Mar 31, 2016

Guess Where This Is ...


... and I'll send you a postcard as soon as I arrive!

Mar 29, 2016

From Mister Dirk ...


That recent post with the elegant sketch by Peter C. reminded me of these old watercolor drawings I did in 1976.



Mar 28, 2016

From Peter ...

Hi Paul,

In between rainstorms my wife and I do some pretty easy 10-20 milers on the weekends before traffic heats up. We ride up the coast and do a little circuit around the lower part of Wilder Ranch. Side streets, pathways, trails. I'm 67 now and  I don't want any broken bones at this point, so speed and sharing the road are low on my list. 

My wife Patricia is amping up for her 15th straight Cinderella Ride (2500 women, 60+ miles) in the East Bay. Last year after her foot surgery she rode it to the first rest stop and then stopped. She earned her badge and went back to recovering. I've been enjoying a 1977-9? MCS threebar single speed for my rides - built in speed governor and the bmx brakes that are bad enough for me to keep it mellow. Steiny persuaded me to get this bike (with all original parts that I’ve saved of course) at his buddys garage sale. 

Giro put on a cross/mountain bike event in the Sierras called Grinduro. Patricia  and I went up there as volunteers. Everybody had a really great time-kind of a Woodstock moment.
Was matting and board riding pretty strong up until November or so. Had good days a Sewer Peak and some solo days at Rockview. Surfed  perfect 2-4’ Sharks Cove one magic Saturday morning for over three hours with an exceptionally polite married couple on standups, a girl riding whitewater on the inside, myself, and one other person - we couldn’t believe it!. Wave after wave after wave in full view of the teeming masses on the cliff and at the Hook! Fantastic! After each set we’d all look at each other and laugh. 

On another late summer day, Wingnut was out at the same place with a google client and he kept looking at the board you shaped. He asked who made it and assured me that he thought it was a very nice board. In general, it’s been pumping here too.

  This is what I like about Four Mile

 Since December, I’ve been down with a very tenacious cold, along with what has recently been decided on as the onset of gerd. Back to eating aryurvedic. So most of my time has been mucking around in a little studio I have.
Below is a view of the palms on the east side of the campground at Refugio. The original is about 3” tall. Done at the same time as the other view. 

 And here’s a place you may know…

 That’s it. Thanks for your great stuff.


Mar 27, 2016

Easter In Hawaii ...

Hi PG,

All good here in Hawaii. A cool photographer named Larry Collins took these shots on Easter Sunday of me riding da Mini. Stoked!


Mat Max

Mar 26, 2016

From Jeff ...


Hey Paul,

Great meeting you and Dirk last Monday, and Thanks for getting the mat out to me so fast. Returned home yesterday and it was here already.

Can't wait to get the TRT back in the water, but the Omni SS was super rad this past week.  Surfed small day at Sandspit (see photos) and then an epic small day closer to Pt, Conception on Friday.  As you can see from the pics, we happened upon perfect mat conditions at a rare sandbar on a private beach. Second wave yielded a long tube section, which the Omni slid through without a hitch.

As the west swell faded, we were stoked to ride small south swell waves like that all afternoon. Truly a treat for a North Coast mat surfer, and I am looking forward to coming down again this summer.

Hope you dig the pictures,

Jeff G

Mar 25, 2016

Hola From Germany ...


Hola Paul,

Here you have two pics of my matting-novice daughter from four blissful days last week at a prominent and very consistent left break in Mex. She enjoyed playing in the shorebreak.

I took out a mat on two days, had a few great waves but then went astray, I must admit.

The chinrash hurt and the long paddle back (less perfect waves per time-unit) and "navigating the crowd" became a bit arduous.

We saw Corky Carrol (whom I did not recognize) on a sup (!!) - wearing a Barcelona / Messi - soccer-jersey as a rashguard. He didn´t even know who Messi is.

Quote: "Much cheaper than rashguards and messi kinda fit me..."

