Mar 29, 2012

Mar 26, 2012

The End Of The "Lockdown" Era???

We've posted a couple of cool "lockdown" mat riding vids...where the camera is left on the beach running, pointed in the general direction of the rider. Examples here and here and here.

This one comes from Lenin. The track is very interesting!

Along with his video, Lenin forwarded this link...

Cool stuff on the horizon!

Mar 25, 2012

Everything Was Fine...

...until 4:03, when some kook on a rubber raft dropped in!

From Rich...

This pic is from hurricane Bill a few years back when I was first learning to mat. You can see that in front of me is someone dropping in on me way down the line. I cropped the rider out of the pic. It doesn't matter if its front side or back side, this happens way too often. Now that I've learned to lift my legs for acceleration its really not as frequent.


Mar 24, 2012

Life Imitates Inflatable Art???

Hi Paul,

Had an art show this afternoon and several of the peices had to do with matting and kneeboarding. I was proud to have my Vespa round tail in the mix as a prop. Thought you would get a kick out of it. Hope all is well!


Mar 22, 2012

"Backside" on a mat? How does that work?

The concept of having a frontside and backside on mats (or body boards or kneeboards) seems absurd to most surfers. After all, you're positioned symmetrically on the craft. So what's the difference between going right or going left?

Lots, IMO...

Whether it be from habit (going in one direction most of the time) or physical tendencies (either your right or left arm/leg dominate your body) most mat surfers have a preference going right or left.

For me, the difference really amounts to being able to "feel" while going frontside, as opposed to having to "think" going backside. Frontside is more instinctive, so it allows me to be more sensitive to the wave shape and texture.

Having a frontside on a mat can also be a boon to surfers who are, say, goofy foots standing up, but like to go right on a mat. This can open up a whole new world of wave riding for them. And even if going right isn't their frontside on a mat, if they go right long enough, it eventually becomes their frontside.

There was a guy who used to ride a mat in Santa Barbara who fits this description. His name was George, from my recollection. A goofy foot on a board, and a "left-matter" as well in the beginning, he just kept going right until it felt correct to him. I lost track of him some years back, when he moved to Australia full time.

But I digress...

I actually think that going backside on a surfboard is easier than going backside on a mat, since you use the same rear foot turn on a board, regardless of which direction you go. On a mat, you have to use the left side of your body to go left effectively, or the right side of your body to go right. This demands a complete physical and mental least for me.

Rather than drone on, I'll cut to the chase. If you are inclined, please answer this battery of questions in the comments section at your leisure:

Do you have a frontside or backside riding a mat?

If so, which direction do you prefer on a mat?

Is frontside on a mat also frontside on a board for you?

If not, does that contrast work in your favor? (IE Are you able to ride more spots effectively as a result?)

What percentage of the time do you ride frontside? (For example, I go frontside 99% of the time.)

Is your preference strong enough to dissuade you from surfing a spot that goes the other way?

Do you think your preference is physical in nature, or the result of the surfing environment you developed in?

If you have a distinct frontside, how interested are you in learning how to go "backside" on a mat?

OK, that's all I can come up with for the moment. Answer if and when you feel up to it. I for one will be very interested in your comments!

Mar 21, 2012

From Tom...


Long overdue on the ride report for the new 4GF Standard. You set me up a couple of years ago with that early model, prior to the RT Vespa debut, for an East Cape Baja run and it has worked very well as has the RT Vespa that I got the following year.

The Standard was added to the quiver this past year and I've really not had a chance to ride it much. Last month, first week of February I took a trip with a group of old travel friends. Perfect opportunity to focus on the Standard as the go to model in some decent surf.

Northern Peru was the destination but we used Ecuador as the take off point to avoid all of the air transfers and a much longer drive from Lima northward to our destination area. Still is wasn't an easy trip, up at 4 AM. for an 8 AM flight and not hitting the pillow until 2:00 AM the next morning for a 3 hour nap. Predawn back up for another 6 hour drive to a stopping point.

I had the Standard tucked in a small backpack with my fins, sleeves and baggies, ready for a late afternoon session that same day. Sorry to say that there were few if any pictures of surfing and matting, most beaches we visited were desolate, hours from paved roads and frankly no one wanted to waste the time. We were traveling in their summer season, not the peak season for surf, but we were served up daily shoulder to head high surf. We got tons of scenery pics of the areas we visited over a 5-6 day period.

