23 February 2009

Why Wouldn't You Ride a Mat?

They, whoever "they" are, weren't kidding when they said the learning curve on a mat is steep. Getting out to the lineup is more than a notion until you're really comfortable with fins . . . and waves that break on your head . . . and a surf craft that does not seem to duck dive (not that I know how to duck dive).

However, the more time you spend in the water, the more it starts to click. This was only my second mat session, but I actually felt like I knew what I was supposed to do. I couldn't quite do it though. There's still the matter of trying to find your sweet spot on the mat. Oh, and the issue of steering. When I'm on a surfboard, I can easily tell a left from a right, and surf accordingly. I've not reached this stage on the mat. My primary goal at this point is to catch the waves. I'm so intent on finding a wave to catch that I'm incapable of also deciding which way to go. Cos once you're in the wave, you're hanging on for dear life.

The cool thing about the mat is how forgiving it is. If you catch a wave at the last possible moment, you're not going to be driven headfirst into the ocean floor. As long as you stay on the mat, you're guaranteed a ride. On a surfboard, a last-minute attempt to catch a wave is either going to end well or end in disaster. If you misjudge the takeoff, you're doomed, right? On the mat, you might not get in the pocket, but you'll still glide along the top of the wave. That I like.

On a day when I wanted to be in the water, but didn't feel like surfing, the mat was a perfect alternative.


At 2/23/09, 5:56 PM, Blogger Christian said...

Another bonus: On a mat, the surf is always overhead. ;)

At 2/23/09, 9:28 PM, Anonymous From Georgie said...

The funny thing about mats is that they're the easiest thing to surf on a basic, beginner level, but they're the hardest thing to surf on an advanced level.

It takes 10 years of experience before you can drive them anywhere near their potential. I've been riding mats day-in and day-out for over 50 years, and I'm still learning things. I've never been bored riding a mat, ever. They're just too challenging and
too much fun.

A mat has a variable shape. You shouldn't blow it up rock hard then
go out and ride it. You run it softer in small waves so the corners will stretch out flatter and it will skim more, and a little harder in powerful waves so it will be stiffer and hold in more.

You can fine-tune the handling between rides by adding or letting out air. That's an unbelievable thing to be able to do. It's like changing boards any time you feel like it.

I ride my mat really soft. When the mat's soft and you are running
down the wave there's very little water coming off the outer rail. You can see this in pictures.

As you throw a mat into a turn you squeeze the front. That stiffens the mat up and it holds in through the turn. You learn how to squeeze the front when you want to hold in and release our grip when you want to break loose and skim.

Mats are the most challenging things I've ever surfed on. I love the way they feel too ride, and they work in any kind of wave. Also, they're very easy to transport. You can roll up two mats, a pair of fins and a wetsuit and put it into a handbag and carry it onto a plane.

If I had to ride one thing out of all the surfing vehicles I have-- a mat would be my choice.

(George Greenough)

At 2/24/09, 12:27 AM, Blogger Jamie. or Dudley Alouysius Perkins III for short said...

Stoked that you're just having fun in the water! Shedding the ego and just muckin around is what's best about life, and matsurfing.

At 2/24/09, 12:20 PM, Blogger Jamie Watson said...

I want to do this with you someday! Did you notice the mat rider in Musica Surfica? I'm sure you did!

At 2/24/09, 12:28 PM, Blogger Surfsister said...

Of course I did, Jamie! You have got to try this. Matting is so much fun. And damn if it isn't a hell of a workout because you have to paddle and kick. Yesterday I matted for an hour and a half, walked the dog for an hour (thinking I hadn't worked out much) and lifted weights. Last night I couldn't keep my eyes open. I was exhausted. I know it was the matting that really taxed my body. What a great day!

At 2/25/09, 6:50 AM, Blogger pranaglider said...

SS, you are doing fine.
Grab hold of the front corners of the mat and roll in the direction you want to turn.

At 2/27/09, 3:51 PM, Blogger Esteban Pumpernickel said...

Looks fun!! I rode one at Rincon and another point break and a blast. Keep doing it.

At 2/28/09, 12:46 PM, Anonymous Dale said...

Jamie Watson said...

"I want to do this with you someday! Did you notice the mat rider in Musica Surfica? I'm sure you did!"

The mat surfer featured in Musica Surfica is Warren Pfeiffer of Yamba, NSW Australia. He was riding a Neumatic 200/70 Advanced Design w/stretch bottom and integral rocker.

At 3/3/09, 8:37 PM, Blogger Numbnuts said...

Hey Surfsis, I had a whole lot of "advice" for you but, you don't need it. You're doing it. Keep havin' fun,it gets easier and faster (down the line) too.


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