Friday, April 27, 2012

That's a nifty little thing you've got there!

It is so rare that anybody ever says anything to me about mat riding. So it was pleasant to have the title of this post thrown at me as I walked back up the beach after the session yesterday.
My reply you ask?
"Yes, a little more sophisticated than a surfboard".
Not quite sure where that came from but it seemed to be freely accepted and damn it felt good! I guess it had been clear that the 4GF Standard and I were handling the slightly challenging conditions a little better than the hard board brethren that also shared the peak. In fact one of them happened to mention during the session, that he had a better time yesterday when the swell was a little smaller and the waves were not quite so fast and critical. Today, there were also towering sets regularly making their way through the line up resulting in a degree of mayhem. It was fun for me.
I am comfortable going left or right as I have always surfed beach breaks. But I seemed to be having some issues going left during the session and it left me wondering if I am doing something different to when I go right. So much of the art of catching and riding waves is instinctive. Going right I am automatically manipulating my body and the outer forward corner to set the inner rail on a steeper drop. I am not sure what I am doing when I go left unlike Warren Pfieffer. So the first step to changing a habit is to recognise there is a problem but bloody annoying all the same and I will be keeping that top of the mind for awhile until it has.

Postscript: During the session today, I paid a little more attention to what I was doing going left and it turns out I am performing a half superman. Left arm thrown back and the right manipulating the front corner as required. It was sure as hell working today when it got a bit sucky which the left was doing as it hit the shallow sandbank. I got two other superb lefts on the occasional set waves that peeled through maintaining absolutely perfect shape. I was able to hold the mat back high on the face in perfect position and that is a sensational feeling. I love Autumn!

Monday, April 16, 2012

1st entries for the Krypt 2012 Tube of the Year Competition

At last, we have a some entries for Krypt Surf's Inaugural 2012 Tube of the Year competition. The first 2 come from Oz and this one features Eric Bridges and the photog is Adam Williams.

The 2nd features Adam Williams and the photog is Paul "Oily" Newman!

The 3rd is from the States, features J P Garcia with snapster Seth De Roulet.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Some people do care about us!

Or are they merely taking pity!
It is always a pleasure to get an email out of the blue from a fellow mat rider and especially an aussie of course.

"Hi Robin - little incident today you might enjoy hearing about. I came out from a small but fun surf early this morning at Yaroomba (QLD), propped my mat and fins against a fence in the crowded carpark and towelled off before jumping into my car and driving the few km home. 8 hrs later I thought, "I'll go for a paddle. Now where's my...$^&*#!!" Tore back to the beach and there they were, just where I'd left them. A guy I recognised from the morning's surf came by and said, "We've been keeping an eye on them for ya". After being the odd-one-out in the surf the past 5 years I felt like I'd been bestowed local status :-)"

Jon May

Now Jon is not just a mat rider but a musician as well and a fine one at that as he plays keyboards (A Nord thank you very much) with a band. Not just any band either but the hottest cover band on the Sunshine Coast  "The Remedy"!!!!!
I don't suppose you happen to have noticed anything a little unusual in the pic of the band by any chance?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Surfing alone & Bach

Incredibly, as it is one of the periodic holiday seasons in our seaside haven, I scored my favourite peak around the bay alone and it was working sublimely in both directions for the 4GF Standard. A mere 100 metres or so back, a cache of surfers continued to scramble for poorer waves. Hallelujah and thank you is all I can say.
There is something very special, even spiritual about a lone surfing session and particularly so at this spot for me it seems. I have been mercilessly thrashed here and wondered if I would make it back to shore. It is deep and spooky shark thoughts often ease their way into mind, particularly while one is waiting around between sets. It has goaded me into taking off on waves that I would normally have second thoughts about doing so often because there is an even bigger wave behind that I know is going to attempt to part me from my mat and wrestle me down to the sand. It is a long, long way from assistance if it is needed, but the waves can be sensational and it draws me back time and time again when I judge the conditions will be good. Every time I go there though, I am very wary and have to face my fear again. Even on a day like today where the waves threw up little in the way of surprises. But of course I don't know that until the session is complete and I am safely walking back around the bay and find myself wearing a silly, vacant lopsided grin.
In his thesis titled "Surfing and Spirituality", Leslie Kerby states that spirituality can be described as a transformation of consciousness. He claims that this is the state he can feel while he is surfing, but for me, it is more noticeable after I have finished a session and can remain with me for hours making it difficult to do anything else at all. I can only describe it as a state of bliss that I think arises from spending a period of time completely locked in to the rhythm of the moment. The kilometer walk back around the bay only enhances this state further and often I am barely aware of what I am doing as I get changed and return to my car at which point I really need to start concentrating at least a little bit more. Today, though, the bliss was only further deepened as the Arie from the 3rd movement of Bach's Cantata 82 was playing on my radio as I drove home. I remained irrevocably glued to the seat of my car long after I had arrived there until this beautiful piece of music finished.

