Friday, December 31, 2010

It hasn't been raining quite so much over here and......

..................unlike other unfortunates our water would be clean in any case, so I've been out on a mat for the last 4 days in varying onshore conditions as there have been decent sized waves due to days of SE winds pushing up an easterly sea which in cohort with the actual swell provides the goods.
I cannot quite believe how excited I get when I see that the conditions are onshore and there is a bit of a swell. That is such a turnaround from the last 9 summers when I dreaded the SE winds as it would stop me getting in the water as I insisted on only riding waves standing up!
Now that I am riding the mat with softer inflation levels and finally understanding the degree to which one can change the shape of the mat, and more importantly how and when to do so, I am enjoying even more satisfying and often longer rides. This is particularly so on the take off and when gliding along in front of a broken wave that still has a little push. A big squeeze to drive the air to the back of the mat to give the wave plenty of mat to push on works wonders and is probably what Deb needs to be doing in the pic should she ever get a bit more air out of her mat.
I am appreciating more than ever a craft that allows you to change it's shape in real-time to suit the immediate conditions. Brilliant and so much more to look forward to learning.
For instance, I am still a little confused as to why the Roundtail sometimes drifts and yet, in what seems a more critical situation, sticks to the face like it is on rails.
Looking forward to working out why!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Uh Oh! Those mat riders are up to their tricks again!

Three teenagers from Ipswich in Queensland have been arrested after trying to use inflatable mattresses to ride floodwaters to central Brisbane more than 30 kilometres away.
Two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old were caught jumping into the swollen Bremer River this afternoon and attempting to ride the current downstream to Southbank in Brisbane's CBD.
The teenagers entered the fast-flowing river around noon (AEST) at the entrance with Ironpot Creek on Gregory and Sydney streets.
Police received 10 triple-0 calls reporting the teenagers, who made it 15 kilometres downstream on single bed blow-up air mattresses.
After extensive police and SES patrols, the trio was found about 500 metres south of the Warrego Highway bridge.
They were rescued from the river around 2:30pm. Police later described their behaviour as "foolish and dangerous".
The teenagers, from West Ipswich and Redbank Plains, have been issued with a notice to appear in court for public nuisance.
Meanwhile, a rescue helicopter was used to rescue two adults and two toddlers who were forced to cling to trees after their car washed away in floodwaters at Leyburn south-west of Toowoomba.
SES crews on the ground were unable to reach the stranded family.
Earlier, a 16-year-old girl and her 17-year-old brother were rescued at Proston north-west of Brisbane when they were swept from the flooded Stuart River bridge.
The incidents add to the growing frustration of authorities who say people continue to ignore warnings to stay out of floodwaters.
Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Ian Stewart today issued a further warning to motorists.
"We've been putting these warnings out time and time again - don't take the risk, consider your personal safety - turn back. It's better to arrive alive than what the alternative is," he said.
"My message is very, very plain - you don't have to take the risk. A couple of hours' delay can save your life."
There has been more than 20 people rescued by swift water teams in the past few days.
This morning police charged a 28-year-old man for driving into floodwaters at Tanah Merah on Brisbane's southside.
They say the exercise tied up numerous police and rescue personnel.
The State Emergency Service has received more than 1,000 calls for help in the past 24 hours, mainly in the state's south-east.

Damn good to be on the mat again today!

Sick of stand up surfing, I was determined to take out a mat today and after a frustrating start and a move a little further around the bay I was well rewarded.
The wave was actually going right rather than left and similarly full initially but if you could get through to the inside a playground awaited with reforms aplenty walling up. The last wave was the best with a great take off generating plenty of speed to catch a couple of really great reforms with plenty of quite vertical face to aim for before a long glide all the way in to the shallows. Bloody good fun and damn I am stoked to be a mat rider!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Look! Who the hell is that!

