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 28, 2008
Oct 26, 2008
Long story short:
Coming from a proud line of visionaries, Manuel's uncles formed the world's first punk band in the raucous atmosphere of 1930's Havana...
Since it was 60 years before the internet, their traffic numbers were low. They did, however, go on to coin punk's seminal cry...
One night, while on line to enter a local nightclub, he met a wannabe rocker named Jeffrey Hyman.
They discussed Jeff's options as a musical talent, and the young man was blown away with Manuel's grasp of all things relating to heaven, earth, and rock and roll.
Manuel desperately wanted Jeff to experience the ocean, so he could apply the "wisdom of the deep" to his musical vision. With the world's supply of mats dwindling, Manuel was forced into the shaping room to create a single fin roundtail hull for Jeff...
Taken with Manny's charisma, Jeff abandoned all hope of originality. He adopted Manuel's uncle's preferred musical genre -- punk -- and begged Manuel to let him assume the Ramone family name.
Manny did manage to assert himself in later years, and persuaded an Irish/Hawaiian ukulele duo to cover Blitzkrieg Bop. Also, a surf guitar version of many Ramones hits was produced by Manuel's daughter, Lourdes, herself an accomplished punk mat rider. ("Accomplished" in the sense that she can surf a mat without popping it with her lip ring.)
Oct 25, 2008
Four (of many) different styles of cutbacks...
Oct 23, 2008
Anyway, the gist of my messages were asking -- no, demanding -- to know more about "Mat Master Manuel." All I can say is that his story is so amazing, you couldn't make it up! But, let me give it a shot...
Manuel Jose Ramone's infatuation with all things aquatic goes back to his mother and aunt, who were avant garde swimwear models in pre-Castro Cuba.
Both thrilled and ashamed by his family's erotic passion for the water, little Manuel became a defiant child who could not be dragged from the ocean without a fight!
As a young man he became a dare devil, willing to risk his life for the admiring glances of attractive foreign tourists...
Self aware beyond his years, Manuel realized he had an almost perverse fixation with swimwear models, so he dove into shark infested waters once again...this time headlong into fashion photography.
His first paying gig was shooting models on the beach with inflatable rafts in his new-found home of South Florida.
A good hearted soul, he soon became disgusted with the shallow nature of the fashion world. A close call with death after a dicey appendectomy added fuel to the fires of his discontent...and, no surprise, he became very religious.
Not one to do things halfway, Manny really got into it!
He was also searching for a way to reconcile his love for beautiful women on inflatable rafts and his religious convictions. One night in a dream, it came to him...he would create inflatable churches!
The second tier of this eruption of creativity was the realization that inflatable churches, when partially blown up, provided the most direct means to a spiritual end!
It was only a matter of time before water-crazy Hollywood got wind of the sensation named Manuel Jose Ramone...and his faith and determination were once again challenged. When Sea Hunt was in pre-production, it was Manuel who became the real life model for the character Mike Nelson.
After mastering the nuances of mat surfing, he turned his attention to more pressing matters. He created the first "Inflatable World Peace Dialog Chamber."
And, he charted all the sea creatures of the South Pacific. Not in the conventional form of meticulously taken notes and photographs, but as non-skid figures on the deck of his favorite air mat!