Sep 13, 2020

From Jonathan


Hi Paul,
The only surfing I've been doing this smokey summer has been in my head. 
I transcribed a hand-written letter I sent you in 2015 when I was traveling in New Zealand, which you printed here in all it's chicken-scratch illegibility. I thought you might like to offer it again in a readable form, with a photo that matches the day, and a photo/link to the man I was writing about, who's well worth knowing a little more about. 
Since the Surfer article was written, Phil has sold his eco-retreat (with prescient timing), and is devoting himself full time to environmental activism for our oceans. A good man. He even kept up with mat surfing, after this audacious introduction....

  Indicator walls ...


Hi Paul,

How are you? Hope my writing is legible. No spellcheck either! The facade of literacy is stripped away.

It’s beautiful here, everything I’d hoped for. I’m living in a little Schack (my name for it). No electricity, propane stove, wind whistling through the cracks… no city hum, no mobile reception, just birds, wind, occasional distant “moos” and sheep bleats. Already without internet I see my reading attention span returning- so stoked! Going to sleep at sundown & getting up at sunrise(ish).

The first week I was travelling with a friend-of-a-friend I just met, doing tourist stuff, de-emphasizing surfing for her sake. Hard though- the weekend we got here, the swell was pumping. I did manage a mat surf though, on the second morning, which prompts this letter. Not a report though- an anecdote….

A knock on our room’s door. It’s Phil, owner of Solscape, a thriving eco-retreat here in Raglan and an old friend. Phil began surfing as an adult a few decades ago, and has become quite a charger, blessed to learn in such a consistent, quality wave zone. He’s pretty fearless, and a bit macho. And this day, for some reason, he’s asking if he can have a go at a mat. Whoa! He’s always taken the piss out of me (in a friendly way) about riding mats. Er- OK, sure Phil!

We check Manu Bay. It looks perfect for mats, but it’s crowded (it’s a Saturday). But Phil isn’t feeling it. He’s an Indicator’s guy- a much more challenging ride- bigger, longer, faster, more walled. Pretty hard on a mat!

And yes, it’s a LOT bigger! Sets are well overhead. And it’s high tide. The shore break is SLAMMING against the lava rocks, the current is intense, guys are paddling for their lives, and it ain’t clean or perfect at all- YIKES!

And that’s where Phil wants to have his first-ever mat surf.

Why didn’t I put the brakes on this stupidity? Partly trying to save face, partly trying to keep up with Phil (who has a history of “challenging” me this way), and maybe just a hint of wanting to “challenge” him back!

As we puffed up our mats and put on our fins, I dolefully recalled the part of your Rider’s Guide suggesting it’s be good to pick slightly larger surf for your first go-out, to benefit from having a little push (or however you put it)….

Anyway, there we were, looking at overhead walls from about 15’ above sea level. We jumped in at The Keyhole (the one safe in/out spot, as tiny as it sounds), and powered out. My heart was pounding, and I could see Phil was getting a vertical learning curve on navigating an inflatable. Considering what we had been watching from the shore, we got very lucky paddling out- a decent lull (that I had no faith would be repeated… and wasn’t!).

We were wide to the side of the takeoff zone, but as it turns out, in about the right spot for the biggest swing-wide bomb sets- maybe a bit too far in, actually! And sure enough, right when we caught our breath, a MONSTER set came through. Picture it: eight foot face, lime green, choppy sidecar opaque wall- zero taper, just a solid wall hundreds of yards long climaxing in those awful lava rocks! We paddled like mad, barely making it over the first one, even further back from the second one. It was huge! What the hell was I doing out here, and what about poor Phil? What had I gotten him into?

And here’s the third wave, already peeling from the top of the point, gobbling all paddlers and drop-in attempts 100 yards up the line. It’s feathering 50 feet in front of us… we might just make it over- just-

and… there’s Phil, turning around and going for it! I’ll never forget the look on his face- psychotic glee- and how huge that wave was, and how LATE it was- crumbling over him, just his face, arms and hands visible. I screamed a broken Gyuto Monk harmonic as I punched through, made it over the last wave, and turned to scan the inside…

He friggin’ made it!  He was down the line a fair bit, still had the thing, and was flip-floppin’ slowly back out.

Phil caught a few more waves that morning, and lost the mat for a good long time too- I should ask him about that…. I don’t know if he caught the bug (he was enjoying paddling up to his mates showing off, I think, what an absurd thing he was doing), but the fact that he tried it at all was something of a paradigm shift.