F^*k me it's Santa!
On his horseless open mat!
All the best for the festive season to all you mat riders out there. You help to make my life so much richer.
I hope you all have a great day on the 25th and manage to get a few waves too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nomad's article on mat surfing

A slightly unexpected read to say the least. You will have to sign up here for a free trial to Wave Lines if you want to read it though!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back on the 4GF Tracker Roundtail

There were very blowy onshore conditions yesterday and a pretty abysmal swell so I decided it was time to revisit a 4GF mat again having been on the Neumatic for some time now. The Tracker Roundtail is the go to mat for these conditions and it was that mat that I blew into action.
The Roundtail felt quite a bit smaller after the Neumatic and I have to confirm that I really like the nylon canvas decking as it allows quite adequate grip but still plenty of scope for adjusting position.
I started off at my usual soft 90 degree inflation before deciding that the conditions were so uninspiring that a little experimentation was in order to remain interested.
Clearly I have learnt a fair bit from riding the Neumatic as I was quite easily able to ride the Roundtail at super low, almost 180 degree inflation (perhaps deflation is a more accurate term?).
Even at this level of inflation, the canvas topped 4GF mat provides a stable platform on which to still to move around on the deck and still provide enough pliability to squeeze hard as required.
I didn't get any stellar waves but it was a most informative session in any case and "Heh, I got wet!".
The other upside of the session was that it is a bit warmer now so only boardies and a rashie required which is most enjoyable when riding a mat as there is an even greater feeling of freedom.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ah ha!

Watch the trailer of this recently rereleased movie for a nice little surprise fellow matters. Definitely going to be getting my grubby little mitts on this!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ummm interesting!

Michelle, who is still recovering from her plantar fasciitis injury, has been riding prone of late either on her body board or a mat.
Well, I am pleased to report that today she got her first real sense of what mat riding can be on a left that I could just sense she was really enjoying even though I could not actually see her from out the back. Not one to normally exclaim out aloud after a wave, unlike me, she did so on this occasion with some gusto. "Woo!" A little later on I overheard her mentioning to a stand up wave rider that the mat was "So fast!"
It certainly does seem true that there is always something new to learn for those of us who choose to ride mats. It was quite a bit smaller today than what I normally choose to take a mat out in but I was hanging for a session on the Neumatic as I have been on the longboard mostly of late. So after catching a couple of nice little peelers I decided I would experiment again with super low inflation so I let breath out of the mat until it could be folded completely in half. I can report that I managed to catch a couple of waves and that the bloody thing goes even faster. Yeh yeh I know, you told me so. You can see in this pic of Kendog how little breath there is in the mat and that what there is has been transferred to the back.
So once you are actually on the wave at that level of inflation there is not too much of a problem but it is positioning oneself in between times and actually getting oneself on to the wave that is the difficulty. It is in these two areas that I made some progress today as I figured out a little more about how to handle a super low inflation mat.
So at 90 degree inflation I am now pretty adept at grabbing the bottom right corner of the mat, giving it a good squeeze and pulling myself in to position. Now this method does not work at at super low inflations as the mat just does not get hard enough, following the big squeeze and so it is only after a lot of squirming and wriggling around that one manages to get get where one wants on the mat. Umm, what to do? I remember, having finally managed to get on the mat somewhere near to where I would like, reaching down to feel the bottom of the mat and discovering that there was not a scrap of breath there and that it was just dangling limply downwards. I realise that I am now effectively I am now lying on top of a much shorter mat. It occurs to me that rather than unsuccessfully squeezing the mat in the corner to harden it up I need to squeeze it further along the side as if it was a shorter mat. I do so and immediately I have a more stable deck on which to manoeuvre myself. Following this sudden discovery, without thinking, I grab on to the front corners of the mat with both hands and drawing my elbows together apply a huge squeeze resulting in all the breath in the mat moving down underneath me resulting in my lower body and legs being easily supported rather than hanging down in the ocean and that I and the mat are effectively tipped forward. A Eureka moment as I realise to what degree the shape of the mat can be changed and that this maybe exactly what I need to do on the take off. Squeeze hard so as all the air moves to the back of the mat giving the wave something to push on whilst tipping my weight forward and pulling down the face of the wave. So now of course I get the point of the use of thin material on the deck also as this allows one greater opportunity to really squeeze the hell out of the front of the mat to transfer breath where ever it is required.
Wow! Where is a wave so as I can try that theory out? I think it facilitates the take off as I seemed to be able to get on to the wave by just kicking and then squeezing hard to transfer the air and pull the front of the mat down the face of the wave.
Does that ring a bell with you experienced matters out there?

