Sep 27, 2009

Grommet Sacrilege Update From Neil

Hi Paul,

Just got back after a surf in 35 knots of wind. I would never have considered going out in it without the leash etc on the mat. The leash definitely saved me from losing another mat.

However, you do lose some of the feeling of total freedom and so in normal conditions I don't bother attaching anything. There doesn't seem to have been any stretch in the fabric around the grommets yet, but this may be due to the fact that in reality it's rare that much stress is put on the mat. I have a coiled leash attached to it and this seems to take up some of the strain plus, as i previously mentioned, I still hang onto the mat itself when i get eaten alive by a wave.

I think that this is the way to go, and would be very wary about using a rope/leash as anything more than the last line of defence against mat loss.

That said, one potential way of making the grommet mat attachment sturdier may be to add another layer of deck material along the front fringe. Although I'm not sure how that would effect general mat flexibility.

I will get back to you again if any stretching or tearing starts to happen, but so far I'm happy having the option of attaching myself to the mat, but prefer to ride it without.


Hi Neil,

The reason why I didn't add extra fabric to the grommeted areas is that it might transfer any stresses back into the main body of the mat, and cause catastrophic failure. My idea was that if one or both of the grommets were to fail, the flange would (hopefully) be all that was damaged...thus making it a cosmetic failure, not ruining the whole mat.

Time will tell. Until we have a failure, we won't know!


Sep 24, 2009

4GF Standard + pod Fins

Having lost fifteen pounds since departing NZ, and now wearing boardshorts and flippers in Hawaii, my new 4GF Standard particularly suits my 155 pounds. This template was developed over 30+ years of r&d to be one-size fits-all for 100-to-200 pound riders. There is something magical about these dimensions, especially if one weighs in near the middle of this scale.

I usually ride in trunks and wear a shortsleeve surfshirt when it's super-sunny. I suppose that I've hardened myself to the traction top, so I can bareback without raft rash, which says quite a lot for the comfort factor of the black top. Grip in a rashguard is fine for me. The blue bottom looks good, goes great, and stays cooler in the sun. As for the shape, larger diameter corners improve traction and reduce nose drag. Speed seems about the same as always. Subtle concave and revised rib placement greatly enhance handling and stability of the whole package. After a few go outs, my new mat softened up, and has performed faultlessly ever since. I trade off between Standard for juicy waves, Fatty on smaller days, and a Gen 1 XL for microwaves. If I could have only one mat it would be a Standard. With brilliant hybrid materials, plus evolutionary "Fatty" design, the new Standard is in my humble opinion, well, The New Standard.

Along with this new mat I got pod PF2 flippers in size 9/10 from Ron Dog at He offers prompt friendly service, low prices, and fast inexpensive shipping. I highly recommend e-shopping with Ron Dog. pod swimfins all look like they were styled for a Batman film. And the futuristic design actually serves quite purposefully. pod "splay rails" really grip the water to hold a line on steep faces and in hard turns. Kicking power is decent, but not great, as these are shortish bodyboard fins. They do deliver quick acceleration, but top speed is a bit lackluster for me, partly because because I'm not strong enough to fully utilize their the speed capabilities. And because overall fit is rather loose in the cavernous footbox, however PF2s are very stiff, and function on the merit of their own form sufficiently that wiggling around in there is not too much of a sacrifice of power. These are the first fins I've found that accommodate my super-wide feet in the proper size with room to spare. They don't catch much water through the ankle opening on fast rides. Soft and roomy foot pockets are good to my knobby feet with no pressure points. The drain hole is very large and rapidly clears sand. They do come off in major turbulence when getting ragdolled, and float quite well, however tethers are advised. I bought XM fin leashes and they work fine so far, especially after tying the tethers with a triple loop around the very end of the strap to make the leashes short enough that the ankle strap has insufficient scope to fall off. So far so good.

pod PF2s are not for everyone. They seem to compare somewhat poorly top-speed-wise to UDT/Viper/Duck Feet style fins due to less blade length. For people with really fat feet, they are a godsend. And, most importantly, the performance delivered while riding waves is exceptional, with low drag, and very positive grip on the water. Deep side rails that slot securely into the face increase both stability and holding power. The concave channels on the outer bottom side rails feel like they aid edge holding and make a bit of thrust... Anyway, I like 'em better than any previous flippers I've tried. And now I'm really curious about pod PF3s, which I may soon be ordering from Ron Dog as well.

