Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The trend towards smaller mats and is the mat rider average age index falling?

There certainly seems to be a trend towards smaller mats rather than larger ones although G's latest mat seems to bely that notion. You can find more info on G's mat building efforts here and I think we will now have to honour his consistent efforts with the title of "Bonafide Mat Builder"! I like the way he attends to the design elements of colour and line as well as the obvious form ensuring his mats have great individuality.
Fantastic that there are now mats being manufactured in 3 of the 4 corners of the world, Europe, the Americas and Australasia! I have always had a problem with that saying as I am still mystified as to how it is possible to find a corner on a globe??
In any case, back to the rise of the smaller mat and my assertion that this is because the mat rider average age is currently trending downwards. No doubt from the feedback he has had from this changing demographic, PG was inspired to resurrect the 5GF and now the dimensions have been reduced even further with the introduction of the MiniMax. I think this is a step forward as for sometime now I have believed that the smaller the mat you can use for the conditions the better and have forsaken using my larger mats the Vespa and UDT entirely.

Mat Max's recent report to PG on the MiniMax supports this notion when he states:

"Ironically,the waves were miniature when I took out the Mini for the first time. It is noticeably faster when kicking due to the reduced form drag. Paddling is much easier on the narrower platform with less nose out front. Catching and riding 1/2 foot waves is not a problem. Clearly, this is a completely viable model to add to the lineup"

Here is a comparison between the MiniMax with a UDT superimposed over the Standard and you can see just how huge the difference is.

So apart from form drag, being my main issue with the bigger mats, all of this reduction in size is also in the name of traction in more vertical and extreme waves. As I have mentioned earlier, I believe that there is a correlation between the exponential increase in the number of mat riders recently, many of whom are youthful, and the demand for smaller mats. These adventurous and seemingly less fearful souls along with some of the old guard like MatMax are testing the limits of their mats in more challenging waves and asking more of them. IE Stickney and crew at the Wedge!

MT has been experimenting with smaller mats since the early noughties with his MT2 and MT3 designs that were 3 ft 51/2" x 19 x 4 with a round nose round tail and round nose square tail respectively. They were restricted breathers and he reports that they were awesome mats that he was able to dominate to achieve high performance surfing. As well as reducing the size of the mat, he has also taken a slightly different path in the quest for traction developing a high-tech double coated fabric that grips the surface of the water. Interestingly, considering the content of this post, MT has confirmed the release of a grommet model to be called the MT5-5 when summer returns to the southern hemisphere this year. Now that might really make the mat rider average age index nose dive!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Subliminal message?

If you happen to have been to MT's surfmat website you will notice that he has chosen to display an image of the latest MT5 upside down. This is understandable in view of the major change to the Series III mat being the new double coated fabric on the bottom. Some of you may remember all the subliminal message controversy discovered when the Beatles revolutionary song Revolution #9 was played backwards. People claimed to hear a car crash, sirens, flames, Paul McCartney yelling "get me out!" and of course the famous "Turn me on dead man..." where ever "Number 9" occured apparently suggesting Paul was dead. If you are into this sort of thing there is an extremely detailed analysis of the song here.

Now, I am not sure if MT is into subliminal messages but an experience during the session yesterday may mean he might be. Following my on-line check of the surf conditions, I arrived at OB to find the swell was way bigger than I had thought it would be with the biggest sets almost rideable off the point itself rather than the usual inner bank. So some serious size waves for sure and it was a line ball decision on whether to go out, and even though it was already a little busy and pretty messy, I made the decision to do so. In the end, I was very glad that I did as I got some very reasonable rides. On one particular wave, I did not quite get across as I would have liked, wiping out and losing my mat momentarily before managing to grab it again and quickly paddling hard to get back to the rip out of the impact zone. A difficult task as a secondary current was pushing back the other way and it was a slower than one might have liked crabwise movement back to to the rip itself for the ride back out. I get out the back and another wave rises in front of me with no other takers, I turn quickly in to it, managing to control the mat's speed and stay high resulting in one of the better rides for the day. As I perform my usual 180 degree side slide out of the remnants of the wave, before I end up on the rocks, I notice that the mat is looking a little unusual suddenly realising that it is actually upside down and I had not noticed! As I turn it back over the right way and head back out for more fun rides, I mused to myself how well the mat had performed upside down. I had not even felt that I was slipping around at all on the bottom fabric either which is particularly surprising? So there you go. Is MT's subliminal message that you can ride your MT5 any side up you like?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Exceptional Fun!

More shameless self promotion? Probably, but had a lot of fun designing it anyway and looking forward to the 2 I have ordered arriving.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

More on wax, mat popularity and keeping your body soft!

A very interesting conversation with MT the other day following this post.

