Jan 13, 2009

From Matt On Maui

Matt sent me this email saying...

The Peak at Pavils

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!

:) Matt



Anonymous said...

I read your story with interest this evening and smiled knowing that just being in the water at the Pavilion is no easy feat.

Glad you enjoyed the ride!
But when I went to your site and viewed your water photography I was even more impressed. Your good!
The very fact that you are on a mat after swimming and shooting what I saw, well,
I for one can't wait to see what type of mat shots you'll come up with.

Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

Take your mat out at Ma'alaea and report back to us! I wonder how fast one could get a mat going on that wave? Your photos of the spot are stunning!

Tom T

nathanoj said...

"I was surprised at how quickly the mat slowed down when the wave died down..."

I've experienced the same. Especially noticeable when the wave dies in a channel and the mat has low inflation. It comes off the plane really fast. I mean, the wave is over, there's no section to link up to, but I've always thought it contradicted the mat's rep of being able to maintain speed through the flats.

Pahl Dixon said...

I experience the same thing. Sort of like stalling a racing engine due to insufficient revs. Seems that mats rely on surface tension and pressure to carry speed. Once velocity drops below a critical threshold, lift degenerates to nearly nil. Speedboats do this when they fall off of plane and wallow rather than glide. Stalling a mat is very much along the lines of stalling an aircraft. Such is the nature of lifting body vehicles...

Paul Gross said...

I think there's a line of lateral energy in point waves that runs through the flat spots between sections...so it's easier to keep a mat (or any vehicle) rolling over the dead areas. I've had mats glide over 30 or 40 yards of "nothing" on a 3 foot wave...a flat spot even a longboard couldn't get over.

But, I've had the same experience...where a mat would quickly die out the instant the swell hit deep water.

I think wind texture and rider technique has something to do with it was well...but it's more about the wave.

nathanoj said...

Mat - exactly! :-)The image of a speedboat coming off the plane is just what I imagined.

PG - You're right. The flat section of an ongoing wave is a rather different situation than a wave dying in a channel. It's the former over which mat's have the reputation of skating.