I was up late last night catching up on mat orders, managed a few hours of sleep, then got up early to look at the surf. Couldn't figure out what to do, as the tide was really high in the morning, and the swell was big and bumpy along the Central Coast, and I was still tired. I went back to bed for a couple of hours, and dreamed that I took the new tapered prototype out in some lumpy point surf. (Seriously.)
I took it as a sign, and headed down to the Ventura/SB area in the early afternoon, a 3 hour drive. Rincon look good, but of course it was packed, and I didn't feel like hassling whatever Ventura-proper had to offer. (Still not quite over my flu.) I ended up going out at one of the lesser points whose-name-shall-never-be-spoken-in-public. 3-4 feet. Smooth, with some westerly sideshores, which is good. When I paddled out there were only 3 guys out. By dark, 90 minutes later, there were more like 30.
I took the tapered mat out, and paddled and surfed it "backwards," with a narrow nose and wide tail.)
First thing I noticed was that I caught more waves than normal...a lot more waves, actually. A few days ago I characterized the new mat, ridden backwards, as catching waves like a longboard. That was hyperbole, but saying it paddles like an 8 footer isn't. I was gliding into just about any swell that had any crest to it at all. Very cool. I also was able to paddle against the down coast current after a wave (it was minus tide by the time I got out) without much trouble.
The performance of the tapered mat, backwards, was fun and challenging...but I wouldn't call it "good," in the sense that I would call a Standard "good." Getting into waves early gave me time to set up whatever approach I wanted to take, and sometimes I would take off at an angle and just run a high line across the wall with the tail drifting the whole time. I got a couple of zippery tubes, and the new mat didn't like them as much. But the full faced/uneven walls were a delight.
I caught maybe 15 waves with the narrow end forward, and with each wave I gained more ability to control the wide tail...all the while making use of the added glide. Lots of waves died out, and but I was able to keep going 'till they reformed inside. I tried letting a fair amount of air out, and it became super slippery in the water. Both good and bad. But really fun!
I rode 3 waves with the mat "frontwards" (wide end in front) and it worked a lot better than it did on Saturday. I think the offshores really worked against it that day. In the more typical semi-glassy conditions, I could keep the wide nose under control, and got it going pretty good once. But it was still a bad paddler, and poor wave catcher. Not that much fun.
As the sun was setting, I went in and got my Standard and rode 3 or 4 across. After riding the narrow nosed tapered mat, the Standard felt a little odd at first...but after 2 waves it became apparent, again, what a good, solid mat it is.
I thought about hanging around for an hour or two to let the full moon rise further in the night sky, and maybe surf Rincon, but with a 3 hour ride ahead of me, I was happy to head home. (Gas was 4.17 a gallon in Goleta tonight.)
So, I don't have any hard and fast conclusions about the tapered prototype, other than it's a lot more fun backwards than forwards. I got a couple of laugh-out-loud rides as the tail slid out, the mat accelerated, and then I got it under control and made the wave. Some truly sideways mat surfing. I definitely think that more time, and some junk waves, will allow this concept to flourish.
I would also say that the wide tail/narrow nose mat feels really good on a wave, even when it isn't working well. Maybe with some tuning of the shape and more experience in the water, we can sort out the shortcomings.
I was thinking about the name "Trident" for the mat...any thoughts on that?
When I got home, Mr Dirk had sent this email from his 5GF adventures in the water this afternoon...
It's a glorious day today, hot, glassy, and pumping. I had to drive a bunch of school kids to a field trip activity, so I halfway resigned myself to missing it. However, the schedule allowed me to spend about an hour in the big thumping beach break conditions with overhead sets, so I decided to christen the 5GF. I got 6 strong rides, and my first impression is that it works great. I'm about 205 in my 3/2 wetsuit, and I was afraid that I might be too heavy. But there was a lot of juice, fast-moving swells, and the mat was as comfortable and solid as could be. Paddling out and duck-dives were easy, as expected, but take-offs were no problem at all. I did a couple of no-paddle, kicking-only take-offs right under the lip, and hooked into an immediate high tight line -- perfect hold and plenty of driving speed. The big sliver peaks that I picked off didn't allow me to really accelerate thru the gears per se, but I rode the last one all the way to the beach and strung together a couple of inside sections just to feel it weight/unweight -- very zippy. It felt especially tight after spending a lot of time on the Vespa
You know I'm a devoted Standard rider in full-bore waves, but I'm really excited about this 5GF. Can't wait to try it again!
Then, Matt P sent me this cool vid a few minutes ago!
Hi Paul , Some fun waves down here today! My friend Josh made a little video of our session...I'm on the XL and hes riding the Tracker RT..... Thankyou for making these available! PEace -matt