Even though we didn't have a telephoto lens, I think this is a pretty good shot of a mat rider taking off deep and setting up for a fast ride.
It's me riding, too, and I'm pleased to see that I look like a serious surfer on my mat. As a mat surfing pioneer in Portugal, I was hoping to set a high standard.
The next day I was back at this reef, to find bigger but windier conditions. It was actually more fun because there were only three of us out, and my Fatty really worked well in the chop and bumps. Here's a shot from the cliff before I went out:
One wave I caught was a thick bumpy double-up. I started out riding the top of the wave, gliding effortlessly while looking for an opening into the lower, bowly part of this double-up. I found it, pushed the mat over the edge and free fell into a bottom turn. When I looked down the line I saw a kid just on the other side of the bowl paddling for the wave, but watching me. He paused as if uncertain as I aimed right at him, then pulled out letting me have the wave. I rode it all the way into the cove. When I got back to the outside he had a gigantic grin on his face. "Looks like FUN!" he said, and asked me what I was riding! He spoke enough English for me to tell him about surf mats. This young Portuguese surfer had never even heard of mats, but he was really stoked about what he had seen. I was smiling too.
There are a lot of waves in Portugal, lots of interesting reefs. I didn't get anything in the way of epic swells, but there were no crowds anywhere I found surf. When there wasn't a swell, it was flat.
Lisbon wasn't breaking, but I imagine the crowd factor there is insane. The city is insane.