Author Archives: Surf Avenger

About Surf Avenger

My name is Jim, but you can call me the Surf Avenger. Or the Dude...duder...Big Lebowski anyone? Anyways, I enjoy hiking, biking, and long romantic walks on the beach. Oh yeah, surfing is another past-time of mine. I am emphatic about surfboards to the point that it can be considered a mental illness. I believe the PC term is "surfboard OCD." I'm on meds for it now, and it's been getting better. Anyways, I'll be one of the dedicated writers here at DailyStoke...enjoy. P.S. In October I'll have attained my Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. So be on the lookout for a discussion forum/Q&A regarding surfing-related injuries and how to go about correctly diagnosing and rehabilitating them.

GoofBoard: A Surf Training Device for Flat (and all other) Days

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Goofboard surf training productAs an avid surfer and fitness enthusiast, I am constantly searching for extra ways to improve my surfing game, by looking at all surf training devices. I firmly believe that to get better at surfing one must do just that: surf! However, if you’re like me, then you cringe at that fact that you can’t live in the water full-time (due to job, weather, etc); thus, you seek supplemental forms of surf-training to keep yourself in shape for when you do actually get in the water.

Strength, flexibility, and balance are the 3 main ingredients that comprise the Slater-esque surfer. So when you can’t get into the water to actually practice your craft, you need the next best thing – and I believe the GoofBoard is it!  It combines core and lower-extremity strengthening with balance training in a modality that’s very similar to the feel of surfing. Unlike other products similar to the GoofBoard, the GoofBoard’s unique design makes the experience more surfing-like – primarily due to the placement of the fulcrum in relation to the board. Professionals would term the GoofBoard modality as “sport-specific training,” meaning it closely mimics surfing, thus making it an excellent tool to train for surfing.

If you’re a longboarder, then the GoofBoard is a must. There’s no better way than to work on cross-stepping, trimming, and riding rail-to-rail. Even if you’re a shortboarder like myself, the GoofBoard will polish your style and improve your overall performance when surfing an actual wave. For me, the sensation I get on the GoofBoard is very similar to racing down the line to beat a section on the wave. My friend, a longboarder, also draws a comparison with the GoofBoard and actual surfing – “it’s like trimming down a wave face – this thing actually works!”

After having worked with the GoofBoard, not only has my lower-extremity strength and balance improved, but my surfing skill has definitely benefited significantly – specifically with fluidity of style, and control. I am so stoked that there’s actually a product out there now that simulates surfing – since I live in Northern California, there are many times when I can’t surf due to wind, rain, etc. Now I have a tool that will help me continue to hone my skill even when I can’t physically surf. If you’re serious about improving your surfing ability, then I’d strongly recommend checking out the GoofBoard! You can view the GoofBoard, by checking out www.goofboard.com.

Confessions of a Traveling Surfer: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

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So I was in Byron Bay, East Coast Australia. I was lodging in a convenient hostel, only to be stalked by a Japanese tourist. This gentleman spotted my surfboard and immediately became Curious George. What is that? Where did you get it? Do you surf? What’s your favorite color? Shoe size? Total annual income? And the list goes on. As the questions came to a long tapered end, this tourist emphasized that he’d like me to take him surfing. What can I say? I was bored and lonely and needed a good laugh, so I decided to take him surfing.

First things first; he needed a board. I figured we’d go down to the closest surfshop and rent a foam board…you know, the BZ kind that wouldn’t completely crack his skull when he takes one to the forehead? As we entered the shop, he immediately went to the shortboard section. He picked out this real slick six foot JS that cost about 800 U.S dollars. “Whoa, easy tiger,” I said. I recommended that he save his money and buy something longer and used; or he could give me half of what he planned on spending, and then I’d kick him where the sun don’t shine…then we’d be even. As hard as I tried to convince this guy to not be foolish, he decided to drop nearly one thousand dollars on this board (plus bag, leash, traction pad, etc).

