Old Habits Die Hard, Bad Habits Need to be Murdered

14 10 2015

I got a new board, again. A 6’6″ Parole rounded pin tail, similar to a Lopez Lightning Bolt of the 70’s, but updated and with a 2+1 set up. I sold my 6’6″ Bonzer Egg and my 9’0″ Walden Magic Model 3 in order to pay for it, but after this weekend’s maiden voyage, and yesterday’s extra shot at it, I made the right choice.

The waves on Saturday were forecast to be overhead and I figured it would be a great opportunity to try it out. The tide was on the high side and the swell was more powerful than normal making for bad rips at my favorite secret spot. Rips like I’ve never seen in many years. I’m blaming that one on El Nino, but then, we’ve had some great waves so far this Fall.

With the larger consistent surf, a couple of feet over head on sets, I had to do a lot more paddling and duck diving than I normally would, which always leads to a little apprehension on my part. That apprehension is there because when it gets bigger I always seem to be out of breath, held under longer than I want, and feeling close to drowning. I know the “close to drowning” is a bit dramatic. However, when you wipe out and don’t know how much longer you can be held under only to think “what happens if I pop up and don’t have time to catch a breath before another one hits me?”, it makes for energy loss and fatigue. So yeah, it feels like I could drown.

I’m always confident I could save myself as I’ve done in the past, but still, it turns what should be a 2 hour session into a 1 hour session, or less. And I discovered the problem after I surfed that morning.

As a kid, I hated water going up my nose when I’d swim. I also hated holding my nose with my fingers as I felt that wasn’t something men should do, so I just sucked it up until a friend told me I should slowly blow air out my nose and that would help keep water out, and keep me from the necessary plugging of nose with my finger and thumb. Not bad advice, but it turned into a very bad habit that I realized is a problem, and one of the reasons I might not like waves over 8 feet after 34 years of surfing, which makes the bad habit that much older and harder to break.

It turned into blowing air out my nose every time I’m under water. Swimming, surfing, whatever. I paddle out, duck dive and blow air out my nose and when I pop up I need a breath. I wipe out and blow air out my nose only to be out of breath when I finally surface. That is a terrible habit I developed and didn’t even realize it until this last weekend’s swell.

My eureka moment made me realize that I needed to murder that habit for good, if I expect to surf some of the larger waves expected this winter. I’m still all about surfing, not surviving, so it will have to be good for me to paddle out, but coming to the realization that if I just stopped blowing air out my nose when I go under water will help me relax more when I’m under, will save my energy. I will have more air when I surface in case I can’t take a breath.

It might seem elementary to you, but really, that’s why it’s a “habit”. I made it that way and it’s not just old, but bad.

I got to put my theory to the test on Tuesday Morning. Though the waves dropped a bit, it was still overhead on the sets and I made sure to not let a lick of air out when I duck dived. It was a little harder to remember when I would wipe out, but I still even managed that and after surfing an hour, catching all kinds of waves, I still had energy after my hour was up. I know it wasn’t the same test as putting that into practice last Saturday, but it was a good test none the less.

As I surf more, big or small, I’m going to do my best to remember not to blow the air out. I never had a problem yesterday with water going up my nose, so that helped make it easier to handle. Hopefully I’ll remember that every time I go surfing. Or am in the water for any reason, for that matter.

I don’t know if you have a bad habit you need to murder, but remember, they may die hard, but you can be the killer of it.

Take care and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

They Say #ElNino is Coming

5 09 2015

I surfed a couple of times this week. Wednesday with Uncle Chris and yesterday with Gooch. Both days the forecast was 2 to 3 foot. Not stellar, but with the talk of El Nino I can see there’s something different in the water.

First, though the water felt warmer longer last year, the water temps at my favorite spot finally topped 70. I’ve been trunking it, or at the most a spring suit. Both days were way better than the forecast. There were set waves easily topping 6 or 7 foot faces. And that’s what the 2 to 3 foot forecast is, for face height.

