Monday, January 10, 2011

Back on the Neumatic today and...........

.........learnt a whole lot more about how to ride a Neumatic and the importance of keeping my bloody chin down near the mat!
Having been given a glimpse of the hyper speeds that very low inflation provides I am determined to become completely comfortable with it. As the conditions were small and my calf muscles had been pretty severely strained after riding the tracker the other day I decided to take out the Neumatic as it is a bigger mat and it tends to get into the wave a little easier.
Anyway no buggaring around this time, the choice was super low inflation from the beginning of the session and deal with it you poncy prick! So I breathed into the mat, only until I could still fold it in half, marched backwards into the shorebreak and  very assertively grabbed it in my right hand about 2/3s away from the front and hauled myself on to it. So far so good!
I am slowly learning that the Neumatic is a different beast to my other mats. Once your are on it your are on it and shifting around especially at very low inflations with the the grippy deck is challenging to say the least. This has made me suddenly realise that, being custom built, Dale has kindly placed the decking grip on the mat as pretty exact indicator of where on the mat I should place the noble bod. Obvious, I know, but I'm still new to this mat riding lark.
So it is much more of a cruise around kicking mat rather than an arm paddler which is what I usually resort to particularly on the way back out after a ride on the 4GFs and the MT5.
This then means that the take off procedure needs to change as I am used to shifting back off the mat and using my right arm as well as kicking to get myself moving and then hauling forward on to the mat to pop onto the wave. I have discovered that even on the take off less is best with the Neumatic, kick like mad and let the mat sort itself out with perhaps a little squeeze to pump the back end of the mat up and away it goes provided...............? 
One keeps one's chin way down close to the deck which means that the noble bod, arms and legs are aligned and this was the major new discovery about mat riding yesterday. I've seen the all the mature mat riders, Kendog, Warren, George, PG etc etc doing this and now I finally get why. It allows the mat to do it's job more efficiently so I will now be working on maintaining that posture. 
Here are some of Dale's Swaylocks postings on this very matter.
"Do not ride in the common prone craft position: head and chest raised up, weight on elbows and abdomen." 
Yep got that one finally!
"Do ride with chest down on the mat, head and chin lowered, no weight on elbows. Aim for a balanced, forward position." 
Yes, yes, and yes!

"Use your inside hand/forearm, palm pressing down and back about 8" from the front corner. Feel your elbow near your hip. Try forming a body line with hand, arm, hip and thigh." 
Certainly going to be giving this a try!
And this last further expanded upon from another Swaylocks posting
"When I first began mat surfing in the 1970s, George told me one of the most effective ways to ride a (reduced inflation) surf mat was "low profile... forming a flexible body line" along the INSIDE rail: hand flat- palm pressing down on deck about 8" back from front, with forearm and elbow TUCKED IN against the ribcage just above the hip joint (see photo below). So the "flexible body line" along inside rail = palm + forearm + elbow + hip joint + thigh. (Important point my italicisation) Chest and abdomen often rest on deck, sometimes the rider's chin. Also, movement and position of an adult mat surfer's head (10+ lbs.) has considerable influence on performance, especially with modern ultralight surf mats weighing only 16-24 ounces." 
Finally realised the importance of the body surfing element of mat riding!
"Use your outside forearm/hand to wrap around the rail, holding the front edge and corner. When necessary, increase your mat`s internal pressure by pressing inward with your forearm and squeezing with hand." 
The forearm squeeze is something I have only recently discovered!
"Time a sudden increase in grip pressure at the same moment you`d drop down the face and roll over into a carving turn, as when weighting/pumping a surfboard. Accelerating out of that arc, try releasing your grip to allow the mat to flatten and skim across the wave face." 
I think I do this but I will be thinking about it more now!
"After much concentration and effort, one day you`ll relax, forget, and just let go... your mat, free to follow those invisible lines of energy... to surf (almost) by itself." 
How I am looking forward to that day!