We quickly scurried out to the water to watch him flounder…I mean…”surf”. As we paddled out, I remember thinking to myself, “Is he ever going to take off that ridiculous safari hat?” And then I thought, “Hey, this guy paddles pretty fast for a beginner.” As I was paddling back out from my first caught wave, here comes this Japanese tourist just screaming down the line on his new JS. He does a couple more pumps to get closer to me, and just throws the biggest layback slash I’ve ever seen, right in my face. My eyes are still stinging from the water droplets hitting them so hard. I felt so chagrined; this guy ripped…hard. It just goes to show you: never judge a book by its cover…especially when it’s written in Japanese.

Posture, Posture, Posture

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Remember when your mother would tell you “Sit up straight, don’t slouch,” as a kid, but you would intuitively tune her out via your brain-kill-switch defense mechanism? This system was your body’s way for thwarting off any useless information that attempted to take up storage in your finite brain. Well, your mother had a valid point. If you don’t believe me, just ask any older adult with a forward bent posture. Ask them how their shoulders are feeling; ask them how their neck is feeling; ask them if they have any numbness or tingling shooting down their arms to their finger tips.

As we age, our bodies succumb to the effects of gravity – this causes our mid backs to curve and our head and shoulders to translate forward. As this happens we are more prone to injuries. This forward head/shoulder posture does nothing but close the space where our nerves from our neck exit, causing compression to the nerves – this causes neural symptoms to occur down our upper extremities (i.e. numbness/tingling). This same posture makes us more susceptible to rotator cuff tears/tendonitis, shoulder impingement/bone spurs, and not to mention muscular spasms anywhere from the base of our skull to our shoulder blades.

So if you desire to prolong your surfing career, I’d strongly recommend you take note of your posture. So what’s good posture? I’m glad you asked. Imagine a plumb line connecting your earlobe, to your shoulder – they are in line. By consciously repositioning yourself to the proximity of this posture will increase the strength/endurance of the muscles responsible for holding this posture. And as your posture improves, so does your surfing career. Hooray!

SHARK Story

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It was a late August evening, approaching nightfall. I was surfing an undisclosed break in Marin County, when I and three of my fellow neighboring surfers saw an enormous dorsal fin breach the surface of the water. Our jaws dropped as our bowel and bladder control released. I forget which one of us yelled “SHARK!!,” but I was half way into the shore before anyone else had heard. Another group of surfers that heard the cry paddled in to shore only to join us as we frantically gasped for oxygen. We yelled it again, “SHARK, SHARK,” as we waved to the remaining 20 surfers out in the water. Several of the surfers came in, but there was a good amount that did not. These guys were either deaf, dumb, immortal, or possibly any combination of the three. I was almost positive that I’d witness carnage, but to my dismay, none of these brave souls got attacked. It was quite obvious that the shark had seen these floating appetizers only to snub its nose in disgust. It made me ponder whether or not white sharks are intentionally malicious toward human beings – or if this one was just full.

FYI – human beings do not have an adequate amount of fat to satisfy a great white shark – that’s why most attacks are one-hit encounters.

Uncle Dick’s Surf Fest – November 8th and 9th, 2008

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Mark your calendars! On November 8th and 9th, Nor Cal surf shop is proud to host the 13th Annual Uncle Dick’s Surf Fest. Many prizes are at stake as well as the Pro-Am which is sponsored by Oakley. See flyer and/or call the shop at 650-738-WAVE for details. For entry forms, visit the shop.

Uncle Dick’s is one of the North Coast’s biggest and longest running surf events. Having witnessed it in the past, I would not recommend missing it. You’ll see the locally talented Nor Cal surf shop team compete with other locals and chargers ranging from Big Sur, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco.

For a sneak peak of what’s to come, check out the pics and videos of Nor Cal co-owner and Mav’s charger, Shaun Rhodes, and the Nor Cal team at.