Weird stuff, fun days.

Hope all is well!

Regards from Germany

Mar 18, 2016

More From Jeremy ...

Hi Paul,
Hope this finds you well. 
I have 'beach brains' so i cannot elucidate in detail on the 2nd session on the 4GF.  So far it has been super. I am working on keeping my head low and trying to take the high line.
I rode with as little inflation as possible and it worked really well.  
More later,

From Peter ...

Hi Paul,

This is an inkbrush drawing from a sketchbook I recently unearthed. It measures about 3" wide. 

Lately this place has popped up a few times on Surfmatters, so I thought I'd contribute a different view.

Been cycling?

Best Regards,
Peter C.

Mar 17, 2016

Mar 16, 2016

From Frank ...


I surfed mats in the 60's, mostly in Belmar and Long Branch, NJ. They were the traditional canvas mats with ropes that I decorated with a black marker. I didn't have a car so I had to take a train, which passed by about half a mile from the beach, so I had to walk in to the beach and change there, putting my clothes in a rental locker. We didn't have Surfline then, so I never knew what I would find when I got to the beach, anything from 1-2 footers to overhead.

I was able to get off for Labor Day weekend (1967) and when I left the train station, I thought that they were piledriving some supports, because there was a rhythmic thump I could feel and hear. I got to the beach and there was a hurricane swell with triple overhead waves coming across the jetties. The lifeguards had closed the beach to everyone, surfers included. I met some friends from my high school and waited all day until the lifeguards went off duty. The beach had pretty much cleared out because of the conditions. The surf had stayed up and was clean. I wanted to get out but there was no way to get my raft through the shore break. I got the idea of deflating it and managed to duck dive with it and get way outside.

There was no one there, probably because they either couldn't get out or had too much sense to try it. I treaded water and inflated my mat. I managed to catch a ride in that nearly went from jetty to jetty, got out and deflated the mat. I swam out again and reinflated the mat. I looked at jetty on my right and saw some guys with a rope trying to work their way over the jetty. I figured that someone had a problem on the inside and was in trouble. Luckily I caught a wave in, got out and then got surrounded by the police and the guys with the rope. They had spotted me and thought I had gotten swept out and were trying to save me. No jet skis available back then...I explained to them I was just surfing but they were so pissed off I was escorted from the beach.

I got my clothes from the locker, went to the train station and came back home. I didn't mention any of this to my folks. It was my first introduction to big wave surfing.

Great memories,


Mar 15, 2016

From Jeremy ...

Hi Paul

The surf mat landed yesterday. And today micro glees session on  your creation.

Best Jeremy

Mar 11, 2016

Greeting From Ragland...Electronic Edition !!!

Hi Paul,

How are you? I spoke to Rob back home in San Francisco who said it had been a very satisfying winter for waves thus far, and others have told me it's  been nice and rainy, so I'm trusting you've been having fun and getting some relief from the drought down your way. I've been able to look at Surfmatters often, and things are looking fun with the extended community too! Good.

Things are great here. I'm just finishing a little cat sitting gig in town, with such luxuries as refrigeration, indoor plumbing, power points and internet, which I got right back into "surfing" with all the self-control of an untended two-year-old with an open bag of marshmallows. 

So much for my Unibomber commitment to off-the-grid living... will see how it goes when I get home in May. But it does give me the chance to give another Raglan report, some ride reports and, er hum, contest results, all in gloriously pristine digital legibility. 

Things have been great. The stuff I've been doing has shifted from rarefied novelty to pleasant routine- working in the vegetable garden on Hillbilly Hill (what I've taken to calling my host Mike's compound of converted school buses), a lot of clearing of invasive vine-y stuff for various people and working in the little bookstore once in a while.
Hitchhiking always offers interesting encounters with the sort of generally wonderful people who I can safely categorize as hitchhiker picker-uppers. No great stories, but atmospheric little encounters... like the trashed dude in rags who swerved aggressively to scoop me up. He was blasting what I later learned was Rob Zombie at a volume that made conversation impossible, and smoking, as we drove straight into the setting sun, effectively cauterizing three of my senses.