Monday, December 6, 2010

I am............

............feeling a lot more comfortable on the Neumatic now and starting to ride it without thinking about the process at all which is a relief.
In fact I am going to be bold and state that I am starting to feel at home on it as I now seem to have come to terms with feeling like I am riding a big bubble of air having got the level of inflation sorted.
It has taken me awhile to work out where I need to position myself on it and that seems to be further back than on my other mats as there is quite a bit of length to deal with. Just like WP in the pic above, who I have often thought seemed to ride his mats further back than I considered ideal, but now that I have ridden a Neumatic I understand why.
I think that the grip has also become a little less unpredictable in it's hold and this has further contributed to my sense of ease and I feel I am struggling a little less when needing to adjust my position, which interestingly seems to be less neccesary?
I think it is going to be an interesting experience to ride a 4GF again!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Never before experienced!

I realised following a session on the Neumatic the other day that a large part of the appeal of mat riding is the new and never before experienced sensations that it provides whilst riding a wave.
This pic is a classic example as the mat is about to take off along the wave at great speed on a highline and the sensation of that, with one's face inches away from the towering wall reeling out ahead, is totally exhilarating!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Like a fine whisky!

Dale distilled.
  • Improved speed, sensitivity, manoeuvrability, durability and very light weight.
  • Unique high speed, adaptable cornering and surprising auto-acceleration.
  • Outstanding performance in ideal waves and excellent in choppy, flatter surf.
  • Uniquely capable of rapidly pulling in to and through critical sections with little rider input.
  • Fastest and most fun means of riding waves on "unsurfable" twisted days when no one else is out.
  • It's like having an independent suspension system for your body and will often go faster over bumps and chop!
  • The least rider effort yields the highest degree of performance.

Friday, November 26, 2010


1. I assess the conditions with a different eye.
2. I don't mind if conditions are big, lumpy and onshore.
3. I can be disappointed if conditions are such that I have to ride my longboard rather than a mat. 
4. I now own 5 extra wave craft.
5. I also now own a second, huge, pair of fins.
6. I store my body board under the house.
7. I have slimmed down a little in the body but now have massive legs.
8. I get wet and am stoked far more often than I used to be.
9. I have made lots of great new friends all around the world.
10. I am more contented and am starting to stop wearing any footwear at all?
What are your 10?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I am so chuffed............

.....'cos that's me there riding that wave!

