Nov 28, 2008

From Tom T...

Here's me taking off in my "trike," or motorized hang-glider.

Hi Paul,

I hope you're having a good Thanksgiving. Now that you're talking seat-of-the-pants aircraft and mat surfing, I have some comments on that!

Like on a hang glider (and a mat!) change of direction is controlled by the pilot shifting his weight. Climbing is accomplished by pushing on the engine accelerator pedal. Flying one of these things is a lot like mat surfing, except, unlike riding an ocean wave, you can't see the bumps and chop in the air you are flying through. You respond entirely by feel.

The control bar is attached rigidly to the wing, so all wing movement caused by thermals or other turbulence is transferred directly to your hands. Steering a trike is just like grabbing the front corners of a mat and subtly steering it across a wave face. Turning a well designed trike wing is mostly just thinking about which way you want to go. It takes very little effort to shift your weight under the wing, and start a turn.

I started flying to replace surfing in my life, and not long after I quit flying I started mat surfing. Only the vehicle has changed, it seems to me.


Nov 24, 2008

Sea and Land

Shots of empty waves are great, especially if the waves are good. But there's nothing like a shot of the surf and land together...both sculpting each other as the millennia pass.

Nov 22, 2008

Variable Inflation In The Natural World!

The wily porcupinefish!

"Porcupinefish are medium to large sized fish, and are found in shallow temperate and tropical seas worldwide. A few species are found much further out from shore, where they can occur in large shoals of thousands of individuals. They are generally slow swimmers.

Porcupinefish have the ability to inflate their body by swallowing water (or air) and become round like a ball. This increase in size (almost double vertically) reduces the range of potential predators to those with much bigger mouths.

A second defense mechanism is provided by the sharp spines, which radiate outwards when the fish is inflated. Some species are poisonous, having a tetrodotoxin in their skin and/or intestines. As a result porcupinefish have few predators, although adults are sometimes preyed upon by sharks and orcas. Juveniles are also preyed on by tuna and dolphins."

--From Wikipedia.

This reminds me of an old idea, which I never tried ... partially inflate a mat with water, and then add some air. The mat would be heavier and easier to duck dive. How it would ride, however, is a mystery!

Nov 19, 2008

Jeff C. (revisited)

The photo of Jeff C. a few posts back bears comment. Flopped so he's going "right," see how his "left" fin is in the same position as the lower shot of GG, and how little spray is moving outward from his inside rail. The wave he's riding isn't half as good as the wave George is on, but he can still leave a clean, efficient track across it.

Nov 18, 2008

From Jeff C.

Photos: Frederick Holmshaw

Hey Paul,

I'm amazed to see a question that I asked you this morning answered on the surfmatters site... with photos too! (See below.) Thanks a lot.

I'm forwarding a few photos to you that a friend secretly took when I was out screwin' around. Actually at the time he took them he was just someone who was wondering what is that thing and why? He has since become a friend and has had a few fun waves on the mat too. I bet he'll be hooked soon. I send the pics not because they're that great or because my technique is anywhere near what it could be, but rather to give thanks for the good times so far. I actually got a bug in my teeth on a wave yesterday.


Pulling Through A Tube

Photos: Wardie (in the channel, triggering the camera via remote control)

The best way to get through a tube on a mat is to spot a point on the wave well ahead of you and keep focused on it. Your body and mat will take the natural line to that point. If you look up and around at the curl line you'll most likely slide out ... which isn't a bad deal either!

Nov 17, 2008

Meanwhile in sunny Florida ...

This is from a friend in Florida. Thought y'all would like it. They still say y'all in Florida.

I took that mat out on Sat just cuz y'all are always talking about it. It was like waist to rib glassy peelers. I paddled out in between these 2 old guys on LBs who weren't catching nothing. I think I interrupted their quiet time by the way they weren't looking at me. I caught a couple o' fun ones but they were all close out and I was trying to get my head in the barrel. A couple times I spun around backwards and the lip hit me in the middle of the back going the wrong way. You know I never laugh so much while surfing until I get on that damn mat. I was laughing so hard that the fun seemed to rub off on the old guys who started having a better go at it. But one wave came in that I actually locked into and went down the line. I was like "Damn, maybe there is something more to it than going straight!" After that I went and got the Repeat Offender and then I was all serious about it even though the old dudes left. It was breaking pretty darn good though, kinda like a 2 foot Uluwatu in reverse. I mean some of them would just peel perfect. A couple were contorted pig dog pits that you loose sight and have to feel your way and somehow it kicks you out the back and all your weights on your front foot with your back leg waving in the wind and your like "Damn, what was that?" and nobodys around to explain it to you.

