Mar 30, 2015

4GF Surfmat Sale !!!

We'll be up in Oregon for the next few weeks. (This trip relates to my mother's recent passing.) There will be about a 3-4 week delay in getting orders out to you.

So, to help compensate for the long delay...

We're putting our high-end mats on sale at $160 each. That's $40 off!

Orders will be filled in a first come, first served basis. So, if you want to get in the front of the build queue, order sooner rather than later.

To take advantage of this amazing offer, just open our home page and order. The prices reflect the sale price.

One bright note for San Diego area mat riders: Mitch's North in Solana Beach has a selection of 4GFs available for immediate purchase at the regular retail price.



Mar 29, 2015

In Memoriam ... Levara Gross (1918 - 2015)

My mother, Anna Levara Wallace Gross, passed away recently in her home town of Milton Freewater, Oregon at the age of 96. (The above photo was taken in 1942.)

She was completely self-sufficient into her 90's. She was even going out to the dining hall for meals at her retirement home until the last month of her life, when she began to have trouble breathing and thinking clearly. It's remarkable that she was happy and in control for so long.

Levara (as she was known, because her mother was also named Anna) was a hands-on, do-it-yourself sort of doubt due to her rural upbringing in Eastern Oregon during the 20's and 30's. The depression hit their area quite hard, so she and her siblings (8 of them!) would study tattered Sears catalogs, then try to make whatever caught their eye. Much of the time, they succeeded...all while going to school and farming (from sun up to sun down, every day.) 

She graduated high school on the Dean's List, but with the great depression in full swing and no family history of college attendance, she went to work at the local library to make a living while remaining in a learning environment. 2 years and $125 in savings later, she headed out to Corvallis to matriculate at Oregon State University. There, she met my father, David Gross. (1918 - 1978.)

Dave and Levara were both fish out of water. They were outstanding students, but from humble beginnings with no family history of higher education. (Most college students at that time were upper crust.)

Dave grew up on Oahu between the wars, and loved swimming and flying. He earned his pilot's license the morning of his 16th birthday, and his driver's license later that afternoon...almost as an afterthought. He attended Colorado University in Boulder as a competitive swimmer for a couple of years, then transferred to Oregon State. So, both my parents were the same age and starting out fresh in a new town when they met.

It turned out that Levara had a knack for navigation and weather forecasting, having grown up in a farming environment. So now Dave had a navigator and a girl friend, all in one! They criss-crossed the countryside in whatever bag-of-bolts aircraft he could put his hands on. And, apparently, it worked somehow they survived and were married several years later.

The war years saw them living in many different states. Dave was in the Army and stationed at bases all around the country. He never went overseas to fight, which he later admitted was a mixed blessing. He was glad he never had to trade live fire, but felt guilty that so many others, on both sides, had to.

Dave and Levara were in their mid-30's when my brother Dan and I were born...which at the time was quite old to start a family. Most of our friends had parents 10 years younger, with a completely different background. (There was a seriousness that permeated depression-era parents, for better or worse. Every penny, every drop of rain, every moment of quiet, meant the world to them. Frivolous knick-knacks held no sway.)

My father became aware of surfing during his childhood, even though most of his beach going youth was spent on the North Shore -- where surfing wasn't practiced at the time. (His father was career Army, stationed at Schofield Barracks, and they lived in Wahiawa.)  Duke Kahanamoku was the Michael Jordan of Hawaii back then (probably still is) and every island kid was keenly aware of his surfing exploits. The Duke once spoke to my father's swim team, and that encounter resonated with my father his entire life. came as no surprise that by the time I was 4, I demanded that they take me to the beach and watch "the surfing." (We lived in Fresno at the time...which wasn't a hot bed of the surf culture in the 50's.) My mother immediately picked up on my passion to be in the water, and in many ways, she was more supportive than my father. To him, now in middle age, the cold California water and growing beach counter-culture gave him pause. As a sport, he thought surfing was great. But the characters who surfed along the California coast were, in his words, "a bunch of flakes." Which was probably true. Surfers, hot rodders, beatniks, musicians and bikers all occupied a similar niche in the eyes of the middle class.

As my brother and I stumbled forward in our surfing experience, my mother was the one who helped us figure out how to repair beat up old boards, and she was the one who helped us get to the beach on weekends. When I showed a glimmer of interest in building my own boards, she was the one who backed me with the occasional allowance advance.

The fact that my brother and I were good students and stayed out of trouble didn't hurt! We knew there was an unspoken agreement with our parents that our freedom to surf was dependent on our overall behavior...and for me, that was the deal of the century.