Observations after 3 sessions on the Neumatic

I love this pic so no apologies for using it again here at the beginning of this post as Prana's cranking bottom turn provides further evidence of the level of performance that a Neumatic is capable of providing given a decent wave on which to perform.
This is not an easy mat to ride and I hold in high regard those who ride a Neumatic with such grace and ease.
I think one can get a bit caught up in the magic towel ride thing and as a consequence I have probably been running the Neumatic with too little air in it initially. As I have already discovered with the MT5, and stupidly had not applied to the Neumatic which has even lighter weight deck, the thinner the material in the mat the more air needs to be in it to work for me. In the end we have to find a level of inflation that works for each of us individually and my new and I think far more logical method is to inflate the mat to a firm rather than soft 90 degrees in my case, where it feels like it is gliding through the water efficiently as I am paddling and kicking around. That does make a lot of sense but it amazes me how it sometimes takes so long to get to such a point.
I have already talked about the 1st session and I can report that the 2nd session was a bit of a fizzog as the waves were just a little small apart from one ride, which was wonderful. This was especially so as I had not really sorted out inflation levels and I had Michelle hanging around taking some video which due to technical difficulties did not eventuate in any usable footage which mattered little in the end. In the main it was very frustrating session as I just could not get on to the waves apart from the one mentioned which had a bit of oomph.
Today I took the mat for a technical session basically, in a bit of a close out but at least it had some size. My primary purpose was to experiment with a range of inflation levels eventually coming to the conclusion I have spoken about above.
Even though the waves were crap really, I managed to get a couple of ripping drops that felt a lot like Prana might have been feeling in the pic above. Blazingly fast and all keeled over in a super fun carving turn. My final wave was the one though. The conditions were clearly starting to get a little better with a right holding up on occasion but after a couple of hours of grappling with the Neumatic at all sorts of levels of inflation in conditions where there was no channel and it was an exercise in constant duckdiving, and we know how much fun that is on a mat, I was knackered. Anyway, I got on to one that held up for at least a reasonable amount of time and that stood up nicely with quite a steep face. I could see an opportunity to move from the bottom of the wave up to a higher line and buggar me that Neumatic did it easily displaying incredible grip.
I feel like I have a much better understanding of the Neumatic now and I am really looking forward to scoring a session in decent waves so as I can explore the potential of this challenging and exciting wave craft further.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More on the Neumatic Advanced 200/70 Surf Mat

So here is a pic of the current quiver. Starting from the left:
Neumatic Advanced 200/70
4GF Standard
Krypt MT5
4GF Fatty
4GF Roundtail Tracker
The Neumatic is the longest mat just pipping the Roundtail Tracker in length and and it is also the thickest mat by quite some margin as it is designed to hold up 100 kilograms of bronzed Aussie!
Here are some other pics for your edification.

The top of the Neumatic and it is a fantastic looking mat!

The bottom of the Neumatic

The side of the Neumatic

The 4Gf Standard in front of the Neumatic
The 4Gf Standard next to the Neumatic
The Krypt MT5 in front of the Neumatic
The 4GF Tracker Roundtail in front of the Neumatic
Comparing the depth of the 4GF Roundtail Tracker and the Neumatic
Even though the Neumatic is the biggest mat it  rolls up really small compared the to 4GF Standard because of the lightweight of the materials used. Amazing!

Ok, ok! So you would like to know what it is like to ride. Well, after this mornings session in lumpy offshore conditions you will be pleased to know that I can tell you.
My first observation is that the Neumatic feels like one hell of a lot of mat. As I have mentioned above, it is the thickest of all the mats and as a consequence really does feel like one is riding on a bubble of air due to the use of very light material on the top and the bottom. It is only because I have quite some experience now on 4Gf and the Krypt MT5 surf mats that I was able to come to terms with the Neumatic within this session.
The MT5 also has a deck made from light material which was a bit of a problem when I first rode it but after a few sessions I became more comfortable and this prior experience really helped when I first hopped on the Neumatic this morning. The 4GF mats with the nylon canvas deck are far more accessible so are certainly the best option for a first time mat rider and the MT5 or a Neumatic are the next step up.
The deck of the Neumatic has terrific grip and initially this was a problem for me, particularly on the take off, as I am used to being able to slide forward with a big dolphin kick on the 4GFs quite easily. This was not so easy on the Neumatic and I eventually realised that, because the Neumatic is quite long and buoyant, I could get on to waves in more or less a normal riding position precluding the need to slip off the back of the mat and then pull forward as I am accustomed to doing on the 4GF and the MT5.
Now this wonderful degree of grip comes in very handy when you are in the midst of turbulent whitewater. I have recently discovered that gripping the mat really hard to get as much stiffness in to it as possible allows one to ride through whitewater and into clear wall. There were some good sized sets coming through and every now and then a bomb and a couple of times I got caught out too far inside. On one occasion however, I decided to make an attempt to get on the wave just after it had broken as I suspected there was enough size in it to get a quite reasonable ride if I could get through the whitewater. Boy did I find myself in a white out, thrown all over the place and completely disappearing from view I am sure, but with the secure grip provided by the Neumatic I eventually shot through the front of the whitewater and away across the now reforming wave.
As I mentioned it took me just a little time to get the take off sorted but then the Neumatic began to show me what it was capable of as I got a couple of reasonable waves. It is definitely quick, holds the highline well, somewhat similarly to the 4GF Roundtail Tracker, slips into reforms easily and glides along on the barest whimper of a wave. It is so sensitive and I seemed to be feeling every little adjustment the mat was making during the ride.
Eventually, I managed to position myself to get on of the bigger sets that were occasionally coming through and I got the ride of the day screaming along the face at high speed, through a flat section, back on to a nice steep face before straightening up and riding the reform almost all the way to the shoreline leaving myself with a lengthy trip back out to the peak. Fantastic!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Neumatic arrived today............