But beggars can't be choosers, and honestly, both of us would have benefited from a woman's touch.... He turned down the hideous noise and growled that he was going further, but he was going to stop and swap cars. Fine. We pulled off Wainui Road to a long driveway which led to an unexpectedly posh, tidy house, and hard up against a beat-up van. "You'll hop out here and get in the van. Don't want to let my mastiffs see you" he muttered, and I noticed two giant hounds raising their meaty heads on the porch of the house. 
A bit of business, then he was back in the decrepit van and we were off. This time, to my surprise, the music was Cat Stevens' "Father and Son", playing softly through a completely blown speaker that kept shorting out, and was in its own way even more unpleasant, abrasive and disorienting than the death metal. Nice enough guy; another hitcher picker upper.

Keep seeing a young woman in town with what seems to be a Frisbee-sized black and white tattoo of Burt Reynolds on her thigh. 

It's been unseasonably warm and humid, and now with autumn officially here, is only now cooling down a bit. The water has been bath-warm, around 72. Not my favorite weather because of the humidity. but I am enjoying the warmth at night.

One full-moon weekend last month was particularly special. A good small groundswell was corresponding with a high tide at Manu Bay at around 11 PM. I had been sick with a mild fever and was in and out of consciousness all day. But come evening, I made myself get up, have a cup of tea, and set out on foot down the road to where my board was stashed at Whale Bay, about a 20 minute walk. The gravel road through the trees was dappled in the moonlight, and here and there in the blackest patches of bush you could see surreal greenish constellations of glow worms. The air was warm. I was listening to Nick Drake's Pink Moon, which is magic music, and settled into an  enchanted, moon-struck, slowed-down state of bliss.


The whole thing just became more and more dreamy and episodic. My friends at their home in Whale Bay were in the final stage of a late night conversation, three beautiful women on pillows in a pool of dim orange light. They wished me well. Now I was crunching along the road with the Liddle under my arm, peering into the night over the cliff to see the ocean- it was glassy, and there was swell! A short walk further and there was Manu Bay. 

Well. I won't go into too much detail, but it was really sweet. My only moonlight surfing experience had been that one time the month before, and that was heading into dawn. This was different. The sets, when they approached, were about head high, and really dark! Once you were up and riding there was moonlight on the face, brilliant white glassy Rick Griffin delineated curves, but you couldn't really see the paddlers, and there were some close calls! Yep, there were people out- about eight French tourist beginner surfer girls! Really surreal and fun crew, calling out to each other from the lineup to the carpark- "Est-ce vous, Eugenie?", laughing giddily with stoke and nervousness. Lovely, but yeah, you had to be on your toes! Still- it was perfect. And what a great lesson on the hull. With my sense of sight  diminished, I  had to depend more on feel, feedback from wave to board and fin to feet and body. All those non-visual sensations felt magnified. A real breakthrough for understanding the board. Just delightful.

After a few hours, the tide change began to tell on the waves, and my fever was asserting itself, and I got out. This time I had my bike, and I can report that the trip up the hill, when peddling sick and slow in a pool of grey headlamp, takes exactly the length of Visions of Johanna and Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.

And the next night was exactly the same, but fearing GBH on my beautiful surfboard, I took a mat. This time there were a few more locals including, to my delight, Morty, the boogie-riding gardener with the cross-dressing kindergartner son that I'd written about previously. 

The waves were smaller. The mat did great, but I won't report on this session; there have been better for that purpose. I did at one point hear a huge, fiberglass-crunching full-on collision on takeoff, so I will heartily recommend a mat for a crowded night session, folks!