To summarize, the various sizes of 4GFs definitely have their applications, however a mid-size person might consider a Standard for truly superb all-purpose matting. And if one wants amazing control on the waves, at the cost of somewhat less kicking speed, by all means check out pod PF2s. Using these products in conjunction seems to pay off. Combining the latest Standard 4GF and pod PF2s has definitely elevated my own matting experience to a new level of pure fun!

Sep 16, 2009

"Like I was lifted up, riding the current of air..."

(From Magic Seaweed...)


Just wanted to shoot an message your way to say thank you for the insanely fun ride! M.C. just ordered a Classic mat from you (which she just yelled from the other room that it is such a gas to ride!) and since quivers in our house are promptly shared, I had to give it a go...

Rode it a few times here and there in some marginal surf and a couple times when a little beach peak looked good. Lots of laughs and some unexpectedly great rides for what was there.

Over this past weekend my favorite spot awakened and some really decent looking waves were rolling down the point. Over the 2-3 hours that I was out, I got a few waves in the crowd, got completely worked over being caught inside, lost the mat (only ended up a few feet away...saved it!)

But, I got this one wave. The smile has not gone away thinking of that ride. Just like it was described; locked in the high line and going so fast. The sensation is so unreal when thought hydroplaning? Like I was lifted up, riding the current of air, right in the pocket under the lip! I am hooked!!

Thank you again,


Sep 13, 2009


After i lost a mat in winds i thought that i'd try something a bit different, and PG was kind enough to add a couple of optional extras.....

The idea of the grommets wasn't to take the strain going over the falls on a 6 foot wave. I'll still be bear-hugging the mat when this happens. This is just to stop it blowing away again in gale force winds, I hope. And hey, it may mean that I can compete with kite surfers.

I've tried a couple of things.

1) Just a rope across the front of the mat, which while it may have given it even more of a pool toy look didn't seem particularly useful. If the mat gets ripped from my hands I doubt that I'll have the presence of mind to grab it. That said it didn't seem to effect riding at all.

2) Just a leash through one of the grommets. This was a complete waste of time, as the leash had a tendency to drag under the mat and slow everything down. Back to the drawing board..

3) My current set-up. A bridle and leash. It's working for me at the moment, as this keeps everything out of the way and doesn't drag. To be honest after the first few minutes I forgot it was there.

I'll add more details as I get out in more conditions. Needless to say, if it's not windy, I take all this stuff off and just surf it clean.

But so far, so good.

Sep 9, 2009

Mat Session With the Bionic Knee

My car is currently in the automotive equivalent of the emergency room. That meant no surfing for me today. "No worries," I thought. I was going to get wet whether I did it with a surfboard or not. So, for the first time since my knee replacement surgery, I took out my mat. I'd been hesitant to get back on the mat, certain that kicking with fins would be extremely painful. Well, it wasn't. This new titanium knee is a keeper. Although I still have pain from the surgery itself, I'm no longer suffering through the pain of one bone rubbing on another. Kicking with fins was totally pain-free.

I even managed to ride a real wave. (In the past, I'd think I was riding a wave only to see a picture of myself riding the whitewater.) You know what else was great? The lifeguard looked right at me—remember, I've been on the receiving end of a lecture about how mats are illegal in L.A. County—and didn't say one word.

Sep 7, 2009


Small east groundswell over the weekend, ran up north for some camping and shallow right points. Sunday was the day. Found this little nook of the national park empty on Monday morning just before the devil northerlies blew it to hell.

Sep 2, 2009

Back In Vogue

(Bottom of the page...)

Peak Experiences...

Every day, the mat biz is filled with dream-like moments. The Brinks trucks pulling away from my factory with another load of cash to the bank. The endless stream of mat groupies. Emails from the likes of Spielberg, 50 Cent, Bill Gates, and Obama asking my advice. Collect calls from the Hollister Ranch, begging me to join them for the next swell. It never seems to stop!

But every once in a while, I'm elevated to yet another level of sensual awareness. Today was one such day. Lurking in my Yahoo! inbox this afternoon was this gem from 4GF mat rider Tim C.

"Don’t Forget!

Big Tim is having a demo this Saturday the 5th of September at Iowa Meat Farms, right off Hwy 8 at 6041 Mission Gorge Rd., San Diego, CA 92120, from 2 –5 p.m.!

If you can’t make it, pick up a bag or 2 and maybe a Tee Shirt or Apron on the web.

For more details and some cooking/grillin’ ideas. visit

See you there!

Big Tim"