Surfing 20110714

My mom contacted a family friend who takes his kids surfing. He welcomed me to come along. He told me to meet him near the Newport Pier. So at 8:40 I begin to leave. I planned to take the 405, but the on-ramp was crowded and memories flooded back of trying to get to UCI (University of California, Irvine) during the morning rush. The best plan is to go early and beat it. In any case, I made a change in plans and headed down Magnolia, and then making a left onto Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). Eventually I make a right onto Balboa, and then a right onto 21st street. I didn't know I could get a parking space closer to where I was suppose to meet my friend, and just parked near a restaurant. All the spaces are on meters, which take coin or credit card, and cost $1.50/hour, maximum 2 hours. I surfed from about 9:45 to 11:15.

I learned that, especially during the summer, the beach gets crowded at around noon. At that point, the lifeguards tell the surfers to come in off the beach. They put up yellow flags with black-balls to let people know which areas are closed off from surfing. There are stiff flags which can be pointed left or right. And then there are flags that wave in the wind which mean both directions from the tower are blocked off.

Spot, Paddle+Look Back, Dig+Look Forward, Pop-Up Immediately+Lean Forward, Forward+Bent+Adjust

He makes sure I know how to get up, I say yeah.
He has me just boogie boarding style on the surfboard on white water, to get a feel and adjust balance. He's looking for just enough of the board to be above the water. He mentions using the body to lean forward and back to adjust. Don't need to shift up and down, just forward and back.
After enough times getting the feel. He says go ahead and pop up. He feels I can do it in 5 tries. And I did it in 2, so he was like cool. He emphasizes that the pop up has to be quick. Don't spend time in the push up position. Don't hesitate. Don't go on the knees. Any of those are bad positions. Very unstable. You have no control. When you get up on your legs, you have the control.
Other pointers that came along the way were instead of standing up taller when you feel unbalanced, remember to bend down lower.
You want to lean forward a bit more, so that when the wave catches then your body comes back and then all is balanced. He describes the analogy of skateboarding downhill. You don't want to lean back, because then the board will tilt up and slide out from under you. You want to lean forward just a bit. It might not feel that way on the wave, but it's what you should focus on.
However, for I guess the bigger ones, especially for me a beginner who's going straight, then there might be a point during catching the wave, already standing, that i might want to lean back to let the board slide down the wave first. However, that might have mainly applied for the one or two during which I went a little further. He said my form was pretty good on the ones far out, after having seen me do a couple more closer in. At some point he said, I could really go either way, and I decided to stay somewhat close.

Other tips included, holding the board by the nose to bring it out.
For me, I need to remember to lean forward when popping up. Otherwise I'm gonna bring the nose up.
Then remember to lean forward, and if it's not getting there, then adjust and step forward.
On some of the waves, they might reform, so what you do is lean forward to catch it again I guess. That only came across once or twice, so not something I really was able to try out.
We went a little into the logistics of turning. Basically tilting the board isn't gonna do it, it's a push of the back leg and a pull of the front leg to make it go one way and a pull of the back leg and a push of the front leg to make it go the other way.

There were definitely lots of tips and I'll probably miss most but I think I covered the key. Just to summarize the many things I had to keep in my head, minor details aside.
1) Spot the wave you want to catch.
2) When it gets close, start paddling, but keep your head looking back at it
3) When it's really close and you're sure you're gonna catch it, look forward and dig those arms in and paddle
4) When you feel the acceleration from the wave, you can stop paddling. Then as quickly as you can you need to pop up. I emphasize what my friend emphasized and that is the faster you pop up the better. Push up position, drive the one foot forward, and twist, keeping the knees bent equally. Don't ever be on your knees. Don't be down and hesitant. Pop up. You might feel shaky, but the on your feet shaky will have its way of balancing out. Also, the speed of the wave catching will help you stabilize the board. You want to pop up while that speed is there. Not after the wave is no longer there to help your speed. At that point it'll just wash over...
5) At that point, lean forward or step forward to readjust as necessary.

After the day was done, he talked about when i was out catching some of the bigger waves, either i got lucky or i seemed to know what i was looking for, in any case, he said the waves to catch are the ones that when they get to you, their sort of coming up, about 45 degrees incline. Not 90 degrees, that's too much. And definitely not 0 degrees. The degrees is my description of his hand's angles, but obviously its much more situation dependent and intuitive than my description. Basically there should be just enough incline that you can slide down it.

He pointed out other beginners who would be staying on their knees and/or hesitating and how that keeps them from successfully getting up.

Granted I missed various waves, took nose dives, and failed various other waves, but overall my friend said I pretty much got the timing down and I just really need to practicing spotting the waves and practicing in general. Mentioning that there's so many different types of waves.

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