Monday, October 31, 2005

The good kind of sore

Sunday was great. I saw some of the weekend crew I haven't seen since I started having my weekend escapes in Valencia/Ventura. I took out the 7'0" Okazaki even though I was tempted to take a longboard because I wasn't completely confident of my abilities in what would surely end up being a crowded sunny morning. But I told myself I'd have to start challenging myself on this board if I wanted to be comfortable going to Costa Rica with it in December. So I tossed the board in the car before I could have second thoughts.

At the beach, I found chest-high waves came through with decent shape! I was surprised to find how easy it was for me to catch waves and pop-up and get the right stance. I'm no longer blaming my shorter board ineptitude on my ineptitude, I'm blaming it on the crap waves I surfed prior to Sunday.

It was so much fun on Sunday, I started attempting "things." Not quite tricks, just things. On one left, I saw the shoulder line up and I got a little speed going... enough to make me think I could attempt a snap. So, I set up and threw my shoulders and hips into cranking the board up and around. I don't think I really believed I was actually going to get even *close* to a snap, so when I saw my board go up and start coming back around, I didn't know what to do. I panicked and screamed like a little girl right before I wiped out. I came up for air with a grin as bright as the day.

This morning was much the same, not quite as good a shape and not as big, but I had a really good right where I did a couple of turns and did a serious "I know what I'm doing" kick-out. I landed on my board in the perfect position and perfect direction to just start paddling back out into the line-up.

I'm so happy with my progress, I may have to reward myself with a longboarding session soon.

I've decided NOT to reward myself with a new (used) longboard. (Surfsister knows what I'm talking about.) I was seriously thinking of getting this used 10'0" Boss that's on consignment. I looked at it and it's not quite watertight, but I feel confident enough in my repair abilities to take it on. I've been casually looking for one of these for the last 6 months, but the weight of new car and new furniture purchases have made the timing of this used board really bad. I realized Sunday that my jones for the Boss came in part from my dissatisfying sessions on the shorter board. When I have decent-sized waves, I don't think about plunking down $500 on a big board with holes in it.

(Also, I just got Bob-O's number, so I'm now seriously considering saving money to order a new 10-foot board from him next year!)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Toes nowhere near the nose

I use my toes to pop-up. Most surfers have no idea what that means because they're probably popping up the correct way. On a longboard, my toe-popping style doesn't matter and probably isn't even noticeable. On a shorter board, it's problematic.

I switched boards briefly with D and found that with his 6'6", my toes had nowhere to pop when taking off on a wave, so there was no popping-up.

I don't know if I'm going to fix this problem, since my toes have a tail to touch at 7'0", but I have noticed that I'm raking my toenails across the deck when I pop-up, sometimes slowing me down. Part of the reason I do this is my toes keep the tail in the wave. Part of the reason I do this is because I'm not sure the board is going to stay underneath me when I pop-up.

Yup. I probably should fix this problem.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Just like a longboarder

So I got the paddling and the taking-off bit down on the 7'0" Okazaki, but I can't quite get my feet to the proper place on the pop-up. I find myself too far back on the board... just like a longboarder. Only, I can't walk forward on the board without the board stopping or squiggling out of the wave.

Nonetheless, I'm happy with the progress I'm making. I'm happier with the fact that I've only surfed the O the times I've been out at home on weekdays, no matter how much I want to break out the longboard.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Can accidents be avoided?

Okay. I'm alternately irked and relieved from Sunday's foray into Ventura. (And I think I'm actually surfing at the Fairgrounds, not C-Street, but I'd have to remember to ask someone to be sure.)

First, let me say that people are SO nice up there. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think that when a break is populated by longboarders of all ages, people mellow out. Or maybe I just have no perspective from surfing in the much more aggro L.A. County. It was much more crowded this week than last week -- probably because it was head-high to overhead on the sets, but even then, people were nice, waiting patiently for their waves and chatting. I met a nice woman my age who moved here from Hawaii and surfed really well with clean style. I also chatted with an old man who looked like a goat and who got two of the best outside waves of the day -- they must have been 9-feet at least.

Second, my waves were nothing to write home about. Again, I brought out the wrong board. Last week, I had Doc and the waves had no power, so I found myself paddling like mad and popping up only to dig a rail in when I cut too hard. I finally learned, but still, I let a lot of pretty decent waves go last week because of my mistake. So this week, I brought Coop, thinking it's weight would propel me down mushy point break waves. Well, yeah, propelling happened, but mushy didn't. I would have preferred Doc's lightweight speed to make it around some hairy sections. As it was, I took off on some big-ass waves that went nowhere, but the thrill of the take-off was worth it. My one good wave actually made me feel like a surfer as I made a bottom turn around a section, came to the top to feel it hollowing, stepped back to come back down and made the hollow section without wiping out, but as I came around the second bottom turn, I was too slow and saw the whole wave collapsing in front of me.

