Nov 19, 2019

Unearthed by Sam

I don't know how far we should go down this rabbit hole (I, for one, like it) but pursuant to our previous reference to the inflatable raft at the end of The Great Gatsby, Sam K dug up this interesting assessment of the meaning of the raft in the scene in the book where Gatsby is murdered....

I doubt any of us have ever looked at inflatables in quite such a way!

Honey Bee Surfers...

Nov 18, 2019

If their honey-making and pollination prowess weren’t enough, there’s a new reason to appreciate honeybees: They’re world-class surfers.

Beyond pollinating flowers, worker bees — which are all females — are given the job of searching for water to cool their hives. But if they fall into ponds, their wings get wet and can’t be used to fly. A team of researchers at the California Institute of Technology found that when bees drop into bodies of water, they can use their wings to generate ripples and glide toward land — like surfers who create and then ride their own waves.

Gnarly, right?

“When they fall in the water, they have to find a way to get to shore as a matter of survival,” said Chris Roh, a Caltech research engineer and lead author of the study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “It’s a ‘to bee or not to bee’ situation.”
As with many scientific advances — Isaac Newton’s apple or Benjamin Franklin’s lightning bolt — Dr. Roh’s experiment began with a walk. Passing Caltech’s Millikan Pond in 2016, he observed a bee on the water’s surface generating waves. He wondered how an insect known for flight could propel through water.

Dr. Roh and his co-author Morteza Gharib, a Caltech professor of aeronautics and bio-inspired engineering, used butterfly nets to collect local Pasadena honeybees and observe their surf-like movements.
The researchers fashioned a wire harness to constrain each bee’s bodily motion, allowing close examination of their wings. They found that the bee bends its wing at a 30-degree angle, pulling up water and generating a forward thrust. Bees get trapped on the surface because water is roughly three orders of magnitude denser than air. But that weight helps to propel the bee forward when its wings flap. It’s a strenuous exercise for the bees, which the researchers estimate could handle about 10 minutes of the activity.

The researchers said the surf-like motion hasn’t been documented in other insects and most semiaquatic insects use their legs for propulsion, what’s known as water-walking. It may have evolved in bees, they speculate, so the workers could collect fluid without getting stuck in the water and dying. The closest motion is seen in stoneflies, but their movement is more like paddling than surfing. 

Dr. Roh and Dr. Gharib plan to use their observations to design robots capable of traversing sky and sea. They have already made a mechanical model that simulates the bee’s surfing motion. Next, they will make one light enough to fly.

Howard Stone, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton, said nature is a helpful guide for technological innovation because “evolution has had lots of years to try out solutions” to common physical problems.

Dr. Gharib’s lab has previously studied underwater locomotion by looking at jellyfish, and energy harvesting by looking at leaves rustling in the wind. He envisions numerous practical applications for bee surfing.

“You could imagine an amphibious system that can move on the surface of water and fly without hassle,” Dr. Gharib said. “This could be useful for search and rescues, or for getting samples of the surface of the ocean, if you can’t send a boat or helicopter.”

Some more detail here...

Nov 9, 2019

Welcome Home, Kenny !!!

After a Summer and Fall spent north of the border, followed by a quick jaunt south of the border, our man Kenny is stoked to get back to the Santa Barbara coast in time for winter...

¡Buenos días, compañeros de bolsa de basura!

Sitting in the airport in Mexico City awaiting our 9:30 flight.  If all goes well we will be at LAX around noon.  A relaxing bus ride home and I’ll finally be ready to slide.  Looks like it’s been pretty small, but here’s hopin’ some storms materialize. 

Wow!  We haven’t been in Mexico 🇲🇽 City since our daughter was 3, 29 years ago.  It was a very busy place then.  NOW?  Holy moly! 

I’ll close with another volcano shot, another favorite, Pico de Orizaba.  Highest in Mexico at 19,000 something. 

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

See you soon


One problem, Mr. K...this November is shaping up to be the flattest in recorded history!


Nov 7, 2019

Long Time No SCUMM

Yo Mr. G,

Hope all is well mate!

The SCUMM Boy's are stoked with their new mats, so here is a coffee table interview at our Cuddy HQ with Phil and Paul!

I reckon Eric would be cracking himself up with laughter...



Nov 4, 2019

Nice Read From Surfline...

This is an interview from Surfline with Mark Cunningham. It pertains to body surfing, but much of it translates to mat surfing as well.

