Jan 16, 2017

From Jacksonville Rob ...


We have been blessed with some swell and I have thoroughly enjoyed it! My feet are a little torn up from the last few days but it's been worth it.

Here's a little slide I took to the inside to get a baby barrel. It was pretty fast so I slowed the end down.


These mats give me so much joy! Keep spreading the stoke Paul!

Rob P

Jan 12, 2017

From Lloyd ...

Hi Paul
Thought you might enjoy these brief moments...




Jan 8, 2017

Tips From The Pros: Crowd Strategizing, Part One ...

Regardless of your age, level of experience, or choice of equipment...the number one hassle in surfing is dealing with crowds...

Mat surfers have an edge in that we tend to be non-competitive. For most of us, a lone wolf go out in junk surf is preferable to butting heads with the alpha-males at the local super-spot. And our choice of drug delivery, the humble mat, lends itself to poor quality waves.

So, we're a leg up on the deal to start with.

But what if, for some practical reason, you're going to crack a lineup peppered with a collection of Kelly Slater cultists with a surf mat under your arm? How should you approach it?

Rob from Jacksonville spent this past Tuesday morning in just such a position...and not only did he handle it well, he effectively verbalized it.

To wit:


I surfed the North Side of the Jax Pier Tuesday in 2+’ clean conditions. It was so crowed on the South Side of the pier it looked like there were a couple water polo matches going on at the same time in the line up.

Here's some of the chaos off of Surfline's cam from the South Side that morning...

It was a totally different vibe from my usual spot, but it was the only place was breaking within driving distance. I chose the less crowded North Side.

I said a little prayer, suited up, and blew up the Fatty. As I walked down from the parking lot I was peppered with, "That's not a surf board, that's a raft" comments. I have thick skin, so I just smiled and kept walking. You have to remember this is probably the first time most of these guys and girls have seen a surf mat. I've never even seen another prone rider in the line up!

When I got to the water I felt all eyes on me, being on the North Side of the pier it was less crowded, but there where still about 10 guys in the water with me. I felt something I have never felt before mat surfing, pressure. I paddled out with the stink eye on me strong!

When I reached the line up I was greeted by some groms with stink eyes and some whispering between the four of them. I paddled out a little further than the rest of the lineup ;-)! I waited for a plus size set to roll through and snuck in out back on my first wave! It was a screaming high line right and I got to see those stink eyes look surprised, and those tight lips turn to smiles, as I let out a YEEEEEWWWWWW all the way to the inside!

I respected everyone's position in the lineup, and all the sudden I was just another surfer.

I caught every wave I paddled for, and had some rights so long I had to get out and walk back. The pressure I felt had nothing to do with me, or the other surfers out at the Pier. I felt like that because I was the only one in the water representing mat surfing, and I wanted to represent it well. I was so stoked on the session and had a tremendous amount of fun!

Happy New Year! Keep Spreading the Stoke Paul!

Super Stoked,
Rob Pollard

PS I would have taken some go-pro video but the vibe told me to leave the camera in the car :-)!

Jan 6, 2017

From Mat Max ...

In addition to being the originator this blog, Mat Max (Pahl Dixon) also lays claim to being the young mat rider featured in The Complete Book Of Surfing... 

Pahl was  also the very first customer of 4th Gear Flyer back in the summer of 1984! (He bought a Standard from me out of the trunk of my car...in the parking lot at the Ventura Raceway.)

His free-spirit takes him all over the globe as mat riding's numero uno worldwide ambassador.

A while back, he imposed his minimalist lifestyle on his mat model selection. I built him what he calls his ''Mini-Mat," which is essentially a 4GF Lotus that's been shortened a couple of inches. And that's pretty damn small!

Pahl is our most articulate mat tester, and this is the bi-annual report he filed a few days ago, via the World Wide Web Electronic Mail Service...



Howzit Paul and Gloria?

The 4GF Mini-Mat that I’ve been exclusively riding turns two years old this month. It now feels normal and just right. The aspect of change that has not worn off is increased excitement. It's a minimal platform that’s easy to duck dive and ride in wild surf. It also promotes an uncanny impression of flying across the water. I find that less volume requires more attention to positioning and increased overall effort. The payoff is a mat that does more of what I want with a few minor drawbacks.