My Favorite Surf shop – Nor Cal, in Pacifica CA

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Nor Cal surf shop in Pacifica, CA can be defined as a “surfer’s shop.” Located right on the oceanfront, this shop is equipped with the latest in wetsuits, surfing accessories, but more importantly…surfboards. With 250+ surfboards (new and used) to choose from, Nor Cal offers the newest technology of the most popular shapers such as DHD, Al Merrick, Chemistry, and Sharp Eye to name a few. More impressive than Nor Cal’s shear quantity of surfboards, are Nor Cal’s custom “Neptune” surfboards. Shaped locally, Shaun Rhodes and Brent Hudson have done their own hands-on research to fine tune the lost art of shaping surfboards to superbly perform in Northern California conditions.

If you’re like me and you strongly desire that new stick for this upcoming Nor Cal winter, then a Neptune stick may be just what you need. I’d recommend talking directly to Shaun and Brent about what you crave, and they’ll be able to help you out. With 50 years of surfing experience between them, you’ll receive a very specific stick for your height and weight that will shred any Nor Cal wave known to man. Although designed for Nor Cal, these sticks will be more than sufficient in any condition type…I’m actually going to have a Neptune stick made for me prior to going to Bali this May.

So do yourself a favor and check out Nor Cal’s website to find out more information on getting a new stick, or ordering Original Nor Cal apparel.

Nor Cal Phone: (650) 738-WAVE

Did You See Any Sharks This August?

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Well what do you know –August passed, and San Francisco and Marin were full of shark sightings. For the average resident or tourist, a summer shark sighting may be a tragedy; calling halts to all summer-rentals, tours, and outings. However, for the avid surfer of Marin waters a shark sighting in August is what we on “the in” like to call the norm.

If it seems like Marin and San Francisco have shark sightings EVERY August you may be correct. As the surface water warms in the summer months (typically late August), a plethora of plankton and fish conglomerate to the area. Due to this, other sea mammals come in to feed – in turn the sharks follow their prevalent prey. Although true Marin surfers will say that most sightings occur in August because there are more beach-goers looking to spot them, researchers state that the population of Red Triangle sharks drops one-tenth in the cooler months – thus, there really are more sharks in NorCal in August. So if you’re really freaked out about sharks, just remember that your odds of getting hit by one just dropped by ten percent, because August came and went already. You’re welcome.

Note: The Red Triangle is a coastal region of NorCal consisting of the waters between Bodega Bay, San Francisco, and the Farallon Islands – ummm…sharks live here.

Marin County Surfing Contest – Sponsored by Proof Lab

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On October 5th, locally owned surfshop, Proof Lab, will be hosting the 2nd annual Cron Rock II surf contest. It will be held at Cronkite Beach aka Rodeo Beach, located in the depths of the Marin County Headlands. The various events of competition include:

Pro-Am: For all age groups
Master’s: Ages 40-55
Old Carps: Ages 56+
Longboards
Girls
If you’re interested in participating in the contest, all entries are free, with the exception of a $20 entry fee for the Pro-Am event. Various prizes will be given out to the winners, including wetsuits, and cash prizes for the Pro-Am event. Call Proof Lab to find out more details of how to enter the contest.(415) 380-8900
If you’re sitting around on Sunday morning, come on down to Cronkite to check out this locally sponsored surf contest, courtesy of Proof Lab. For more information on Proof Lab, check them out online at prooflab.

My Favorite Place – Raglan, New Zealand Part 2

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From Auckland, I met some friends, and drove approximately 2 hours to Raglan, located on the west side of the north island. The surf was flat, but the vibe was good. We rolled into Raglan late, desperately searching for lodging, only to find the quaint “Raglan Backpackers” nestled between 2 bushes and a hobo. Although the surf was flat upon arrival, we knew it’d be good due to Internet forecasting. Two days later, it was epic…and it stayed epic for about 5 straight days. So epic, that even the locals were calling it epic. Did I mention that it was epic?