That said, Gooch and I had it to ourselves from 6:30 to 8 yesterday. All alone. Mostly chest high waves, the two of us. It’s a huge reason we call it our “secret spot”. We know it’s no secret, but I know the typical places were already filling out yesterday and we had great, southern hemi waves to ride. With warm water!

It got us talking about the things El Nino was doing. One funny thing we saw were two seals swimming side by side. They looked like buddies. We never see two at the same time, so we blamed it on El Nino. Another was the tropical cloud cover we had which made it look like it was going to rain. We even saw a funnel cloud off in the south western distance. Definitely blaming El Nino for that one, too.

Anyway, we then talked about the stand up barrels we were going to get and that got me thinking more: risk vs. reward. I’m all about risk if the reward is there, but where surfing is concerned, I’m kind of happy with chest high to a foot or so over head. Heck! I’m fine with waist high to a foot or so overhead. So why do I care about a stand up barrel, that needs to be about 8 foot in the face for someone my size to be in a full stand up position? I’m not sure I do!

Anyway, I guess I’d paddle out to any size I could get out to and still be able to ride the waves. I don’t know exactly what that limit is, but I have a feeling I know what it is at my local breaks because there’s no way I’m paddling through double overhead waves to get out and surf closeouts. That’s the most likely scenario if El Nino plays out. The reward just isn’t there at a lot of the spots I surf.

Now, when I was a much younger man it mattered to me to say I paddled out in double overhead surf whether I caught anything or not. Today, though, I just want to surf. I want to catch the wave and ride it. Do turns. Sure, get barreled if its their, but I don’t want to be in survivalist mode. That’s when it’s just not fun anymore.

In 1982/83 I did surf at 16 and that El Nino I even caught great waves. I wrote about a near death experience a few years ago you can read about if you Click Here.

Anyway, El Nino is on the horizon and that’s good for our water situation in So Cal, as long as the snow pack in the Sierras breaks records. It’s also good for the surf situation because not all spots will be closeouts. It could be an epic time to be in Southern California. It’s also bad because we can expect flooding if the rains they say are coming, do come, which of course they will because of El Nino.

Anyway, if it all pans out, I guess the only surprise we’ll have is if it doesn’t happen at all. Then all that hype will be for naught.

Hope your favorite surf spot gets epic this winter and that it’s not survivalist conditions. Thank you and God bless.

Surfer Yoda

My Favorite Boards

9 08 2015

In the past I’ve written about my favorite board being my Walden Magic Model 3 because it is such a great all around board. It is still at the top of my list of boards that if I could only have one board in my quiver, it would be the one. I can nose ride it. I can do a floater. I can cut back on a dime. It hits the lip pretty hard after I’ve cross stepped up to the nose and back. So as boards go it’s the one in my quiver I can ride from knee high to double overhead (not that I ride double overhead, but there could be a reason to do that on the right swell and spot).

Today, though, as I’ve shortened my boards again, and have 6 in the quiver, I’ve decided that I really can’t decide between two of them.

Lucky Lucke – Shaped by Ray Lucke in Camarillo, it is the first custom board I’ve had shaped for me since I was in High School. At 5’5″ it is my shortest board and at 22″ wide it is my widest short board. It’s green for my Yoda-ness and because it’s based on a Mini Simmons outline, it’s got the traditional twin-keel fin set up. I love this board when I ride it. It’s absolutely a dream in just under waist high to overhead surf. It’s probably the fastest board I have because it hardly has any rocker and being shaped like a longboard the rails are more parallel than any other board I have, even my two longboards.

Lucky Lucke

Bonzer Bumblebee – Shaped by Malcolm Campbell in Oxnard, I purchased this from a guy in Orange County from a Craigslist Ad. I had sold a 7’2″ Bonzer Egg because I wanted a shorter version, and this popped up. The first time I rode it was at Rincon on a chest high day and it immediately took over the Lucky Lucke as my favorite board in my quiver. It’s so fast and loose and at 5’10” and 20-7/8″ wide is my next shortest board. Also ridden from under waist high to a few feet overhead it’s not quite as easy to ride at the smaller sizes than the Lucky Lucke, but it has proven rideable in most stuff I’ve taken it out in. It is quite a fun board to ride and again, became my favorite short board right away.