It turns out that even MT resorts to waxing his mat after about 6 months of use too. He only applies a light lengthwise wipe along the middle of each section of the mat to ensure he can still move around easily. So rather than being so stingy, I am now applying a light coat of wax to the back 1/2 of the mat and then up along the sides of the remaining 1/2 where the arms rest. I don't like getting wax in my beard.

Mat Popularity
Mats are certainly popular in Japan as this picture of the Shizunami Surfmat Team shows. Mats are also really starting to make their presence known on the East coast of Australia. MT spoke of a party wave recently with 8 mat riders resulting in utter mayhem and much laughter. Stopped all the board riders in their tracks too apparently. Good stuff and a welcome hark back to the past when the surfing style of the day allowed for the noble art of wave sharing. I have been doing a bit of wave sharing myself occasionally lately slotting in to the pocket behind a board rider much to their surprise when they find I was right behind them at the end of the wave.

Keeping The Body Soft
In terms of riding a thin decked mat, the other most interesting advice MT gave was to really work to keep the body soft and not retain any of the stiffness that might result from having ridden other forms of wave craft. As he says that I am of course thinking, "Well............., I know that and I do it!". However, it doesn't take long for the doubts to creep in and I am starting to think that next time I go out, I am going to have to keep that in mind and try to be more aware of what I am actually doing. Apparently, MT's son Daniel, apart from shaping the most radical boards on the planet, has been taking this notion to the extreme developing an arms back by the sides style of mat riding in an effort to reduce the rider effect on the mat as much as possible. This as been dubbed the Ironman, but I am thinking that maybe the Rubberman might be a more apt description.
Anyway, since this conversation, I have had two sessions on the mat. I have entered the water both times with the goal of observing what I am doing with the aim of "keeping my body soft" at the top of my mind. I discover straight away that maybe I am not relaxing my body as completely as I might. This, of course, is because it can be a little difficult to overcome the natural tendency not to do so, especially if the drop is a little steep or the face is sitting up and the wave really powering along. So I set about consciously making myself relax completely in to the mat in these two situations particularly. The results have been pretty amazing and taken my mat riding experience to a new and very satisfying level. The mat sets a rail more easily and once on the face consciously giving in to what the mat is doing results in it definitely going faster and inexorably gaining speed if the wave is long enough. I think this is the explanation why 4th gear, and beyond obviously given the right conditions, can suddenly occur without any obvious rider input. ie. Staying soft and relaxing into the mat must have occurred without my awareness.
I can also report that remaining aware and submitting to the sensation of the moment in this way really enhances the whole mat riding experience. Giving in entirely to the mat on a wave that is really cranking along is a somewhat surreal sensation. Now I know many of you ride mats because you appreciate the way they interact with a wave. But, there is a difference when you actively focus intensely on what the mat is doing, how your body is reacting in response and do little but remain soft and relaxed. Quite breathtaking to be honest. All a bit Zen, I know, but after the second most enjoyable session, on some seriously good sized waves, I had been more zoned out than usual as I relived that truly magic carpet ride like experience in my imagination.
I am a little stunned that I am now enjoying mat riding even more because I am doing even less having thought I had already hit the champin' at the bit to get out again wall!
As a consequence, I can't wait to get the chance to work towards my next goal of applying conscious softness to carving turns whilst continuing to practise staying soft in general to ensure it becomes unconscious softness!
PS My apologies to all of you who have taken the time to visit expecting to see this post but I accidentally posted it before it was completed to my satisfaction.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Krypt MT5 tip and "What's that.................

..............tugging at the back of my mat?"
I have been riding the Series III MT5 for the last few sessions in a bid to break it in a little more and to continue to up my familiarity with a thin decked mat. Although the deck definitely has more grip than my Series I, I have found that I am sometimes losing the back end of the mat from underneath myself even when I am just paddling around let alone on a wave. Today, I had the brilliant idea of applying a little wax at the back of the mat in an effort to enhance the sense of security and minimise the tendency for it to disappear from underneath me. I think this has more to do with the rider familiarity than the mat, however, a thin deck mat does have more of the feel of a bag of air than the stiffer decked ones and is definitely a little more of a challenge to handle. Anyway, I can report that this little mod worked a treat and the beauty of just touching up the back end of the mat like this is that it does not interfere at all with pulling oneself on to the mat on the take off.
On another matter (Ha, ha),  I had a slightly bizarre sensation whilst riding a lovely long right hand wave yesterday. Turns out it was about the only decent wave I managed to find, but you only need one in a session to make it worthwhile. I was running the MT5 at a little less inflation than the usual 90 degrees I generally employ. As I moved along the wave I felt two or three, what I can only describe as tugs, as if something was intermittently latching on to the back end of the mat. You can imagine what my imagination conjured up initially, but no, it was not a large fish of a particular species and my legs were still attached to my body! I do tend to ride right up the front of a mat and I think the lower inflation I was using was resulting in the back end of the mat being able to move around a little more than usual and some weird physicsy vortex thing was happening. I whacked a little more air in the mat and really didn't get a chance to test it out again but it has never happened before so I can only assume it was probably the cause. I wonder if any of you might have experienced a similar phenomenon?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A 2nd Anniversary and some shameless self promotion!