The waves at Raglan were honest to God some of the best waves I’ve ever ridden in my life. Each wave I caught was at least 100 yards long, allowing me to do anywhere from ten to fifteen turns per wave. Riding waves at Raglan was the only time in my life that I’d kick off the wave, just so I didn’t have spend the next 20 minutes paddling back out. When waves turn into marathon-length like that, you begin contemplating things like: “what was my favorite book in high school? Tom Sawyer? No…it was definitely Romeo and Juliet…”

My intention by going to New Zealand was to primarily surf, yet travel all over on both islands, and eventually bungee-jump from a suspended Air-Tram located in the heart of Queenstown. As soon as I embarked upon Raglan, my trip itinerary changed. Instead of utilizing my alloted time to make my way to Queenstown, I stayed in Raglan to contemplate high school literature while riding waves. Let me tell you something…you should write this down: Raglan is the dreamiest wave in the world. Known to be the 2nd longest left handed point break in the world, Raglan offers some of the smoothest, most luscious, and juciest waves located on planet Earth. I know at times I tend to exaggerate some pertinent information (i.e. fish size, bust size, and unit size), however, these waves that I had the privilege to surf were seriously a godsend. Don’t be a square, get to Raglan before you die.

My Favorite Place – Raglan, New Zealand Part 1

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Back in 2004, life was good. I had just finished my undergraduate degree, and the only thing I really cared about was finding beautiful waves to surf. I also cared about family, friends, finding a good job, etc…but you know what I mean. I was young, and I wanted to party. My R and D led me to the beautiful island of New Zealand. I flew into Auckland, only to be severely man-handled by the security officers. Why, you may ask? So I guess I lied about not bringing any agriculture into the country. I had an apple in my hand that I failed to claim on that silly postcard they give you on the plane. As soon as I got off, “What the hell is that? An apple? Go ahead and drop the apple and pull your pants down,” I was told…I digress. Point being: claim your fruit!

My Reply to the Craigslist “Contest”

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Contest MC,

Hello, how are you? My name is Jim. I’m sure you’ve read your fair share of sob stories for why others should win your contest. Please listen to mine before making your ultimate decision on whom the lucky winner is. I know this is a weird story, but hear me out:

At age 4 I lost all sense of taste. The doctors were not sure why this happened; they called it “a medical anomaly.” For two years I mustered down food that I could NOT even taste. My friends used to put kitten poo-bits in my sandwich at recess, then watch me eat it with a smile on my face at lunch-time. Anyways, around age 6, my taste buds started to change. I noticed that I could actually taste salt. From the day I found this out, I wanted to eat salty foods all day long, because it was the only thing that would bring me joy. One day when I was 9, I went surfing. I had a blast. After the session, my father and I went to return our rental gear. Just prior to returning it, I noticed salt crystals on the foam board and wetsuit that had encrusted after being in our stale camper for the majority of the day. I quickly pounced on the gear, only to lick the crystals like an ant-eater slurping down defenseless black ants (you know, the ones that don’t sting?). Anyways, from that day on I was hooked on surfing…primarily to enjoy a salty dessert afterwards. Till this day, I’m the only person I know that actually drinks ocean water while surfing. The doctors tell me to stop, because it contributes to my high-blood pressure, but I can’t. This is an addiction that I can’t stop. I just broke my last board two weeks ago, and am strongly desiring the fresh organic ocean salt crystals once again. Please help me. Thank you.

