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?


  1. Robin I am so stoked to hear you've broken your small wave virginity!

    On the takeoff thing, I do something similar but super-quick as a part of my pull-up to get me on the mat. As soon as I'm on, my weight distributes the air arount the mat... THEN I take the drop.

    For me, super-low inflations and the ability to fly in anything vaguely resembling a wave is the true beauty of mat surfing.

    I never fail to be amazed.



  2. Still prefer a bigger wave and that is the magic of a mat for me!