Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The death of a 4GF Fatty?

Is this mat beyond repair? I am hoping it isn't as the i-beams are undamaged but I am concerned that it may not be because the tear ends so close to the edge of the mat at the bottom of the image!
"What was that you said?"
"Oh, of course, you want to know how it happened?"
"Well, it occurred because some little $5^@_+%$!*^ who should not have been out in the water didn't get the nose of his board down in time as I shot across the face of the wave straight over his ^)*%$# head!"
It is the speed that gets them and the inability to conceive of the notion that a mat rider might be able to turn and go across the wave face!
Before I rather slowly and awkwardly bodysurfed in with a heavy water filled mat in tow, I let him know he had just helped to destroy a $300 surf mat and that next time he needed to get out of the %#+*!@ way!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Long weekend Saturday session

It's a long weekend and there are a few more punters around than usual. The swell was pretty minimal so it was a trek around the bay to find a wave as there were too many on the smaller peaks near the point. Now I don't know how you feel about it, but I am not so enamoured with carrying a 10' longboard for what is probably nearly a kilometre. Yep I know I am a woose, but the other reason is I have had the 10 footer around there before and it's traditional rails have not suited the wave and I just kept sliding out of the face. So what to do? I have never ridden the mat so far around the bay and I know it is still going to be pretty big and very little in the way of a channel where I can see there are 2 peaks working. I could take the 8' 1" Carver but even that is a bit of a handful so buggar it I will test my mettle on a mat. So decision made, off I plod with a 4GF Roundtail Tracker as I am unsure of the wave shape but know it can handle a wide range of conditions and it is the mat I am most confident on.
As I get to the first peak I can see the sets are well over head high similar to the pic above but cleaner with a well shaped left coming through and a more inconsistent and hollower right and as I suspected, no defined channel and high frequency sets.
Having made the decision to go in and discovering there is a not so obvious rip too, it was ten minutes before I finally arrived out the back to find three local crew and a surfer acquaintance from the old home town enjoying the left. I knew I was not going to last too long if it was going to take me that long to get back out each time so I planned to get three waves and then go back around the bay to where Michelle was unbeknownst to me enjoying a nice little 4' wave to herself.
Clearly, I have gained more confidence in a mat and my ability to ride one, as with little ceremony I look down the steep drop of the well over head high first wave I set up for and calmly dropped down 10' further in than a longboarder who had no idea I was sharing his wave with him. I got caught a little behind the peak but quite quickly got through to a cleaner ridable part of the wave and enjoyed far too long a ride on the reforms, well after the clearly more sensible longboarder had pulled out, considering the trial I knew awaited me to get back out again.
So out I go again with a second wonderful opportunity to refine my mat duck diving technique. I am getting pretty good at squeezing the front of the mat and bending the corners downwards to create a more streamlined upside down U shape to get through a wave. Because the waves were bigger I was also having to spread my legs apart to control the back corners of the mat and occasionally actually squeezing the mat with my legs also in the MRDG (mat rider's death grip) so as not to lose the mat. At the same time I am fighting the rip which is pulling me to the left and it is another 10 minutes before I finally find myself out the back again.
I take another wave very similar to the first and again, forgetting the difficulty of getting out the back, ride it for far too long resulting in another arduous and exhausting duck dive, paddle and kick attempt to get out the back as this time I didn't make it as the wind suddenly changed and the peak went to pieces and it wasn't worth putting in the effort.
So I trudge back around the bay closely followed by everybody else and join Michelle and all her new mates who were now also enjoying the peak she had enjoyed on her own for sometime apparently.
The conditions couldn't have been more different as the sets were very infrequent and barely shoulder high. I still enjoyed two little peelers, one of which the RT flew across and I am still a little unsure quite why, before calling it session over and struggling for the 2nd time that morning to get the bloody UDTs off!
Reflecting on the session, I realise that I need more time on those big steep waves as I am sure I could have got an even better result than I did today. At least now, I know I have the confidence to take a mat around the bay and hopefully there will be a bit more of a channel next time and the wind behaves itself for longer. Why the mat took off on that little peeler so fast, I am still unsure, but I think I am positioning on the mat more effectively on smaller waves and am perhaps assisting more with my fins than I have done so in the past.
The surf mat is such a versatile, satisfying, surprising, mystifying and constantly challenging wave riding craft and I am appreciating this the more I ride it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Magic Carpet Ride..................

.......I hear you ask? Well, I have been downloading quite a few surf movies from including one called Wordz - A Longboarding Lexicon. It opened with a song, I had not heard for some number of years, the name of which reminded me so much of mat riding. Yep you guessed it Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride (love that hippie music) presented to you below in celebration of this new blog. Enjoy and don't forget to turn up your volume - alot!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

3 more interesting pics

 This pic is a classic and you can read here to find out why!
 More interesting reading here.

And just for good measure more here!

With thanks to Quiver Mag

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In the beginning!

"No Dad No. I'm sure this is wrong!"

"No Dad No. I said a mat not a ring!"

"Ah thanks Dad, that's more like it!"

Who is this sharp looking dude....... whom many of us owe so much?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A surfmat riding experience!

