Surf Mavericks: Update 5

A long summer of mediocre waves, strong winds and lots of slop all but removed surfing from my routine. Riding waves was relegated to a vacation activity. Limited to a few trips to Santa Cruz for south swells, a road trip to So-Cal and a camping weekend up north. Far from the daily habit it once was.

As a result, two and a half months from the end of the year, I am basically back where I started. No where close to being ready to surf Mavericks. I can hold my breath for just over two minutes, I’m not in great cardio shape and my arms don’t have the strength they need to get me in and out of giant waves.


This isn’t where I wanted to be at this point in the year. This is where I am.

Thankfully the fall, a glassy head high jolt of electricity, has reignited my fire for surfing. It started with a day towards the end of September that looked like this.


The reports were coming in that we had gotten our first north swell. The forecast was calling for OH+.

I was at the beach before sunrise, though you wouldn’t have known it. There was about 50ft of visibility which meant I couldn’t see the water from the parking lot. Nor could I see the waves from the water line.

I paddled out into a dense fog, unsure if anyone else was surfing. As I duck dove the first few walls of white water, each increasing in size, I knew the reports were true. I came up from one and looked to the end of my visibility where I saw a surfing dropping in. The wave was well OH for the few seconds before it closed out on him.

There were only two of us out there and the waves were a mess. The sand bars haven’t yet prepared themselves for the winter surf. I can sympathize with that.

Without catching even a single wave I turned around, happy, knowing that I was at least on pace with the sand below. Success that day was a kick in the butt.

Arm Strength: Weak – need to do some paddling

Breath Holding: 4:06 record – 2:12 current

Days to Go: 76

Times surfed on Hail Mary: 1

Resting Heart Rate: 64

Surf Mavericks: Update 4

Stoked! I cracked the four minute mark this week.



Most of my improvement has come from better oxygen conservation. I have been focusing on relaxing to minimize the oxygen I use per minute – thus letting me last longer on one breath. To do this I’ve been working on lowering my resting heart rate and slowing everything down. I think relaxing my brain is the hardest part, so I’ve been counting in my head really slow. I think that helps pace my body a bit as well.

I haven’t been able to push any further on the discomfort scale – once my vision starts to go blurry I stop. I think that is probably safer for training, but I’d like to try blacking out a few times so I’m familiar with it in case I ever get to that point under water.

Finally, this week I heard of a new sport that a few big wave surfers play in order to train their lungs, underwater hockey. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this before. I have most of the equipment I would need to play, so I’m going to try and find a pick up game. Apparently the sport is small enough that teams are stoked to have someone new that wants to play come and join them.

Shoulder: Done with PT, continuing strength training, three times a week to strengthen shoulder

Breath Holding: 4:06

Days to Go: 227

Times surfed on Hail Mary: 1

Resting Heart Rate: 58

Surf Mavericks: Update 3

This weekend I took my Mavericks gun out for a paddle in the small waves on Bolinas, CA.

To give some back-story, about a year ago I decided I wanted to surf Mavericks and took the first step I normally take when facing new challenges; I bought a surfboard. I named her ‘Hail Mary Mother of Grace’ because some day when I take her down off the wall racks to surf, it will be accompanied by much prayer from my loved ones.


This weekend wasn’t that occasion, but it was the first time in a year she left her perch in my living room. I wanted to get familiar with how she paddled, how hard it was to duck dive and how the rails held the face of a wave.

Paddling a gun is different than anything else I’ve ever been on. It sits high in the water like a longboard, but it is so narrow that it rocks easily, requiring a lot of core to keep it stable. The nose has a ton of rocker, meaning it sticks out of the water, but there isn’t much foam, making it easy to get too far forward while sitting. Finally, whenever I’m on a board with that much foam, I’m used to having at least 10″ of fin beneath me – Hail Mary has a thruster setup, so there wasn’t the hold I expected.

It’s a good idea to be familiar with equipment before trying something new though, so I’m glad I had the chance to paddle a bit.

One last note on Hail Mary. The script below is written on the deck. I have no idea what it means, though. Anyone have an idea what it says, or even what language it is?


Here is how I’m doing at holding my breath:


As I neared the 3 minute mark my vision started to go blurry so I started breathing again. Getting that next minute and a half will probably be a combination of being familiar with the feeling of being oxygen deprived along with additional lung capacity and decreased oxygen need.

Shoulder: Wrapping up PT, more strength training needed to keep stress off of the joint

Breath Holding: 2:52

Days to Go: 265

Times surfed on Hail Mary: 1