Check out this “Contest”

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So I was perusing Craigslist today, and check out this contest I stumbled upon. Some guy in Santa Cruz is willing to give away all of his crap. If you’re a talented enough writer and have the determination to transport yourself to Santa Cruz, you can haul all of this guys stuff back with you. For an experienced surfer this stuff may seem like useless, bulky, space-consuming clutter. However, if you’re a beginner surfer and you’re low on cash-flow, then this may be your ticket. Check it out…freshen up on your grammar, come up with a heartfelt story for why you deserve this man’s belongings, and let’r rip! View contest at: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/spo/853337866.html

The “contest” rules:

“Have a beat up 6’1″ Twinzer fish shaped by the inventor himself, Wil Jobson. It’s got a sawed off nose patched with solar res, rot spots, a bit of delam, a shaky fin…basically the works. I surfed it to within inches of its life but it’s still got a bit of spunk left in it. Also got six used wetsuits. All are MT 4/3 men’s. Five are Hotline and one is a RipCurl.

The whole set is FREE to the person who emails me the best reason on why they deserve the lot. You can have all or just some. Tell me what you want and why you deserve it. Punctuation, creativity, and entertainment value counts.

Have fun and the contest will end in seven days…unless no one enters then it will be extended.”

I Agree with Julia – Surfing Injuries are a Real Buzz-kill!

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I went surfing Sunday – just another day. It was morning, the crowd was out, and the waves were nice. I had picked off a couple of set waves that I’m pretty sure put a few of the on-looking females in heat. What can I say? But then it happened – I got slammed…hard. As I was paddling out, I got caught right in the impact zone and took about 14 tons of water betwixt my shoulder blades. My board quickly scurried away from under my arms and all of a sudden I felt the sharpness of my one of my fins slice my palm like butter…warm butter. I knew I was in trouble, because when I came up for air my hand was red from the blood, and the female spectators shouted “we’re not in heat anymore!”

I included a pic of my hand slice. It looked worse when it first happened, but just keep in mind that this is several hours after the fact. Should I have gotten stitches? Nah, I’m too hardcore for that! Yeah right…besides, my health insurance charges for stitches…

My Favorite Surfshop – Northern Light, in Bodega CA

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The Northern Light surfshop in Bodega, CA has got to be one of the most soulful sights on this coast. At one time a popular town-brothel, this eclectic building has been serving the Northern California surfing community with all of its water-related needs for over 25 years now! Whereas many surfshops specialize in clothing retail while lacking on surf gear, the Northern Light shop does not. Sure, they have a great variety of clothing, jewelry, books, DVDs, and sunglasses, but what makes this shop so great is its dedication to surfing. This shop is tailor-made for surfing addicts like you and me!

Owner, Nick Marlow, decided to open the shop at age 18 – at that time the shop was only 200 square feet. Since then Nick has pushed out the walls, expanding the space and adding the best team members to the shop. Shop manager, Sarah Molica, has got to be one of the sweetest souls in this state – if you’re having a bad day and don’t need any surf gear, just go in the shop and talk to Sarah – her vibrant personality is infectious. You’re welcome.

As a local surfer, I think the best thing about this shop is Ed Barbera. If you’re unfamiliar with Ed, allow me to introduce him to you. Mr. Barbera is a master craftsman of the art known as surfboard shaping. His resume includes shaping for labels such as Town and Country, Dick Brewer, Al Merrick, and Bryne to name a few – Ed has a history of shaping boards for many of the world’s greatest surfers, such as Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, and Tom Curren. Since January 2007, Ed Barbera has been shaping boards under the Northern Light label. Guess What! You can get a custom crafted stick from this master-shaper for an excellent price! Just contact the shop for questions or to place an order.

(707) 876-3032 or check out their website at www.northernlightsurf.com

Improve Your Surfing Balance with One Stretch – The Soleus

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Got soul? If not that’s okay, because you do have a soleus. In fact, we all have a soleus – one on each leg. The soleus helps comprise “the calf” musculature on the posterior portion of your lower leg. If the soleus is restricted or tight it limits our ability to dorsiflex. Dorsiflex? Yes, dorsiflex. Dorsiflexion is the foot’s ability to move upward toward your head.

