Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mat riding thoughts

So what have I learnt about riding mats of late? Well, quite a bit and it really seems to be a never ending learning curve which is a great thing. A little like learning a musical instrument.
I am not sure why but I am back to using UDTs again for some reason having happily used Duck Feet for sometime up until I made the change recently.  Although I did use them with little issue previously,  I seem to be coping with them even better than I used to. I can only surmise this maybe because my legs have gained more strength from nearly three years of constant fin usage. Ironically, I am carrying quite a bit less weight now too and more generally riding smaller mats requiring less effort to push through the water. Anyway, I am really enjoying the effortless power they provide and am really looking forward to getting my ever gnarlier looking toes in to a pair of the new compound UDTs when they become available in OZ for the first time very soon now!
I remember when I first flopped in a most ungainly way on to a surf mat and ever so inelegantly rolled straight off it again thinking........... "WTF! I will never feel comfortable with this thing underneath me!"
Well, I have and increasingly more so as time goes by and I am not talking here about when one is actually riding a wave but dealing with all the other situations in-between. 
Here are some things I have learnt of late.
If I am on the way out and the waves are breaking before they get to me confronting me with whitewater then I will dive under the wave and hold the mat above the whitewater with my right hand. It is surprising how big an amount of whitewater you can get away with using this technique to get out the back.
If I am late changing my mind about taking off on a wave and my 180 flick around does not get me completely off it and I start to get carried over then I bend the front of the mat downwards to avoid going all the way over or at the worst limit the speed with which I descend if I do go over.
If, on the way out, I am confronted by a wave that rears up in front of me, I have found myself starting to use the duck diving concaving technique to stiffen the mat in order to drive over it to avoid the mat folding in half thereby drastically impeding one's progress. 
I tend to lie on a surf mat right up on the front and this allows me to be an arm paddler whilst I am moving to and from and around set ups. I prefer this to using my legs as I like to keep them fresh for driving hard during the take off. I am in the habit of slipping back on the mat for the take off, using my right arm to assist the legs and my left to control the front of the mat before hauling myself back to the front again to actually ride the wave. Being primarily an arm paddler has actually taught me to keep my body soft and pliable with my upper body as close as possible to the mat. I can move around pretty quickly in this fashion and for great distances also as I search for suitable waves around the bay. The pay off is that maintaining a low centre of gravity and a soft body is becoming habitual and carrying through to when I am riding waves with subsequent positive results.


  1. How about when resting in the line-up? I've found that if I don't pay attention I tend to slip down the mat to somewhere between proper arm paddle position and full kicking position. To avoid this I use my mid-section to fold the mat in half, thereby increasing the stiffness, which reduces how much I slide down. This allows a more vertical position in the water which rests my neck (don't have to strain looking up) and gives me some elevation in the water (good for spotting waves.)
    If I realize I'm out of position on the mat when a wave comes I usually slip off to full kicking position, since that is quicker than trying to move into arm paddle position.

  2. I do the same and I reckon most other mat riders would also be hanging around on a mat with a bend in the middle. I alternate this position with lying on top of the mat right forward in an arm paddling position.