01 February 2012

Surf Coaching: Shortboard Assessment (Sharks)

Due to a plethora of schedule conflicts and uncooperative swell/conditions, it had been three months since I last surfed with my coach. Finally today we met up, and the waves were very fun!
This was also the first time Barry had seen my new 6'2" Ward Coffey in real life, and he's already thinking about the shape for my next board, going more toward a true shortboard.

I missed the first wave I paddled for, and he gently chided me for moving too slowly. I'm still feeling encumbered by the wetsuit, which Barry said adds about 10 pounds to my weight. As I paddled for the next one, I tried holding a thought that first occurred to me in Nicaragua: Match your speed to the wave. Somehow that helps me to paddle faster, if I'm consciously trying to move as quickly as the approaching swell. I caught it, made a sweet head-high drop and rode the face far down the line until it sectioned. Woot! It was the best ride I've had in a while, including in Nica. Santa Cruz surf can be so sweet.
Barry watched me attempt to duck-dive in the waves and the flats, and I'm doing a bunch of stuff wrong: my hands are too far forward, I'm not sinking the back enough to level the board underwater, and I'm not staying balanced as I push the tail down. Plus I'm a little thing and at a natural disadvantage especially in trying to duck-dive a floatier board like Rocket. Sigh. It'll take some work (and lots of forced plunging of the face into cold cold water).

I got a few more nice waves, though not as long as the first, with Barry occasionally blocking for me as the crowd grew. A couple steepened up on me and I blew the drops, not angled enough and not weighting my back foot enough to keep the nose dry. D'oh!
Watching me ride from the front and while party-waving our last one in, Barry noted, as did Holly on video review, that I'm sliding my front foot forward to keep the nose down and speed up. He said there's not necessarily anything wrong with that as long as my stance doesn't get too wide, but I could try shifting weight to my front food instead. Or it may be that my back foot is planted too far toward the tail and I need to adjust my entire stance forward.

Funny that I had every intention of trying not to slide my front foot since Holly pointed it out to me, but I have trouble remembering to do anything in particular while I'm riding. It's like I let go of my conscious mind as soon as the wave lifts me. Then I'm In The Moment, just operating on feel and muscle memory. To get a signal through from my thinking brain, I have to make a conscious effort to concentrate on one thought ("Turn quickly!" or "Don't slide!"). This morning I forgot to think it, and hadn't even known I'd moved my foot when Barry mentioned it after. I think that's one reason I like surfing so much - it takes me out of my head - but it does make practicing more difficult.
Another reason is those great rides that leave me smiling all day. Stoked!

Surfline: Clean, long lines with some tapered right corners working through. Looking fun. More size shows through the day. Long period WNW (280-300) groundswell is on the rise through the day today offering chest-shoulder-head high surf for better exposures, with some larger sets for standout breaks. Breaks that don't focus the long period energy too well are down in the thigh/waist high range. Winds are light+ out of the North for clean conditions through town. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.2 ft at 19.0 s W 12 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 2.5 s N / WVHT: 7.2 ft / APD: 10.6 s / MWD: 278° / 08:00a PST (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 10 kts / WVHT: 7.2 ft / DPD: 19.0 s / WDIR: 170° / ATMP: 51.8° F / WTMP: 53.1° F. Tide: 4' falling to 3'.


  1. Great post. Loved the analysis and the fact that your coach ran a screen for you.