But to my point: I am irked because I pulled out of a couple of waves where I was free and clear down the line but there was someone paddling out right in front of me. There's a chance I could have taken off and cut the correct line so I wouldn't hit him, but I decided I didn't want to take the chance should I have screwed up. I had the heavy board and I didn't really feel like killing someone that morning.

Okay, I'm not irked because I was a thoughtful and caring person. I am irked because someone else, faced with the same situation with me paddling out DID NOT think to do the same thing.

So, I was paddling back out, looking for my coffee wave (the one to take me home to coffee) and I saw a two guys scrambling for a wave. I would have made it over the wave safely if it were just the first guy taking off deeper in the wave, so I'm hoping the second guy sees that he should pull back because 1) I'm right in his line and 2) there's someone else behind him. But second guy does NOT do this and first guy has to kick-out. There is no way, no time for me to correct the course of my paddle-out and eat it in the breaking part of the wave. All I can do is paddle as fast as I can and hope that second guy takes the straight drop instead of taking off at an angle right toward me. HE DOES NOT. He angles toward me on the take-off. I have no idea what the hell he's thinking. I paddle to the very last nano-second until I have to bail or get finned in the the head.

The wave washes over me and I'm hoping that my big honkin' board hasn't knocked out the shortboarder. I pop up to see the guy. I'm relieved he isn't dead. I apologize because I'm nice, not because I think I'm wrong -- but that doesn't really come across, does it? I ask if he's okay and he asks if I'm okay. We're all okay and nobody yells at each other. His friend asks if I'm okay and says the most important thing is that everybody's okay. Okay. We're all okay. And I am again amazed that everybody is so nice. Relief.

His friend says that he heard someone get a skeg hit. I look at the board. It's me. Two surgical-precision fang marks all the way through the double volan glass on the rail. I told his friend there was no way for me to change the course of my paddle and he said in that situation all you can do is throw your board toward the wave and dive under. Great. Try throwing a 35-pound 9-foot-7-inch board while you're floating in the water some day and see how that works out. Irked.

I don't know, can accidents be avoided? I say yes -- at the cost of losing what could be your best wave of the day. But isn't there always another wave coming?


PS. I really think I'm having allergic reactions to the red tide. It was back in force on Sunday and I spent Sunday night breathing through my mouth. Today, I'm hopped up on drugs.

PPS. At one point waiting for my coffee wave, I hear my name being called. WHA-? Nobody's supposed to know me here. I turn to shore and see Jen-n-Joey from my home break in Santa Monica waving at me. Small surf world.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What's that floating in the water?

"First flush" they call it. People are really horrible. After the rain, you can see what we do to the world lying in a mangled heap of convenient packaging discarded along the water's edge.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Waves North

I surfed Saturday and Sunday at a point break in Ventura and boy are my arms tired. Because of my laziness and beach break training, I find point breaks tiring -- even at head high -- because of all the paddling I have to do to get into the wave.

It's such a welcome break from crowded weird vibing in LA County. It's nice to surf a longboard spot with mellow people. It's odd to actually take off on a wave with shape and go down the line with NO ONE in front of you -- on the wave or paddling out. Shocking!

Friday, October 14, 2005


Better today. I don't want people to shoot me so much when I'm in the water. I'm getting more comfortable on the shorter board -- enough so that I did a "no-paddle" take-off when I was too deep on a wave and enough so that I actually walked forward on another wave that didn't have much power.

Worse today. Actually, it's always the same. Just bad. When I leave the water, go back home, shower, get in my car to go to work... the weight of the day starts pressing at each step of the process to work. It's not that all I want to do is surf all the time -- I feel like I'm over that obsession -- it's that I want to look forward to the day, but I don't.

It's always especially apparent when I have a good morning surfing (and today was, if only because I can feel marked improvement at learning the shorter board) and then get to work with the same old nothing. I need a new gig.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


I'm too lazy to ride a shortboard. I don't see why I should waste my energy paddling into a wave when I don't have to even think about it on a longboard.

I know. I'm just whining. I'll get over it. I just hate feeling like a kook.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Not quite surfing

I had a few waves today where I was actually surfing. You know, the thing you do when you get a wave with a shoulder and you pop up to your feet and turn a few times... surfing. But they were short rides and long lulls. I looked up and saw EsF get a nice long right. He kept going and going. He kept going until he hit shore. Wave of the day.

So, after more lulling and few shoulders, I saw this big steep thing come off the horizon and head right for me. I decided since I was obviously not going to get the longest wave of the day (claimed already by EsF), I would go for the most exciting wave of the day. I heard some of the pals whoop my name as they realized I wasn't backing off the close-out. I took off at the top of the wave, grabbed the rail, sped down the wall backside, miraculously kept all 9'7" of the rail from digging into the wave, closed my eyes and just waited for the smash. It didn't come when I expected it to. That was weird. Almost made me open my eyes. When the crash finally came, it wasn't where I thought it was going to be, namely, on me. Either I had been in a barrel and made it out of a section, or I was nowhere near as tucked in like I thought I was. "Surfing" blind.

Cheap thrills.