Thursday, August 30, 2012

I have succumbed!

Can you blame me really though as one does feel incredibly vulnerable on a surf mat. We have had yet another serious shark attack just a couple of days ago and only two months after the last. This means there has now been an unprecedented and statistic shattering 5 serious shark attacks here in Western Australia in the last 10 months, along with many other sightings and incidents. The combination of this unsettling news and the recent little incident, that occurred right here at the point, has resulted in my purchasing a Freedom 7 Shark Shield to wear when I am surfing in the future. Those testimonials make for an interesting and thought provoking read particularly as some of them relate to incidents nearby here on the south coast such as this one.
I have on three previous occasions seriously thought through the psychological, physiological and particularly the idealogical issues relating to doing so and three times have decided against taking this step. Because, like many of us who surf, I have been an advocate of the philosophy that says you are sharing the ocean with all creatures so you just need to accept the risk. So I have not come to this decision lightly and it disappointments me somewhat. But when the game changes, and it certainly seems to have, you have to adopt a new strategy or you might start to lose. So with the same reasoning behind why I put up with the inconvenience of a seatbelt in my car, I have decided to change my strategy when I go out to catch waves and today have placed an order.
I may actually have to wait sometime to get one as I have heard that they may have run out as the demand has been so high because of recent events. I am waiting to hear about that as I write this post.
In the meantime, I will keep surfing even though the sessions of late have been charged with a little extra head dialog adding to a more tense atmosphere than normal!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Range of Voit Fins

I was pretty excited when I saw this post by PG the other day.
The saviour of Voit swim fins Dr Greg Deets has improved his already sensational range of fins making the UDTs more flexible and the Duck Feet whippier. There is a fantastic article about the life of this pretty amazing guy here that is well worth a read.
Like many others on the same journey, I have discovered that, depending on the size of your legs, these two models of swim fins are the holy grail for mat riding. I started off using Pod 2 fins but soon switched to UDTs which I left unmodified rather than modified as many riders choose to do. They immediately revolutionized my mat riding experience and made my already tree like legs even more so. 
A year or so later, having noticed many experienced mat riders preferred to use them, I switched to Duck Feet which I posted about here. Although, I loved the raw power of the UDTs, I found the torsion they applied to my ankles and lower legs during a ride and when mixed up in the wave at the end of one increasingly uncomfortable to have to deal with. Although the Duck Feet don't provide quite the same degree of propulsion, less length, weight and stiffness allows for a good flutter kick to assist on the take off. They still provide plenty of control during a ride without feeling like they want to twist my lower legs off at the knee if I get mixed up in the closing out wave at the end of it. 
Straight from the horses mouth, here is the pricing and the details of how to get yourself a pair. 

robin

fins are now available
all came out real nice

50 for udt
29.50 for v-ducks
26 for ducks
all USA dollars
sooo
just give me a formal order
i'll send it to lindsey at warehouse and cc you
you call her for CC # and address
she'll ship asap

fins below

take care 
greg

Will I be placing an order? You bet I will be!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Not my over active imagination apparently!



There was a hell wind last night that resulted in the swell shooting up from 2.5 metres yesterday to 7 metres today. After Michelle and I had taken the dogs for a walk and picked up our regular Wednesday evening Haloumi Masala takeaway curries, we headed off to the point to check out the action. As we drove up to the boat ramp bad weather viewing point, we discovered another half a dozen vehicles worth of locals had the same idea. The whole bay was a seething mass of movement with huge waves pounding the beach all the way round. It is incredible how the point can still provide surfable waves for the brave and talented even in those conditions and the short video shows two of the 4 punters taking on the more moderately sized of the powerful and fast right handers that were coming through.
Yesterday, I had been out in far more moderate conditions chasing that left I had so enjoyed and posted about here. It was very overcast and rainy and apart from two others well around the bay, I was on my own until another punter turned up looking for that same left that he had also enjoyed albeit a day later. I had been feeling a little spooked and uneasy about being out there on my own most of the session and the feeling did not really dissipate even with the arrival of another human being. The left was not working nearly as well as it had a couple of days earlier as there was a little more swell and the tide was probably a touch too low. I did catch a few so-so waves but was having to sit very wide as the section at the peak was closing down and this next section was not providing great shape either. As I headed back out following what was to be the last wave I rode that day, I saw an all to familiar shadow in a wave rising in front of me.

