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Special Interests - Surfing New York and New Jersey => Tips, Technique, and Style - The Definitive NY NJ Guide to Surfing => Topic started by: SeaCliff on March 16, 2010, 10:13:51 PM

Title: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: SeaCliff on March 16, 2010, 10:13:51 PM
So I think my fear of getting clocked in the head with my board (again :-\ ) has been getting the best of me, and costing me a shot at some REALLY good waves.

There was one wave in particular yesterday that captures what I've done a handful of times in the last handful of decent swells: I went to take off at the peak on a particularly steep wave, and at the last fraction of a second, well after the critical do or die point, I made the split second decision that I couldnt make the drop - so I kicked my board out and away from me and dove for the bottom, to avoid getting myself clobbered.

Even as I was in the air, it was already running though my mind: had I bailed unnecessarily? Did my fear of injury keep me from completing a difficult, but ultimately makeable drop that would have had a potentially HUGE reward? And had I really saved myself from the chance of injury, or actually even increased it? I couldnt help but paddle around the rest of that session and for hours later, having it eat at me.

Sure enough, Onefin, who saw the whole thing, brings it up (with no prompting from me!) and confirms exactly what I thought. It was makeable. And it was just the slightest hesitation that cost me the wave. And it would have been spectacular. OK, I added that last part, but you get my point.  ;)

Bigger than that, it occurred to me that the worst that could happen if I tried and missed was, well - going over the falls. And the best that could happen if I was already committed and kicked my board out in an effort to save myself was....going over the falls. So on one hand I *might* go over the falls, on the other, I'm guaranteed to.

Another lesson learned: He who hesitates is tossed. So screw it - I'm going.

(Postscript: Tried it a couple of times today - once successfully - resulting in a pretty fun ride, once a spectacular failure - worthy of at least honorable mention for the Kook-of-the-Day award.)
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: Shacky on March 17, 2010, 01:22:14 AM
It's such a fine line.  There's that fine line of knowing when to bail and when to hold on to the bitter end...both of which I did many times today.  I'm sore....
 
It happens to everyone SC. No worries. Tomorrow is your day!
 
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: Looseness on March 17, 2010, 03:51:39 PM
you don't know unless you GO, and I think the worst possible thing is pulling back only to get pitched or sucked over. when I have done that, it was usually WAY worse than falling down the face or making it to the bottom and losing it. I usually keep paddling for a wave even when it becomes obvious that it's morphing into something unmake-able since I'd rather take off and go straight or something rather than get pitched or slammed. 
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: SeaCliff on March 17, 2010, 04:08:08 PM
It's such a fine line.  There's that fine line of knowing when to bail and when to hold on to the bitter end...both of which I did many times today.  I'm sore....
 
It happens to everyone SC. No worries. Tomorrow is your day!
 

Ehh...not for me...too much work stuff today - but from the sound of it, tomorrow (meaning TODAY) is YOUR day!  ;D ;D

you don't know unless you GO, and I think the worst possible thing is pulling back only to get pitched or sucked over. when I have done that, it was usually WAY worse than falling down the face or making it to the bottom and losing it. I usually keep paddling for a wave even when it becomes obvious that it's morphing into something unmake-able since I'd rather take off and go straight or something rather than get pitched or slammed. 

Excellent point, Loose. That's apparently what I have to get into my head. That point, and the point to flat out just charge those types of waves HARDER, with no hesitations whatsoever. Because the only real chance to make that steep, morphing wave it to go all out. It's pretty clear that even a fraction of a second hesitation can be the difference.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: ankleslapper on March 17, 2010, 05:38:03 PM
ha SC - I read your first post and thought almost the exact opposite.  if I'm committed, I'm actually more afraid to stop mid-proceedings.  if one gets big/ugly (even by my standards, which admittedly are different than say, loose's) -- I'll try to be on my feet or at least grab rail and hang on (probably to a fault, but backside it does seem to help me down and in - esp if it's late or deep).  seems safer than coming down god knows where.  It sucks coming back from an injury or bad knock.  (I still haven't incorporated onefin's recent note about 'pull into closeouts' for the sheer joy/learning experience -- so sometimes I'll 'not go' if it's clearly bad.  With just a few yrs surfing/reading waves under my belt -- I actually still feel some progress/learning by knowing which ones are going nowhere...and then taking the next one after it's cleared the way  ;) )

Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: Looseness on March 18, 2010, 10:31:15 AM
Oh yeah, another thing is, if you are in a defined lineup and you DON'T go on one with the rest of the crew watching, at very least you've lost a turn, but quite possibly all credibility and become a non-entity. If you know the people you're surfing with you probably just lost a turn, but if you are in someone else's house....you might want to just go down the beach or something.   
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: Looseness on March 18, 2010, 10:41:58 AM
I just realize i kinda went in a different direction since you were talking about hesitation and bailing on the way down.....
I think you've figured out that hesitation bad, but also the giving up too easily is not good either. I pretty much try and hang on until it's impossible. I had an epiphany one day a few years back when i watched some pros surf in NJ and realized they were making some stuff like barrels and crazy moves because they NEVER bailed. They just kept trying until it was REALLY over. That day I made some stuff I never had before simply because i told myself I'm not bailing.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: snaggletooth on March 18, 2010, 01:54:46 PM
I just realize i kinda went in a different direction since you were talking about hesitation and bailing on the way down.....
I think you've figured out that hesitation bad, but also the giving up too easily is not good either. I pretty much try and hang on until it's impossible. I had an epiphany one day a few years back when i watched some pros surf in NJ and realized they were making some stuff like barrels and crazy moves because they NEVER bailed. They just kept trying until it was REALLY over. That day I made some stuff I never had before simply because i told myself I'm not bailing.

that's a good point and i keep telling myself to focus on that. sometimes it might not feel pretty, but you have to muscle through it and you'd be surprised what you can pull off. so much is in your head. let's say you want to land a floater, you just have to look ahead to where you want to be and not think about what's happening - or you want to make a steep drop - if i am already looking and thinking about what i'm going to do next, i find i don't eat it (well, mostly). when i do dwell on it and am not focused ahead (which happens more often than it should), i screw it all up.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: Looseness on March 18, 2010, 05:36:28 PM
I just realize i kinda went in a different direction since you were talking about hesitation and bailing on the way down.....
I think you've figured out that hesitation bad, but also the giving up too easily is not good either. I pretty much try and hang on until it's impossible. I had an epiphany one day a few years back when i watched some pros surf in NJ and realized they were making some stuff like barrels and crazy moves because they NEVER bailed. They just kept trying until it was REALLY over. That day I made some stuff I never had before simply because i told myself I'm not bailing.

that's a good point and i keep telling myself to focus on that. sometimes it might not feel pretty, but you have to muscle through it and you'd be surprised what you can pull off. so much is in your head. let's say you want to land a floater, you just have to look ahead to where you want to be and not think about what's happening - or you want to make a steep drop - if i am already looking and thinking about what i'm going to do next, i find i don't eat it (well, mostly). when i do dwell on it and am not focused ahead (which happens more often than it should), i screw it all up.
Yeah! Like if the wave is standing up fast as long as i keep looking in the direction i want to go i have a much better chance of making it. if i look down.....that's where i farking go. that's pretty much what you just said though.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: snaggletooth on March 18, 2010, 06:05:26 PM
you go where you look and you go where you point. if only i would look and point at the right place at the right time....
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: little_nasty on March 19, 2010, 02:17:55 AM
I just realize i kinda went in a different direction since you were talking about hesitation and bailing on the way down.....
I think you've figured out that hesitation bad, but also the giving up too easily is not good either. I pretty much try and hang on until it's impossible. I had an epiphany one day a few years back when i watched some pros surf in NJ and realized they were making some stuff like barrels and crazy moves because they NEVER bailed. They just kept trying until it was REALLY over. That day I made some stuff I never had before simply because i told myself I'm not bailing.

i also find that i've pulled off some pretty tough stuff because i simply HAD to.  A few times i've had people right below me in the take-off zone and i basically had to pull off a crazy late drop or something or risk injuries all around.  Almost everytime that situation comes up, i pull it off.  I guess cause i'm so focused on making it and really not thinking about anything else as an "option".  Same with pulling silly stuff off over dry reef or in front of a cliff or boulder.  things just work out if i have to make it - which i find instructive.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: Mark E on March 19, 2010, 09:53:48 AM
I have recently transitioned to riding shortboards after riding logs exclusively. I came to the realization during this last swell that in order to improve my wave count I was going to have to  learn to take of late. As a result I got tossed a lot and had to deal with the hold down you get when you go over the falls. Some times I made it though and I feel like it's the price I have to pay if I am going to get any good at riding a shortboard in head high waves.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: Looseness on March 19, 2010, 12:18:19 PM
Introducing, the Mark E Coffee Table Model!

(http://britanniainteriors.com/duce/fishdeck.jpg)
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: The Lone Surfer on March 19, 2010, 12:30:31 PM
90% of waves I screw up are for this reason. Loose really said it all, and LN brought up a good example of how focus is key. I used to bail on so many waves. If not physically, then mentally. once you commit, you really have to commit. You'll be surprised how much you make. Two things that really helped me were traveling, and pushing myself to surf slightly larger, or more consequential waves, and surfing in crowds of good surfers, that as loose said, are not going to give you another wave for the entire session if you back off on one.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: SeaCliff on March 19, 2010, 12:48:50 PM
If not physically, then mentally. once you commit, you really have to commit. You'll be surprised how much you make.

