think I am one of them too. But actually they are all nice people. They are helpful and they are fun to be with often. Or they related by blood to me in one way or another, and they are originally citizens, not engaged in criminal stuff or anything like that. Basically most are "regular" people you'd meet in any situations. They even complain about other people doing jerky things to them too.

The conclusion that I came with is that most people cannot think beyond their own worlds, and that manifests as jerky behavior. And I think that's actually pretty normal, and there probably are only a handful of people who have really and completely gotten out of that mode, Dali Lama and Mother Theresa come to my mind in that class of people.

I think that it is really difficult to really think and live beyond thinking our very own world all the time, and it really need a lot of self discipline and training. The pressure from our external world is also very high to prevent that. First we got to worry about our own jobs, then family, kids and bills to pay, and before you know it, we are all out of time to give thoughts.

So in a nutshell, if you I encounter a situation like this morning or some jerky surfer in a city break in SC, I think about that, and whether if these people have any other room in their mind to do otherwise. But I also think that it is a default behavior in all of us, and it does take a bit of effort to get out of these modes.

Next time when someone would give you a jerky treatment, perhaps you may want to remember this post. At least it makes my rest of the time more relaxed and focus on my own thing!

Have fun out there!

Over and out.

Session 8044: Nice, a bit mushy day this morning at "D" with only three other surfers. Wish I had a long board.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Session 8042


Day 42

Definitely I am not putting as many surf days as I have been in prior years, but nevertheless, I do go out than most other people. Thanks to living closer to "this side of the hill."

Compared to Sunday, the high fog started to roll in and the NW winds started to blow. There was a chance of not going to be a good time, but I paddled out at the Jetty "anyway" since my primary goal is to get some exercises before work. From this respect, it is more like my daily jogging routine than anything else and catching waves is a bonus for getting out.

Remarkably, I caught more waves on this session than on both of the weekend sessions and some of them were long rides and definitely some fun cutback actions too. My recent improvements in take-off technique is really paying off. The key part is to paddle hard, paddle longer and don't give it up until the wave has gone past completely. Other details include tuning the weight point as I take off. On a slower take off (slower relative to the wave that is forming that is) I will really try to move the weight to the front of the board, whereas if it is jacking up faster I shift the weight back, and in that case the board is basically sticking out in the air, not contacting the water almost perpendicular to the face of the wave that is forming. And one another thing is paddling just one moment longer before getting up on the board. These are definitely very trickily moves that I could not do until very recently and there are bunch of other surfers who do this a whole lot better than me too!

I was thinking about writing a poetry type thing for this log, but then when I got back, I forgot what I was thinking about. I will try soon though.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Session 8039: This IS Evening Glass Off

Day 39

Day like this make me so happy to feel that I am living in Califonia!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sessions 8037-8038

Day 37 & 38

Day 37: Friday Morning: Small surf, tide all filled up at a local beach.
Day 38: Sunday Morning: Relaxing long boarding. Had a few really fun rides.

More coming... Just ran out of time this weekend!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Session 8036: Wind is what I dislike the most.

Day 36

Sorry no pictures today.

Wish the tide was a bit lower this morning, but the south swells were definitely being felt this morning at the Jetty, and so I went in. Very very long waits between the sets and most of them backed off and bounced back to create not so optimum condition. After the first two people left, I was there by myself. Further south was a bit smoother and better. But there was no wind and so it was really smooth to get out and relaxing.

Over the years, I have surfed all sorts of conditions, but I am learning to really dislike blown-out condition the most. When the wind gusts, the waves get really crappy and not fun. Beside it brings a lot of chill while waiting. I don't even like offshore conditions much. When offshore is blowing too much, the splash of the wave just gets in my face when taking off, and worse yet, I cannot get into the wave as the board catches the wind.

The best days are glassy days even without much waves, it is just so much easier to get out and enjoy being in the water. Surfing as a part of my exercise regimen, I don't even care if I catch a single wave, so long as I get in the water, paddle for good solid hour then I really feel invigorated for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Session 8035: Strange Day!

Day 35
Strange Day!

A beautiful but a rather flat morning. The only spot that seemed to have been breaking was the north corner of the beach if any. So I hurried down the path and then walked back up all the way to the corner of the beach, from where I paddled further to the corner.

Sets were really very far in between and when they came it was hard to catch as the waves either backed off and did not break at all.

Two unusual things happened this morning that would be worthy of reporting. The first was that while I was waiting for a wave someone popped up from nowhere and asked me what time it was. I then asked him where he came from, and he was at another beach further north and paddled there and all the way back. That's quite a bit of distance still since there is another cove in between!

We shared the lineup for a bit, but he took off. I waited for more waves but nothing came. I decided to paddle back to the path, instead of walking back, in order to burn today's quota's worth of calories.

But suddenly there was a huge "Whoosh...." sound just about 10 ft length away from me, and two huge black shadow came up the water. I thought for a moment, "Oh shit. Finally it is my turn!" And when they surfaced completely they were a pair of whales, and the sound was them blowing the water.

I have surfed closer to whales before but this was really close. Basically this was happening in the same space of my bedroom. I turned the camera on right away, but they did not come back or re-surface.

Any time I go out I am always mentally prepared for the last session of my life, so it was not so heart pumping event but I would also say that I was relieved and also really happy to see this special event!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Session 8034

Day 34

Finally back in the water this PM at the place in the photo album. Small, but there were some fun little waves. Hooked up with a local buddy "G" and it is too bad that he collided with one of the kids and got a hole poked on his board!

I may get back in there tomorrow DP!