Jun 11, 2012

Mat Max's Mat Quiver...

With overseas adventures continuing, and total abandonment of boardriding ongoing, my three mat travel quiver concept is constantly evolving. Currently it's a MiniMax, a 5GF and an XL.

As for the reasoning behind model choices, here's my logic: The MiniMax actually works in just about any decent waves, and is really fun, but is a bit tricky to handle due to being as small as possible for a medium sized adult to ride. It's meant for body-dragging along extra gnarly ledges and in pitching barrels, so with its minimal surface area the Mini can be a bit difficult to skim across mushy waves under one or two foot. If I had to choose just one mat to use all the time it would definitely be a 5GF, because it really will work in almost any type of conditions, especially fast big surf. If the waves are good, I go straight for the 5GF, and inflate it so that it bends 90 degrees. I'm 5'8" x 175 lbs and was hooked on the Standard for years, but now prefer the narrower 5GF due to ease of paddling and the feeling of streamlining, which is rather similar to the velocity one gets from a narrow surfboard. On small fat waves the XL makes having good fun quite easy with its large hovercraft footprint that provides easy takeoffs and superb glide. The XL is also great for putting beginners on because it's so stable.

Personally, as a bit of a traditionalist, I choose rectangular mats, because they're more, er, mat-like than the roundtails, which offer highly entertaining and functional angles of high-speed drift like a rally car, but also slightly less of the on-rails go-kart handling that I tend to like.

A brilliant aspect of this particular three mat lineup is that they share the same size corners, so there's no transitional adjustment as far as technique goes. (A lot of global testing by PG, GG, and myself went into defining this ideal corner radius for the widest variety of conditions.)

Here in chilly NZ, I occasionally apply sticky cold water surfwax by rubbing it on lightly, and then letting it soak in by melting in the sun. (Just waxing up mats before surfing gives way too much grip for my tastes.)

Since I've been driving to the surf lately, I keep these three mats in the car, and am covered for all conditions. When constrained by space limitations, like jetting with a daypack, and I can only take two mats, they'll be a MiniMax and a 5GF. If traveling with just one mat, it's definitely a 5GF. Having been a mat rider for fifty years now, I'm more stoked than ever, and am still learning every time I go out. Being able to mix and match a variety of fully developed surfmats is an amazing blessing. I'm really looking forward to the next fifty years of matting! Hopefully this info will help people who are working out their own quivers or making mat model choices




Paul Gross said...

I've gotten a myriad of feedback over the past few years regarding the performance characteristics of rounded square tails versus the longer roundtails.

There seems to be about a 50/50 split between the mat riders who think one version wants to drift, and riders who think the other version wants to stick like glue.

As any experienced board shaper can tell you, there's often a wide range of responses to a given design element. And that variation can only be attributed to individual technique and taste...which makes it all the more fun!

GRAYMAN said...

I'm with Max on Round Tails, but as you say its horses for courses. My mate Bob swears by his RT in bigger and steeper surf.