By Dale Solomonson
It's nearing dusk, and you're airborne on takeoff, drifting down the face of a newly discovered secret wave. As your craft finally touches the surface and begins to find its line, you roll into a long, smooth fade to the left, toward the strange, angled base of this thickening maul. At the outer edge of your vision you see the peak thrusting itself skyward. As the shadow of the lip passes overhead, you quickly straighten and aim deep for the bottom.
There is silence in the moment before impact, and then heavy thunder lands close to your left. But looking away, your focus is on the oddly swirling water just ahead. The surface pulls tight, pouring off the rock shelf to meet the incoming wave.
At the last possible second you twist completely over on the inside rail, banking so far to the right that you can`t see much of anything, straining to raise your head as a great unseen force drives you firmly into the deck, and the tightening arc of your turn throws you over the watery glaze of the reef and back up across the face.
Your grip relaxes as you level out, skimming across the vertical upper third of the inward-bending wall. Far ahead, the inside bowl rises ominously, stretching out, the wave growing larger and thicker than it was when you first caught it.
Now is the time to let go, pressing down, unwinding at full power, the soft chattering of your craft changes to a whispering hiss, as you strain into the highest possible line. As your velocity increases you wonder if this is what a seabird might feel as it soars across a wave sensing invisible pathways to maximum speed.
Fast approaching the inside section, turbid boils and broken kelp hint the end is near. Without prompting, your vehicle accelerates, descending toward the surging base, falling deeper into the coiling hole. Lightly textured backlit bluegreen hues become dark oily slick and the water feels hard.
As if trapped in a slow motion dream, you watch the massive roof of the tube heave itself outward and far ahead. Racing higher again you flatten, leaning closer to the uprushing wall. Surprised and amazed by the mysterious pull of the building momentum your grip tightens instinctively. You've never ridden anything, anywhere this fast.
Streaking toward your wave's last escape portal time finally slows to a single moment. And just before the opening winks shut you look back at your spiraling, shimmering track, swallowed up by the swirling darkness, and surrender to the unnerving suspicion that this mat of yours is somehow... surfing itself!
Ed: Originally written by Dale Solomonson, the creator of Neumatic Surfmats and pioneer in modern mat construction. This article has been around on various blogs and sites for a few years but we thought it only right to add it to our growing collection here on UK Mat Surfers as an acknowledgement of his creations. Little is heard from Dale these days but all mat surfers owe him a tip of the cap for getting us to where we are today and the amount of stoke that has been added in to many wave sliders lives.
Thanks to all of those who kindly supplied pictures to accompany this story.