This version is sung by the great counter tenor Andreas Scholl whose achingly beautiful voice only strengthens further a life unimaginable without the sublime and deeply spiritually moving music of J S Bach and riding waves!

Monday, April 9, 2012

"They look too soft!"

It had been a longtime, probably before I even started to ride mats, since I watched this video of GG discussing surf mats. It is so much more meaningful for me now, than it was then, as I am able to empathise with all that he talks about. I was particularly interested this time round, with the comment that there was a excellent illusion of speed because the head is close to the wave. Moments later, however, he seemingly contradicts this, by stating that the speed is very good and in fact that it is excellent. So, an illusion that is in fact real! No wonder I like riding mats as sometimes I just feel so like I am flying!
Anyway, getting back to the crux of the matter, local board shaper Warren Thompson had made the comment titling this post to Michelle during a conversation about mats after I had left the beach yesterday. It amused me so much I just had to make a post about it. The conversation came about because, Warren, who is still recovering from having both shoulders reconstructed, had unusually chosen to come out on a bodyboard yesterday rather than a longboard. This was not a surprise to me, as I know it is still difficult for him to paddle the board, and I have often thought to myself why on earth doesn't he ride prone to help maintain his fitness while he recuperates and buggar me there he was finally doing so. Anyway, it transpires that Michelle, told him he should try a mat some time and he showed some interest and so a conversation around the matter (ha, ha) occurred. Michelle, who has had a couple of sessions on a mat, reads this blog and so has some idea what they are about, gave him a bit of a run down on the 21st century in real-time adjustable speed machine.
The "too soft!" comment came up as Warren, a Kiwi, had apparently ridden mats as a child and was in the habit of pumping them up rock hard as the kids over here in Australia did in the 60's. I think any shaper would have made the same comment as all their experience points to a wave craft needing hard surfaces and rails in order to work effectively in a wave. Any of them would benefit from hearing GG's explanations above. So it will be interesting for Warren, if he does ask to try a mat, as like all of us he is going to have to throw away everything he ever thought he knew about surf craft and waves. I wonder if he will be able to do so and persevere. Somehow I think not.
On another matter (Stop, stop, you are killing me here!), I still haven't managed to link up with Eric for a session together and will have a last crack at it today, as by the end of it, many of the holidaymakers will have returned home. Hooray, hooray! Not that I have anything personal against them of course, it's just that...............well, you probably know what I am thinking!                            

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Flyin' high and a matter I spy!