N. Peru is a left hand dreamscape, points, slab reefs and sand spits sometimes finding all of the above in one tucked away cove. What I first noticed riding my 4GF Standard was how positive and slotted this mat feels compared to to the higher volume designs. This mat finds a groove and it gets it! A very positive feel in shoulder high and up surf, this mat has a very easy flow and rhythm right out of the box. Mind you I was riding my "backside" and had a sense that this mat was doing all of the work. The learning curve on this was nil, it was a perfect fit for me.

I'm going back as soon as time allows, Ecuador is a unique and rich land, very good people and excellent foods. Peru is huge and we took in a tiny piece of its diverse cultures and enjoyed our stay with "El Pulpo" Marco Ravizza and a visit with "Magoo" Luis Miguel de la Rosa.

Tom Sterne

George Scores!

Same spot, Sandspit, in 1962. 50 years ago!

Mar 20, 2012

Mister Dirk Scores!

Sandspit 3/18/12

There was a light dusting of snow on the mountains behind Santa Barbara
this morning. My wife and I took a walk out on the pier at about 8:30 in
bitter cold offshore winds, only to notice that the waves were pretty good
over at the sandbar. We talked with photog Brandan Aroyan for a few
minutes while he shot pictures, and then we bolted over there to get some
for ourselves. There were tons of waves, superfast racetracks, probably
the best it's been this year. Maria shot a few images with her cell phone
to give a sense of how much fun it was.


Mar 18, 2012

Spring Break Sale Update, And More Testamonials...

We've received a bunch of orders in the first two weeks of the 4GF Spring Break Sale.

About a half dozen 5GFs have gone out...but no Wedges yet! The Wedge apparently hasn't captured the imagination of the mat riding public, at least via words and pictures. If every mat rider tried one, a lot of you would nibble, 'cause it's a blast in junk surf. But it's not important to act on it now. We'll have the design available for the cognicenti even if it doesn't make it into our model list.
(No UKMS jokes, please...)

What is important, at least to us, is that a lot of "fence-sitters" have taken the plunge and bought their first mat based on the sale price. Getting people to try a mat is the hardest hurdle we face! 
Feedback/testimonial writers generally fall into one of four categories. The "Hey Paul" group, the "Hi Paul" group, the bare bones "Paul" group, and the "Thanks Paul" group. Then there's the no-salutation crowd. I have no preference, although the no-salutation types leave a lot to the imagination, and that isn't good in my case! (Fortunately, so far, no one has opened up an email with something like, "Hey Asshole," or anything of that nature.)

A fair number of writers end their communique's with the sign-off, "Cheers." I can't remember when that started to get popular, but now it's widespread even among 'Muricuns. And of course, "Thanks," "Aloha," and "Best Wishes" are classic stand bys.

I especially like "Aloha" from surfers who live outside of Hawaii. It's probably the best word ever invented in any language, based on the sound, the appearance in print, and its multi-faceted, uber-positive meaning. Imagine if aloha was the only word in the human lexicon? It'd be hard for anyone to start any trouble, wouldn't it?

Of course, we see a wide arrary of grammatic styles. I swear, some people have written without any spaces between the words! One old friend writes everyone he knows in all caps, all the time. What's odd is he's one of the mellowest, least demonstrative person I know. So I guess we shouldn't read too deeply into the elements of email style.  

With all that in mind, let's get into the latest 4GF mailbag...
 I'd order one now, but I value my balls.

Udt squaretail floated much easier than the roundtail, stayed on it easier and rode very well considering my rookie status, had 3-5 foot faces, 6-8 knt slight off shore, had a wonderful wave where everything was working, 4 or 5 guys were looking right down the line at me, and one yelled so I could still hear as i passed by, "what the fuck was that old guy riding?" its just perfect, now if i can just do something about the rider ( i'am making very good progress though) thanks for your continued design thoughts and comments thanks, Michael
No such animal as a junk wave
When u ride a mat
One foot today + 2 flying in what was on offer


Hi Paul,

Thank you. I wasn't expecting this at all. Nice touch of customer service!
Thank you, Paul. As my dad would have said, "you're a solid citizen!"


cant wait to throw myself in the cold grey atlantic !!! man up time!.ps.why is the mat called a Vespa? only wondered as used to be a bit of a mod!

Thanks once again and best wishes phil.
Paul, put me down for an order for a 5GF. If you are backed up, you can fill my order later. My wife is about ready to give birth, so my free time is nonexistent.
Hi Paul,
I wanted to let you know that I love my surf mat! I've been using it off and on for the past 5 months, on a long-term surf trip, and it never fails to put a huge grin on my face.


thanks -- you made my day

Hey Paul, Loving your R&D posts on Surfmatters. Keep up the good work, Jeff
Fatty fantastic
hey Paul.
rode the mat for several hours today. i got SO many barrels. i can't even tell you.
super fun. passed it around to my buddies in the water too. that thing is just pure stoke.
seriously. but you already know that.

 had a great session today, dumped the air down as low as I can go.perfect hiline drifts,thinking about the new matt the hole time I was out.I will make shure to get you some feedback and hopefully some pics,gregs mad because I always have a camera around but were haven so much fun no one will swim out to take some pictures.any way thanks,chris.