Two years and 4 days ago I received my first surf mat, a 4GF Fatty. It was on that most exciting day that the first ever public unboxing of a surf mat was performed and you can view that momentous occasion here.
More significantly though, it was exactly two years ago, on this very day, that I rode a mat for the first time and then reported to PG on that rather interesting experience here!
Well, I feel I can now confidently report that the devil machine has been tamed somewhat, that ridiculous grin still regularly appears on my face and I still remain utterly delighted at being a member of the world's mat riding cohort!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Expectation, 4th gear again, OB is the home of Women's surfing and a perfecto left!!

I had a conversation recently about expectation with a young stand up style surfer acquaintance I often surf with. It was one of those difficult days at the point with a strong rip running and a generally westerly swell & sea arriving from different directions. This resulted in good sized chunky waves coming through but often just a little wide of the bank and sometimes missing it entirely. He had paddled out on his new board by shaper Aido that he was very keen to show me. I have to say I was pleased to see he had given away his pretty ineffective pro surfer style thruster for a quad with more volume and width that looked far better suited to the type of waves we get at OB. Anyway, as I mentioned, the conditions were difficult and I could see he was struggling to get on the waves and when he did he was getting caught up in the lip and falling when he normally would not be. After one semi decent wave, he paddled back out to the shifty peak and mentioned how high his expectation for a great surf had been and what a shit time he was having. I mentioned that life had taught me to try to moderate, if not completely excise the tendency to allow expectation to arise, and to just arrive at a place or event without it. That frame of mind makes it far easier to accept any negative outcome and provides an even more rewarding experience should the outcome be positive. I also mentioned that the waves were being difficult and not to get down on himself or his board on only the 2nd day he had the opportunity to ride it!
During this session, I had that mysterious and unexpected event that sometimes occurs when a mat shifts in to 4th gear. Morgan and another local had a view of the whole thing. They were both making their way back out when I shot like a rocket across in front of them both on the long steep face of a double up set. What a rush that produces and always afterwards, a pensive period reflecting on how and why on earth it happens? It remains a mystery, but one I look forward to every time it happens!
Being a well known surf town, there are always strangers in the line up and a couple on longboards that I have seen once before were visiting again. I don't know how we got on to it, but in a conversation with the fairer sex of the two, she mentioned that she regarded OB as the home of women's surfing as there were so many females surfing here. It is true too, and a welcome line up moderator I have to say. There are many women of all ages of the general population that choose to surf. We also happen to have the current women's National champion in her age group and just recently one of the young female shortboarders got signed up to Quicksilver, so we will be seeing her on the tour one day I imagine.
Yesterday, as the conditions looked very small, I put on my cloak of little expectation and headed down to OB for a look. It did not take me long to throw it off as I enjoyed about the best shaped left I can remember for sometime just past the inlet. Great size waves with plenty of push, long walls and time for two or three turns. Irrefutable proof that an expectation free state of mind can lead to surfing nirvana!!!!!
Happened to get a comment on this video last night and taking the opportunity to have another look at it myself rediscovered that MT talks passionately and at length about 4th gear from 2:12 to 4:02

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I thought I might miss my boards?

A few weeks ago now, I made the decision to get rid of all the surfboards I owned. This was a pretty momentous decision to make as I have been riding boards for 10 years and the thought of not having them around anymore was a little disconcerting to say the least. I made this decision because I was choosing to ride a mat so often that I was not using the boards often enough to retain the muscular fitness required for popping up. I knew this was starting to happen as I would often end up with muscle strains particularly in my back and that was a worrying scenario. So I sold all three of them quite quickly through Aido's Boardroom, the retail outlet of a shaper in my previous hometown. Aido shaped my only remaining board, a wonderfully balanced 6' 10" accelerator, that Michelle now owns and thoroughly enjoys riding as I did.
"What's that you ask?"
"Oh, yes of course. Have I actually missed not having those boards?"
Surprisingly, not once in the intervening weeks have I thought I might like to ride a board rather than a mat. I am a little stunned by this to be honest as I had thought that I may start to regret the decision I had made. Strangely, it has actually been a bit of a relief not to have the option of a board available as it is sometimes a hard enough decision choosing which mat to use. I know I am not the first board rider to give them up entirely in favour of mats so it is not like I am setting a precedent. But, it still blows me a way just a little that this quite commonly occurs!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mark Anders? Surf mat convert!!

