Nov 30, 2015

From Dan ...



A little matt action the other day at the paia bay contest. Stolen from mauisurfreport.


Nov 25, 2015

From Kendog ...

Saw the cover photo on your blog this am. Great shot. Made me wonder where Sevo got the inspiration for this piece of art. Either way both are classics in my head.


The photo in question...

 Woody Woodward and Mike Mulkey, CDM, 1971

Nov 23, 2015

From Eric ...

Hi Paul

I was in Byron Bay last week and was Lucky enough to bump into George as he came out of the surf at one of his favourite spots. I managed a quick chat and photo with him, have not seen him since the mid seventies...


One thing I did notice up the North coast NSW was how many older guys are sliding on mats, which is great to see. Had a couple of good small clean mat surf sessions & was able to chat with many local matmen...


 Hope all goes well with you now and all of 2016.

Eric Da Bolt 

Nov 21, 2015

From Keven ...

First mat rides...Milo and Betty!

Nov 20, 2015

From The Scuttlefish ...

Very cool...this would make a great mat surf movie soundtrack! (Are you listening, Mister Dirk?)

This Scuttlefish posting has links to other 'sea organs' located around the world...

Nov 18, 2015

From Grant ...

Hi there,

This is a shot I took of George a couple of years ago...

I spent 2 weeks with him off Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef in the early 80's as a boat driver and safety diver with him while he shot footage for a Sprite TV commercial for the States. He had his spoon windsurfer with him and would go out each afternoon when the wind would pick up. He had a blow-up mat that he would carry with him that velcroed into the spoon if he needed float the get home when the wind dropped off. I think the board had a stainless steel fin from memory, and rubber inner tube across the swallow tail that could flex up if it needed to.

We would use the ham off the sandwiches they sent out with us to fish for reef fish between takes and waiting for the right conditions. George had a big, box shaped camera housing that he had used on Big Wednesday. I believe and he would rest it on his half inflated mat to support it, to pan from above water to below as required. It was very heavy!
Kind regards,

Nov 8, 2015

George Greenough, At 74 ...

George rang up the other night. The subject? Well mat design!

After a detailed, 6 minute monologue about the performance of a prototype mat I sent him a few weeks back, the next thing he blurted out was, "Can you believe we're still talking about ways to make better mats after all these years! We're still at it! We're still learning things!"

I knew his birthday was a couple of days away, and I ran the numbers in my head as we spoke, realizing he was going to be 74. The voice on the other end of the phone didn't sound like anyone I've ever known over the age of 70. (Or 60. Or even 50.) So much positive energy was behind everything he said. Still, at this advanced age, all he wants out of life is a better surf mat and having more fun in the water. Amazing. 

George was born in 1941. Skip Frye and Greg Liddle hail from the same time period as well. It's interesting how three of the world's most influential hull builders are the same age...and still actively surfing and designing. What a poignant boiling pot they grew up in! With one foot in the WWII era and the other in the cultural revolution of the 60's, they intuitively found a way to see the value in both. Surfers who are either younger or older don't have the silk touch that these three demonstrate, in and out of the water.

With that thought in mind, I looked up a website citing well known people who were born in 1941, and it netted some interesting results...including Bob Dylan.

OK, I don't want to go off the rails here with cultural analogies and such. But I've always found it fascinating that George conceived, built, and rode the first flexible spoon kneeboard in 1965...


And, 1965 was the same year that Dylan "went electric," casting aside his folkie persona in favor of heading up a band with electric guitars, an electric organ, and a drummer...

While Dylan's transition was unpopular with many of his fans, what followed over the next few years was a burst of timeless originality and creativity. The same could be said of Greenough's flexible kneeboard riding during that window of time, resulting in his well-documented influence on surfing.

The difference between the two artists is that electric guitars had been use by musicians since the early 50's. What Dylan did was take an established form of popular music -- electric rock and roll -- and utilize it in previously unthought of ways.

Greenough, in comparison, invented surfing's electric guitar. Shorter boards had been around since the dawn of surfing. But George brought so much design insight and raw surfing talent to the table, nothing that came before him is even remotely valid in terms of explaining why surfing changed in the late 60's. He was Les Paul, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, Miles, Aretha, The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan, Hendrix and Zappa rolled into one. And he did it all wearing the disarming mask of innocence.

Does this look like the guy who would change the sport of surfing forever???

Well...he was!


George was kneeboarding when everyone else was still knee paddling...


To put things into perspective, try googling "surfing 1965" and see what you come up with.

Aside from a very cool image of a kid standing on a paipo board at Waikiki...'s all hot rods and 30 pound D-fin longboards. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But there was no precursor to Greenough back then. No harbinger what was coming next. No time-line of progress that leads one to conclude that if it wasn't George back in 1965, it surely would have been someone else a year or two later. Because no, it wouldn't have been someone else. Even today (50 years later!) mainstream surfboards haven't caught up to where he was in the mid-60's.

George is a one-off, and we're lucky to share the lineup with him...



Happy birthday, George!

-- Paul Gross