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.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Session 8051

Day 51

Lower T today, I almost did not go out but I did have a late late start and really glad I want. Only 4 of us out there at this world-class break. Tomorrow I will try the upper T.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Session 8049,50: In So Cal This Week

Day 49, 50

Day 50: Surf Tip - Dragging Your Feet Under Water?

Second Day at C. St, and it was small but fun again. Rides are always significantly longer here, and that means that after I take a ride, I need to paddle back out for significantly longer.

So I decided to experiment a bit while paddling out on my Takayama 7'2 Egg board (should have taken out the Walden Magic board but I did not bring it this time.)

When you paddle out on a short board, we often do not realize that we are dragging out feet in the water. I was playing with two modes. One time with feet just dangling in the water and another time with toes tied together and out of the water.

For short-hauls they don't make a difference but for longer paddles (say 40 strokes or more), it does make quite a noticeable difference to me. I did feel that I could get to the spot a bit easier and less tired when I get there.

If you are following good surfers, you can tell that most of them are doing just that usually crossing their feet at their ankles or toes.

You may want to check how you are doing in this department next time you are out.

Day 49:

If you have been around some number of surfers, you will find out that many people who have really been doing this for a while have incorporated the sport as their lifestyle, and I must say that I have basically done that too. I now go back to So Cal at least two weeks out a year and it got to the point that I have set it up so that I will go back to the southern Orange county spots, and if you have been surfing a lot, you know where I go. In addition on the way to there from my NorCAL home, I make a point of stopping by in Santa Barbara and Ventura county spots too.

I am presently in Ventura and I had some great fun waves. They really have it good here as I drove between Santa Barbara and Ventura there are spots after spots of places I could paddle out. I must say that that is usually not the case up in San Mateo county spots. For us, it is more like finding the least worst condition spots in most of the times.

Here are two pictures from this morning.

I will be in LA for Saturday, but in OC starting Sunday and more session notes will continue.