Ummm, I thought to myself, I am not absolutely certain what I have seen but given the recent events at the point and the marginal conditions today I think I will go in.
So it was with great interest to me that the local police turned up at the point this evening also. That last wave, was Leif's last also, as they had come down to warn the boys of another shark sighting that day.
I think I made the right decision yesterday!

Monday, August 20, 2012

God Music from "The Reef"



Not mat surfing but a first cousin for sure. A quirky little clip featuring Ryan Burch at Gnaraloo in North West Australia on his, not much bigger than a surf mat, finless piece of foam! The highly atmospheric music is from George Crumb's Black Angels!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sometimes I forget to take the high road!

You have heard it before and you are going to hear it again in this post. Yesterday's session was stellar! What looked like not such great conditions resulted in the discovery of a good sized and perfect left offering up 100+ metre rides that I was only required to share with one other initially. That was until local shortboard charger Leif and his good woman Tanya, on their way further around the beach, noticed a wonderful 4 section ride that I got almost in to the beach. They back tracked to join us with Leif relating this background to their decision to me as he arrived in the line up. Now, that must be a first. Leif is a hard charger, the sort of guy that returns from a Bali surf trip with skin lacerations resulting from taking on one of the world's great waves, Desert Point in Lombok.


So a hierarchically challenged surf mat rider such as myself inspiring a top runger of his ilk feels pretty damn good!
Anyway, I was giving the 5GF another outing and I can say it went really well on these solid waves. The addition of the 5GF increases my quiver to 5 different mats with the Tracker Roundtail and Standard and Series I & III MT5s. I think there is definitely an advantage to having a number of mats in your quiver as a mat riding discovery previously learnt, but sometimes forgotten, was reinforced from riding a mat with different characteristics today. The waves had a bit of speed and even though I was on a mat and coping, there was little room for error as I was often tucked right in to the pocket. On that particularly long ride mentioned earlier in the post, I could see early on in the wave that I might get caught. Without really thinking about it, I squeezed the right front corner a little just to get the mat to move further up the face of the wave and there was an immediate increase in speed as I obviously moved in to a part of the wave where the push was most powerful. As I mention, I am aware of this but as a surf mat is so inherently efficient, one often remains too content to just let it have it's head without exploring beyond. To be fair on myself, though, it has been sometime since I have had the opportunity to ride a wave of such lengthy quality and I am hoping to be able to repeat the experience again today.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Arguably the most definitive article on GG!

Sometime ago, in the days when PG would communicate with me, he told me about a comprehensive article he had written about GG's life up to 1970.
The article was published in the Autumn 1999 issue of the now defunct "Australian Surfer's Journal".
After a lot of searching around on the internet, I managed to get my hands on a back issue ages ago and have been meaning, ever since, to subject myself to the laborious task of scanning all 53 pages of it for your viewing pleasure.
Well, today, as there was no chance of a wave this morning, I did just that and 2 hours on, *here* is my gift to all of you. Friend or foe!
It is scanned at 300dpi so do take the time to download it and have a good read and check out the awesome images. I should have descreened it but that would have taken about 6 hours on my domestic scanner.
Enjoy and thanks for taking the time to drop by over the last couple of years.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Surf Mats and Their Riders in Action 10



I am staggered that I have collected another 100+ images of mat riders doing their thing in less than a month since the ninth edition of this series. There has clearly been a huge leap in the profile of surf mats in the last year or so. I think that is a really fantastic result and welcome to our world of exceptional fun all you new folks! I went vintage and heavy duty blues for this one. Turn it up!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

But I have managed to get them on one now!