Things started to get really serious for me, surfing-wise, in the late 60's. We were living in Ventura County -- chock full of right points, which is my direction -- I had my driver's license, and the shortboard explosion had ripped control of the surfing industry away from a handful of major labels and given it to guys who were hacking out crude shortboards in their garages. And again, I got full support from Mom, even though there was little prospect of a "professional" outcome.

As it turned out, I did (kind of) carve out a career in surfing...since I could build boards, as well as write reasonably well about surfing. Both those skills came about because I got support at home in the areas of craftsmanship and education.

15 years later this reached a crescendo, at least in terms of mat surfing. When it became obvious that an all-nylon surf mat had real potential to be a game changer, I was motivated to call my mother and ask for a loan to get our first roll of fabric...which was going to run over a grand. She didn't hesitate to lend her support.

There are a lot of people responsible for modern mat surfing...and Levara Gross was one of them.

-- Paul Gross

Mar 26, 2015

Spring Testamonials !!!


Excellent advice -  the riders guide was thorough and informative.  I used to surf one of those old time mats in the 50's so it's a full circle rodeo for me.  I've already signed up for an XL on your web site and look forward to getting back in the water thanks to you!



PS - I happened into a surf shop in the Kahala Mall yesterday and asked it they had any surf mats.  They looked at me like I was from Afghanistan.  I told 'em they better get up to speed and referred them to your web site.  Hope ya make a million dollars!


You're awesome, Paul!

The mats have arrived in fine style. I can't wait to see how the Tracker handles some storm surf. The other guy  - JT - has not been on a mat since he was pre-teens, but has been extremely interested in what I've been doing on mine. We'll see how it goes. (He's gonna LOVE the "Fatty" written on the plug leash.)

I've got to tell you that I have had the most fun on my Fatty. I got it third-hand from a friend here in Santa Cruz, hoping to inject some fun into a flat summer in 2013. I used it occasionally in 2013, then a rash of dings forced me onto the mat more in 2014. It turns out that this has been my go-to surf ride for just about 8 months of 2014, adn into this winter. I have a quad fish that I love, but the mat has simply been a blast. (Plus my calves are rock hard.)

Paddling out on a mat, people definitely give me a second look, but the whole "my wave" / long board v. short board v. boogy board vibe just never seems to come into play. Some guys know exactly what I'm up to, some can't wrap their heads around an inflatable, but I never get hassled with this contraption.  And when guys see me drop in to every kind of wave they are surfing, there is a certain kind of bemused respect and lots of questions about control. (Which I really haven't perfected, but I've been able to get into a couple barrels, so I must be doing something right.)

And this material is some kind of tough. Rocks, shorepound, I've done things with this mat that would simply destroy a rigid board.

I have seen a few guys on mats up here, but I seldom get to surf with any, we seem to be even more under-represented than bodysurfers in Santa Cruz.

I'm digging it. Keep up the great work.

 - Zach



Hi PG,
Got home from riding the Lotus in 2' peelers on a well defined sandbar next to a deep channel -- and found that the Mini Max had arrived! Went straight back to the same spot and had way more fun on the new design. Mini Max has heaps of lift so it planes fine on 1' waves. It's a huge step forward. Definitely my go to mat! The deck fabric is really good. Riding such a small platform increases participation with the waves... I kept thinking, "We should have done this years ago." Definitely a winner!
Super Stoked,

Pahl (Mat Max)
Hi Paul,
Regularly riding Vespa at super low inflation It seems that if there's some push I can go down to where you pull the plug and nothing happens it's so soft. Seems like it fits the wave better really soft 180 bend .Definitly faster.Tried it back to back and was shocked how slow puffed up is compared to super soft!
Hi Paul,
            Sorry to babble but no one around me to talk mats. Like a marooned sailor throwing notes in to the sea.
   Stole Lisa's Omni today for a good session in North swell barrels.It too is fast as hell at 180 degree inflation. I can take a high line and fly in fast waves. So much speed. Low inflation has opened so many doors in better surf.Easy to duck dive as well. 
Hey Paul, 
Just a quick note to let you know how much I am enjoying my mat! 
First outing caught some really fun waves!  Now working on the techniques.  It is amazing what you can do on a mat!
Also, took both of my boys out on it at Rincon and they both really had a blast!
Thanks again and I'll keep you posted on things...
I am really enjoying this!
Hi Paul,
I will surf tomorrow with a buddy who lives in NY and came home to PR to do some business for a couple of days. He is a shortboarder and is always traveling to some very cool places for business or family (he just married a girl from Singapore)... I will give him my Standard (which is like new) as a birthday present so he can take around the world (easier to fly with than his boards).
Will keep my Fatty and my UDT until I order some new mats soon...


