Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Purposeful Donkey

I was really hoping to make a debut on the Donkey site, so I did everything I could today. Luckily, one of the owners of the Rocker Board Shop was out with her video camera, so I'm pretty sure my best wave of the day has been immortalized. Even lazier than normal, I took off on a wave and decided popping up was too much effort. I sped down the line on my belly, trimming like I'd never done on my feet, right in the curl. I should probably take more waves like that.

I also tried one on my knees with a transition to my ass, but by then, the whitewater was too turbulent and I donkeyed into the water with absolutely no grace.

I actually had real rides, too, but the most fun was taking pics of Handsome John's ass with my Frogeye camera as I chased him on a wave. I hope I got his cross-step in a shot because it's a beautiful thing to behold. I AM referring to his cross-step.

I'll try to develop the pics this week (yes, film!) and I'm pretty sure all of them are going to be bad.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Two surf-a-thons

Unfortunately, I have two weddings to go to in the Bay Area during each of these events. Otherwise, here are two surf-a-thons I would gladly attend:

Surf Dog for the Helen Woodward Animal Center - at Del Mar, September 9

Make A Wave Project for Oceana: Protecting the World's Oceans - at my home break (shhhhhh!!!), September 22-23

By the way, check out the picture of the surfer snapping off the lip on the Make A Wave website. That is Most Honorable Sensei Master Frank.


Four days on Cooperfish made me donkey on Doc this morning. It was still hella fun, but Oy! fast fast fast. Tried to out-think the wave while the board was speeding along finding trim all by itself. I was just along for the ride. I had two opportunities (ie. lefts with shape) to get good backside kick-outs, but I did no more than power squat like I had to really GO, you know? Froze up and laid two big donkeys.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Small daze

Small waves, giant board, no leash, a dozen surf school students. Them's odds I like.

Small waves means I get to screw around on a giant board with no leash using a dozen buoys as an obstacle course. I haven't expounded lately on my giant Cooperfish because I haven't been riding it since I got Doc III, but for giggles I took him out and rediscovered the fun.

Today was even smaller than yesterday if possible and there seemed to be a plethora of boards to try. Board swap! Johnny R brought an old school POP board which Sensei J rode most of the session, leaving his new V1 Cooperfish lonely on the beach. It was just out of pity, really, that I asked to take it out for a spin. The V1 has a V-bottom and a really hard tail. I really don't know how to explain it, you just have to see it. Here's an example, but it's even more pronounced in person. The V-Bottom makes turning interesting. It's not a real forgiving board (as I found out on my first face-plant) so you're constantly managing your balance, but it's wicked fun once you dial it into the wave.

I seem to get extremely tired after sessions on small days. I think it's the amount of paddling that I have to do to get into waves as compared to my lazy efforts on big days. Small days also encourage me to keep going back for more waves, especially if the shape improves with the tide push like it did today.

Small days in the sun on a weekend with a growing crowd also make me appreciate how far along I've come in this whole surfing thing. I used to get really nervous and tense and not take waves because I'd be scared to hit someone. Now, I'm amazed at how relaxed I am. I think a big reason has to do with the kick-out. Like some worn Yu-Gi-Oh! card I got tucked in my boardshorts, I throw out Magic Rearing Kick Dragon to save me whether my opponent be Cursed Foam Board or Closing Jaws of Death Water.

Oh, there's also a wonderful thing that comes with more experience in the water: Trust. Yesterday, I found myself paddling out after a wave and I saw Johnny R taking off on a wave. I could see the ideal line he would have wanted to draw and I was in it. In a similar situation six years ago, I ditched my board in a panic and got yelled at. Yesterday, I paddled like a mad-woman for the shoulder and trusted Johnny R would go around me, hoping it wouldn't ruin his ride too much. He was fine because he's got skills. I was fine because he's got skills.

Today, I'd taken a pretty so-so wave in on the V1 and turned around to see a pretty so-so wave with Dancer and SurfSister both on it. Sis was closest to me, and I shifted to the side as best I could to give her some room to play. I knew Sis saw me and and I trusted her to keep her board under control. Not a moment of panic.