Paul, I so want to give you a perceptive, detailed mat report for the new mat you sent me, but pretty much all I can say is that the things I first noticed- improved hold during trim/less unwanted breakaway sideslips, increased "positivity" during turns- are holding true in every condition I've been in so far. I've been choosing to ride the mat mostly on the bigger days. Sticking mostly to 3/5 inflation, though it feels great with less air and firmer 90° inflations too. One day with two surfs last week still stands out- fat but flawless Manu, choppy side/offshore blowing into the face, 3-6 foot with bigger bomb set waves, and later on, pumping 5-8 foot Indicator with the same blustery wind, but much steeper and faster. Standard both sessions. Just no glitches in the way the mat handled- mainly, no getting left behind fast sections. None. For some reason consistently find myself doing banking (left) turns dipping both fins in the water, not just inner fin (for what that bit of info is worth)... and maybe most strikingly, i dunno- the chop from that wind direction, which has previously been a bit annoying in past years at Manu wasn't a problem, the mat seemed to handle it better. That was especially true on one memorable ride at Indicator. Late, late drop on an outside bomb. I couldn't see a thing with the spray, and I felt nada underneath me, it must have been an air drop. Arms around rails, just blind. But something happened that was "just right"; no slamming down speed loss at all, I got an incredible whoosh of speed that morphed into a full on run down the line as fast of faster than I've ever experienced on a mat; flashing on those jet boats that race on lakes, just bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaa on a choppy medium steep big perfect wall, no skipping (which had happened the wave before, must have been fractionally less gusty wind on this one).  UNREAL!!!!! I wanted to write you that night, because the buzz of that ride stayed with me all night and damned if I don't feel it again right now! Whee. 

Still, I wish I could be of more value with technical feedback. I am however, doing my part to "represent" the agenda. A few weeks ago, the local boardriders club hosted a retro single fin contest- no boards past 1980 allowed.

The meet was open to all willing to plunk down the entry fee. And there was an "anything goes" category too. Perfect! A chance to show off (...maybe?) the 4GF to the world, well, some locals, in the arena, put the money where the mouth is- and maybe surf Manu Bay with a light crowd. It turned out to be a beautiful day- building groundswell, pretty windy but fun looking, a whole array of cool NZ single fins on proud display, and a light, irreverent atmosphere- it was kind of a given that the local rippers were to be handicapped by the crude equipment.
Well, it turned out that the Anything Goes heat was mainly a chance to let the groms ride their normal modern shortboards- there was one bodysurfer, a guy on a kickboard, a few moldy singlefins and 30 or so children. It was an hour long heat, which made sense, and I guess the normal interference rules weren't being enforced.

Saw a classic move that seemed choreographed- a guy dressed as a pirate took off waving twin swords, causing the fellow that dropped in on him to look back and do a massive double take, which made him plow heavily into a paddler.... That pretty much was the vibe for Anything Goes.

On my first ride, the local worst offender bratty grom burned me, turning back repeatedly at my head shouting something that sounded like like "Bubbele Bubeble! (I never did decipher that one). I was quite self-conscious though of wanting to do my best, and honestly, just made a few waves, riding one superman-style, arms back. But apparently, they were enough to bag the heat. Yup- I beat on the brat, the pirate, the lot. I must say, I have no clue what the criteria was, but one judge said "mate you won it just for showing up with a lilo".

So I want to tell you all, all my mat sisters and brothers: we are in the golden age of mat appreciation by the surfing world at large. Someday, when there's a gazillion of us clogging the lineups of the world, we may be as reviled as SUPs are now, but for now, milk it for all it's worth.
OK, that's it for now. Enjoying Surfmatters, Steiny's blog and Electric Sunshine- It feels like I'm able to stay in touch with my friends in the little community that you've made for us. Hope all is well.

-- Jonathan

Followup from Ray...

 Looks like Jeremy top and left, and either Paul or Dirk on the bottom.

Hi Paul,

With all the mat activity at our home break, I thought I would send you some more photos from that day. I talked to Dirk, who I'd met before, and only wished I had brought my mat.

