Oct 31, 2008
This is a Standard 4GF made out of canvas. Since the modified three pontoon concept worked so well with nylon fabric, it was worth a try. I even threw in some brass grommets and perimeter rope!
Not only did this mat ride nowhere near as well as a nylon 4GF, it wasn't as good as a Converse Hodgman in head-to-head comparisons. Which reinforced what we were beginning to suspect at the time...that each material calls for a different configuration of dimensions, pontoons, and I-Beams to maximize it's potential.
During the summer of 1985 -- after the Standard 4GF shape had already evolved into what we were riding all the time -- I tried a couple of further experiments. This time, altering the bottom texture of the nylon mats.
I covered the bottom of two mats I had laying around with urethane. The idea was to see if a smoother bottom would enhance the performance of the mats.
Two part liquid urethane was used, with two different durometer readings. The clear urethane I had on hand was hard. The red was very soft. The application on both mats came out about the same, but you can see the minor thickness variations of the red urethane more clearly. (I used a combination of a squeegee and a paint brush to apply the urethane, which is pretty thick stuff even in the summer.)
Both mats surfed noticeably slower, and their inflation levels were much touchier to get right on any given day. And, both mats exhibited less glide. Presumably, the reasons was because the mats were stiffer and wouldn't relax and conform as easily when you let them flatten out. Plus they sometimes had to be ridden firmer -- since the smoother bottom fabric didn't hold in as well -- and this slowed them even further.
The red-bottom mat was slightly better, which made sense since the red urethane was softer. But both were real turkeys!
One other test was conducted. I fine sanded the sheen off the clear-bottom mat with 320 W/D, to try and regain some of the "wetted-out" feeling the slick urethane bottom had removed. The mat was improved somewhat, but it was still a long ways from being as good as the taffeta-textured nylon.
After a couple of weeks riding theses mats, I took a stock 4GF nylon mat out and couldn't believe how well it worked, or how good it felt!
Oct 30, 2008
Oct 29, 2008
His head is at the front of the mat, his left hand has a firm grip on the side of the outer rail, his weight is focused on the inside rail, and his fins are up...with the inside fin poised to drop into the water when called for. Notice how there's no water wrapping around the outer/back part of the mat. Even on this big, heavy, stiff mat, efficiency is possible.
Because George is so thin, and the mat he's riding is so large (the Converse/Hodgman Stripes Down model), the positioning of the rider on the mat is exaggerated...which is good in terms of a graphic example of this style of riding. Because most mat riders are larger and today's mats aren't as wide, the positioning shown in contemporary shots isn't as well defined, visually.
Oct 25, 2008
Four (of many) different styles of cutbacks...
Oct 20, 2008
Nice, moderate turn, bank-wise. Just the right amount for the situation.
Greenough...late 60's...Converse/Hodgman "Stripes Down" mat. The offshore texture provides enough tension so he can bank all the way over without his fins touching the water.
Tightening your grip on the outer front corner and burning a turn off the bottom feels great. And on the right wave, it can generate a gear jump...or two!
By running along the bottom and easing the nose back up the face just a few degrees, while leaving the mat level, the tail will drift out a bit, and you can take a natural track back up the face and into the power.
The middle photo was taken in weak windswell -- you can see the short wave frequency in the photo -- but no speed was scrubbed off in the turn. A banked turn would have bogged the rider down.
The bottom photo is a textbook "flat" bottom turn. Look how little the water is disturbed as the mat changes direction.
Oct 19, 2008
I was sitting out the back waiting for a wave as two orcas, 25' and 15', lazily swam by about 20 yards away. Foolishly, I strummed my mat, and junior instantly veered straight toward me before submerging. "Uh oh." A series of boils on the surface of the somewhat murky water advanced in my direction. Upwellings from the orca's massive tail. "Okay, remain calm."
The boils closed in on me. "Too late to do anything now." A pool of turbulent water rose up directly on my righthand side. "It's just like a really big dolphin." Another upwelling appeared to my left. "What the hell did I do that for?" Then the "footprints" trailed away until the curious young orca came up for air and calmly rejoined the adult. "What's the matter with me, anyway?"