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!