Going smaller requires extra energy to tap into increased performance potential. Catching waves on a Mini is a bit more demanding. Finding the fore-aft sweet spot is somewhat trickier. Contrast unique thrills, secure handling, easy maneuvering… and these trade offs equate positively. Balancing precariously on a personal hovercraft that feels like an inflatable postage stamp is next level fun. Like transitioning from a sports car to a go kart. And after two years of traveling, the Mini going super-strong.

I weigh 175 pounds and have no issues with the Mini even when wearing a full suit. From New Zealand to Australia to Hawaii and back in NZ this micro-mat has dished out ample speed and reliability in all conditions. The Mini’s main advantage is being able to utilize significantly more inflation, due to its minimal wetted area, in order to very confidently fast-track across gnarly waves with amazingly little surface drag.

The Mini is a step-up mat that experienced riders might want to invest in for intense conditions and fresh sensations. It’s also a clever choice for small people and kids.

The venerable oxymoron “less is more” aptly applies to the Fourth Gear Flyer Mini-Mat!

Cheers Mates,

Mat Max
January 4, 2017

Jan 4, 2017

Amazing 1935 Surf Mat Short ...



Attached 1935 video is in the public domain.

Samuel S

Jan 3, 2017

From Tomas ...

Omni table cloth...



Happy New Year!

Loved the Omni on the latest Puerto Rico holiday.  Marti and I had a rare treat with no tree, no gifts, no family/in-laws, no kids this Christmas.

Packed 2 4thGearFlyer Mats in the space of 2 Pringles cans and took off. We are a short 4 hour flight to San Juan, PR, so we took advantage. Spent 4 days in San Juan -Viejo and got around by foot/ bike and had a blast on Winter surf and snorkle outings. Later we drove up to NW Coast and tried to sample as many beaches as possible over the next week....tons of options without people. Surf was romping!..... Ran into a crew of prone riders in Isabela and enjoyed their home break, Hustle, And their Aloha! Thanks to Govanni and crew for a great couple of days.

Made a point to spend several days in old San Juan after missing it last trip. Whole area is 7 blocks x 5 blocks cobblestone streets made of ship ballast stones. 1500's Historical Architecture wonderland.

It was uncrowded in most beach areas, very peaceful and family oriented. Everyone was gracious and made us feel at home. Aside from Rincon area being crowded over Christmas, as usual, everywhere else was empty. We either snorkled, surfed or swam at Steps, Domes, Crashboat, Gas Chambers, Aguadilla/Ramey, Shacks, Jobos and a dozen other beaches over to Arecibo and Hallows. Try to make it back there if you can!

OK...pics of matting...well, we didn't do so good on that order. Nobody but the two of us most times in water. Here is the best I got!

Tom S

Jan 2, 2017

From Jeff ...

Hi Paul;

Hope all is well. Trying to figure out this Go Pro thing. Got one wave on film before the battery died.
Underwhelming but a stumble in the right direction.

Love my new Vespa.  Best mat period.


Jan 1, 2017

2016 Retrospective From Adam And The Scumm Crew ...



Hi Paul

Happy New Year!

All the best to you and your Family!

Not a lot happening down here on the NSW South Coast.  Summer wind dribble combined with thousands of keen holiday makers, so those fantastic 4 months of winter bliss are just a distant memory for us now. Please, can someone hit the fast forward button to May and hopefully let the fun begin again???

This is from 6 months ago, with Neal and I riding our Omni and Tracker RT on a small and slightly windy, but uncrowded ( just us till one other paddled out).  So much fun and such a perfect wave for crossovers and speed runs , Gilligans Island = maximum FUN!

We also rescued a distressed seal, which was all tangled up in a old fish net, the poor little fella must have been washed up into the scrub , way back in the shoreline, this was just after that massive East Coast Low we experienced back then , so he could have been trapped for over a week. Lucky for him some visiting tourist heard him and asked us for some help, so Neal with a pair of gloves and knife was able to cut him free.



Dec 29, 2016

From Marc ...

Hi Paul,

Hope all is well.

Yesterday was the last swell of 2016 in my hometown Scheveningen in The Netherlands. Cold (37F degrees) but clean and fun. It will be flat till 2 January.

On the background they are building the bonfire for new year's eve (35 meters high! )

All the best for 2017 for you and Gloria!


Dec 26, 2016

From Rob ...



