Oct 12, 2008

A Matter Of Time

Right, well I've got to post something, because PG has been carrying the weight around this blog lately. Okay... First off, I reckoned that at least a few people would step right up to author their own posts on Surfmatters. Ten signed up to do so. Not to worry. Give it time.

I really like the post about the night at the races when I met PG. A while after that I got a racing kart with an 18 horsepower Yamaha engine and not very good tires. I had no idea as to what to expect and was fishtailing all over the course. PG gave the kart a go and had a spectacular crash (due to improperly matched tires), landing right on his helmet, and sustaining a month-long headache. Needless to say, I scrounged some better rubber and had fun learning how to drive a miniature racecar. The point being that mat riding and kart driving are actually quite similar in terms of chassis dynamics and potential crash damage.

You see, just as how the unbalanced grip developed by mismatched tires on my secondhand go-kart put PG on his hat in a vicious kartwheeling flip, I had to deal with tremendous wipeout-oriented repercussions from having no clue as to properly inflating my first 4GF to meet the surfing conditions.

Only after picking through used tires from the storage shed at the kart track, and then dialing in them in pressure-wise to balance chassis dynamics for quick lap times, did I actually see that the same attention was required to suit specific matting conditions in the surf.

Previous posts on this blog and others have mentioned the basic glide vs grip soft/firm airmat inflation tradeoff. However the amazing bit is how mat pressure (actually air volume) is readily adjustable in flight! Someday racing cars will be equipped to adjust tire pressure to suit each turn and straightaway. Well, guess what -- surfmats already feature this ultra-advanced technology!

It's really worth watching the Airmat Tech Talk video a few times to get what's expressed. Especially important is the bit about how even after years of matting, there are still endless lessons to learn and new challenges to face. Mats are ultimately interactive, requiring evermore sensitivity and intuition to make them really go as well as they can.

I reckon that this difficulty factor, combined with the immense satisfaction of getting it right, makes matting a highly technical esoteric pursuit similar to auto racing. But then, on the other hand, more often all one has to do is point and shoot and the mat makes it come together. I most like simply assuming the Sphinx position and motoring along, forearms resting atop the outer pontoons, with ease. Then, when the wave steepens and the lip throws over, sliding back into Crouching Tiger whilst simultaneously gently compressing the outer pontoon gets the job done.

So, anyway, I went to Australia last week and got some OK waves, but none over over two foot. Head high maximum, as I was matting. No one around to take photos. So, I still have no mat action shots to show. Maybe that's part of the deal. It's a very personal activity. Sure, I had tons of fun, but it was out of the limelight. Same here at home. Good enough waves, no one around to shoot surfmat pics. Someday. It's just a matter of time...

(I did get these artistic images!)

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