With over 20 years of experience as a lifeguard at Pipeline, Mark Cunningham has spent more time in the water at the “world’s deadliest wave” than most living souls. And that puts him on the long list of greats including Gerry, Kelly, John John, Derek, Andy, and so on.

But unlike his Pipe Specialist peers – who come from different eras and dominated the wave on the specific surf craft of their day – Cunningham occupies a special place amongst the ranks, since he does it without a board. In fact, Cunningham has made such a name for himself over many years of bodysurfing Pipeline (and other waves) that he’s often considered the world’s best in the sans-surfboard waveriding persuasion.

Which came first for you: surfing or bodysurfing?

Board surfing came first. I’m afraid to say how long ago that was, but it was before leashes were invented. It was also during that transition era, when the neighborhood guys were stripping down their longboards and trying their best to adhere them to the newer designs. But basically, we were riding really shitty equipment.

So, most of the time, I would fall off my board swim after it more than I was standing on it as a growth-spurting, gangly teenager. There was an older fellow at our local break who loved his bodysurfing; he was a part-time lifeguard at Sandy Beach. He saw me bodysurfing after my board all day long, and he said, ‘why don’t you try on these Duck Feet.’ And for that tall, gangly teenager, being in the water was much more comfortable than trying to dance on top of it.

What insights does bodysurfing give you into waveriding, which surfing doesn’t?

It gives you a different feel. You’re in the wave, you’re a part of the wave, the wave’s energy is going through you. Bodysurfing is a lot slower than board surfing. You don’t have this flotation device, which allows you to go much slower. It slows down the whole wave dance, as it were. And that gives you more time to feel it and appreciate it all.

I board surf still and I sorta get stage fright. I feel like I’m so exposed to the whole world. If it’s your turn and you’re in the spot, all eyes are on you. And those expectations aren’t put on you as a bodysurfer. Nobody expects you to rip, or to snag the wave of the day. That makes bodysurfing more enjoyable, less stressful – at least for me.

Physically, the benefits of bodysurfing – or swimming – are pretty apparent when it comes to surfing. But how can bodysurfing help your surfing mentally?

Bodysurfing affords you patience. You’re not going to get the peak wave, you’re not going to be in pole position. Likely, there’s going to be a surfer or bodyboarder who’s going to beat you to that spot. As a bodysurfer, you’re more of a bottom-feeder sitting in the channel. You’re feasting on the scraps, hoping guys will eat shit, and you can pick off their wave on the shoulder. In that sense, it sort of humbles you; it makes you appreciate waves a bit more, because when you get one it’s a real treat. And because, with a board, you’re paddling like a rabid dog and going after anything you can catch. You’re not as mobile bodysurfing. It slows things down a bit.

It teaches you an appreciation for waves and how precious they are. A long ride bodysurfing is only a couple seconds before you’re swallowed by whitewater. Bodysurfing makes board surfers appreciate waves when they’re going so far and so fast and how much ground they’re covering.

How do you approach a wave differently in bodysurfing versus surfing?

Just like board surfing, it all depends on the break – how crowded it is, how fast it is, is it a pointbreak, is it a slammer. At this point in my life, I like longer and gentler rides. But growing up at Sandy Beach, it was the quick reflex of hard, dumping shorebreak.
Positioning in bodysurfing is definitely different. For example, out at Pipeline, you’re not going to be jockeying for position at the peak. Even if it was empty. It’s just too steep and too fast; the body can’t do that. So, you’re more so on the shoulder, where you at least have a chance to ride the wave for a little while, as opposed to the wave freight training without you.

What does bodysurfing offer that surfing does not? 

It’s definitely a lot easier to travel as a bodysurfer. All you need is a pair of fins and a towel. It’s also a great workout, head-to-toe. You’re constantly treading water and that’s a full body workout just to stay afloat. I also think bodysurfing is more of a challenge than board surfing. Because like board surfing, the takeoff and the drop-in are the hardest to learn. But once you’re on the face, and you’re trying to achieve that synchronicity with the wave, you don’t have that flotation device. Your body is the board, and you’re trying to get 150 or 200 pounds of weight moving on this wave all on its own. That makes it a bit harder of a workout than board surfing.

What makes for a good bodysurfing wave?

Well, here’s an example: you never see a bodysurfer backdoor a wave at Off-the-Wall. It’s way too fast, steep, and hollow. A guy can drop in and get a glory shot, then get worked on the reef. On the other hand, you’ll see quite a few guys bodysurfing the shoulder at Pipeline, because it will taper off and it will peel towards the Gums sandbar. Obviously, I’m prejudiced towards Ehukai sandbar. I love sandbars, because I don’t have to worry about being pummeled on rocks or reef. And then going the other direction from Ehukai, Pupukea is a fun, softer, slower wave. I really enjoy bodysurfing there. Whenever I’m watching surf videos, if I see guys doing a bunch of cutbacks, I think that’d be a good bodysurfing wave. I’d be able to get a good glide on that wave. That snowballing whitewater will propel me down the line.

