Corona Del Mar is situated near Newport Beach, just south of the harbor entrance. And on the north side of the harbor? The Wedge. As a result, CDM gets no where near the love from the surf media as their big brother to the north. (The locals prefer it that way!)
While bomber south swells are jacking themselves up into 20 foot faces at the Wedge...
...CDM enjoys more civilized waves on either side of the harbor's south jetty.
On smaller south swells, those same waves run along both sides of the jetty at a much closer proximity. In fact, the curls usually intermingle with the jetty rocks, leaving no margin for error if anyone chooses to ride them.
In the 70's, CDM local Woody Woodworth began modifying surf mats to ride the waves off the south jetty. What Woody did was take the stout, top-of-the-line Hodgman/Converse mat, and bond a second layer of canvas to the deck and bottom. He also took advantage of the more stable pontoon structure (due to the two layers of canvas) and attached small fins to the outer rails. The double layers of canvas provided added toughness, and the fins allowed the rider to surf away from the jetty with little or no chance of sliding out.
The CDM mat crew loved Woody's mats, and rode them all over Orange County.
The Greenough-inspired mat riders up north were on a different philosophical track. We preferred pliable mats, and never used skegs. Of course, we were surfing pristine point waves, so our priorities were different. When I moved down to Orange County in the mid-70's, I rode the CDM Jetty...and quickly saw the point of Woody's mats!
Our own Jonathan Jarrett was one of the kids who fell under the spell of the older CDM Mat Rats, and became an exceptional mat rider. He even built his own canvas mats, and collected everything inflatable he could get his hands on.
(Photos Ken Samuels)
JJ's Partial Mat CollectonA while back, JJ asked me to build him a copy of the old 5 pontoon Hodgman/Converse that had gone out of production in the mid-70's. He also asked me to make it out of the thin blue 4GF bottom fabric, top and bottom. I had no idea what he was up to...so a few weeks after I sent it out, I asked him about the performance. I was met with a cryptic, "Uh, haven't ridden it yet..."
A few days ago, JJ fired some photos my way. What he'd done with the 5 pontoon mat was cover the top and bottom with canvas, then add fins to the outer rails. In essence, he made a re-issue of the Woody mats of the 70's.
JJ is a machinist by trade, and his attention to detail is awesome!
So there you have it...another high point in the time line of mat surfing's history! Well done, JJ.