I’ve been having a blast on the Polara. I connect sections I couldn’t make on my other mats, and its handling these soft small waves like a champ! This is my best ride of the day from Christmas Eve, on a 2.5’ super soft wave. I really have to lay out when the waves are under 3’ but if I get into them, I’m gone! The Polara Super Sport has become my favorite mat of the winter.

I’m going to keep riding the Polara Regular, I have to get more time on it and the Polara SS to get a better feel for the differences before I can speak intelligently on them.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, your surf craft have brought so much joy to me and mine!

Keep spreading the Stoke!

Rob Pollard

Dec 20, 2016

Happy 76th Frank ...

Today (12/21/16) would have been Frank Zappa's 76th birthday. Sadly, he passed at the age of 52 in 1993. (His wife Gail died in October of 2015 at 70.)

This Dutch documentary may not hold up by conventional critical standards, but it's an interesting snapshot of a very candid Zappa, and the era of the early 70's.

What amazes me about Frank Zappa's music is how well it holds up, without the rose colored filter of nostalgia. (At least, that's my view.) So does much of his social commentary. I recall just before he died, he was a critic of the populist downside of the internet...which is interesting, since the internet barely existed in the 1993. Pretty perceptive.

Anyhow, here's to you, FZ...

Frank and Gail in 1972

Dec 17, 2016

2016: Another Passing

My father grew up in rural Hawaii during the 20's and 30's. He basically lived on sugar cane as a kid, gnawing on raw stalks on his way back and forth to school each day. His teeth and general health suffered in the long term, to say the least.

Maybe, on balance, it will be a good change for Hawaii. But...the ideal of the sugar industry leaving The Islands seems like the last kick in the gut 2016 has for us.

Full story on NPR here...

Dec 13, 2016

From Rob ...



I’m loving the new Polara, it’s FAST!

Chris and I had a great time yesterday, we surfed 5 plus hours. It was glassy and 3’ all day, we had so much fun! I felt very blessed to be able to take the time off and mat all day. My face is sore from smiling!

Thanks for these awesome surf craft! Super Stoked!

Clip by Chris Falzone.


Dec 8, 2016

Tips From The Pros: Fin/Foot Interface ...

OK, considering it's from moi, maybe this doesn't qualify as a "tip from a pro." So bear with me...

I've found that a pair of fins, even if they each were cast out of the same mold at the same time, can vary slightly in temper. The hand laid charges of rubber that are placed in the mold prior to heating aren't perfect, so each fin can have a different feel. And since our feet are not identical to one another, every now and then, one fin will fit one foot better than the other.

What I do, when I get a new pair of fins, is swap them back and forth between feet to see if there's a closer match of one fin to one foot. If so, I mark the fins accordingly.

Of course, this only applies to a brand of fins that aren't molded specifically for a right and left foot.

If there's no discernible difference between two new fins, then I arbitrarily mark the fins 'right' and 'left.' The theory is that, over time, each fin will conform slightly to each foot.

RIP Greg Lake


Dec 6, 2016

Funnest Beach Cam Ever ...

The Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery, located about 5 miles north of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, now has its own beach cam.

The angle and focal length of the camera changes every couple of days, so it's worth checking in now and then for some varied pinniped fun!

Dec 1, 2016

From ????

I have no idea what in the hell this is.  (Or who's behind it, but I have my suspicions...)

Nov 30, 2016

From Surf Sister ...

Surf Sister denies stalking photog Dave Weldon in hopes of making it to Surfline's Local Photo El Porto section ... but Weldon and South Bay law enforcement are not amused!

Nov 25, 2016

From Jeremy ...

Hello Paul,

I wanna glide on the Lotus above and to the right of surfer. Position '2pm' high line!


Nov 24, 2016

From Geoffrey ...

Hey Paul!


holy shit! It go real fast!! Like speeds I've never felt before laying down.

I took it out on a 3ft day.. It was ok..
But when i took it out 4-6ft that when I felt 3rd flyer!

still learning and reading the pdf file you gave me.. My first instinct is too lift the nose up abit but after a few waves I really found momentum when my head was right down.
The lower the better.

it's also hard to find a line, I was doing the angle line down an drawing out the bottom turns.

Still I've never had so much fun going straight on 6ft sets.

Here's a Picture, ill send more when my friend emails me them!