Sunday, July 31, 2011

Well, it was splendid yesterday but today............. is not drawing me to imbibe quite so strongly.

Accompanied by Ramsnake playing Messin' with the Kid recorded at a recent rehearsal on an iPhone 4 using Fire 2 before editing in Logic Pro to add a little compression and delay.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The 4GF Standard does the job

A most interesting session today that included a regulation cover up. The swell is up, although very westerly, meaning it travels past mostly and the wind is resulting a very strong off shore effect. The swell was big enough today that the bank in front of the inlet was a little too intense looking for me let alone dealing with the wind to which one is far more exposed to in front of the inlet. My gauge as to whether I am likely to survive the experience on a mat is whether I would consider bodysurfing a particular break and if it is no, then I don't go there 'cos if I lose the mat, and with the wind the way it was a good possibility, it can be a difficult situation even with fins. However, there was a perfect looking smaller wave closer to the corner and local shaper Warren T was also pretty intrigued by it's possibilities. Unfortunately he has been mostly out of the water for the last 4 years getting his shoulders joints replaced so he was not prepared to go out but I was game. I took the Roundtail out initially and discovered just how well the wave was standing up as I involuntarily found myself power sliding, albeit in a fairly controlled fashion, much of the time. So I decided I should change mats, always a bummer to have to do, and made my way in, ripped off the fins and plodded back up the beach. I decided it was time to give the Standard another crack and so glad I did. Some people probably think I am mad having a quiver of mats but believe me they are all very different, and now that I am pretty familiar with their characteristics, it is wonderful to have enough knowledge now to be able to make a reasonably informed decision relating to which one might better suit the conditions. The Standard is certainly a wonderfully capable mat and immediately demonstrated how well it can hang in to the face whilst still providing enough mat for me to get on the wave early enough and if I didn't allowed me to grab a front corner and carve hard across the face. Really good stuff and as I said I definitely got a very reasonable cover up as well as some charging fast face time.
Get that quiver happening!

Foot pinch!

I was hoping to take up PG's recent very generous offer but have had to put that on hold because the Duck Feet I ordered have turned out to be too small so they have to go back to eBodyboarding so as I can order the next size up. The freight bill is going to be horrendous. Bummer!

You can do that on a surf mat!

The strength and durability of the MT5s was questioned recently on UK Mat Surfers and my response was 
"My MT5 seems to be very well built and has dealt with some serious beatings whereas one of my more well known mats has not. MT says he has not heard of any that have failed to date"
In what can only be described as the most extraordinary photo of mat surfing I have seen to date, MT shows to what degree he puts his mats to the test. I can only guess at the momentum that needed to be generated in order to make that move. Did he make it back down the face? More than likely I would surmise as it looks like there is enough weight shift back to the left to get a bit of grip to carry on. Incredible and well worth clicking on and viewing the full size image!

In response to a recent question from Prana

I am a red bucket guy.
UDTs, 2 pairs of fin socks, wetsuit, gloves, zinc, wax, towel, cap, helmet, 4GF Standard and Roundtail Tracker and a Krypt MT5 folded up in there too.
A towel gets carried on my shoulder.
At the end of the session all the wet stuff goes back in the bucket ready to go home to be hung out to dry in readiness for the next session.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wanna know about mat riding?

That man G, 3rd from the right with the wrong finger pointing at young Piskian, tells it all here. An informative and compelling read.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The bank in front of the inlet,...........

..............that has been created by the opening of the bar provided me with some of the best quality waves that I have ever experienced here. These images were taken this morning and the wave is not quite as clean but still providing the nearly 20 punters with some very pleasing rides and barrels to the right today. When I surfed it on Monday using the MT5 it was very quick, a bit busier, and though I managed to get through on a couple, I was probably lacking a little mat. Yesterday it was still producing a perfect A frame with the left particularly tasty and because it looked a little small I chose to take out the Roundtail Tracker. Initially, there were just three of us out there, myself, a bodyboarder and a guy on a short board and I got a couple nice ones but oddly it wasn't until a few more arrived that it really started to turn on. I was cleaning up on the mat taking the sets as they came through that the stand up riders were finding so hard to stay with the wave and mostly getting caught behind the peak. On the Roundtail, I was able to position myself perfectly to maintain a high line take off that set me up beautifully for the rest of the wave, stalling to try to slot in to the barrel, driving hard to stay on the face, releasing to get through a section and kicking hard to catch a reform. Oh man, did I get some great rides with plenty of the punters gawking at the speed I was achieving and I even got the thumbs up from one short boarder caught inside yet again. On the way back out he complained that he just could not get on to them and I spent a bit of time explaining to him why the mat was doing the job so well. He was mightily impressed with the speed and how much fun I was obviously deriving from each of the waves. It is not often that we get to experience this type of fast rifling barrelling wave here so it has been a pleasure and a rewarding learning experience to explore a surf mats potential on it. This final of course apart from an altercation with a visitor on a longboard who had obviously never seen a mat in action and was completely taken by surprise at the speed as I arrived on top of his head because he was paddling wide rather than taking the wave on the head on the way back out. I get really pissed off when the tourists visit, don't respect the line up and it's inhabitants, often bringing their aggressive over populated surf break attitude to our generally amicable and less populated breaks. So I gave him a little of what he might be used to and he actually had the gall to threaten me resulting in my grabbing his board and giving it a good shove and letting him know just who might suffer more and boy did he back off from the aggro mat rider with blazing eyes and a snarl on his dial. I so enjoyed seeing his face as I and the Roundtail continued to score perfect rides whilst he floundered around on his ridiculous choice of wavecraft considering the conditions. I think maybe there will be a little more respect next time he sees someone out on a mat. Got to respect the locals and don't, just don't ever fail to take seriously the old guy on the surf mat!