I think trust is a good skill to acquire in surfing. Trust in yourself, trust in others. Trust that the ocean is unpredictable and you have to open up your senses to take in all that is around you.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Why am I so excited about this?

(Salvatore Laporta / Getty Images)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Fourth and weekend

I met SurfSis on the mid-week July 4th holiday in Bolsa because there was a south swell and a lot of low-tide: a combination that causes close-outs up and down SaMo and Venice. Even at 6:30am, I was met with a LINE going into the state beach. Fathers had packed up the hibachis, the charcoal, the boards, and the kids and thrown them in giant vehicles. All up and down the beach (I REPEAT, AT 6:30AM!!!) families were digging in, entrenching themselves as if the British were invading again.

Got some nice waves, a baby backside kick-out, and a really long walk back to the car. As Sister and I got out of the water, she jokingly said it would take us 30 minutes to walk back. After I started chaffing in unmentionable places because of the walk, I realized her joking was going to be our reality.

All in all, a good holiday surf.

Saturday, I stayed local because of time commitments on my day. But I was up at 4am and, after loitering and reading and getting to the beach at 7am, I realized I should not have listened to all the reports of "smaller size" and I should have driven my lazy butt out to take a gander. I arrived at home break to see head-high close-outs and I kicked myself because I probably could have done a DP run to some better break.

Instead, I got a coffee and watched the show. A surf school was out and newbies provided cringe-worthy entertainment. But there were some stars, too. Sir Richard was getting his share of one second rides down-and-up. And Sensei J was pulling into every barrel he could find. I'd see the dark shadow of his form behind the curtain of water before the whole wave exploded on top of him.

I called Sister to give her the grim report and she breathlessly told me that it was big at Bolsa. I was resolute in joining her on Sunday. I invited Sensei J along and we carpooled down. Faced with head-high A-frames he ran out into the ocean ahead of us.

I had some good waves. Nothing terribly spectacular because I realized I was barely in control on these larger waves. There's a mind-shift that has to happen and I wasn't really jump-starting the brain. Not a moment of panic because, I realized, surfing OP and its close-outs regularly makes head-high waves with shape a piece of cake to take-off on. My problem is finding the sweet spot fast enough and making my brain work fast enough. I had a really nice left that I probably could have managed to make the closing section, but I saw the lip feathering and I instinctually went low and grabbed the rail to pop over the wave. I kicked myself when I realized I should have done a top-turn and come down PROBABLY to find more shoulder on the other side.

I lost both Sensei J and SurfSister in the drift. We all had different thresholds of paddling to stay in place. Since memories of chaffing were too fresh in my mind, I vowed not to walk more than 2 lifeguard towers.

The worst thing today was facing a rogue outside wave coming right at me. I turtled, knowing full well that this beast was going to take my board and flip me into a cartwheel with it. At least I can say I didn't let go. Unfortunately, the amount of water that ran across my face also forced out my right contact. The next thirty minutes was spent having absolutely no depth perception and getting a little dizzy.

For those who understand the numbers, I am nearsighted and have a prescription for something around -13 and -14. They don't even make soft contacts strong enough to correct me to 20/20 vision. So losing the contact in my dominant eye REALLY put a kink in my ability to catch a wave. To make matters worse, there was a little lull because NO ONE around me was catching waves.

Finally, I got a little right in and walked about five minutes to the car, hoping that, if I had a spare set of contacts, I'd be able to go in for another 30 minutes. Oh well. I was just glad I didn't drive.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Baby got Backside Kick-out?

I need help, tips, some boot camp barking, or anything else anyone can spare to help me figure out the backside kick-out.

This past weekend's small waves were happy times for me to go unleashed. I absolutely LURVE surfing sans leash. If I were a guy, I imagine it's kind of like hanging free if you know what I mean.

My frontside kick-out, though not the spectacular arc some of the local stars exhibit, is at least in my control 99% of the time. I feel powerful when I can throw the board over the lip before the dumpy wall hits me.

My problem is the backside kick-out. I rely too much on the rail grab to punch through the dumpy wall. I know I need to stop the crouch, but my instinct is to hold onto the board so I don't have to swim to get it. My addled brain won't let go of this crutch.

Anybody with sage advice on how to get a backside kick-out going? This might just be my next surfing goal.