Jan 21, 2020

From Jonathan

Hi Paul,

I've been meaning to write for Surfmatters on this topic for a while. You know that trope that mat surfers always have a huge grin on their faces (you should, since you invented it)? Well, it's true as we all know, we've indeed the anointed ones (heh heh), but I firmly believe that it's a sheepish grin because we're constantly subject to humiliating goofs due to the freaky "living" qualities of a mat, humiliating because most of the time they happen in front of our highly judgmental surfboard riding companions, all too ready to fold us to the bottom of the priority deck (beyond simply being on a mat in the first place).

I'd love to share a couple of personal highs masquerading as cretinous lows, illustrated by carefully-rendered illustrations. There's no point in trying to deconstruct how they happened. There was no lead up, the mat did it, not me!

Picture #1, "Sidesaddle", a wave where I slipped off the side of the mat, and bodysurfed the wave with my arm around the mat, effectively an inflatable outrigger. Or maybe more accurately like a drinking buddy, staggering out of the bar. If I remember it was a pretty good ride.

Picture #2, "Flip", was really weird. In a moment of flailing chaos, the mat dug a rail and turned completely upside down, in a clunky three-part movement. Somehow I kept going, riding the blue bottom side up. I can report that the traction was actually pretty decent.


Picture #3, "YeeeHaw!" ,wasn't on the mat, but it sure was... a situation. I was out with just one other guy (a wizened kneeboarder) at a B-grade spot just up the coast from an A-grade spot. Steiny's turf. Big south swell, easy double overhead. The wave was mushy and peeling, but it was STILL quite big and powerful, a senile elephant. I'd just gotten out and was making conversation with the other kneeboarder, two old salts at ease in the big stuff. Then a huge set came. We both took it on the head. He made it under. This old salt had that damned mat ripped out from his death grip! No problem, I relaxed, and started the long swim. In fact, as a new set approached, I casually set up to body surf the next wave, a big, glassy wall. A BIG wall. Jesus! I realized it was by far the biggest wave I had ever tried to body surf, as I got sucked up the face, and started to plane.... The whitewater explosion was huge, but some angel was looking after this fool and I was rocketed forward, feeling the power, adrenaline squirting, the whole time thinking what a fucking idiot I was and just how much more I had bitten off than I could chew!

Each time I had that shit-eating grin. Please let this be a clarification of that expression that all mat riders wear.

Thanks a lot, buddy!


1 comment:

pranaglider said...

always enjoy the ride