Anyways, more later. Hope all is well with you and Gloria.


Jonathan ... AKA Tusked Beast

Sep 2, 2020

From Geoffrey


 Aside from the snake-job at 1:00, pretty cool.  (Maybe they're friends???)

Aug 29, 2020

50th Anniversary of The Isle of Wight Music Festival


So what does the Isle of Wight Music Festival of 1970 have to do with surfmatting? Our man Kenny Hughes was there with another legend of alternative surfing, the late John Brockway!


                              Globetrotters Kenny and John in Central America, a few years later.

Using modern facial recognition software, we were able to pick the two, very young San Diegans out of the IOW crowd with a predicted 99.997% accuracy.

Aug 27, 2020

From Greg



It got a bit better, but my camera battery died.

Aug 23, 2020

From Lou


 Hey Paul ..

A good mate purchased this in '71 for $25..left under a bed at his mums house ,flat and coated in Talcum Powder..just pulled it out the other day,still in good nick..
Think Bob may have purchased a Flyer from you a couple of years ago for his wife..
Take it easy.😎

Aug 15, 2020

From Kevin


 From Kevin Mirsky. He’s a surfer/artist from Marin.


From Lou -- 1965 Australian Beach Fun


Aug 12, 2020

From Ward


Dear Paul,

Thanks Paul!  Ky and his kid sisters worked last weekend to try and make some mats out of pool floats and a hair straightening iron.  The smell of melted plastic and laughter.  They took them surfing straight away and had a blast except he had to inflate his mat with every set of waves on the horizon.  Ha!  His first version was an old thermarest I had in college.  Before my living room became a wasteland for prototypes I told him to just get the real deal!

Thanks again,


Aug 1, 2020

Mystery Event ???

From Brandon

Even with only 55% power on hand, and 22 Brandon Carlsons ahead of him, Brandon still manages to convey is stoke!

Jul 25, 2020

SCUMM Surf/Shill Session

i Paul
Weird & Wacky times here at the moment as we hurtle towards a 2nd lockdown!

I have been loving reading all the posts on the Surfmatters site but unfortunately cannot share any on my FB page as apparently 'it does not meet community standards' so you must have a real fan there or a frustrated mat rider, either way its weird!

Yesterday morning we were lucky to score some fun waves out at Gilligans with our usual cohorts of friends and would make a point of recommending these Soft Surf Helmets from DMC Fins, considering we surf low to the water it offers extra protection to the head while surfing on those crowded days and helps also with sun protection on the back of your neck and throw in the amphibious eyeware from Barz Optics and you can roll with the whole package!

Stay Wet & Safe


Adam and Bigshot Neal

Neal in Bigshot Evening Wear

Jul 22, 2020

From Cher

Dear Paul,

We hope that my email finds you and Gloria well and enjoying July.

Steve and I have been enjoying dawn patrols on the low tide curve. This week there has been a fun NW windswell and small SW swell mix. With days of onshore winds, the water dropped more than ten degrees! One morning measured 56 degrees on our friend’s dive watch. Chilly but refreshing! We’re back in our full suits. Water was a bit warmer this morning.

As promised, here is a scan of the mat surfing photo of me by Sarah Lee that was published in Lauren Hill’s book "She Surf." This photo appears in Sarah Lee’s feature in the book. I’ve also attached a cover shot of the book. It’s an honor to be featured. Later in the book, there is a story and photos of me surfing my boards.

Thank you Paul for the amazingly fun surf craft that you make for us. Steve and I are all smiles. 

Love and Aloha,
Cher and Steve

Jul 21, 2020

From Steiny

4 plus years old? Don't want to spend more than 35 bucks? Wanna get in the water, but feeling a little peckish at the same time? Problems solved!

From The Washington Post

Jul 18, 2020

From Ben

Thanks Paul.

Received it today.  Getting in the water tomorrow!


Jul 13, 2020

Fresh Water Matting

Dear 4th gear,

I’m a landlocked surfer in Denver, Colorado. We have some standing waves that range from steep and fun to ankle biters.

Here is a 1984 Intex mat I was surfing couple days ago at a standing wave 15 minutes from my home that is surfable 12 months out of the year.




My partner is Ellen, and fresh flat water is her favorite place to take the mats out these days. We’re headed up to camp at some alpine lakes in the Trinity Alps this week, and once again the mats will be lashed to our frame packs!

