Jul 4, 2012
Stripes Down Hodgman Converse...Revisited!
The "Stripes Down" Hodgman Converse mat was a game-changer in terms of surf mat performance. It was a narrower mat -- along the lines of today's highest performing mats like the 4GF Standard. Before the Stripes Down model, mats were wide, corky affairs that favored either small kids looking to blow their mats up rock hard and stand on them, or larger adults riding them in small surf.
When the Stripes Down model turned up in the 60's, it was as if they designed a surf mat just for George Greenough. The lean width allowed him tuck into tubes that were a struggle with the earlier, wider rafts. Larger riders were put off by the narrowness, but for a thin, talented mat rider like George, it was heaven.
The above photos area all from the late 60's. You can see that the square corners and stiff material forced him to really get a grip on the pontoons to keep the mat under control.
The Stripes Down Hodgman was the design that all subsequent mats were compared to, and it was the mat design we used as "ground zero" when the first nylon prototypes were built in the spring of 1983.
The shape is obsolete these days, even when rendered in thin nylon fabric. The "new" (post 1984) three pontoon shapes do everything better...but back in the day, these things were cutting edge.
Great footage of the old Hodgman mat here, at 9:22. And here at 5:00 .