Met a bodyboarder at Rincon today. He said he bought a 4GF and rode it a lot last year but never quite got it dialed in.  It was an interesting conversation because I completely understand his point of view. Bodyboarding while trying to learn to ride a mat is probably the most difficult situation to be in. The techniques are so different that I tell most people to only ride the mat for several months to get over the learning curve. As we all know, bodyboard posture does not work in mats so one has to unlearn before learning. Bodyboards are good in slabby suckout type waves, but mats are far superior in point surf.
The waves today were up to double overhead and powerful with 20 wave sets common. I was on the Lotus which was ideal for the conditions. The bodyboarder and I found ourselves in the cove so I did my best to demonstrate that a mat is actually very viable in the conditions to hopefully inspire the bodyboarder to pursue his mat riding further. I didn't catch his name but hope to see him in the water in less hectic conditions to help him get the mat wired.

Hi Paul,
pleased to advise that the surf mat arrived without a hitch, thank you. Will advise if this geriatric surfer can use it!

Regards , Mike
Hi PG,

Howzit? Da Mini Max is going well. 6'-8' waves over the weekend were blown to bits by fierce southerlies so I didn't go out. I did get a few 5'-6' not so hollow waves and some 4' tubes when the winds blew strong offshore on Monday. (We're back to summer rain and cool south winds this week.)
The Mini works about 10% better than Lotus 3 in such conditions. Funny thing is that so far it doesn't feel small or lack glide even in flat spots and microwaves. However duck diving and wiping out are significantly less punishing. Catching waves requires being about 10% more in position than the Lotus.
The new dropped rails are doing their job admirably with no problems and providing an amazing amount of lift. Although the deck is visually the same, grip seems to be improved, with no increase in chafing when trunking it. Overall the best yet!
Stoked to Da Max,


Thanks, Paul.
I've been getting in the water quiet a bit, with mixed results. Yesterday would've been a great mat day, with a rising swell and breeze.
Have you been getting waves?
We've had some great mat sessions this fall/winter. For me the most memorable was two weeks ago, when Steve Pendarvis, Mark Miller, Dane Perlee and I traded 3- to 5-foot lefts for hours. So many crossovers — and runovers! I can't remember the last time I laughed so much. And the next day we had four mats in the water! 
I might try my hand behind the camera. I'll try to capture some 4GFs in action and send 'em your way. The location is always "Lower Trestles." Or how about "Malibu lefts"? *:) happy "Pismo Dunes?"

Hi Paul,
I'm not entirely sure what goes on with a mat's age but with each session on the new Standard it seems as though the canvas top is getting more supple; is this right or my imagination (my brain getting more supple?)...? Nonetheless, stoke-o-meter readings of subsequent repeat tests reveal a significant increase of both mm-mmmm and uh-huh (p > 0.05).


The fatty arrived and it is beautiful. I just stare at it waiting (over a month) for it to be put into action.
I just wanted to thank you for your personal attention to detail and fantastic customer service.
If you ever need feedback quotes count me in.
I found da fins at ebodyboarding in California.
Truly, thank you for giving me something splendid to look forward to.
Hey Paul,

Standard is rad, can't believe it got here so fast!

Think I'm gonna need an Omni and a Fatty to round out the quiver, will be in touch soon :)

Cheers, Dan.
Hi Paul,
Got the mat. Excited to take it out. Thank you so much, especially for personalizing the flanges. I'm sure it's going to fly. I'll let you know how it goes. More power and God bless!


Just showed up on my desk! Thanks Paul!
I'll give it spin Sunday if it's here for the weekend. Plan on surfing with Spencer at the end of the month in Ventura. Thanks again,
Thanks again Paul for the advice.

Curious about one thing.  Once you hone you skills on a real slider have you ever gone back to the old school canvas rectangle just to see how it performs?   Might be a fun comparison if anybody can keep the valves from leaking on those ten dollar intex cheapos 😃

Otherwise I won't take anymore of your time. Central coast is in the high 80's today so I presume you probably have much better things to do.

Once I hit SoCal this summer I am betting my 64 year old brother may be in the market if I can impress effectively.  I will send him your way when that time comes.

