28 May 2009

Kelly Ave, 28 May 2009

This morning's dawn patrol before work was my shortest surf session ever. After checking the Jetty (overhead for those surfing mice), passing on Roosevelt (small and shapeless), deciding clean and shoulder-high Kelly was the best of the lot (since there were some shoulders among the closeouts), changing into my wetsuit (while nagging L into his after he muttered something about being cold and maybe just watching from the beach), and struggling to the outside through relentless short-period shorepound (with one awful duck dive that took me from almost in the lineup to almost back on the beach), I had only 15 minutes to surf. Neptune didn't smile upon me and grant me a ride in that brief time, but it was nevertheless good to get wet, and indeed essential ahead of the coming wave drought in NorCal. The forecast for the next 5 days is 1-2' with a bump up to 1-3' on Sunday. Woo. Hoo.

25 May 2009

Roosevelt, 25 May 2009

This time S and I were a little late to the midday board meeting. L and V had already pronounced the Jetty too small and crowded, and relocated to choppier but empty Roosevelt. One thing about a break with no one on it is that it's hard to tell the size of the waves from the beach, and even when you're out in them, without the reference of a human for scale.

I caught a couple short rides on the fish soon after we got out, but then sat through a wave drought while L picked off mushier ones with his longboard. When my numb feet started telling me to come in, I caught one more, sticking the popup but blowing the drop midway when it yawned below me and I instinctively pulled back onto my rear leg. (Before I take the advice of veteran J to stop thinking and just feel the wave, I need to actively remember his other tip, to keep my weight forward and commit.) V was watching from the whitewater, where she'd retired to get more used to her new board on only her 8th time surfing. When I reached the beach, I was surprised when she told me the last wave had been over my head. It was a good thing I didn't know that, or my old enemy Fear would have made an unfortunate appearance. But although I didn't make the drop, that I survived unharmed gives me some confidence - I can do it next time.

23 May 2009

Half Moon Bay @ Jetty, 23 May 2009

The Jetty again! Yes, but it turned out to be the best spot on the San Mateo County coast this morning. Next time will be someplace different, I promise.

S and I first meet up with newly-stoked newbie V and tardy L plus his friend J at Roosevelt Beach, but decent surf just wasn't happening there; it was decidedly uninspiring. So we caravanned up the road to the Jetty which showed some potential. In fact, it turned out to be quite fun on the fish, when I stayed close to the riprap jetty to catch waist-chest high waves that had decent shape. I got in a couple of pretty good rides and caught a handful more waves with varying success. L pulled off a really nice long glide on his longboard, while V got the feel of her new funshape.

J, a long-time Santa Cruz surfer, had elected to stay on the beach, filming L and critiquing. He offered some valuable observations on my surfing, the primary one being two Cs: Commitment and Confidence. It was good to hear that I'm picking waves wisely, and that I was right in the pocket on my rides, but he said I need to let go of thinking and feel the wave, just go for it without pulling back. Sometimes hard to do as an analytical-minded engineer, but I'll work at it. Be fearless!

13 May 2009

It's Intermission

I'm taking a vacation from the virtual world to better enjoy the real one.

A hui hou! (See you later!)

10 May 2009

Half Moon Bay @ Jetty, 10 May 2009

There were some fun longboard waves to be found amidst the crowds and wind chop this morning at the Jetty. It was nice to be able to go left for a change and ride frontside. I caught a nice one with regular-foot L; he went right and I went left. Wish I had video of that.

Next surf session Thursday in the tropical waters of Hawaii! Forecast is rising south swell 2-3', air and water temperatures 80 degrees. Mmm, warm water...

07 May 2009

Half Moon Bay @ Jetty, 7 May 2009

After 2 weeks out of the water, I had to surf this morning, no matter what. No matter that I'm still fighting a cold that has overstayed. No matter that I had only a half hour because I promised to get S to work by nine. I was at the Jetty before anyone else, although of course the solitude didn't last. Soon I was one of a handful of shortboarders waiting for waves with an almost equal number of longboarders.

With looong lulls between sets, I spent most of the brief time doing a relaxing impression of a buoy. In the first 28 minutes, I saw maybe half a dozen rides. Just when I thought I'd be making the so-called Paddle of Shame, another set came through and I caught a slow moundy wave, but didn't manage to stay with it. Still, it's amazing the great feeling I get from even such a micro-ride, just that little splash of happy dopamine to the brain.

Any day that begins with surfing is a good day!

01 May 2009

Gath Surf Helmet Review

Three reviews in three days. All I can say is I've had time to catch up on blogging since I've been home sick for the last few days, laid low by a virus that is decidedly not swine flu. (Or "H1N1" as we're supposed to call it now, lest the stupid people who don't pay attention beyond the headlines come to believe eating Wilbur could make them sick. Jon Stewart on the new name: "H1N1? What - do you catch it from droids?!" I only hope the growing hysteria doesn't muck up our planned trip to Oahu in less than 2 weeks.) At least the surf has been small and unispiring so I don't feel I've been missing much. Now on to #3.
I finally got around to buying a Gath Surf Convertible Helmet last month. Since I earn my living from my brain, it makes sense to protect it with a helmet while surfing, just as when biking or snowboarding. Trouble is, helmets are much more common, and more accepted, in those other sports. I fact, many bike clubs won't allow riders to participate unless they are helmeted (and also mock those who aren't wearing silly spandex bike clothes, but that's another matter). Conversely, helmets are seldom seen on surfers and consequently have a bit of uncool stigma and somewhat of a kook factor.

No matter; I've never worried overly much about what other people think, and I've taken other precautions to make surfing a little safer, like using Pro Teck fins and nose/tail guards. So why then, have I been surfing for nearly six years without a helmet? Since virtually no one else was wearing one, for a long time I discounted the danger. But a couple friends have had close calls like this one, and indeed S told me he once saw my longboard crash down inches from my head, so I started to think perhaps I should get one. Laziness also played a role, as the only place I could find any Gath surf helmets locally, Freeline in Santa Cruz, had a limited selection and no cool colors. That meant I had to order one from the Australian company's U.S. distributor, Murrays, but first I had to locate a tape measure and then have S measure my head twice to ensure proper sizing. (S also talked me out of choosing hot pink, for which I suppose I should be grateful.) What finally pushed me to do it was the death of Natasha Richardson, and so I finally got my hands on a cherry red surf convertible with removable ear protectors.

I still don't intend to wear the helmet all the time, just when there seems to be a greater risk of head injury, e.g. surfing in a crowd, over shallow reef, riding a heavy longboard, etc. I've tried the helmet a few times so far, and it feels quite a lot like wearing a hood, except that I can hear better. Unfortunately it doesn't provide a hood's warmth. It's also a tad loose on my head, such that it scoops water when I duck-dive. Along with a drawstring carrying bag, the helmet came with a foam strip to be used for additional snugness if needed, but it's fairly thick, and I don't think it would solve the scooping issue. I've just ordered a thin thermal hood to wear under the helmet, which should provide both some warmth and a better fit.

Who knows? Maybe I'll start a trend, and soon all the local surfers will be wearing helmets. Ha!