Bonzer Bumblebee

That last movie wasn’t close to the best days I’ve had on it, but it was a good enough day.

I just finished repairing some dings on the Lucky Lucke and I’m so glad she’s ready to ride again. I missed her while she was down. It was what prompted me to write this. I love the Bumblebee so much that I rarely threw the Lucky Lucke in the car. You see, I have another Bonzer Egg, a 6’6″, that I’d throw in with the Bumblebee in case it was a little bigger than I expected, and a few times I’ve been glad I had it.

However, as I missed riding the Lucky Lucke I realized that it too has a place in my quiver that cannot be replaced. The only thing I can do when the Lucky Lucke is on it’s last leg is to go back to Ray and commission him to make me another one just like it. I love it that much.

I hope you have boards you can day dream about when you’re not able to surf. That’s what these boards are to me. I still even day dream about the 6’0″ Roy Sanchez Twin Keel Fish, the 6’6″ Bonzer Egg, the 9’0″ Walden Magic Model 3, and the 9’11” Bill Hubina “Smith Noserider”. I can’t help it. I love all my boards. I just have a couple of favorites.

Get out there and surf. Take care and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

Just the Two of Us (For a little bit, anyway)

13 07 2015

Friday I had appointments set in Camarillo. It was an opportunity to surf, since there was swell in the water. Surfline’s forecast for my N. LA County area was 3 to 5′ with bigger sets, so how could I pass that up?

I got to the coast at my usual 5 am time and turned north on PCH from Malibu Canyon. There’s no reason to look at Malibu Point on a swell. I doubt at that time I would have found parking.

In the back I had both of my Campbell Bros. Bonzer’s. the 6’6″ Egg just in case, and the 5’10” Bumblebee. I didn’t really care which one I rode, I just wanted to make sure to check Zero’s, as you probably guessed from my last post.

Driving by Zuma Beach it was still dark. Heck, it was 5:15, but when I was turning off Malibu Canyon I could see the lights of Palos Verdes so clear. No fog this morning at all. Zuma wasn’t looking as big as the forecast, but I also didn’t stop to look. I had 3 spots in mind: Zero’s, Leo Carrillo, and my Secret Spot.

As I was seeing where Zero’s is on PCH I was quite surprised to see no cars parked near the gate. It meant the waves weren’t that good, or possibly the gate was open early, which is an anomaly there. However, the latter was true and as I pulled in the gate there were only two cars in the lot.

The waves weren’t bad. About chest high or bigger. One guy was out. The down side is it was really sectiony. That’s where the wave breaks in front of itself so your ride can be shorter if you don’t make it around the section. The guy out wasn’t and I didn’t really think I could, but it would be on my list.

I pulled out of Zero’s and headed to Leo. Of course, there were 12 cars on PCH already when I got up to it. About 4 guys in the water and many more getting ready. With the campground nearby I could only picture it being worse when the sun was up so I kept going.

As I pulled up to my Secret Spot there was one guy getting ready: Powder. It was good to see someone there I know and the waves were looking pretty good. I told him I’d meet him out in the water and since he was riding his 5’3″ I felt comfortable going on on the Bumblebee.

I set up the Beach Cam and though I could have done a better job of it, you can see the waves were pretty good and we were by ourselves. The Secret Spot isn’t really a Secret Spot, but because of mornings like this it always feels that way.

We were stoked to have all these waves to ourselves! The camera only lasted 29 minutes, so it missed the next 30 minutes, but eventually it got crowded. I’m sure it was the least crowded spot along there, though. As I drove by County Line on my way to my appointments there were cars lined up on both sides of PCH. It was looking like Malibu Point. So I felt pretty good that only 10 more surfers paddled out when Powder and I were nearing the end of our session.