Surf mats & their riders 2..........

...and a few other bits and pieces! I would like to acknowledge and thank all the artists and photographers who have created these images. You know who you are!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Any takers?

Like most of you, I am sure, one of the things I love about mat riding is the speed they can achieve.
Mark Thomson has probably ridden a mat at speeds way faster than any of us have experienced and that must be one hell of a ride. I particularly like this shot that portrays exactly how he goes about doing so. Note the head placement!

He has issued a challenge and it will be interesting to see if anyone takes it up.
Click on the image to see the full size article

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Darkfin gloves review

You may remember that I mentioned that I had ordered a pair of these interesting looking gloves here. To recap briefly, I mainly got them because my fingers get a little battered from hanging on to the mat.
I received the gloves yesterday and I have to say that I am most impressed by the quality of them. The rubber used appears a perfect thickness and flexibility and like it will be tough and durable. I love the way in which they have secured the webbing across the back of the palm and fingers which again inspires confidence that it will remain attached over time. They appeared to fit perfectly, there are eleven different sizes, so I chose well thankfully, and I was really looking forward to an opportunity to try them out.
As the bar has been opened at our usual surf spot, and always takes a little while to settle down, today Michelle and I decided to check our old home break out. We suspected that the river mouth bar there would also have been breached recently and when we arrived we found that indeed it had and three punters were out enjoying what looked like a very nice little peak indeed on a bank directly in front of the river mouth. It was raining and cold with a lively off shore wind but the water was a beautiful green as we remembered and that little peak just looked too inviting not to go in.
So we struggled into our still wet and cold wetsuits, God I hate having to do that, and walked out to the break. Luckily, two of the punters decided to come in just as we got there so it was just going to be the 3 of us sharing. The gloves are a good fit and it was a little bit of a struggle to get the second one on using the hand that already had the first on. I like the way in which the wrist section of the glove is a good length easily covering the end of the wetsuit arms at the wrists. As I paddle out, I am an arm paddler on a mat rather than just kicking until I get out the back anyway, I can feel the gloves are providing plenty of resistance as they pull though the water. Ummm, it is looking like on this count they may be a valuable assistance on the take off. I get on to my first wave, a quite powerful and cranking little left, getting a very decent ride before the wave closed out pretty hard requiring me to do some serious grabbing on to of the mat with my right hand in order to retain it for the next wave. I certainly would not want the gloves to be any thicker as it would certainly have made it difficult to hang on to the mat because it felt like there was a slightly reduced purchase than I am used to with an ungloved hand. It was not enough to make me think it would be problematic and I think it was more that the sensation was unfamiliar and there was probably more grip available between the two materials than I was actually aware of. By the end of the short but sharp session in which I collected another couple of really great fast rides I had become quite used to the feeling and was not thinking about it anymore. On another note, I am wondering if it may have been a good idea to get a pair one size smaller as there was a tendency for the finger tips of the gloves to ride up the finger and a little effort was required to get them back in to place again. It only happened occasionally but if I need to buy another pair sometime in the future I might consider it.
They certainly helped to ease the stress on my fingertips when hanging on to the mat, provide an extra degree of warmth and having the extra paddling power is an added bonus and so they will become a part of my mat riding kit from now on. I have a pair of Duck Feet on the way and so I am also thinking having webbed gloves may make up somewhat from the power I am going to be losing by switching from the bigger UDT fins.

The bar is breached!

