Oct 30, 2010

Best Session Report Ever!


Yesterday was just perfect...or was it the day before ???

No matter...or one matter, in the water mid-day Santana. Ohhh well.

What day is it anyway???

Nothing more to say the mats are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Oct 27, 2010

First Rincon Mat Session Of The Year!

(Spence is out there somewheres...seriously dude!)

Hi Paul,

I just got a session on the Tracker Roundtail...

The bouys were reporting 12-13 ft. at 15 seconds but the direction was something like 310 degrees, too north for anywhere around here. I remember something John Bradbury said however, that there were Ranch swells and Rincon swells and it always seems Rincon picks up more Northerly swells better than anywhere in Ventura. Big winds outside made for a considerable South backwind bump and slopped up everything, and the bump only got worse as I headed up the coast. In fact, nowhere was really showing much of anything until La Conchita showed some whitewater on the rocks under the pier at high tide. But, as I rounded the sweeping turn at Mussel Shoals I could see the backs of waves in the Cove.

It was high tide and sloppy, I wouldn't even have stopped if I didn't have the mat. The cove was handling things best with sets through to the sand for the patient, but really bumpy. I was surprised that anybody was out, and there were about 20. But nobody, maybe 3 or 4, at the Indicator so I decided to give it a go. The first thing I notice about the Tracker is the heft, and it seems quite a bit bigger than the original Standard. Love the texture of the canvas deck, just enough grip.

It's sloppy indeed at Indicator but there are a few peaks. My first wave was forgettable, fair enough since I haven't been on a mat in I can't remember. But then I got a couple of waves that connected across the creek mouth. It catches waves easily and reminds me of the 9'4" spoon or perhaps a longer 7 foot range hull; very stable and seems to have a lot of glide. I connected sections that would have left me dead in the water on other mats...and especially on a surfboard.

I surfed for about and hour then kicked down to the cove. After few minutes I caught a wave from the glass house to the beach on the inside, connecting section after section, cutting back after big bottom turns, and left the water with a big smile.

I love the feeling of holding on to HORSEPOWER when the mats cut loose and start to squirt across the face of a wave. There is nothing like it.

Mission accomplished. Thanks so much Paul. I can't wait for more South wind.


Oct 24, 2010

El Matadore!!!

Charl goes fashionably bodacious -- donning a beret, standing perilously close to a fire place -- while challenging a local toro (off camera) with his new Tracker Roundtail!

Details of his hair raising adventures here...

Oct 22, 2010

From The Lone Wolf...

Hi Paul,

I’ve resisted the immediate urge to dash off a mash note of appreciation just ‘cause it seems everyone does, and I’m a lone wolf, baby! But I can’t help it- I’m absolutely in love with the surfing the mat is providing, and I’m deeply grateful to you for building it!

First two sessions were at Ocean Beach, San Francisco, and were mostly totally humbling. Every aspect of managing the mat was difficult. But, thank god, I got a couple of fast slides that gave me a taste of the ride.

I’ve been traveling in New Zealand for the past month, and have had a chance to get to know the mat in good, uncrowded surf (and good, crowded surf!). Besides occasionally being treated like a gremmie (which I am on the mat, but not in dog years, dammit!) in the aforementioned crowded stuff, riding the Tracker Roundtail has been a delight, and a revelation! I’ve had it out in sizable, fast long point surf, beachbreak from excellent to crappy, small, pleasant reef surf (as in the picture), glassy surf, cranking offshore surf… onshore too- and it is the same story every time- pure joy. The speed (face front and low), the living bursts of acceleration, the sensation through one’s body of the texture of the wave are intoxicating (I’m neglecting my poor, trusty surfboard, and in truth, suspect I might have happily left it behind). Sometimes Superman flying dreams realized- arms back at my sides, flying along, whoooeee! The learning curve is steep, but the rewards when we’re doing it right (me and the TR, my pal) remind me of nothing but those first sweet rides I got as a kid- it’s all new again!

Thank you, sincerely, for re-igniting the stoke, the mystery and the surprise in surfing!


From Anotonio in PR...

Hello Paul,

Hope everything is fine and I hope your mom is happy and well.

I would like to apologize for being such a bad disciple, you responded very rapidly to my fin questions and even went out of your way and sent me illustrations and it is not until October that I look for the time to reply. Sorry!

I have been having too much fun with my "fatty", I carry it and my fins in the trunk all the time and since I got the mat it has been my surf vehicle about 90% of the time. I inserted some neoprene on my UDT's inside the heel strap and made a wrap around neoprene heel strap to go over it. The wrap around heel strap is removable (I sewed some velcro on the end).