......and for your viewing pleasure the first ever public unboxing of a Dale Solomonson Advanced 200/70 Neumatic Surf Mat!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not a lot in it!

Following a recent conversation on UKMatSurfers, I decided to do a little physical comparison between the Kpypt MT5 and the 4GF Standard as, on my recent couple of sessions on the Standard, it felt quite small and narrow compared to all my other mats and that I needed a much pushier wave to ride it just as Paul has advised me.  The results surprised me as I was under the impression that the MT5 was a slightly bigger mat as I cannot remember it feeling quite as narrow and needing a pushier wave quite so much. I have an inkling this might have to do with the thinner fabric used on the top which is also available by special request on a 4GF Standard. IE blue material top and bottom. I intend to do some more testing in this regard but in the meantime some pics comparing the dimensions of them both.                                        
Somewhere under there is a 4GF Standard!

But not as large a difference as it looks. You can just see the square tail of the MT5 poking out from underneath the 4GF Standard.

Both are blown up to a reasonably firm 90 degree bend and if anything the 4GF Standard looks a little deeper.

Side by side the MT5 is definitely a squarer mat and looks like it has more surface area.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Closest Thing to being a Dolphin!

"Your tapping into the source at a higher level than surfing and that is something very rewarding and exciting because it is an egoless experience, just you and the ocean and frictionless speed. the closest thing to being a dolphin."
Hell yeh! I hadn't considered that.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Spreading the Gospel according to Paul!

Fresh from a fun session in big and messy onshore conditions on the Tracker, I arrived home to find my new t-shirt had arrived!
Are you spreading the gospel too!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I need a bigger swell.................. as I can get a session in on the new mat to test it's capability.
Ok, ok, I will admit that I have already been on the Standard in less than ideal conditions, but I was straight out of the water and breathing in to the Tracker Roundtail as the swell was just not arced up enough.
Interestingly, before I ventured out that day, I had laid the Standard on top of the Roundtail to compare deflated dimensions and there was remarkably little difference apart from the pulled in tail and a little length. But put a few breaths in and, My God, the Standard is definitely a smaller mat! I managed to get on to a couple of faces and got some feel of it's potential and I could tell that it was going to hold in well on a more critical wave. Most of the time however, I was getting caught behind that beautiful place that the right size mat for the conditions on the day puts us. Looking forward to trying the Standard again but I don't think it is going to happen too soon!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The saga around the repair of the World Famous 4GF Fatty Surf Mat!

Just to reiterate, the pic shows the result of an extremely rare incident that damaged the now World Famous Fatty. A rip almost the length of the mat that fortunately did not cause any damage to the i-beams but at this end is all the way to the edge join.