The town where I live lies next to a massive inlet that feeds in to the river, the mouth of which you can see blocked by a substantial bar of sand. Depending on the amount of rain we receive each year the bar is breached to allow the inlet water to flush out to sea supposedly keeping this wonderful body of water healthy. If the height of the water does not reach a certain limit then the bar is not breached which is what occurred last year.
The bar is breached manually by a huge digger and there has been fierce controversy for many years whether it should be opened on the east or west side. Apparently it used to naturally open on the east side but for the last few years has been opened on the west side more to do with political than scientific reasons according to the 2007 minutes of the Wilson Inlet Management Committee. They also go on to say:

"From an aquaculture point of view, this year is a disaster that could well repeat itself if we take climatic changes into account. Deaths of both mussels and oysters lead to the conclusion that low marine exchange, coupled with last summer’s conditions, are clearly directly involved. These current conditions are therefore detrimental to the social, economic and environmental benefits that aquaculture could offer to Denmark." 

A local oyster/mussel farmer whose operation folded because of the deterioration has been campaigning for many years to get the inlet opened on the east side to rectify the situation. He has written a comprehensive report on the matter which is well worth reading if you are at all interested in a healthy coastline and of course being a wave rider you must be. 
Anyway, four years later back in 2011 and where did they open it? Well closer to the middle, but still a more westerly opening it has to be argued. Anyway, it is always quite an occasion with many people turning up to view the event which I have captured on video and posted below.

Here is the opening 3 hours later

Here it is two days later with a half a dozen punters already enjoying the quick little right going through. The water temperature will have plummeted so they will be getting cold pretty quickly.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I have a pair of Duck Feet fins on the way as one my UDTs has a split in the strap where it meets the foot  box. They are still working fine but just in case you know. The other factor is wearing the UDTs has resulted in injuring my feet a little. I have been in the habit of wearing a pair of low cut fin socks covered by a pair of high cut ones of the same size rather than a size bigger which would have probably have meant that the issue never arose in the first place. Duh! My feet have ended up all squashed up inside the foot box and the ball of my big toe on the right foot particularly has been quite painful to walk on. I have resolved the situation by wearing just the high cut socks and after a long session on the MT5 yesterday and thinking I might be in trouble the next day they have felt pretty reasonable. So I will be doing a comparison reviewing the smaller Duck Feet against the UDTs soon. Although I love the power of the UDTs, many other matters far more experienced than myself use the Duck Feet so I may end up using them instead also. My toes are definitely more knobbly from using fins over the last year! Anyone else had foot problems due to long term fin usage?

Krypt MT5 revisited

As I am still without a Neumatic, long story, yes, yes, one day I might, I thought it was time to take my first generation MT5 out for a session as I have not ridden it for sometime. It is a smaller mat, like the 4GF Standard, so a wave with a bit of size and punch is a good thing. I mention Neumatic because the MT5 also has a thin deck and is a little less for giving to ride compared to the nylon canvas deck 4GFs and suits a rider with some degree of experience.
My previous experience with the mat indicated that the deck is a little slippery so I whacked a good coating of wax on it before I headed out. I have spent a fair bit of time on this mat in the past and after much experimentation had established how much inflation it required so I breathed my breath in to it until I could bend it to fairly stiff 90 degrees. Into the water I go, a little around the bay where there is a good size swell coming through, and the first thing I noticed is how it feels like a bigger mat than it actually is even though it is very close to a 4GF Standard in size. I think this is because of the very square corners particularly at the back.
Now I know you are saying well it looks bigger than the Standard in the image to the left so obviously it is going to feel bigger but check the next image out and you can only just see a corner of the MT5 sticking out from underneath the Standard on top of it.
The wax I have applied on the deck provides a near perfect balance between grip and manoeuvrability. I know Mark has improved level of grip on the the deck of the 2nd generation MT5 shown in the first image above.
I had forgotten what a slippery little mat the MT5 is to paddle around on as it just flies through   the water very easily and with the great support around
the hip area provided by those square rear corners results in a most pleasant waiting around for a wave experience.
Although the valve is a pain in the arse to get the air out of the mat at the end of the session it is excellent for adjusting the amount of air in the mat during the session without having to get off the mat to do so. Just blow in to it while you are lying on the mat or use the deflator attachment to let it out. It also addresses the accidental magic towel effect that often occurs on a 4GF when the plug gets knocked out and one finds oneself on an rapidly accelerating and deflating mat!
I have previously named the MT5 the Ferrari of the mat world and I still think this tag applies as it is super fast, has plenty of grip to hang in to the face and with the inbuilt rocker carves hard when required.
Now that I have a year of mat riding experience I am much more able to appreciate it and have to conclude that I really like it. If you have some mat riding experience and get the chance, do take an MT5 out for a session and see what you think. I know I'm gonna be taking mine out again when the waves have a bit of punch.