24 June 2012

Discouragement (Montara)

follow neophyte @surfergrrrl thru the ups (and downs) of learning how to surf (and how i do my best to foul it up!) #FF -@SF_Windy
While it's nice to be declared worthy of following on Twitter, SF_Windy's words stung a little. A "neophyte... learing how to surf", when I've been surfing inconsistently for nine years and nearly twice a week for about six?! Aww, that just made me feel bad. Sure, I'm not a good surfer yet, but hardly a beginner. Yet I guess that's how I come across.
Combined with recent less-than-epic sessions, days like today have me thinking that perhaps the impression is not as wide of the mark as I'd like to believe. Montara was offering up near head-high long lefts with rampy entries, and my buddies J-Bird, Jacob, and Tracey were nailing nice rides. I, however, could get into only one of them green on my 7'0", and on that I blew the drop. I rode a handful from whitewater into reforms, getting out on the face briefly on two, but I really wanted one fresh and smooth from the outside.
Tracey, Jacob and J-Bird watching the horizon for the next bump
There was a strong drift toward the north that required constant paddling to stay on the peak, and the long rides meant a long paddle back out. Swimming with the wrist splint is like bicycling with a flat tire; it spoils my stroke and makes me slow. So I really shouldn't be too hard on myself for finding it difficult to paddle into waves or for tiring too soon on the current treadmill. Yet that's only part of it; I still am not positioning myself properly relative to the wave. Marcia caught none on her shortboard, she said out of fear (though she launches into slightly smaller closeouts at Linda Mar!), but that was not my issue today, at least not consciously. 

Perhaps, despite years of effort, I am a neophyte still.

In a while now I will feel better
I’ll face the weather before me...
All the uninvited tragedies
Step outside...
Amaryllis by Shinedown
Surfline: NW windswell blends with SW energy. Knee-waist-chest high waves show at exposed breaks, and shape starts off drained-out as the tide approaches a -0.1' low around 8:30am. Calm to very light wind early for generally clean surface conditions. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.9 ft at 14.8 s SW 47 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 3.8 s W / WVHT: 4.3 ft / APD: 7.7 s / MWD: 218° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 4.3 ft / DPD: 15.0 s / WDIR: 260° / ATMP: 55° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 1.5' rising to 3'.


  1. I think it's times like these you have to re-evaluate why you surf. There is so much ego-crap around surfing. Being older these days and suffering the indignities of getting slower and injured, I have had to do some soul searching. I know you are a lot younger, but really, it does help to get to a place in your head where it doesn't matter a bit what others think of your surfing. It's why I paddle to a spot on my own whenever I can. I's just me and the sea, the resident dolphins and ospreys overhead. That's all that really matters and I am eternally grateful for that.

    1. I'm probably older than you think (been 39 for some years now ;) but it's not so much that I'm concerned about what others think of my surfing. It's that I've been doing it for so long and still rather suck. And with this injury, I'm barely maintaining; progress is on hold. I'd like to be a decently good surfer - for myself - before I'm too old.

      And there were dolphins today but I missed them!

      Thanks for your comments. I'm just in a rather blue place right now. It doesn't help that my wrist isn't getting better, and in fact seems worse, since I saw Dr. Inahuri.

    2. I think paddling (landpaddle with a skateboard) is at least partially responsible for my wrist injury. Another reason not to devolve into a janitor!

    3. AnonymousJune 25, 2012

      I intermittently read your blog (i too am an older woman learning how to surf for many years), but after reading I often feel "dirty". I think you are a neophyte because you have yet to learn humility (this post of "I suck today but it's because I'm injured" notwithstanding). I have seen you surf and then read you describe your "epic" rides and it doesn't compute. But more egregious than coming off as self-aggrandizing is coming off downright mean about other newbies and other people in the water ("devolve into a janitor"???). It's too bad, people could learn about your struggles and maybe see themselves in it, but the attitude is off-putting. I think calling yourself a surfer girl is a disservice to surfer girls and women. (For how to blog and share the joy of surfing, and still come off as humble or funnily self-deprecating, check out the blogs of the other women you surf with.)

    4. AnonymousJune 25, 2012

      Hi Anonymous,

      Obviously you're entitled to your own perception of Cynthia, but I thought I'd comment because I am an actual neophyte (only 1 year under my belt) who has surfed with her. She has been very respectful and welcoming of me. In fact, the whole reason I started surfing with her is that she encouraged me to join her after only a brief email correspondence, and knowing I was a beginner.

      As for the "epic" rides, I've always understand that to mean epic *for her* -- not in any objective sense. She doesn't pretend she's surfing Mavericks! I'm sure it would seem ridiculous to experienced surfers, but I fairly frequently feel I've had an epic ride! My standards may be low compared to everyone else's, but that's how I feel. It's always felt to me that Cynthia frames her posts as her personal experience of surfing, nothing more.

      Again, you're entitled to your views (on the topic of mean, though, don't you think it's a little bit mean to suggest that you know Cynthia personally -- since you've seen her surf, so she has to wonder who among her acquaintances thinks so low of her?)... but I thought it was worth adding mine.


    5. Agree with Perrin here. Anonymous, if you "feel dirty" after reading, then why are you reading? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but you have to remember that this is Cynthia's personal blog where she's allowed to write whatever she wants and feel however she wants. It seems particularly mean-spirited to attack her when she's just written a post about feeling discouraged. Constructive criticism is a good thing, but unwarranted attacks are just that.

    6. Wow, Anonymous, I don't know where all this vitriol is coming from. Did I unwittingly drop in on you sometime? If so, I'm sorry.