Then, in California, the preeminent spot is the Wedge. And I’ve seen beautiful shots out there, which make me fantasize about getting a piece of that. But in reality, it’s more often than not a crazy, life-threatening, crash-and-burn on the sand type of wave. Don’t get me wrong, the Wedge is an amazing wave. But I’m glad I’m not 20 years old anymore, because I’d have to go prove myself out there.

What makes for good bodysurfing fins?

I’ve been wearing Da Fin for about 20 years, because it’s a very soft shoe pocket and a plenty powerful blade. Back in the day, when I first started lifeguarding and bodysurfing, you had two choices: it was either the ultra-soft and comfortable Churchills, which weren’t powerful; or you had the Duck Feet that were longer and stiffer, and although they were less comfortable, they were more powerful.

Nowadays, with the advent of bodyboarding, there are so many fins on the market that I just tell people to go with whatever fits their foot the best. A lot of those bodyboarding fins are shorter and stubbier – the bodyboarders don’t need as much blade; and they want to pull their fins out of the water for aerials and drop-knee – whereas I think bodysurfers want more power and more blade.

What are some tips for surfers looking to get into bodysurfing?

Make sure your suit stays on. Know how to swim. Kick like hell when you’re in the water – and that means matching your momentum with the wave, which is so much harder when you don’t have a board under you. And finally, come out of the water smiling. If you don’t come out of the water more stoked than when you went in, then you’re doing it all wrong.

Oct 30, 2019

From Seth

The mats worked out OK...


DT Fleming beach park.


Oct 23, 2019

From Sam

Appeared in Popular Mechanics Magazine, September 1924 (page #362).
Photo credit: unknown.
"For those who enjoy the sport of surf riding, a pneumatic board that is inflated with a hand pump has been placed on the market. It is constructed of a durable, rubberized fabric and has ribs which hold it flat for riding on the surface. It will support the weight of a heavy person. When deflated, it folds up into a small bundle weighing about six pounds, and is four feet eight inches long and twenty inches wide when blown up. It is said to be safer for the rider and other bathers than those of wood and cork. Bright-colored designs give the new boards a festive touch."
Retrievable on Google Books online: where, in addition to the magazine text, someone was inspired enough to write names, patent numbers and addresses in pencil in the margins of their copy.
The apparent difference in chamber configuration is interesting.

Oct 20, 2019

North By Northwest

“Still life” with kelp and jellyfish


Well, after a 6 month dry dock, except for SUP-in and crabbin, I’m in the water once more.  We’re at the northwest tip of the continental US, Neah Bay/Cape Flattery.  Stunning scenery, not so stunning waves, this morning anyway, but I went out anyway.  Brockway would’ve.  Mainly I had to test out my wetsuit/bootie combo in the 50F ocean.  Not bad, really.  Hands might suffer in an extended go-out, but all in all quite tolerable.  It was about 2’-3’ and mainly just walls.  Sandbars not doing so well at the moment.  Still felt GREAT though. 

Had an interesting day yesterday as we left Vancouver Island.  Got skunked at both Jordan River and Sombrio, by the by.  Beginning to think I’m a bit of a surf jinx.  The walk into Sombrio is awesome, though.  Turns out in Canada our Columbus Day is their Thanksgiving!!  Oh, so THAT’S why there’s so much traffic and the campgrounds are all a-buzz.  In spite of that we managed to find a spectacular camping spot by a river, complete with running salmon and many critters after them — bears, humans, eagles, seals swimming up river and hunting in teams.  Incredible.

So we thought we’d bug out on a Sunday on a long weekend.  Seemed like a plausible plan.  Downtown Victoria ought to be pretty quiet.  Ordinarily, I suppose that would’ve been the case, EXCEPT, for the marathon due to begin almost the moment we arrived!! Streets blocked off in all directions, and naturally Google Maps is of no help in such a situation.  With the assistance of a couple very helpful peace officers, and some gaps between real competitors and walkers, we made it to the ferry line. 