The wedge has found it's way in to my consciousness more than you would think it might of late. The 4th of April, saw me gain or is it lose another year of life. In response to this happy/unhappy event, dependent on your point of view, a most generous email from The Surf Network landed in my inbox.
"We heard it is your birthday. Do please download a video for free on us!"
Well, damned if I won't, so thank you very much chaps. I don't mind a little bodysurfing myself, so I chose Keith Malloy's "Come hell or high water" and, as I have heard from the many of you who have already seen it, a most inspiring movie it is too! All those guys and gals are great exponents of the art but Mark Cunningham's exposition of it is just sublime. It just makes you want to go straight out and catch some waves just wearing a pair of fins and speedos! (Yes I do have a pair of speedos!).
How cool would it be to have a surf spot designated surf mats only like Point Panic is for the bodysurfers in south side Hawaii?
Back to the Wedge though, what I want to know is what it feels like at the end of one of those Wedge rides when they all seem to get the shit smashed out of them in very shallow water? Not for me, but thanks guys as it is incredibly entertaining to watch. As is Chad's "Hey look you can go up at the Wedge too!" move, or does he have helium in his mat? Now that is an interesting idea! What a great image!
It is the Easter weekend here, as it probably is where you live too, and our little coastal town gets utterly overridden with tourists. City based fellow West Aussie mat rider Eric Tocock emailed me this week to say he would also be down here camping a few clicks up the road with a couple of his surf ski mates. So I have been keeping an eye out for him and yesterday, on my 2nd visit to OB for the day on the off chance there might be an inviting looking wave, I spotted a wetsuit clad figure with a huge pair of fins. Yep, it was he, with Roundtail Tracker in hand and UDTs on foot ready to hit the less than impressive and well populated peak. I managed to catch up with him before he went in to introduce myself and say I might join him. However, I had a cracker of a session the day before so it will have to be on another occasion over the weekend. I am fairly determined to finally get the opportunity to enjoy a mini mat meet and just might pop a GoPro on my new GoPro mount equipped Gath Hat for evidence purposes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another lesson in tube riding!

Barrel maestro MT at work on a Series III for Turbo Time III using an artfully placed GoPro?
More detail on how to tube ride on a mat soon!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Another post about mat riding........

.........from the guy that doesn't know how to ride a mat apparently! Anyway, getting back to the matter (ha, ha, ha) in hand, finally we are starting to get some favorable winds and working banks. Last Sunday morning the little bank not far around the bay was arcing up perfectly with some good size waves coming through and holding up very nicely thank you. I had intended to go further around the bay as I wanted another session on the new Krypt and the conditions were looking suitable. But my beloved talked me into trying that bank closer by as she had seen some good sized waves coming through on it that I had missed as I struggled in to a wetsuit again after weeks of just wearing boardies and a rashie! (Wetsuits seem to shrink when they are really dried out?)
Well, I have to report that she was so right and so was I for deciding to take out the Krypt as a couple of the waves needed a mat with some stick to say the least. They were quick but had a bit of size giving time to get straight across the shoulder as the wave broke and on to the face. There was no way there would have been time to stand up as you really had stay on the high line so the mat was in it's element while others struggled with the conditions. I actually ended up with a bit of strained muscle in my neck this week and I think that might have been due to the wave of the day on which I remember struggling to maintain position as I was really having to use my head as well as my body to keep the weight on the inside rail. I even got a hoot or two from her grace who rather usefully happened to be on the way back out and saw the whole ride. Where was the bloody camera?
Anyway all this preamble is leading up to the fact that I appear to be adjusting my take off routine a little and I think it is because I have been riding a mat with a lightweight deck more often of late. My usual routine is to use a flailing right hand to assist the take off and so the distribution of my weight on the mat is unbalanced which I appear to have got away with on a heavier weight canvas top mat up to now. However, on lightweight decked mats such as the Krypt, Blue Streak or Neumatic, occasionally, this causes the collapse of the left hand front corner of the mat into the wave face stalling the bloody take off! Clearly, a little more care is required to maintain a lightweight mat's shape. So rather than using my usual robust flailing right arm and DarkFin gloved hand to assist the legs to take off right in to the wave, I am doing so only until I get the mat moving forward nicely. Then I am placing my right hand back on the mat and using the legs for the final push into the wave ensuring the shape of the mat is maintained as I drop in to the wave. The result is much more consistent take offs!
* Rightly so, the interview with MT has garnered an unprecedented number of views and hopefully this has cleared up some of the hearsay myth and fable that has been concocted about him and his relationships with others. My hope is that maybe now the global mat riding community can grow up a little and leave behind the bitterness and discontent that has infested it of late. As MT says "It is just a surf mat for God's sake. Enjoy riding the bloody thing!
Time to spread some good vibes folks!!!!