I got the mat up here at work now, so I'll prolly be taking it out more. The blue side is all delaminated now. I think I used to use that side up but the other day I put that side down. I wonder if I'm loosing some control not having them grooves in it.


Top Ten Reasons Not To Go Mat Surfing!

#10 Surf Nazis have taken over your local beach...

#9 Surf Nazis have taken over your local beach...

#8 You're a 6 year old surfer dude, and the beach is crawling with babes...

#7 Your inflatable pin cushion has finally been's party time!

#6 An orgy has just broken out in your doll cabinet...

#5 The tow-in scene is getting harsh at your favorite left...

#4 An inflatable underwear contest is happening out on the boardwalk...

#3 Mom said, "No mat surfing today!"

#2 Newbie mat rider needs help with personal inflation level...

#1 Your time machine just tossed you back to Blacks Beach, 1971!!!

Nov 16, 2008

Jonathan J's Mat Surfing Video

JJ has a POV mat riding video up on YouTube, shot with his backpack cam back in '97 ... cool stuff!!! (Click on "high quality.")


It doesn't seem like the ability to ride waves has much to do with the survival of species like dolphins or seals. Maybe pelicans benefit from covering distance gliding along the cushion of air generated by ocean waves. In any case, their surfing ability is so profound, and so beautiful! Something to aspire to...

Nov 14, 2008

Jonathan J's Uber-Bitchin' 16mm Water Housing

Hello again Paul!

Here's a wealth of pictures featuring my custom 16mm camera housing I built years ago. I completed this rig around '97, and it has provided some awesome footage in both slo-mo, and regular speed. It was built to be go from a hand held rig, to a full on back harness mounted point-of-view cam! Needless to say, George Greenough was a huge inspiration in the development of this camera rig. I took a lot of design cues from pictures of him, probably taken by you, or Harold Ward, etc...

The B&W pics are from the later stages of the cam's development. It was built in the traditional fashion, with fiberglass laid up over a male mold. The various bits of hardware were either custom made or, scavenged from old Ikelite housings I'd find at flea markets. The hemispherical dome port was found at a marine's basically a replacement lens for a compass. I was using a Century fisheye lens and thus, it needed to sit up close, and be well-protected! You can see the housing incorporates a million fasteners. When it's all bolted together, it has to make for a super strong enclosure. You can imagine the beatings I took, all in the name of a good tube shot (as I'm sure GG would agree!)

1/2 of housing open, exposing Kodak K100 16mm camera.

Side door of camera open, showing film path. Dig the snug fit!

Camera rig set up for POV filming. Not as uncomfortable as it looks...especially in a wetsuit.

This is the "trigger" that trips the shutter. ergonomically designed to be comfy, yet rugged.

Being a career machinist, you can tell I'm sort of a perfectionist!

Hot Santa Ana winds are howlin' tonight! Maybe they'll hold up till morning? I know there's some swell too!

Take care, JJ

Surf Sister Mat Adventures

"Surf Sister" has been known to blog beachside with so much intensity, she fails to notice the tide is about to swallow her whole! Regardless, she's launching a new surf career as a mat rider. Check out her mat-related blog entries as they develop.

(Damn, I hope she likes her mat better than that inflatable gown I made for her last summer...)

Nov 13, 2008

Surf Feministas -- The First Generation!

Kathy Kohner -- the real Gidget!

Sandra Dee as Gidget. Cliff Robertson (right) was actually interested in surfing, and invested in a board factory with Roger Sweet during the early years of urethane foam!

Annette, the undisputed Queen of the 60's surf movie genre...

They can drop in on me anytime!

A make out session behind your board is great, but could they have imagined what those Simmons shapes would be worth some day?

No indication which ladies are the Surf Bunnies and which are the Hot Rod Honeys ... but who's keeping score?

Sydney, Australia has been the venue for more than one revolution in board riding, but going for a surf in one's underwear never really caught on. Still, it has merit!

Not sure why this surfer is so mesmerized by the guy taking her picture from up on the pier. She doesn't even care her bathing cap has come off!

Decades before Greenough changed the world with his electrifying kneeboarding, the ladies were all over the kneelo concept!