Saturday, June 28, 2014

After 3 years of mat riding the bodyboard just had to go!

In this post back in March of 2009, I expounded on the virtues of the BZ Big Bruddah bodyboard I had recently bought. I was very comfortable on it using it regularly on busy chunky days at the point until I discovered surf mats a year later. Yesterday, after three years of riding surf mats, I took the BZ out for a session. It was an appalling wave riding experience. Now the BZ is a big bodyboard, and feeling that might be causing the problem, as surf mats are smaller craft and it just felt almost unmanageable underneath me, I swapped it for a smaller bodyboard being ridden by a mate. The experience was not changed and after an hour of persevering I ended up returning to the beach to swap it for a mat. After a fun session on the mat, I ended up leaving the BZ leaned up on the car park fence with the message written on it that you can see in the image to the left. So what was the problem.
1. Compared to a surf mat, it was far harder to cruise around and return back to the line up. In the rippy conditions that often occur at the point, I was barely able to get myself back to the take off spot especially on the smaller bodyboard.
2. I am so used to adjusting the shape of the surf mat to accommodate the various parts of the wave catching and riding process that the bodyboard just seemed completely ineffective. For instance, I was unable to bend the nose of it down to assist the take off as I do on a mat let alone perform all the other subtle changes one can make to the shape of a mat once on the wave.
3. With the nice big round rails the mat has more inherent grip on the water surface and feels more secure on the wave than the bodyboard which can spin out within a moment with little ability from the rider to stop it apart from dipping a fin. On a mat a judicious shape change can alleviate the situation.
4. I missed the feedback from the wave surface that the soft surf mat so willingly provides.
5. Bodyboards seem to be inherently unable to find the power source in the wave that a surf mat excels at.
It was a truly revelatory and confirming experience that threw into a stark light the brilliance of the surf mat as a wave riding craft and showed that 3 years of effort have not been wasted!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yoga for older guys who surf

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have started riding a longboard again after basically three years away from this style of surfing whilst I explored the intriguing world of surf mat riding. Although my pop-up is yet to return as it once was, after only 4 sessions, it has been a surprise how quickly, at the age of 61, I have slipped back into this style of riding again. Yes, the 9' Mega Magic I am using is a terrific board and really helping but bemused I thought further about it today. It occurred to me that it is probably due to having recommenced a 6 day a week yoga practice 18 months ago, which has dramatically improved my flexibility. My routine is to switch between a group of sitting poses (worked for 90 seconds) and standing poses (worked for 60 seconds) each alternate day. So even though I still don't quite have the strength to pop-up straight away yet, I am able to get to a standing position quickly enough. I am confident that fairly shortly, my strength will have increased and my pop-up will return and that I will be back to my previous level of ability.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

After a 3 year immersion in the singular world of surf mats.......

....I make my long anticipated return to the wider world of waveriding! Well, maybe not. In any case I have certainly broadened my surfing activities of late with the addition of a new 9' Walden Mega Magic longboard and Brownfish Barrel Rider Model 2 handplane to my quiver of 9 surf mats.
The longboard is the first standup craft in quite awhile to to get me a little excited. Even though it is nearly 4" thick, allowing it to get into waves like a much longer board, it is very light making it most manageable and easy to chuck around on the wave. Terrific fun on a those smaller fatter days that are not so good for a surf mat.
On the days when the waves are a little too chunky for a surf mat, but sitting up, I have enjoyed getting out with a handplane again and now have three in my quiver. I started out my surfing life using a handplane off the groyne at City Beach in West Australia back in the 80's and have always kept one in the quiver. I am thoroughly enjoyed getting back into it and sometimes have to force myself to get out of the water to end a session. Handplaning is a very comprehensive workout and often I am very sore all over my body the next day but I think that is probably a very good thing.
But don't get me wrong now as one of my surf mats will forever remain the go to first choice waveriding surf craft.