It was a great morning to get wet. Great waves. Powder and I caught up on life. And I was ready to tackle the world.

Thank you and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

Being Friendly in the Water

29 06 2015

I hit the surf at 5:30 this morning. With appointments slated in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area it was an easy decision.

I first looked at Leo Carrillo. There was one other guy looking at it and honestly, it just didn’t look that great. Apparently I was only looking at it in between some of the better waves because that’s where I ended up, but not after going and checking in on my favorite secret spot.

The secret spot was working. However, no one else was there. I have promised my better half that I would not surf alone if at all possible so I headed back to Leo Carrillo.

As I pulled up there were two guys in the water and 2 more getting ready to head down. I really didn’t know at this point if it was going to support everyone. Admittedly, I am one of those that gets their game face on and lets the other guy be the first to say a friendly hello. Surfing is a selfish sport and one has to compete to get waves.

Today I told myself not to do that, but to start out saying hello to people right off the bat and not care whether they say hi back or not. One of the reasons I stopped saying it first in the first place.

I had my GoPro and my beach camera with me. My Campbell Bros. Bumblebee and my Ray Lucke Lucky Lucke. The Bumblebee has a GoPro mount, but the Lucky Lucke doesn’t and setting up the beach cam just didn’t sound appealing. I really wanted to just get back to the “essence of the stoke” that I had recently written about and all of that extra gear just takes it out of me, for some reason. Don’t get me wrong, I love the editing and putting together of the footage and will definitely keep making movies with my buds, but on my own I just wanted to start something new today.

So I changed into my wetsuit and jogged on down to the entry spot where I wanted to get into the water and along the way said hello to a guy waiting to go out. It was funny. He said hi back, but I could tell he didn’t really want to.

As I paddled out I made sure to say hello to the other guys as I went by. I wanted to hoot for them, even, as they were taking off on nice waves. After all, the surf was way better than that initial quick check I had made earlier.

After catching a few, I managed to get a nice one on the Lucky Lucke and had to put myself in a “cheater five” position. That’s just half a “hang ten”, but since the board is only 5’5″, there’s no way I’m hanging ten toes over. So a “cheater five” is getting those 5 toes out over the nose while keeping a foot back so the board doesn’t pearl. One of the guys paddling back out after his wave hooted for me while I was in that position. I guess coming at him it looked pretty cool, but I don’t know for sure.

When I got back out we started talking about his board as I was genuinely interested. I had already seen it wasn’t a typical thruster and he asked about my board. The next thing you know, we’re all talking about boards and hooting for each other’s waves, just having a great time sharing in the stoke of the morning.

I surfed for an hour because I had appointments to get to, but I sure had fun today. It helps to start out friendly. I’m going to try my best to stop the game face and just put on a goofy attitude. The best surfer is the one having the most fun, anyway. That would have been all 6 of us. Even the guy who didn’t seem like he wanted to say hi earlier was caught up in the friendliness.

Anyway, I hope you get to surf more and make it a time to share the Aloha in the lineup. It’s much easier when everyone gets along.

Thank you and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

Capturing the Essence of the Stoke of Surfing

25 06 2015

One of the things about surfing that I’ve mentioned in the past is the exhilarating feeling you get participating in God’s creation in the ocean. In the simplest of terms, we surfers call that “stoke”. I don’t really know where that term entered into the surfing vocabulary, but a dictionary definition is referring to stoking a fire to keep the embers burning, so I suppose that’s a good definition for what it means in surfing terms. Keeping the excited feeling going.

That stoke for surfing can come even when you’re not surfing. Seeing a great still shot in a magazine or online; watching a video on YouTube or Vimeo; or even watching surf movies old and new. It’s why Endless Summer has still been successful all of these years. Bruce Brown brings us on the trip with them and we get stoked.