You may remember this earlier post that detailed my lack of success in obtaining a 5GF from PG.
5GF's were not officially a part of the 4GF range at the time. Interested parties were asked to send an email to PG if they wanted one to test and assist in confirming it's viability as an addition to the 4GF range. I never received a reply and certainly not a 5GF.
Not unexpected, of course, as PG had made it clear earlier, in this post, that he would no longer sell surf mats to me.
In response to this bizarre situation, I had a terrific amount of fun creating this video. I know many of you thoroughly enjoyed viewing it and a good number of you offered to assist me to obtain a 4GF anytime.
This 2nd attempt at getting a Fourth Gear Flyer was done in the hope that PG might have come to the conclusion, in the intervening time, that it was a bit pointless to deny me. Nuh, I was wrong.
The pointlessness of this situation further highlighted by the good news that I have now taken the opportunity to successfully get my now clearly controversial, irreverent and very dirty mitts on a 5GF anyway.
Firstly, and most interestingly, as I was adding the 5GF to my quiver, I happened to lie it on top of an MT5. I was a little taken aback to see that apart from the very square rear corners, they were identical in deflated dimensions at least.

Anyway on to my first impressions of the 5GF but a little preamble first. 
On Wednesday this week, the bar at the inlet was breached as it was getting pretty damn full as we have had a lot of rain this winter. The repercussions of this event are a little like the curate's egg. For instance, last year it emptied out straight in to the bay. Initially, this was terrific as it set up a wonderful A-frame bank that produced ripping waves for a couple of weeks which I duly posted about here. Unfortunately, this also resulted in the distribution of sand both to the left and right of the inlet filling up all the channels and a complete lack of waves for some weeks. This year however, you will note from the pic above, it has gouged out a huge outlet in only two days and in a direct angle towards the point. This is looking very promising as you can see from this next pic showing a few punters out late this afternoon testing the banks that are already starting to set up. 

The one of most interest being the right from the direction of the point that will hopefully provide some nice long rides eventually. The other pleasing factor to note is that the water has remained green to the left of the inlet and hopefully will leave those banks undisturbed this year.
Anyway my surf check this morning did not offer up any hope for a wave at OB and our visit yesterday to the break 25 clicks further to the west showed it was not producing either. So I suggested to Michelle that we visit our favourite break in the old hometown 75 clicks or so to the east. 
We piled in to the car and 50 minutes later arrived to find plenty of swell getting in providing the opportunity to try the 5GF out in very suitable waves as they were certainly standing up well.
It took me awhile to negotiate my way out the back and it was only because we had travelled so far that I persisted and it turned out to be quite a reasonable session in the end. It also gave me the opportunity to talk about and to demo, to quite a crew of shortboarders and a longboarder, the advantages of a mat in the spritely conditions that prevailed.
The waves had plenty of push, so apart from an initial awareness that it was a little narrower, the smaller dimensions of the 5GF were not a factor. 
As others have mentioned the narrower profile actually makes it easier to paddle through the water which balances out the fact there is less mat for the wave to push on the take off. 
The 5GF sure is quick and in a very smooth and unfussed manner as it scythes easily across the face. Weirdly, this gave the feeling that it wasn't going that quickly but one of the board riders commented on the speed I was getting so clearly it was. 
I can also confirm that it does feel rock solid as if it has a fins/fins. This adds further to the unique sensation, I cannot remember experiencing before, that this mat provides. 
I can understand why Warren Pfieffer chose to use one at Gnaraloo!
So it certainly is looking like a worthy addition to the quiver and I really looking forward to giving it another crack especially if that new right forming at OB produces the barrelling waves I think it might.  If so, I will be loading my Gath Hat up with the Go-Pro and take both the MT5 and 5GF out to compare their performance. Should be interesting!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The real story behind the OB shark encounter!

Well, you heard the "embellished" local fable making the rounds in this post.
Here is what really happened. I am with Ruby's Dad, Albert on this one. That is the behaviour of a Great White Shark not a Bronzie! Fortunately, not in an aggressive mood.
I was interested to read an interview with 50 year old big wave hellman Tom Carrol in the Saturday paper this morning and when asked about sharks he said. "They were the least of his concerns and fortunately he had not come across an aggressive one to date!"
I find that a slightly comforting notion. I will try to remember it if I ever find myself being checked out by one and and at the same time try to forget how remarkably like a seal I might look to it on a surf mat!