      Perrin is right: I've never asserted that my good/great rides are anything objectively special - they're just wicked awesome to me. And in fact, I've only claimed one wave to be "epic", 2 years ago when I rode the biggest for me so far. (You can verify this using the search box in the upper left.)

      I think you're off the mark in your other comments as well, but you are entitled to your own opinion, as I am entitled to write what I please on my personal wave journal. You're also welcome not to read it. But how about next time you see me surfing, you paddle up and say hello, and let's talk?

    7. Perrin and Emily, thanks.

  2. Being injured stinks. You should certainly give yourself credit for trying hard while still being realistic about your recovery. When I ran track, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get back out there and to keep training, keep competing. As a result, I didn't heal and I got so frustrated I finally quit.

    With surfing I'd found a sport I was okay at not being good at. I was really terrible for a long time and I was okay with it....most of time. There were still days when I'd leave the water crushed.

    When that happens, I try to focus on some other part of surfing. Like if learning to noseride isn't working, well I'll try something else. Usually I pick something where my expectations are lower. I got three waves today on the 7'4, which totally exceeded my expectations.

    Now this is all pretty easy to say when you're healthy and have the room for perspective. When you're injured, you have the added insult of knowing you can do something because you have done it before. For me, I feel like I should be able to do XYZ because I've done in before. I can't factor being injured into my expectations and, as a result, get pretty frustrated. It feels more like a failure than a temporary rough patch, and that's not fair to yourself and the good skills you have.

    Anyhow, hang in there. Heal up and I'm sorry you're frustrated. I don't think it's unreasonable to be, given that you're injured and we're getting into mushy summer waves.

    Let me know if you'd like to borrow my 9'0 sometime. It's much thinner than most logs so it might not be a battleship for you. Great for the supersoft days when something shorter is too much work.

    1. Thanks, Tracey. Spot on comments, especially about feeling more like a failure than a rough patch because I have done better, before the injury. Maybe I'll try the handplane some more or switch off to my longboard.

      Appreciate the offer of the 9'0" but that seems so huge! I'll see how my 8'3" works out.

  3. AnonymousJune 25, 2012

    Wow yeah that wasn't a very nice comment someone left for you Cynthia. I'm sure that would not make feel better like it seems you needed to today. Don't let it get you down. I am the girl that has commented a few times here and there and very avid reader and always love your blog. For me and probably almost 100% of the people that read your stuff, you are inspiring and interesting. You are also appropriately humble. You are allowed to have a bad day. Don't change how you write and I know that within a week or two you will have one of your best sessions ever and it WILL BE EPIC. (I think "someone" is a coo coo bird and they admitted they don't regularly read you).

    1. Thanks, nice Anonymous! I hope your prediction comes true, and many happy waves to you as well.

  4. AnonymousJune 25, 2012

    You take some very nice pics too. So the hell what others think, and enjoy the beach as I know you do even if your session(s) isn't what you want it to be on any given day. At least you're at 'the beach,' and doing what you love!

    "Poor is the person whose pleasures depend on the permission of others."

  5. AnonymousJune 26, 2012

    As long as you're having fun, that's all that matters. "Epic" can apply to the amount of fun you have, so even if you're on waist-high mush and having a great time, it can be an epic session.

    The ability to be anonymous in the internet age enables people to be mean, rude, crass and downright disrespectful. Ninety-nine percent of the time, those very people who write jilted comments would never say those words to your face.

    Keep having fun, keep being stoked, and heal soon.

    See you out there!
    Anonymous Smith

  6. AnonymousJune 27, 2012

    Cynthia - I just wanted to echo the sentiments of others, as an avid reader and (hopefully more pleasant) older woman surfer. Always appreciate your keen observations, sense of humor, enthusiasm, great photos, and willingness to share it all with those of us who are also eager to learn. Loved your "Namaste" post today, says it all...
    Be well, stay stoked, heal soon!

  7. Dear Cynthia,

    I am a mexican girl (28 years old) who started surfing last year. I live in Mazatlan and I find an interesting connection with your blog, since most of the things you comment happen to me sometimes.

    There are days when I think I excel myself, and there are days when I just suck. I ride a 6'7 1/2" funboard, the thing is that it is too light (it needs more buoyancy)and it has a rounded tail. I try to go every day from 6 to 7 am and on weekdays from 8 to 11 am... it is the only thing that makes me wake up!

    I have taken about 20 surfing lessons with a coach and the last three months I purchased a calendar where I mark the days I spend in the water. I have improved a lot since I am spending more than 20 days out of 30 "surfing", but I don't find myself fulfilled whith what I have accomplished so far. I understand when you write about huge steps for us, but that are nothing for others. The fact that we are not getting any younger and the lack of time to spend it in the water due to work and other chores.

    In the begining of the week, I felt myself happy because I succedded in "making the drop" three times, but today and yesterday I just sucked and felt like a stepback. It is awful to get in the line up, paddle, paddle, fail and then see a kid 15 years younger than yourself riding the wave like a pro! So I was searching for answers on the internet and voilà I found your blog and saw a woman just like myself! and was relieved and felt understood. Thank you for that.

    Anyways, If someday you and your buddies feel like coming to Mazatlan, let me know!

    Kind regards!

    1. Thanks! I know what you mean about the kids who rip. If only I'd started surfing that young...

      Keep at it! Tracey had some good comments above. Remember we're still learning even when we wipeout. And there's always another wave.

      No trips in my near future but I'd love to surf with you if I ever get down that way! And you're welcome to join us in NorCal too.