All suited up and also sporting a cap and blue Gath helmet making me look remarkably like Buzz Lightyear, I continue to keep an eye on the conditions from the bench on the lookout as I sit down, raise my right foot and apply 4 bandaids to a toe. It still seems to need a little extra protection even though I also wear 2 pairs of 2mm fin socks to protect my feet from the heavy but powerful UDT swim fins I am using. I am resisting modifying the UDTs as I hope there will be no further need to once the fins wear in, my feet toughen up and I become more accustomed to using them. When I first started mat riding, I used a pair of POD 2 bodyboarding fins which are much lighter and shorter allowing high frequency kicking from the knee joint. I think that much of the toe issue is caused whilst in the excitement of trying to get on a wave and I still tend to kick like this using the UDTs. I am trying to change to a lower frequency kick generated from the big muscles of the thighs and I think that will alleviate the situation.
I pick up and pull on the low cut pair of fin socks and then the higher cut ones wiggling my toes around to make sure I have not pulled them on too tightly. I reach across to the UDTs and tugging strongly on the side of each pull them on to my feet after which I pull the big thick straps over my heels.
I stand up, reach down with my right hand to pick up the cylindrical object still on the bench, hobble awkwardly down the steps and slowly make my way across the beach to where the rip is flowing out next to the rocks. The waves are pretty straight and quick with a few bigger sets coming through that seem to hold up a little longer creating a right hand wave. These are not conditions I would normally consider venturing out in but today I am not taking out a surfboard but a unique and most capable wave riding craft.
As I lift my right hand I allow it's contents to unroll revealing a canvas and nylon Roundtail Tracker surfmat produced by Paul Gross at 4th Gear Flyer in the US. I raise the top of the canvas side of the mat, place a valve between my lips and start blowing in to the mat and it slowly springs to life against my body. After 20 or so breaths I stop, place the stopper into the valve and bend the mat in half to form a 90 degree bend.
Satisifed, I turn around to face the land and start wading out backwards feeling the strong cross current in the water increase as I move gradually deeper in to the ocean.
As the water reaches my waist and I feel the current starting to pull me backwards rather than sideways, I turn around to face the ocean and, squeezing hard on the top two corners of the surfmat, fall forward on to it and pull the now temporarily stiffer mat down and under my chest. I release my grip and I feel the mat immediately come alive as it responds to the movement of the water beneath it. As I start to bob and shimmy around crazily in the disturbed water of the rip, I use my arms to paddle out and then across to where the waves are breaking.
There are a few other hopefuls out the back and I get the usual double look from some who have not had my company before. I notice one guy turn to his mate and mutter something and they both break out in a chuckle.
I present them with a huge grin as I paddle past to sit the furthest out the back, move back off the mat and, with my legs hanging almost vertically in the water as the rear of the softly inflated mat bends under the weight of my body, wait for a set to arrive.
I am looking for a wave that sits up hard and is about head high from a stand up surfers point of view. A set builds and I am immediately searching for the focus of the energy within the wave to make sure that I am well placed to use it to mount the beast. Although this wave is a good size I can see that it is not going to sit up enough as the energy of the wave slides too quickly away from where I am positioned. As I slide over the top and down the back I can feel the depth of the water reduce as the bigger wave behind sucks up the water in front of it. I can see this waves energy focus heading straight for me but I can sense that I am too far in and, sliding my body half on and half off the mat with my arms not quite fully extended, I kick hard out towards it stopping at the point I judge will allow me to turn and still have enough distance to use my flippers to create some momentum forward. Reaching this point, I turn and, looking over my shoulder to check my position, move steadily forward until the wave and I will meet at exactly the point it starts to lift.
Perfectly positioned I feel the first thrust of movement of the wave start to lift me and my left hand squeezes the front of the mat stiffening it up a little as I take my right hand away to paddle hard to help my legs which are now kicking powerfully.
As I feel the wave take the mat in it's grasp and I return my right hand to the front of the mat and squeezing hard in concert with the left pull myself on to it angling straight across and down to the right where I can see the face building. Keeping my arms in and my body low I release my grip and I feel the mat take off automatically finding and holding a high line. Without quite understanding why I am doing so, I find myself touching up the mats shape by squeezing and releasing the corners, subtly shifting my body weight and dipping my fins in and out of the face of the wave to enhance it's progress.
I can see the section is about to close out in front of me but that the wave continues on beyond. I raise my fins from the water and dive down the face of the wave and with a terrific burst of speed fly across in front of the whitewater and through to the next section where the mat moves back up on to a high line I continue on my merry way.
The wave is now about to close out completely but I sense that it is reforming back in the other direction so I give the right corner a big squeeze and shift my weight to the left and the mat immediately carves around in the other direction and shoots across a face that is now barely above my head.
Squeezing, releasing, shifting, dipping and kicking I maintain momentum until the wave finally closes out and I turn towards the beach and relinquish all control back to the mat and remarkably it finds a means to continue forward in front of the whitewater until it can go no further. I stand up and move awkwardly back across to where the rip is running, turn around and, squeezing hard on the top two corners of the surfmat, fall forward on to it and pull the now temporarily stiffer mat down and under my chest. I release my grip and ride the rip out continuing the cycle again and again until I force myself to eventually call it a day and come in.
Flopping off the mat in the shallow water I just have enough energy to wrench the heavy straps of the fins off my feet, remove my fin socks and pull the stopper out of the valve. With the rapidly deflating mat in my right hand and and fins with fin socks tucked inside in the left, I wearily make my way out of the water as a grin splits my face and I marvel at the adeptness of this seemingly inappropriate limp bag of nylon to assist me to ride a wave. Any wave! Such a bag of Fun!