THIRTEEN-YEAR OLD surfer Ruby Adams is lucky to be alive after a frightening confrontation with a 3m shark at Ocean Beach last Saturday morning.
 The shark nudged Ruby on her surfboard and though not toppling her dragged on her board possibly because its fins became entangled with her leg rope.
 Ruby was surfing with a group of about eight people, including her father Albert, waiting during long periods of calm between breaks amid a pod of dolphins.“The dolphins had been mucking around all morning, riding the waves and I noticed two or three coming under me,” Mr Adams said.
“They came back again and caught my eye; they were moving rapidly and I said to Ruby ‘look at the dolphins’.
“Next I noticed a shadow in the water then a flash of white the size of four dolphins.”
Mr Adams said the shark swam about 0.5m past him and started towards Ruby before it bumped her surfboard.
“I got the fright of my life,” he said. It seemed to pull her down though it did not try to bite her.”
Mr Adams paddled his board towards his daughter and lunged at the shark so it swam out to sea but not before he saw the shark swimming near a man on a boogie board.
“He was hanging on tight, obviously vulnerable in the water,” Albert said.
“By then people were going towards the shore.”
“Someone yelled out not to panic – it was amazing we all calmly went to the shore.
“I thought people would be walking on water.”
There have been reports of a curious dolphin checking the group as they left for the shore.
Mr Adams said Ruby weighs only about 35kg and was shaking when she arrived on shore but in the long term she has not been ‘rattled’ by her experience.
“She insisted on going for a surf at Point Hillier on Sunday,” he said.
“The surf was massive.
“I didn’t go out, I’m not fit enough for those conditions.”
Mr Adams was warned that his daughter could lapse into shock but took her to the town for a hot drink and lollies to lift her blood sugar.

Whew! A close one!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Musica Surfica footage of Warren Pfieffer



I thought that I had posted about this footage here in 2010, but I have been unable to find anything on the blog that features it apart from a link to YouTube in another post. As a precursor, to the footage of Warren Pfieffer from the recent Gnaraloo adventure that I am currently trying to get my hands on, I thought I would post up the original footage of Warren and the slo-mo version of it that I edited. Musica Surfica was the multi award winning first production in the series of finless adventures and took place at King Island in South Australia.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Eric wrestling with his 4GF Vespa Roundtail

Noticing the mat wrangling that was going on, I took the liberty of sending Eric a link to Dale Solomonson's rider guide.
Well, worth a read and especially so for this critical piece of advice.
"One of the subtle pleasures of mat surfing is that the least rider effort usually yields the highest degree of performance. Less is more!"





Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Brett ......???



Heap of great images of Australian mat rider Brett ......??? have featured of late on PG's blog.
Lucky Brett's very accommodating partner, Michelle, seems more than willing to stand around taking heaps of pics of him riding various 4GFs. In view of the fact he is an Aussie, I though it appropriate to put together a slideshow of him doing his thing and post it here.
He is reasonably new to mat riding and I think it has been a bit of a "revelation" for him, as it has been countless others of us too. Hence, my choice of this great composition of the same name by Russell Ferrante played by the inimitable Robben Ford. Such a sweet guitar tone!
I would love to find out more of your story mate. If you are interested email me at ramsnake53@gmail.com.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ummm? Maybe not today!