Here's a photo of me (with Ellen behind the camera) taking the mats out on their maiden freshwater voyage, in the slot canyons of Arroyo Seco. Once again, they proved to be the most fun and versatile watercraft I saw anyone riding...

Take care,

Jul 12, 2020

From Jonathan

Hi Paul!

Diane and I are cat sitting 16-year-old Rufus. His play-pounce stance gives a strong flash of mat body positioning (and a facial expression one might have entering a pitching section.... )

AKA Tusked Beast

Jul 10, 2020

From Mike

Hey Paul,

Still having a blast on my mats.

I was on a road trip and had the Standard with me not my favorite, the Lotus. But finally got to ride it. It's so much fun!


Jul 9, 2020

From The Depths Of Hell...

...otherwise known as the SCUMM House Of Fashion.

Jul 8, 2020

From Benoit

Hey Paul,

Hope you're well !!!

I really have good feelings now, and I'm really impressed how we can make the mat go up on the rail.

I made a little clip what I made with a gopro in the mouth and pictures.

See you soon and keep safe !!! 😉

Bye my friend !!!

Benny from France

Jul 6, 2020

From Warren

Hey Paul

Mats going great

Not usually anyone taking pics, but yesterday my daughters friend had a drone

There may be some more but just have this one at the moment so if u can use it do by all means and if u want some others let me know

Stay well both u and Gloria



Jul 4, 2020

Happy 4th of July From Oz


Hope all is well mate!

Crazy Times world wide with the virus and the threat of a second wave upon us....might as well make the most of the time off I have and go surfing , its just a matter of ducking and weaving the crowds of people all flocking down after being locked away for so long but scored this wave at one of my favorite reefs to myself for a couple of hours before being joined by another 2 friends.

I am stoked with the Standard surf mat. I have well and truly flogged the life out of it and now its one of my favorite slow leakers!

Take Care and all the best to you and your Family


Jul 1, 2020

From Steiny

The other day on my Omni...



Jun 29, 2020

From John

Aloha Paul,

I’m 4th gear flying off the left at Pt Panics yesterday. 

Thanks and I love it!

John L.

From Jim

Howdy Paul

This is interesting. Look at the airflow under the Lotus even as I’m just slightly moving. Think what it must be like when really moving down the wave!


Jun 25, 2020

Morro Bay Matters: A Breed Apart

Hi Paul

Surfmat Art by Bill Mulder.

Fiddler crab playing cello on the mat while poking a hole with the peg.

Musical notation = Jaws theme by John Williams.

Bill is available to spruce up your mat with custom art.



"Swim fins? We don't need no stinkin' swim fins!"  Greg H, showing how it's done on the Central Coast...

Jun 20, 2020

Jun 17, 2020

4GF Update

Maybe take up ''beer yoga'' while waiting for your mat ???

Hi Everyone,

We hope you are doing well during these dark times.

Oddly enough, the order load at 4GF is at an all time high...over double our usual volume. That, combined with C-19 related delays in material delivery, has put us way behind. Orders received today are taking 4 weeks to ship. And that's with me working insanely long hours.

It's a nice problem to have, but we take pride in getting one-off mats out to customers in a few days. That perk is being put aside for the time being.

We're making exceptions in the delivery time for people who are leaving on planned trips, and for birthday mats. That's no guarantee we'll get you your mat to you on time, just a promise that we'll try.

If you're thinking about ordering a mat, plan for a month delay in delivery.



Velzy and Andre

Alohas !

Hope y'all are doing well.

Velzy and I just cruising around sharks cove. Haha.

Just sending some Alohas!


Jun 11, 2020

Inflatable Progress From 1845

“A new method has been proposed for extending the lines of the Magnetic Telegraph across rivers and bays. It is proposed to support the wires in an elevated position, by means of elliptic balloons. These balloons, being each 60 feet in length, will support about 40 pounds each besides its own weight. The cost will not exceed $200 each, being made of thin varnished cloth and inflated with hydrogen gas. A small pipe 1.4 inch in diameter will be extended to each balloon, by means of which the gas in the balloon may be occasionally replenished."

Scientific American, November 1845

May 31, 2020

From Chad

Hey Paul!

Hope all is well! Took my Standard out today at Secos and it was so fun! Here's some screen grabs from some footage shot today. Stay well!