Hey Paul,
Saw the glass mat on surf matters but was in palo alto for a few weeks and my email wasn't working but got some good surf and matting south of Santa cruse in aptos . I think a few of my friends
are going to get some mats been having fun
Aloha mike


Hi Paul

I have been really enjoying the Fatty you made for me this past
September. I've ridden it everywhere from Ocean Beach (SF) to La
Jolla Shores and I dont think I've had so much fun in the water since
I was a teenager.

Also, is it ok to sit on a mat while in the line up
as you would a surfboard? I find my back starts to get sore after a
few hours prone, but it seems like sitting on the mat puts quite a lot
of pressure on the nose and tail as it bends under my weight. Thanks
for your time-



Mike W from Maui says I have to start matting, so here I go! Thank you for keeping the dream alive! -Dan
Pure D pleasure doin bizness with ya, Paul. Nice also to see a successful entrepreneur being rewarded for doing something he has a passion for. Hope the inventory keeps up because I suspect I will be back! Best wishes from latitude 57. BoB G
Hey Paul,

yeah mate so excited to see how the vespa compares to the 5GF. It's all I've been riding , and can't seem to get off it. Been working it out in the smaller stuff too, it definitely goes in anything. Had a really good session on it Saturday afternoon at The Pass. Head high walls and it truly got going on those things!!it seems to still go when it's small!
I've just noticed at the pass when it gets super small on the inside it still seems to want to trim and keep going on the almost non existent swell. But that's what the Vespa will be for. When it's gutless walls at the pass and I can keep going on those waves with ease. Can't wait!!
Will let you know when the Vespa turns up.
thanks again,
Dear Paul
The mat arrived on Thursday. Great joy from me, tears from my son as I had to stop him stabbing it with his toy sword. Can't wait to get in the water. Many thanks.
Philip and Belinda
Thanks Paul!!

I'm going down to Punta de Mita for Spring break so I hope to ride it a lot. I'll let you know how it goes.

HI PAUL,just picked up my mat it looks great.big storm came through last night 4" of snow on the beach and onshore surf till late wed,thur.thanks again that’s the best birthday present ever.chris
Hi Paul

I have about hundred go-outs now on the UDT and maybe 5-10 on the vespa. I've been thinking about something narrower than the UDT for all around smaller weaker surf ........I'm not sure?

 A worn out elbow forced me to try the mats about three years ago, what a life changing experience, and your mats made it happen, and I thank you for your creativity, service, and helpfulness.
My partner for the last 37 years, who never really cared for board surfing now has her own mat (UDT) and several friends with mats, so going to the beach now is completely different and I have to say, much more enjoyable.

thanks again

When I go to your blog, I am glad that you are doing what you should be. You add to our world in that you have never lost sight of fun. Thanks. Guerdon

Mar 15, 2012

From Greg B...

Mats side by side...old and new!


Mar 14, 2012

Tips From The Pros: Double Clutch Take Offs!

Back in the 60's, Greenough altered his take off technique when he rode Velo in weaker, dead based waves.

George used to refer to them as "double clutch takeoffs." What he would do is drop down the face part of the way, then stall, and let the power in the wave rebuild, then drop in again, this time with the added forward momentum left over from the first partial drop in. The process takes all of two or three seconds, tops.

This is like double clutching a big truck when starting from a dead stop. You let the clutch out, give it some gas, and the truck moves forward a bit. Then you depress the clutch, re-rev the engine, and release the clutch again. With the forward motion of the first start and the fresh RPMs in the engine, the truck now moves with less strain on the power train. This was a common practice back when gear boxes weren't synchronized, and still used today.

OK, so how does this relate to mat riding?

On waves without a firm base or a clear cut power line -- meaning kind of weak and junky -- you can stall part of the way down the face, and after a moment, drop in more forcefully combining the speed from your first drop and the steepening of the wave. It's a subtle move, and well worth trying the next time you're out in less than perfect surf!

Pranaglider From The OC, Before and After...

Mar 12, 2012

Tom From Germany, Before and After...

Hi Paul,

Went to visit my parents today and finally remembered a pic I wanted to send you:

Me and my first mat at Island Beach State Park, New Jersey, August 1970.

Hope all is well,