After spending the morning yesterday with my youngest son in the old home town, I headed home for a quick lunch and then straight down to the point to see if there was a wave on offer. I chose to go down to the boat launching area tucked right in the corner to check the conditions from the car first rather than park at the top and walk down with my gear. There were two other vehicles there and, strangely, there was no one out considering there was plenty of wave action and offshore conditions? I was quickly informed by one of those vehicle owners that there had been a 2 metre shark at the point in the morning which had knocked one of our up and coming young shortboarders off her board!
Not what I wanted to hear but lately I have been a little spooked and found myself tending to hang around waiting for waves with the sun at my back. This was the advice that GG gave in a great article on dealing with shark encounters that I posted about here. Anyway, I decided to go to the lookout directly above the point to see if I could spot anything although it was doubtful the shark had hung around. Our friendly family of dolphins that inhabit the bay were out enjoying themselves amongst the plentiful waves that were coming through but no sign of anything more sinister.
Having returned to the car park and wandered down to the beach to have all I have spoken of above confirmed with the above sign, I decided that the most sensible course of action was to head home. 
On the way back I picked up local hellman Kane and his cute little daughter who were hitching in to town together as he had to go to work. As I pulled over so as they could get in the car, one of the other young guns who was also out at the point in the morning filled in a few details for us. 
There were a bunch of kids out there, when suddenly Ruby disappears off her board. Ruby's Dad Albert, who also happens to be out there, charges over and starts to beat the shit out of the shark in an effort to make it leave the area. Ok, now I know you and I probably wouldn't be likely to do that but this is what you instinctively do when your kid is threatened. It may have helped that, Albert is an arborist and used to blithely scaling towering Karri trees with only a belt and spurs on his feet.

video

I know this because, before we started our mammoth self build, he took a few trees down for us. Including this huge one, which he had calmly scaled to lop the top off so it would fit inside the boundaries of the block when it was felled.
Anyway, the commotion this caused apparently prompted one of our local dolphins to get involved, with the result that both it and the shark moved away from the group of surfers and ended up having a water thrashing stoush of their own! This is pretty compelling evidence to support the notion that dolphins will try to protect humans from a shark if they are around.
Never a dull moment here on the South Coast of WA!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Squaretail V Roundtail

After weeks of riding the very square tailed MT5, I took the Tracker Roundtail out for a spin yesterday as there was mainly a local sea running with very little actual swell making for the likelihood of pretty piss poor (Oz for weak) waves. Although, I am a firm believer in "The smallest mat you can get away with the better" philosophy, I thought a slightly bigger mat might just do the job. Well, it certainly did for the first part of the session as it mainly involved kicking and paddling up and down the bay looking for something to take off on. The Tracker is limousine like and a very comfortable mat for cruising around on, but really, I was more interested in catching waves.
I knew there was a jump in the swell on the way as I had seen it register on the West Cape Howe buoy and if I had timed it right, would arrive sometime as I was out.
So with this thought in mind, I continued to wait patiently, paddling kicking, paddling kicking, and eventually there was a noticeable rise in the height of the waves coming through. However, as I mentioned before, it was mainly driven by a local sea rather than a long range swell so did not amount to much oomph. The result of these sort of conditions means that getting on to waves takes a bit of effort and one tends to drop in to the wave a little late.
A long preamble I know, but now to the point of this post. Now, correct me if I am wrong, those who know about these things. I think I have discovered another advantage of square corners on a surf mat other than the one I posted about here. Once you are on a wave they release earlier than a roundtail mat. I say this as the Tracker seemed a little sluggish in comparison to the MT5 and needed more speed before it finally released and got going? Nothing against the Tracker. It is just noticeably different and it still remains one of my favourite 4GFs along with the Standard.

PG's 5GF also has pretty square rear corners but also relies on being narrower to provide the advantages MatMax speaks of:
"If I had to choose just one mat to use all the time it would definitely be a 5GF, because it really will work in almost any type of conditions, especially fast big surf. If the waves are good, I go straight for the 5GF, and inflate it so that it bends 90 degrees. I'm 5'8" x 175 lbs and was hooked on the Standard for years, but now prefer the narrower 5GF due to ease of paddling and the feeling of streamlining, which is rather similar to the velocity one gets from a narrow surfboard."

I notice that the mini Simmons boards are very square too and I think they are pretty quick to get on to a wave too even though they are generally very short! Perhaps the slight difference in the length of the mats also contributes to this. I don't know? Anyway, just thought I would share that observation and I am interested to hear if others may have come to a similar or indeed quite opposite conclusion!