Since scrap neoprene is hard to get in Puerto Rico I went to Walmart and bought one of those jogging fat burning girdles in the sports section along with some regular contact cement. BINGO! Perfect fit with my 2mm heel cut off sox. I glued some of the neoprene material on top of the sox because my deformed toes started to drill a hole on the sox. Ahh comfort... Attached are some pictures of the padding, feel free to post any of this on the blog as I think it may help some people with their feet jejeje. Thank you very much for your advice!

I am currently using my UDT's unmodified, I have strong legs, they only begin to hurt my ankles if I surf over 2 hrs or if I swim long distances with them. when my ankles hurt I think that maybe I will grind the top middle rib just a bit, but then when I get out of the water the discomfort stops and I say naaahhh. The next day I am fine.

By the way, it may sound weird but my surfboard design decisions are now largely based on my mat surfing. Glide and pocket surfing, just enjoying the ride. I rarely ride my 3 fin thruster anymore, mostly a mat, my keel fish and singlefin logs, therefore the big gun...

Thank you for helping me see a different approach to riding waves, I have learned a lot from the mat. I wish other people would let go of their judgement and try a mat, I have offered rides to many since I got my mat 2 summers ago. People I know and people I don't know. Of the 5 who have tried it, all ended up with smiles on their face.

One last question I got from a friend who surfed the mat on perfect 4' faces over a live coral reef with crystal clear water on one of our island's cays. She asked me if you can make a mat with a transparent window to see the reef while we glide over it. How about a transparent mat?

I bet that would be fun!


Oct 20, 2010

Hello, and a Report of Fun!

(Not Pendo...but a reasonable facsimile!)
Dear Paul,

We hope that our email finds you doing well.

Steve and I have had some fun matt sessions lately! Two days stand out...

One gray day we were at one of the reefs on a mixed swell. We were connecting lefts down the line, across facey sections and through the bowl around the corner. The feeling of speed is amazing. I have been riding the Standard with less floatation and am really liking the ability to set the bottom curve or straightness. One wave stands out, as I had slipped off the mat on a left, and accidentally planed on it using my hand like a hand plane, with my torso higher on the wave face. After this section, I was able to pull it back under me and make it though the bowl. The sensation of planing on my body, with the mat out in front and to the side was amazing, and the fact that I made the long wave, too.

The second day, the waves were more SW focused and cleaner and the bowl was more timely. Steve has been ripping on his Roundtail Tracker, and the kids that surf the inside are hooting him on, as he got barreled again and went flying by. The kids remarked how much fun Steve is having and how fast he's going.

Thank you for making such wonderful wave riding craft.

Cher and Steve

Oct 19, 2010

Another Bali Mat Session!


Check out these shots of me on my Standard Fourth Gear Flyer at Uluwatu, Bali this year.


Oct 17, 2010

Latest from Surf Sister...

I think the picture tells you how much I love the new mat.


P.S. Look, Ma, no death grip!

Oct 7, 2010

Vote For the Letter Of The Week!


This is a bit late but I thought I'd get back to you about quick service and a good story. I got the Fatty Roundtail in two days which was very impressive and easily in time for my trip to Nantucket this past August. Tropical Storm Danielle was the star of out trip and
provided us with tons of surf. The fist time I blew up the mat, I got plenty of laughs and I had to simply say, "We'll see after a few rides." My son added, "Dad, you look like a dork with that thing!"

I just laughed and said, "we'll see." It wasn't anything to write home about condition wise, but it was a blast skimming along at high speed right past my son. After a couple days, he says, "Dad, can I try the mat?" I said "sure," and we were off for another session. I got him into his first wave which he rode up onto the sand, stood up, and screamed with delight. He made it back outside and said, "I was going so fast!!!!, this thing is great!"

My question to him was, "who is the dork now?". We laughed so hard. I went on to send him into wave after wave for the next hour and a half. We're off to Montauk in two weeks for Columbus Day and I'm hoping for another session or two. Thanks for the fun and keep up the good work. Please know you have a couple of huge 4th Gear fans here on the East coast!

Brian and Henry



I got my mat...thank you!

Got home to drizzly streets and a new surf mat on the door step. You pack a class act -- 3 days from order to maiden voyage -- delicate packaging and excellent communication; I highly recommend 4th gear flyer.

After a little inflation and a couple checks on the internet I headed down to Beacons. Walked north just south of "white fence" and paddled out to some stormy peaks. The mat paddles very well and catches waves well. Turning is another story, as is going under breaking waves. With no leash options and the realization that these are hand made delicate devices, it's awful hard to grab it gently after getting crushed or going under the wave.