When I make my own movies, that’s all I’m really trying to do. No matter the size, conditions, or boards I’m riding, I’m just trying to relive that surf session, I guess. Because another thing I’ve always said, “It’s better to get wet than not get wet.” All that means is that even if it’s knee-high, I’m going to have fun and fun means being stoked.

As I was scouring YouTube for some soft top videos (yes, that’s right, soft top surfing) I happened across this gem of a movie.

These guys are the epitome of stoked. I was surprised to see it had a dislike. I watched this movie and there was nothing but pure joy in the way they edited it. Stoke.

I love watching videos like this because we don’t always get head high+ perfect days surfing. We mostly get waist high- days and that doesn’t matter. (Maybe it’s more consistent in So Cal than that. Heck, I’ve seen the report at 1 -2 feet and watched my video later to see a few chest high waves, but) the point is that the stoke can be there when you’re by yourself, or with all your buds, or even somewhere in between.

My buddy Pastor Joe calls it water therapy. I call it getting wet. It doesn’t matter what the stoke is, but it’s necessary to a surfer to get out in the ocean and enjoy the exercise, the fun, the stoke of surfing.

I’m on my way to Costco to get my Wave Storm!

Thank you and God bless,

Surfer Yoda

New Camera Angles

16 12 2012

Yesterday I met up with Spock and Baby Gorilla at El Porto with Hydro and Rip Van Ronnie. It had rained a couple of days during the week, even over Friday/Saturday a couple of hours, so Gooch wasn’t interested in surfing what he thought was going to be dirty water. Even though I had sent a link to the crew showing the latest testing of the water quality to be safe at Porto, he wasn’t having any of it.

It bums me out when that happens because I really thought he’d show up. We missed you, Gooch.

Based on my observation of the forecasts for swell type, direction, and conditions, I just felt our best chance for waves was going to be at Porto. And somewhat selfishly, I only had my 6’0″ Quad to ride so the fact that even where it was still cleaner, yet, I didn’t want to not surf because I made the wrong call to head to our secret favorite spot. Seriously, Thursday the forecast for that area just said “flat”. Friday it had picked up to 1 to 2, but all forecasts in the Los Angeles area said “stormy”, too. If I have to ride stormy conditions, I want it to be as reasonably rideable as possible. (The Tyler and the Walden are still at the repair shop, so I didn’t have a longboard to ride.)

I think Gooch surfed anyway because he Tweeted “Undiscovered country. Beautiful morn in SoCal.” with a picture attached to it that looked a lot like our favorite “secret” spot. I hope he had fun. We missed him.

We had a lot of fun, though.

Rip Van Ronnie wasn’t feeling well, but he wanted to join us to run Spock’s video camera from the beach. Spock has at least 3 angles going all the time, now, maybe 4; a GoPor mounted to the nose of his boards, a Jakks Pacific Action Sport strapped to his head, a Flip Camera in a water proof housing he keeps in a fanny pack while surfing, and now this really nice professional (might be a Cannon or Nikon) camera that you can change the lenses on. That’s the one RVR was manning.

I got to try my newest GoPro gadget, a wrist housing, and I actually ran 4 different angles on it, too. Just one camera, though.

We had so much fun, yesterday, as usual. The surf managed to hit chest high at times and had a little texture. Not the “stormy” conditions that were predicted. The air temp in the South Bay at 6:30 when we met was a brisk 48 degrees. That’s pretty typical of a So Cal winter night, but it was so cold changing into our wetsuits. I elected to go without booties because the water was still fairly warm at 62. The long walk down the bike path, somewhere between and eighth of a mile and quarter of a mile, felt even longer on the way back to the car. It probably warmed up to 50 by then.

After a super fun morning we ate breakfast at Wendy’s Place in El Segundo. Breakfast fellowship is always a great cap-off to the surf sessions.

I’m getting the longboards back this week and I’ll have the Tyler on Craigslist, again.  I’ll let you know how it all works out.

Until next time, thank you and God bless.

Surfer Yoda