First Session on my new Mat
The surf at Pavillions (Ho'okipa) was 6 to 8 foot on the face a strong side shore wind blowing (as is often the case) a combination of East wind swell and North-West ground swell made for a lot of water moving during the sets. I inflated my mat until it wouldn't bend to 90 degrees, I was shooting for 45 degrees, I think I went a touch softer than that.
Paddling out was a bit of a surprise, I had expected flex but I hadn't expected twisting, it was actually a little tough to stay on. Luckily at Pavils there's a nice channel so it wasn't too hard to get most of the way out. However as a set closed out the channel I found duck diving what felt like a trash bag full of air was very difficult. I made very little progress until the set relented and I was outside.
It was very early and I was the first one out. I had held on pretty tight to my mat while battling the white water and as I sat outside and felt the howling wind I realized that was a good thing because if I let go I might never see my mat again! I had read about how difficult riding a mat is at first so I paddled into a decent sized right with some apprehension. Catching it was a little tricky but pushing down on the nose to arc over and in as I kicked did the trick and I was sliding in, and I do mean sliding I felt almost completely out of control on the steep drop, instinctively I griped harder which hardened up the mat, slowed me down, gave me control over my direction, so I made the wave and swung back left to the channel. I was surprised at how quickly the mat slowed down when the wave died down, this thing likes some juice.
I continued riding for an hour going both right and left. I found that by letting go of the mat and letting it run I could get some good speed. Taking off was the most challenging, late take offs were the easiest and a real rush at the speed with which they slid to the bottom, I would then harden the mat by griping and squeezing and I could change my trajectory. I wasn't really turning but I was going where I wanted to go, t did try to do more of a turn but didn't really accomplish too much.
At one point a bigger set caught me inside and I was scrambling for the corner of the left, I made it to the very top corner, about eight feet up on the vertical face and just as I thought I was going to make it the lip gave me a little tap and I was sliding side ways back down, I went with it and slid around almost instantaneously into the proper orientation and made the wave at speed no problem! However my session was not with out mishaps on one I was too late and went over with the lip, mindful of the wind and the very real possibility of loosing my new mat I death gripped it, boom in the white water, boing and out I popped riding the white water, interesting but I don't think my back would like that on a regular basis!
All in all a very good first session. Take offs and turns will take a lot of work, can't wait to see how it works in the tube! Found a good relaxing way to swim out when my back got sick of being on top, flipped over and swam out on my back like I do often when I body surf only I now I drag the mat behind me. Also had fun with my friends when the paddled out and asked, "what are you riding?" I told them a trash bag!