Major issue that needs resolution is hitting the flats after a drop at angle and trying to "bottom turn" - I'm pretty convinced no such thing exists on a mat. Finally took to hanging a leg way off the mat at an angle diagonal to the line on the back of the mat while pushing down on the front of the mat to get her to swing right or left. Unlike surfing or hand planing, matting is apolitical -- there's no goofy or regular foot which is neat.

I look forward to getting it in smooth water as it really does haul ass even in windy bumpy rain-surf. "It's also a great work out," as they say on the dark side, or stand up paddle world. Two lobster divers swam past me as the sun set and threw the hang loose sign. Overall I'm thinking this thing is going to be fun!



aloha paul....

maiden voyage....local beach break...lined up nnw swell 3-4 ft with long lines and short interval and mostly closed out with short run then reform on the inside....easy take off....straight off then right slides in the white water to the reform and then was able to "trim" along to the close out then wash up sideways on the beach....new smiles on our faces.....hardest part was the backward entry with fins on into the surf...and then the left calf cramped after a bit...have to go slowly to build up the legs...thanks for the opportunity to enjoy the water again....delightful...peace and aloha... g and s

Oct 4, 2010

Surf Sister at the Cove...

(Surf Sister, not at the Cove...)

I had a mind-blowing mat session at The Cove today. Yes, I finally took my mat out there. For awhile, I was the only one out. I was eventually joined by one surfer. Truly, truly mind-blowing. I got the mat on a wave with shape, one where I had time to think about what I wanted to do, one that didn't closeout as soon as I dropped in.

I want to get another mat; I was on the Standard. What do you suggest (since the Fatty is too wide for me)?

Oh my god!! It was just amazing. I still can't quite get the rail to dig in once I've squeezed the corner, but I know that will come with me learning to throw some serious body language around. Fucking awesome!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!


EDIT: New email from Surf Sister, 7 PM...

"Oh my god!! Mind still blown!"

EDIT #2: another email from SS...

I went back to The Cove today. In fact, I didn't even bother to put the board on the car. It was the mat or nothing.

I got skunked. The swell backed off a bit and the tide was even higher than yesterday. It didn't matter though. As you know, I'd been talking about taking the mat out at The Cove for awhile now. Once I saw it was empty, I realized it was then or never. I slowly walked down there barefoot. I usually wear shoes on that trail, but lately it's just seemed easier to go without them. I hate taking soaked shoes home. And I can easily clean my feet. It's much harder to deal with wet, muddy shoes. Anyway, I made my way down. At one point, I even started running. I was that excited about this session. And everything just fell into place. The entire session was wonderful. I didn't even mind having the mat ripped out of my hands. When I swan in to look for it, there it was in the bay, waiting for me (just as my surfboards so since I usually surf The Cove without a leash). That walk back up the trail was intense. All kinds of thoughts were running through my head. More than anything, I remember walking felt different. I guess that's because I didn't stand for 90 minutes. And I was in no rush to get to the car. I was lost in thought. Again, my mind was blown. I can still see some of that session in slow motion. Being that close to the wave is amazing.

Paul, I didn't even put a surfboard on the car!!! Mind obliterated!


Tom at the Trestle...


I surfed Trestles yesterday. The swell was average 6' faces glassy early morning predawn session. Being it was Sunday I thought it would just be a floating session due to crowds and such, wrong!!

The waves were shifting around enough to create opportunity for everybody to get waves.
I played around with inflation letting more air out after each set until I was at that magic towel place.

I had an insight moment. "The wave was drawing me along with it." I didn't need to do any
thing. I rode many waves behind people and was OK with it, which is not my normal way of surfing.

Got a lot solo, too. One wave was just freaking beautiful. A long ropey wall of water I didn't want to mess it up. It was prefect no need to do anything!?!?!!!

A full ZEN day to say the least.

Two things stand out the most.

1 (LESS IS MORE) Less care about performance, equipment, appearance and results.
2 (MORE IS LESS) The more I impose on the wave, the less I appreciate the wave.



Oct 2, 2010

Mara and Makai!


Got the mat today--thanks for being so prompt.

We still have swell here today, but also today, the most radical thunderstorms I have ever seen in San Diego -- which has kind of graduated to light rain the past couple hours

Around noon, bright lightning & deafening thunder claps, so it was right over us
I have 2 Golden retrievers -- youngest at 3 is a big girl. I thought maybe she had taken off when the big storm was on us, then found her 1/2-way squeezed under my bed (no way she could fit)so her 1st lightning/thunderstorm really scared the ___ out of her!

Here's hoping 4 some warm water - as has been rumored this week...tho OB tower still read 63 today.

Thanx again - (it would be cool to meet in the sea one day :))