Following this appalling event, I ordered a replacement mat from 4th Gear Flyer in case the fix was not successful and PG very kindly agreed to include a long piece of fabric so as the repair could be carried out without resorting to joining 2 shorter pieces. The new mat is a Standard, as I am most happy with my Roundtail Tracker as the go to all conditions mat.
I have followed PG repair guide that every new matter receives with his mat.

Step 1

I ask Michelle if I can use her masking tape and she kindly agrees.
As this is a long tear, I follow PG's recommendation and start work inserting strips of tape under the fabric in an effort to join the tear up as perfectly as possible

I decide to start at the ends and work my way in towards the middle

This is as good as I can get it and I am happy to work with this join.

Step 2
The next task is to trim the patch to cover the gap. PG has provided me with a piece of material a 3rd of the width of the mat so I go with this as it will easily cover the gap with at least a 3" overlap as recommended in the guide.  Except, of course, at the end of the mat where the tear meets the edge join so I take a template of the curve of the mat at that point so get as much coverage past the tear as possible, which only amounts to a mere 1cm or 2. I do the same at the other end of the mat but only need to take the patch to the inside edge of the join. I use a standard pair of scissors to trim the patch and then check I am happy with the fit. Umm, I think to myself, it is going to be interesting to see how close I can get the patch to the edge with basically a one off chance to place it because tacky contact cement is used to fix it.

Step 3
The next recommendation is to cover the back of the patch with masking tape to minimise it curling up on itself after the contact cement is applied. Important note: This is the shiny side of the material not the rough side as one would initially presume.

Step 4
Now for the messy, tricky bit. The guide recommends two applications of contact cement and I am using Selley's Kwik Grip and as this stuff smells pretty powerfully I go outside on to the deck amongst the tall Karris. To make sure I cover all the area I need to I mark the around the patch with a permanent marker then and apply a 1st layer of cement to each surface and leave them to dry until tacky. I just used the little plastic spreader that came with the cement although PG recommends a brush. For the 2nd coat I decided to use a brush and it was of course much easier to get a smoother layer of cement and I again wait impatiently for the cement to go tacky.

So now the cement is tacky and it is time to drop this patch exactly where it needs to go in one delicate and efficient operation! Suffice to say it turned out to be a bloody wrestling match as the patch attached itself to parts of the mat and itself before eventually ending fairly close to where I intended and with only one little crease. Important word of warning: Do try not to let the contact cement drop between the join resulting in the top of the mat sticking to the bottom of the mat.
"What was that?" you ask.
"Oh, did that happen to me?"
"Oh no, not to me!" mumbled the wide mouthed frog through tightly clenched lips.

I take the now repaired mat down under the house to dry off and ready for a blow up and test the next day!

I wake up the next morning and I am up and out of bed in a flash and down under the house and whacking big breaths in to the mat as I bring it back in and..............?
voila! the mat fills up beautifully and I take this pic to show you that the Fatty has returned from the dead! Confident the job is done, I leave it blown up just to check there are no leaks.

Uh Oh! I come back later and it's drooping - Buggar!

Stricken I start my investigations by squeezing the mat as I hold it to my ear. Ah ha! I hear the sound of air escaping and trace it to a part of the repair where there is an inward crease in the mat over which the patch passes allowing an escape route.
Fortunately, it is near a corner of the patch and with considerable effort, accompanied by much grunting and groaning, I manage to lift the patch back far enough so as I believe that I can effect a repair. I use Enamel thinners to remove as much of the original cement as possible, apply 2 new coats and allow them to dry until tacky and then reposition the corner making sure there are absolutely no creases this time.

The mat gets taken back down under the house until the next morning when again I am up out of bed like a flash to inspect the second repair which looks really good. I whack breaths in to the mat to see if finally the World Famous Fatty is resurrected from the dead mat place.

Success, as half an hour later it still standing proudly erect. Deed done!