Sunday, May 10, 2009

Technical Update: Paddling Topic

Technical Update: Paddling Topic

In addition to trying to look good while I am up on the board, lately, I have been training myself to be a better paddler.

When I started surfing, I was so weak of a paddler that practically everyone passed by me. Older people, kids and women... I was so embarrassingly bad. Not only that paddling only for a few minutes caused so much pain in the muscles that I had to stop. I was just completely out of shape in terms of paddling.

As I surfed more I have been able to get to the average speed but it was still not good enough to be with a group of more experienced surfers. I was always left behind when they all moved from one peak to another.

Now I am at a level that I can keep up with others in most sessions.

But when I am in Santa Cruz or Trestles there always are people who are significantly more stronger than me, and many of these people look smaller and thinner than me and so I wonder where these muscle powers are stored. They take waves and while I am still paddling out they are already at the lineup. Amazing!

Without some power, it is difficult to hit the "outside." My experience with this is that there is some threshold of speed that you need to attain, and here is what I mean.

When paddling in the inside part of the ocean, there are more white water breaks, and the water seems to flow back towards the beach. I've seen some beginner surfers from the side that they are continuously paddling but they are staying basically at the same spot or gradually going backwards. I am sure that they do not realize that they are retreating instead of moving forward. I've seen this happen to me a lot at Montara or Ocean Beach, for example, when I am paddling for a while and when I look back I am basically at the shore! Nevertheless other and better people do make it to the outside. This is not to mention how far up and down to the side of the beach I have drifted.

So I must conclude that when you are a waker surfer, you cannot even overcome this initial part of the game of getting out. This is even without talking about turtling or duck diving. They do help but without some basic power to overcome the speed there is nothing you can do, but get back to the car and go get a cup of coffee or a glass of beer instead.

As far as the paddling technique goes, my experience with it is that it can be used to generate more efficient paddling but still without the muscles to support the power you cannot paddle fast enough. In addition, improved techniques will begin to utilize more and other parts of the muscles that you have not used much so far yet (unless you swim hard already.) Given the muscles though the "better" surfers palms are nearly closer to the center of the board under water, not directly under the rails. Watch some under water videos of pros paddling out. Another things you notice is that when you begin the stroke put the palm in the water from thumb first. This will get your hand and arm faster in the water at the point where your muscle power is the least from the leverage point.

Some additional findings are that smoother, slower and big stroke paddling gives much less fatigue and often I can move faster in the water. Especially I have been working so that the same amount of power is continuously applied while altering hands, this way I am preserving any gained momentum.

Also this is especially true with short boarding. Dragging the feet in the water can generate additional resistance. I try to make sure that my feet are out of the water. I use one of the legs to prop up other slightly. That's get tiring so I alternate the legs.

Watching strong and good surfers, they really look nice, natural and confident paddling and I am trying to get to that stage.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Would I Still Surf in the Rain?

Would I Still Surf in the Rain?

So this is mainly in the comment posted in response to my previous post from Gloria of Santa Cruz California. She does bring a good point, so I am going to put some positive spin on surfing in the rain stuff.
I had a fair share of nice rain surfing. Locally it seems to happen towards the end of the summer in Northern California as the autumn approaches. Some of the best ones goes like this.
A morning starts with mostly sunny with scattered clouds, and as the day goes by the clouds would move in. The sky is full of clouds of all different shapes, some were swept with a stroke of a brush and some look like growing monsters... The horizon starts to get a bit blue grayish, but still sunny here and there. The winds have not kicked up yet, and I have paddled out to some nice clean outside lineup and we could be chatting with our buddies in the lineup.
It then starts to sprinkle and it makes some nice sound and glistening splash pattern on the water with small circular wavelets. The rain is not cold and it is almost warm to the touch. It washes away some of the salt from my head.
Then with the darkened backdrop pop complete double rainbows from both ends touching the ocean, or perhaps, 1/4 of the circle looking like emanating from the horizon.
Then it stops completely and back to sunny again, and we'd catch the last wave of the morning and head our ways to for the "rest of the day" stuff all content and re-energized and somewhat sad that we all know the summer is ending, and somewhat happy to look forward to some bigger stuff coming in a few weeks down.
Now, that's surfing in the rain!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Not surfing in the rain any more?

The Rain Topic. Rain in May?

Gosh, it is already May and it is rather strange to see the rain at this time of the year in Northern California, and also very unusual South wind pattern that goes with it. Typically around this time of the year, we start to get NW winds and fog developing. And I thought that it was going to be a short days of rain but it looks like it will continue for several more days.

It has been an on-going joke among us that if one of us would utter "I am not going surfing because it's rainy out." The usual response is that "why not, you are going to get wet anyway."

True, but I think that I am going to think about that for a moment.

The reasons why I'd not feel like going out in the rain.
  • It really still feel so much greater if it is nice, warm and sunny out.
  • It is really a hassle to change when it is raining, and when it is raining, it usually also is storming to some extent. It is nice to come back to dry and sunny situation, hang around in the parking for a while after surfing. When it is pouring, it is amazing how the towel soak up the water so fast. It is amazing to the extent to think of amout of the water that come down to a small square footage where I stand. Multiply this by the size under the rain cloud, that's a tremendous amount of water we are talking about.
  • We always worry about the run-off. Especially in San Mateo county, I am a bit worried about (but may be not 100% warranted) lots of horse ranches there and all of the stuff on their ground... At any rate, whenever it is rainy and stormy, the water looks murky and stirred up a bit.
  • If it is really pouring, we know that sewage plants might overflow....
So these are the reasons sometimes I do avoid water when it is rainy.