So, it was watch and learn...not sure who's in the photos but it was the best I could do with a phone...

Ray -- The Wednesday Wave Warriors

Mar 9, 2016

From Jeremy ...

Hi Paul,

Hope this finds you well. Glad the ground is getting saturated with rain in California and the waves are pumping.

Yes I am back in New York.

It was nice to meet you and Dirk.. I forgot the other gentleman's name from Oregon. Very thankful to have had the opportunity to chase waves in the company of you at Refugio. What a treat...4 surf mats in the ocean.

I like what you mentioned 'non peak mats.' This weekend in Montauk the yellow neumatic was in the zone of focused speed.

Another idea I have been pondering is a surf mat meet in Montauk. This could be fun too with warmer water.

The other day I was talking with Dirk about the Omni and the Lotus. I d like to order a low volume 4GF.  A surf mat for walled waves.


(Mister Dirk at play at Refugio...)

Mar 7, 2016

From The Barbers ...


We had a great trip to California. Nice folks and good times. Back home now to our rainy Oregon.

Boarders and people who want to surf sure are interested in the mats -- everywhere we went, including the parking lot of our motel stop in Redding on the way home!

We met a lot of mat enthusiasts and hope to meet up with all of them again.

Polly and Greg

Mar 5, 2016

Cross Training!

 PranaGlider riding an Omni in overhead Newport

 Greenough riding a narrow Lotus in small slop at the East Cape

One of the cool things you can do with a quiver of mats (meaning, 2 or more models in your arsenal) is to ride the 'wrong' model in certain conditions. It's challenging, fun, and very educational.

A mat that is wider-than-ideal for larger waves sharpens your skill at setting the rail on bottom turns and while trimming through thick sections. The mats' tenancy will be to slide out, and it's up to you to find the right moment to push the rail into the water and grab onto whatever surface tension you can find. You'll blow a lot of waves, but you'll also snag a few that will open your horizons.

A mat that's too narrow for smaller waves forces you to always be in the power of the wave you're riding. You can't overrun the section ahead of you, or cut back too far into the whitewater. In both cases, you'll run out of the juice you need to keep your craft planing. Your wave judgement will improve immeasurably.

Another aspect of quiver flexibility is the option to practice riding backside (if indeed you have a backside while riding a mat) with a wider mat to sharpen your trimming skills.

After a session or two with the "wrong" mat, when you go back to the appropriate model, it seems like a walk in the park...and you'll have a deeper understanding of mat surfing that will last a lifetime.

Like George says, "You always keep learning stuff with a mat!"

Mar 3, 2016

From Darth ...

Hi Paul

Recently went to the movies & saw the New Star Wars episode...SO good.
Took Paul's Darth Vader mask out to try & intimidate the other surfers.

Regards Eric

Mar 1, 2016

Australian Beach Pattern (1940)

Last week we received a cryptic email with the image of a painting entitled 'Australian Beach Pattern.'

The emailer didn't identify him or herself, and I didn't know what exactly to make of the work...other than there was a boy on a surf mat which made it relevant to our pages here at Surfmatters.

Over the next few days I looked at the painting several times, and it grew more and more powerful. Not being an art aficionado, I asked the emailer for some background information, and learned it was created by Charles Meere in 1940.

After further research, I discovered that Charles Meere was a British ex-pat artist of some note, and the image was thought to project a number of messages. Among them, a celebration of beach culture, a glorification of heroic racial purity, or a reflection of Australia's unpreparedness for the war.

Pretty heady stuff for a painting of a kid on a surf mat!

But seriously, detailed notes on Meere can be found here.

Another twist on this tale relates to another artist named Freda Robertshaw. She was Meere's student and partner, and created a feminized counter-point image to Australian Beach Pattern, called Australian Beach Scene (1940).

How long before we stumble across a Mark Twain essay on mat surfing?