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.

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