So what’s the significance of the soleus to surfing? As you surf your knees always have some degree of bend in them…unless you’re a kook…or an excellent “soulful” longboarder. As your knees bend, your feet dorsiflex on your surfboard. If the soleus is tight, then you lose the ability to dorsiflex – however, when you’re surfing and you bend your knees, this lack of dorsiflexion will actually cause your center of mass to translate forward, most likely leading to a fall.

So do yourself a favor: lengthen your soleus via this stretch. You should feel it anywhere from your heel to the back of your lower leg. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat. Do this 2-3 times per day.

Note: If this stretch causes numbness/tingling or pain I’d recommend discontinuing the stretch and consulting your local physical therapist.

Dear *Beginning Surfer*: Leave the Candle Wax at Home

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I have only seen this happen once in my lifetime, but I hope to it again before I die. Talk about funny. If you ever see anyone busting out candle wax to lather their surf board, then stop whatever it is your doing, pull up a chair, and enjoy the show. Had I another chance to witness this amateur mess, I’d videotape the poor schlub doing it. And if did have footage of this slipping fool, I’d edit it to play with some music from the Benny Hill Show, and then I’d just sit back and laugh. So if you’re a beginner, leave the candle-wax for the skaters and their rails, and use some form of surfboard wax. Oh yeah, and leave the Sex-Wax out of the bedroom.

Preventing Surfing Shoulder Injury – Rotator Cuff Exercise – External Rotation

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This exercise is designed to build strength and endurance of your posterior rotator cuff, specifically your infraspinatus and teres minor musculature. As these 2 muscles become more toned and in shape, the stability of shoulder joint increases. More stability = less joint play = less shoulder pain. Got it?

Begin by placing your thera-band on a stationary object – I prefer tying a knot at the end of the band, and then placing it in the crack of a door at your house; when you close the door the band will be firmly anchored. The band should be placed around the level of your chest.

To exercise the shoulder in the most comfortable position, you can place a folded/rolled towel between your arm and your side as you complete the exercise.

Grasp the band with your hand, and stand away from the door until the band pulls taught – the further you stand away from the wall, the more resistance there will be. Turn your arm outward from your body, keeping your elbow fixed to your side. If you have a towel between your elbow and your side, then you will be more likely to keep your elbow stationary.

This exercise should NOT be painful, or aggravate your symptoms. If it is, I recommend that you stop and consult your local physical therapist. Otherwise, this is an excellent activity to prevent those pesky pains at the top of your shoulders that come from excessive overhead usage (i.e. paddling).

Recommended Regiment: 2 sets of 15; 2-3 times per day

Preventing Surfing Injuries With Thera-Band

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In preparation for therapeutic exercises to be given in the future, allow me to introduce you to your new best friend: Mr. Thera-Band. Although it may not seem like much, this little piece of elastic joy will allow surfers to do a plethora of exercises. This stuff is relatively inexpensive, so you really have no excuse not to have one…unless you crave surfing injuries. I’d recommend visiting your local drug or sporting goods store to purchase one (or several). Otherwise, go to www.thera-band.com and pick one up soon!

Oh yeah, the intensity is based on the color of the band:

Yellow = Light resistance

Red = Moderate resistance

Green = Heavy resistance

Blue = Heavier resistance

Black = Heaviest resistance

6’1” X 18(1/4)” X 2(1/4)” M10 Tomahawk – My Dream Quiver

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This board is such a smooth delight. If surfboards were foods, then this would be the equivalent of a calorie-free Cool-Whip. It tastes so good and smooth without contributing to those hasty love-handles. What can I say…I love NorCal boards (especially those from Santa Cruz). The Tomahawk is M10’s #1 all-round thruster for CA conditions. It will absolutely fly in good waves, allowing you to do complete vertical turning…you know, the snaps that make the ladies go “oh.” Also, this board is still flat enough to surf everyday spring/summer junk conditions, allowing you to still out-perform your surfing neighbor. Only got room for one board in your friend’s sedan? Then play it safe – don’t get skunked because you only had your specialty board – take the Tomahawk.