There you have it,


Oct 13, 2019

From Jonathan


Hi Paul,

I intended to write an account of my time in Raglan for your blog, but the truth was, surf-wise, it was pretty unremarkable. I just wasn’t feeling like the experience I had (which was more focused on my friends and the quiet beauty of the place than on the surf) would have fit the surfmatters bill.

But now I’m home, dog walking full time. The contrast was profound upon returning. I’ve included a few pictures that might be nice for Surfmatters.

When we were talking about mat riding in artificial wave pools a while back, this is what I was living in! Without a lot of good surf on this trip, I though a lot about the broader picture of what “surfing” meant to me… and it was appreciating the whole experience, the environment, the journey to the shore, the weather, the animals, the people. Steve Pezman wrote something I agree with in a recent Surfer’s Journal to the effect that surfing was all these extramural things; that wave pool surfing was something, but not surfing.

There was SOME quality wave riding though :) 
Right at the end of my trip. I had to go find it away from Raglan, dog-sitting down in the same fertile wave zone as last time. That vacation-within-a-vacation delivered good, uncrowded surf every day. I only brought mats - my Lotus, and the two I left for my friends four years ago, my Standard and my first ever mat from you, the Tracker Roundtail, circa 2010. Both these mats still held air :) and both went great! Those sessions were like dying and going to heaven - long rides without crowds or even anyone at times (!), and plenty of room to refine/explore how to maneuver and make it down the line. Mostly at the long left hander in the photos, pictured on different days in different moods. My go-to spot, five minutes from where I was staying :)

The messy right hand point reminded me of the spot Nat Young and GG rode in Crystal Voyager.

One funny story to go with one of the photos: the golden retriever I was sitting was pouting because his family was away, and then he disappeared overnight. I was terribly worried, and emailed the owners the next morning. They told me to get in their car and head out like we were setting out for his walk. Not 30 seconds down the road, the damn guy appeared in my review mirror INSIDE the car - he’d spent the night in the back! WTF!!

Another photo shows the ripples running along the inside of the harbor. The little waves made a sublime sound, something like a bucket of water pouring, an almost laughing sound... incredibly soothing and relaxing.

Also included a few images of some of the more choice book covers from the little bookstore I worked in.

Anyway, this was meant to be brief :)

Really hoping you guys are well, and that we all make this gnarly section that’s looming ahead….


Sep 18, 2019

From Paul W

Here I am finding micro shade on the Omni a few weeks ago. I don't think I'll pick up a surfboard again.


Sep 14, 2019

From Mat Max

 Hi PG, Howzit?

Not much surfing lately due to continued muddy waters on south shore from spring runoff. Too spooky with ever present tiger sharks (who are not a problem in clear water). Everyone in my life are fine. Anyway, I spotted this interesting vid that relates to mat technology.

Hoping you and Gloria are well... Fat Max

Sep 13, 2019

From Biarritz

Thks Paul, i will try to send you a picture of one ride as soon as possible!

Sep 9, 2019

From Mikey

Hey Paul!

Can't tell you how much joy matting brings to my life. All I know is that it's a gift.

Attached, a shot of my friend Rob on a mat under a pretty sky.

I'm headed to Australia at the start of October. Can't wait to mat there.

From Dwight

Made it to Gaeta!


Sep 5, 2019

Largest Mat Wave Ever???

Mister Dirk submitted this image of himself on what he claims is the largest wave ever ridden on a mat.

"No one has ever seen a wave larger than this," he said. "Totally a Category 6 comber, which no one has ever even heard of...let alone ridden, let alone ridden on a mat..."

Aug 30, 2019

From the Dark Side 😟

 Hey Paul,

Here's a clip from Lemoore the other day.

Like I said before, its really challenging to ride a mat out there. The energy is so different from the ocean, its hard to hold a good line. You can see in the footage, the wave energy is keeping me at the bottom of the wave, and its really easy to get behind the curl.

I rode the Omni you made me, felt like that was the right mat to bring, being my smallest/most agile mat. Super fun, but very challenging.


Aug 26, 2019

From Bob

Mat Man Incident Report - 
I was waiting between waves north of Morro Rock this morning with my friend Jody Mulgrew (aka Mat Man 2.0) when a surfer near us said, "Here they come!" The next thing we knew, a dozen dolphins swam swiftly straight at us, passing on both sides. It is one thing to see dolphins from the beach and an entirely different experience to be surrounded by them. Up close, they are very large, very strong, very fast and in total control. The experience will not be forgotten.  


Aug 16, 2019

Mandos, A Few Days Ago ...

I know, I'm burning a well kept secret secret spot, but protocol be damned. This action sequence of a tandem mat ride is awesome!