I have to believe that this is what is happening with me. I don't believe that I'm not physically capable of making the waves (at least most of the time), but mentally, that's where I'm bailing.

Excellent thread - thanks for all the responses.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: WalkingIsStillHonest on March 19, 2010, 05:17:00 PM
I just realize i kinda went in a different direction since you were talking about hesitation and bailing on the way down.....
I think you've figured out that hesitation bad, but also the giving up too easily is not good either. I pretty much try and hang on until it's impossible. I had an epiphany one day a few years back when i watched some pros surf in NJ and realized they were making some stuff like barrels and crazy moves because they NEVER bailed. They just kept trying until it was REALLY over. That day I made some stuff I never had before simply because i told myself I'm not bailing.

i also find that i've pulled off some pretty tough stuff because i simply HAD to.  A few times i've had people right below me in the take-off zone and i basically had to pull off a crazy late drop or something or risk injuries all around.  Almost everytime that situation comes up, i pull it off.  I guess cause i'm so focused on making it and really not thinking about anything else as an "option".  Same with pulling silly stuff off over dry reef or in front of a cliff or boulder.  things just work out if i have to make it - which i find instructive.


Funny, I love surfing over shallow reefs, cliffs, jetty take offs, or any other hazardous objects just for the fact that I surf way better with some elevated stakes.


And very true about surfing in a strange lineup with some people that can actually surf; if you paddle for a set-wave and just pull off because you second guess it thats it, might as well get out.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: SeaCliff on March 21, 2010, 08:19:19 PM
I just realize i kinda went in a different direction since you were talking about hesitation and bailing on the way down.....
I think you've figured out that hesitation bad, but also the giving up too easily is not good either. I pretty much try and hang on until it's impossible. I had an epiphany one day a few years back when i watched some pros surf in NJ and realized they were making some stuff like barrels and crazy moves because they NEVER bailed. They just kept trying until it was REALLY over. That day I made some stuff I never had before simply because i told myself I'm not bailing.

i also find that i've pulled off some pretty tough stuff because i simply HAD to.  A few times i've had people right below me in the take-off zone and i basically had to pull off a crazy late drop or something or risk injuries all around.  Almost everytime that situation comes up, i pull it off.  I guess cause i'm so focused on making it and really not thinking about anything else as an "option".  Same with pulling silly stuff off over dry reef or in front of a cliff or boulder.  things just work out if i have to make it - which i find instructive.


Funny, I love surfing over shallow reefs, cliffs, jetty take offs, or any other hazardous objects just for the fact that I surf way better with some elevated stakes.


And very true about surfing in a strange lineup with some people that can actually surf; if you paddle for a set-wave and just pull off because you second guess it thats it, might as well get out.

Great comments - and it has me thinking more about past experiences: It's def true - when the stakes are high (e.g.: make it, or you're going to cream somebody in the takeoff zone) or the embarrassment factor is high, such as situations like W-I-H described, pull off and you might as well just paddle in - in those situations, I'm far more likely to go all out and make it.

Amazing how much of this is mental. It's very definitely another "skill" for me to work on.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: UNCLE!! on March 21, 2010, 11:11:55 PM
After a big session, I don't look back on the wave that thrashed me with much more than amusement. It's the wave I hesitated on, didn't commit to the experience, and saw reel down the line without me that I remember with dread. It happens to much to me b/c I bring my chicken feathers out surfing with me.
I was out Wednesday with some really good local guys and I botched a good set wave and I got the talking-to about it. To my defense, there were the three other guys paddling up the face right next to me that rattled me, but I should have gone. Possible thrashing, but better that than my pal calling me out, which really sucked. Not that my pal really calling me out, but teasing me in a serious way.
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: nycwipeout on March 28, 2010, 02:59:55 PM
haven't i said to you in the past SeaCliff, "No guts, no glory!" ?
Title: Re: He who hesitates is tossed.
Post by: SeaCliff on March 28, 2010, 04:00:15 PM
haven't i said to you in the past SeaCliff, "No guts, no glory!" ?

Indeed. And for a case in point, that barrel sequence of you in NJ last year is burned in my memory - not because it's memorialized on film, but because I was on the inside watching you paddle for the wave, and from where I was, it was DEADLY clear that if you didnt make it, you, your board, me and my board would have had a crushing collision. And as it set up, the drop looked absolutely impossible to me.

Not only did you make the wave, but the look on your face was so focused and determined - you KNEW the barrel was setting up and not making the wave never even crossed your mind. I replay it in my head often. It was a brilliant wave, but what wasnt captured on film was just how brilliantly the drop was executed and how perfectly you set your rail  - with no hesitation whatsoever, totally focused on where you needed to be and what lay ahead.

I'll say it again: It was brilliant. Taught me a lot, although it's clear I'm still hard at work and have a long way to go in putting the lesson to good use. I likely will never approach where you are, but it's good to see where it is that I want to go.