4GF has new model available. It's called "The Omni."
As the name implies, it's an omnivore...it eats up anything! Tubes, mush, offshore, onshore, high tide, low tide...it seems to thrive in any environment.
Back in the summer of '10, I was developing the Tracker Roundtail. The best width for the Tracker prototypes was right in between the Standard and the Fatty. Standards with a bit of added length and with a round tail were fast, but too linear to turn naturally. Fatties with more length and round tails worked well (and eventually became the small wave monster called the "Vespa,") but were best suited to waves head high and under. Since I wanted the Tracker to have an all-around feel to it, I went back to the drawing board and designed a mat from scratch...one that sat between the Standard and Fatty width-wise.
As the Tracker RT started to come together that summer, the logical tangent would be to make a square tail version of the new, neutral width concept. But, I wanted to stay focused on sorting out the details of the Tracker RT, so I made a couple of square tail Trackers. I kept one in the back of my van to ride when the opportunity presented itself. I sent the other one to Surf Sister just to see what she would think of it.
Anyway, the Tracker Square Tail turned out to be a pretty good mat, but nothing super special. Just a good all round performer. If I was going to make a mat to go into surf shops and be sold to the mass market, the Tracker ST would probably be it. But again, it wasn't a mat I would grab for when the surf was really good (a Standard or Tracker RT would be my go-to) or small (a Fatty or Vespa was the call.) So I never made it a 4GF model.
Early this summer, I took the Tracker ST out again in some weak windswell at Pismo Beach, and I had the same reaction...serviceable, but not memorable. I had boldly stated to Gloria that I was going to "learn how to go left" this summer. But since I've said that every summer since 1968 -- and have never done anything about it -- why change now? (If I lived across the street from Raglan, or Uluwatu, or Narrabeen, maybe.)
So I decided instead to spend the warm months finding the potential of the Tracker Squaretail.
For a while I've had an idea about another way to approach the relationship between the heights of the various I-Beams...so I went ahead and tried it on the initial Tracker ST prototype, just to see if there was any merit to the idea. The very first wave I rode on it, in July Pismo Beach crap, I was seriously stoked. The mat wanted to break free and glide with no provocation, then when the wave stood up (all 2 feet of it) in the shorebreak, it just sucked into the little pocket and drove across it onto bare sand. I ended up surfing for the last two hours of light that evening. Just because it was so much fun.
A few days later I got it into some more powerful, head high reef surf further north, and it worked the same. Really fast in a skimmy kind of way, then it held in when it had to. That's when I started calling it "The Omni."
Like any mat design, good or bad, the Omni defies visual judgement. It's sort of like looking at a guitar or violin, and trying to tell if it's in tune....you can't!
I sent Surf Sister a prototype in August, since she had ridden the original version several years ago, and here's a shot of her first wave on it...
She emailed me later that day, and said she could feel the difference on that first wave.
Her blog report is here.
I then sent one to Kendog, and got this response...
"I surfed yesterday morning in beachbreak conditions and realized immediately that I had something alive under me. Smaller than I was use to, I was able to really push the mat right out of the gate. I found the Omni has a really unique "Gas and Go" property to it. Super fast when the power or throttle, so to speak, was turned on. Can't wait to get into real surf.
I had another great session this morning. Super long lefts at Terra Mar 5am till 7am. That mat has a real strong ability to come off the bottom and up to trim at speed. I think it is the best mat I've ridden so far.
I really feel good about this mat. I had it at 90 degrees and even into the taco stage and it was easy. I liked the way I was able to come around the corners and up into the section. Smooth stuff. Can't wait to organize some photos.
Over the course of the summer I made about 10 more Omnis -- mostly random variations of the first one -- and found a couple of little things that enhanced the concept. Nothing earth shattering, but when I compared the last prototype to the original, the last one was better.
Here's a sample of the notes taken during that prototype period...
None of the Omnis have been ridden in any way overhead surf yet, and I doubt the Omni design will displace the Standard or 5GF in that category. But it looks like the Omni has the most wave size range of any 4GF model.
The first Omnis will ship around December 1st. Orders taken during the month of November will ship out in the order they are received. Our home page should have them up within a day or two.