Many of us read The Surfer's Path and more than likely the very similar Surfer's Journal also. Mark Anders came to the attention of many of us recently for having the courage to claim in "The Surfers Path" that a surf mat had been added to the heap of stuff that he already liked! In this case it was one of PG's 4GF Vespa Roundtails. When was the last time you saw any mention of a surf mat in a surfing magazine? Last I saw was an article on Krypt surf mats in an obscure Japanese magazine. Now Mark is not just your averagely experienced surfer as he has surfed all over the place and you can read about many of his experiences below.

What I learned on my French surf expedition with the Fireman, the nudists and the shampoo addict!

Coming home!

Taming the Zambezi River!

Surf Montana!

Bar Chords Single!

Just in case you haven't seen the editorial that inspired this post here it is! Click on it to read in full size!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

6 degrees of separation?

I was down at OB checking out the conditions this morning hiding out from the freezing wind in front of the clubhouse. There was a 6 metre westerly swell running which I knew would not being getting straight in so there might be a chance of a wave at the point. Unfortunately, the peaks were just too shifty and all over the place which was a shame as the sets were not too outrageous. Anyway, I heard this loud "Caw!" from around the corner, involuntarily made I imagine, at the sight of the huge rollers moving across the bay. Naturally, I poked my head around the corner to see who it was and buggar me it was 2012 Tube of the Year entrant Eric Bridges all the way from Nowra on the east coast of Oz. I knew that he was due on the south coast today but had not expected him to turn up at OB when I happened to be there. Eric was visiting with longtime mate, and former south coast resident Pete Didntcatchhislastname. We stood around for awhile chatting as more locals turned up for a look and went a way again having come to the same conclusion as I. We decided it was time for a coffee and headed off to my favourite coffee shop Ravens who roast their own beans and consequently know about making good coffee. Turns out Eric is a real character with an entertaining 40 years of surfing stories to tell with quite a few of those emanating from our west coast as he lived over here for some years. Incredibly, it turned out that we had lived mere metres a way from each other in the now very upmarket oceanside suburb of Cottesloe in the 80's. It is a slightly eerie feeling when these realisations occur and you wonder at the course of life had one's paths had actually crossed. I might have started my surfing career many years earlier as a kneeboarder! Eric and Pete are off to my old home town of fifteen years Albany tomorrow, but if the conditions are suitable Eric seems keen to make the 40 minute drive back on Thursday for a mini mat meet. Fingers crossed!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Every little movement..........

.............you make on a mat is for a purpose. When it all comes together it almost feels like the mat does not exist anymore and it is just you on your belly flying along the surface of the water. There ain't no other way of catching waves that can deliver that sensation and I just love it! Body surfing gets close but you don't get the speed, the glide or that special degree of feedback on what the surface of the wave is doing that a mat provides.
Apart from the 2 days I have to work each week during the semester, I have been surfing pretty well everyday for about three weeks now as we are well into the Autumn surfing season. The mainly offshore wind drops off, there is plenty of swell and it is a wonderful, wonderful time of the year here on the South Coast of WA.
Today, I was surfing around the bay in front of the inlet. There was a solid right hander coming through that linked to another good solid section before carrying through in to a few very useful reforms providing most enjoyable rides for a good 100 metres or so.
I experienced a little deja vu today as the wave was working so well I was connecting through the reforms with just a dip of the head. I remember watching in fascination as Warren Pfieffer used his head in exactly the same manner late in the Musica Surfica footage that you can view here if you haven't already seen it. Interestingly, Warren will be accompanying Musica Surfica director Mick Sowry in the next few weeks on another finless surfing adventure to Gnaraloo reef in the North West of WA. Now that is a serious wave, so it will be very interesting to see how he goes. There could be a few massive beatings I suspect!!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

40,000 visits!

for taking the time to drop by. You lot come here from everywhere on this wonderful world of ours. Pakistan, Japan, Ukraine, The UK, The US, Oztraylya, Romania, France, Jamaica, Canada, Sweden, South Africa, The Philippines, Brazil, Netherlands, Lebanon, New Zealand, Korea, Argentina, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Singapore & Mexico!

Some of you end up here for a host of different and interesting reasons too as the following search terms in order of popularity show!

surf Mat 4gf
best surf mat
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More 2012 Tube of the Year action

I received this great shot from Pahl Dixon aka Mat Max yesterday. It is a nice big image so double click on it to see Mat in all his glory! His Dad Peter took the shot and they are welcome entrants to Krypt Surf's competition this year.