Cheers, Peter
Aloha Paul,

This is Chris from Hawaii, the guy with the blue streak standard and mini mat. As well as one of your 2001 velo spoons.

Anyway I met this gentlemen yesterday named Bill Albert and he's interested in a surf mat. I have cc'ed him on this email. Just wanted to send a quick introduction email, so the two of you could connect and discuss further the procurement of a surfmat.


I figure it's a bit pointless to try to explain the feeling to someone who already knows it much better, but I couldn't even begin explaining just how amazing mat surfing has begun to feel as I find how to make it work anyway. Every time I go out, I feel like the blessed little bag of air teaches me another little secret.

 I think it almost already needs a brother.
Thanks for the endless stoke,
Hi Paul,

Just paid! Cannot believe the speed and efficiency of this conversation and transaction. You're the best!

Thanks a ton,
Hi Paul, 
I have been riding a UDT for the past couple of months now.  I originally ordered it to ride with my boys.  I am now riding it solo and wanted to know if I would benefit better with a different model?  I seem to be doing alright on it.  But far from dialed...
I am 5'11" and 225 lbs.  Let me know your thoughts.

Thank you Paul! Stoked.
My friend Albert Elliott (ACE surfboards) in Ocean beach and Steve Pendarvis swear by your mats.
I cant wait to take them out at San Clemente state beach. Will share the stoke.



Mar 19, 2015

From Jeremy ...

Hi Paul,
I hope this finds you well. I gave the Classic 4GF to my good friend so she could mat surf on Kauai.
She digs it.

Mar 14, 2015

From Marc ...

Hi Paul,

Still cold in the Netherlands, but we are warming up!
Hope everything is fine.


Mar 7, 2015

From James In The OC ...

Hi paul
i recently got a omni. the mat's great  really solid feel  . holds air at the exact same level for days really solid build quality.
took me 28 breaths to fill er up but still feels like a small mat my 180 lbs is very happy with a lil bit more volume. basically all upsides with no drawbacks for me.
took some late drops the camera is a mouth mount so  it was hard to put my chin down like i wanted to on take off and had to  drop in late  after the wave had already stood up on me.  you can see the faces are really steep even before they get to me.
the  omni  did not slip out even 1 x on me  I was pulling through thick lips that were hitting me and even if it  did not open clean i was popping out the back on every wave.
really good  job on this model im giving it  two huge  thumbs up
take it easy
James   AKA mattitude


Some backstory on Devo...

Mar 4, 2015

4GF Surf Mats Now In Mitch's ...

We've had an up-and-down experience with placing 4GF Surf mats in shops over the years.

Mostly down.

We can't afford to wholesale them at anywhere near the price-point outlets need to make a profit retailing them at our on-line price. (Which is another way of saying: Our online price is pretty much wholesale.) The other problem, especially in the past, is that the beach-going public isn't up to speed on how to use and take care of high end mats. So there was a high return rate on top of the lousy money situation.

We've sold mats to about a dozen shops over the years, at a wholesale price that didn't make either of us happy. We made very little per mat, and the shop didn't make much either. Only a few shops have reordered. We get wholesale inquiries every month or so. I give them the breakdown, and they usually decide it isn't a good transaction...for either of us.

Mitch's Surf Shop is kind of a special place, given it's long history as a hard core surf outlet in a hard core surf town...San Diego . Starting out as a blank and glass shop in 1967, over the decades, it has grown along with the local surf culture. It's gotten to the point where, in 2014, they won a "Best Of" award from San Diego City Beat. Which, if you ever wandered into Mitch's prior to 1980, is actually mind boggling. True, Mitch's was "the best" back then, if you were shaping and glassing your own boards!

When 4GF started in 1984, Mitch's was the only shop we sold mats to, and it was a zero mark-up kind of deal. Mitch just wanted to do it because he liked our mats. With mat surfing starting to become a bigger sub-sub-sub-culture these days, Micah up in the Solana Beach shop thought it was time to give it another try. We worked out a wholesale price, and just shipped a batch to them on Monday.

So, starting today, if you're in San Diego area and want to buy a 4GF surf mat, or just check one out, head over to one of Mitch's two convenient locations.

Mitch’s La Jolla
631 Pearl Street
La Jolla CA USA 92037
(858) 459-5933
Monday – Saturday 10:00am to 7:00pm 
Sunday 10:00am to 5:00pm

Mitch’s Solana Beach
363 North Highway 101
Solana Beach CA USA 92075
(858) 481-1354
Monday – Saturday 10:15am to 6:00pm 
Sunday Closed