Dec 19, 2017

Why Throw Spray, When You Can Throw Shade?


The challenge faced by this author was to find as many ways to minimize mats and mat surfing, while at the same time acknowledging the obvious...something very unique and interesting is happening here.

Some classic riffs from the latest "Don't worry, dude. Even if it looks fun, mat surfing isn't real surfing" genre of surf journalism:

"Dave Rastovich doesn’t really need anything special to ride waves. He throws a very large wrench at the idea that equipment is all that important." 

"Give him anything, be it long or short, hard or soft, or hell, even inflatable, and he’ll make it look fun."
"Don’t take it (mat surfing) seriously."

The narration accompanying this cinematic tome underscores the same sentiment...Rasotivch himself refers to his mat as a "glorifed pool toy." 

Thanks, Dave. Glad we, the handmade mat builders of the world, busted our collective asses the past 35 years, living at or below the poverty line so we could refine our mats while you travel the world and have a great time...all while minimizing our efforts in public. (Perhaps you should try building a mat yourself and gain some perspective!)

Then, of course, the lone commentor/troll couldn't resist adding:

"A very limited vehicle: will go fast in subpar mushy conditions. Failure: in difficult waves."

To be fair, there's some nice stuff buried in this adolescent goulash of male insecurity. Dave acknowledges that "If you're a man, you're dragging your nuts" when you ride. A couple of positives here:  One, he admits that men who ride mats do indeed have testicles. And two, femail mat surfers get a mention, even if it's in the form of a backhand reference. And the author does say that mat riding is "an art form." 

As far as the video goes, I'm not sure why Dave rides a mat sans swim fins, but like most mat surfers, there's a component of individual thinking going on with him...and he seems to be getting a fair dinkum ride regardless! Well done.


Paul Gross said...

I apologize if this post comes off as bitter...but stuff like this really pisses me off.

Old Surfer said...

No its not bitter and yes it would be nice if some persons on their own trip could acknowledge the scientific and practical application others in the "surfing" world add to all of our enjoyment. That said why would you have a toy in the pool we only ever swam in pools in Oz as a kid and used the mats in Manlys shore thumping surf or should i say "sub par mushy conditions" haha. Stay true Paul we know who the real innovators are here in the UK and your way up there. Play nicely all, churs me dears Old Surfer.

Geoffrey Levens said...

I can see why it would piss you off! Pretty condescending.

I have seen video of Rastovich bodysurfing without fins. My guess is that he just has gigantic feet.

Unknown said...

No need to be pissed off and thanks for your artistry and work. I believe that George Greenough once said that surfing isn't about "how it looks, but how it feels." So true, and a typically profound observation by Greenough. Notwithstanding the foolish comments you noted, I find that many silent "critics" of mats in the lineup have not surfed very long, don't know much about surfing, surfing etiquette, board design, or the history of surfing and aren't getting too many waves either. Once you get a few good waves on a mat there's no longer any question about it. If one has doubts about riding a mat in really good waves, just watch The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun. I understand that many of the tube sequences in Coming of the Dawn were shot on a mat at Lennox Head NSW.

Dan said...

Yup tired of it. I get lots of props for riding a mat, but it's like the "hey, nice moped" kinda props. It's cool that other people ride them.
Guy pulled up to me the other day in a truck while I was walking home from the beach. He yells, "Yeah, loved you on a mat out there. You're a hero!"
"Thanks. They're the best. You ride one?"
"Oh no, no." Looks away embarrassed at the suggestion and drives on.

I'm also bitter right now, because a guy on a board went for a wave I thought was mine and ran over my legs yesterday.

Dan said...

I love that Rasta rides them, by the way, but he disappoints. Fish People featured a mat, but it's Dave and his wife with no fins in tiny waves. I think Dave never rides it and his wife looks like this is her first time. Great movie, disappointing segment.

Geoffrey Levens said...

"I'm also bitter right now, because a guy on a board went for a wave I thought was mine and ran over my legs yesterday."

Surfing Uppers a few years ago, rather large person on a longboard kept ripping me off for waves. Finally, on one of a number where I was behind, I just grabbed their leg rope and when the ran to the nose I yanked. Great fun to see their face plant as I went around them and rode the rest of the wave alone. Must admit I nearly received a fist plant in return but that was the last wave the dropped in on me.

Paul Gross said...

To balance things out a bit, last week I finally got in the water after a long lay off. (Needless to say, it felt great!)

Anyway, this guy in his 30's paddles past me and over to a friend in the lineup.

He says, referring to me, "That old dude looks like a seal!"

The other guy said, "Yeah, but he's the fastest guy in the water!"

At least people are starting to notice the mats go well...

Geoffrey Levens said...

"The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun. I understand that many of the tube sequences in Coming of the Dawn were shot on a mat at Lennox Head NSW."

Not only...he was using a massive and heavy waterbox camera that he made from scratch himself

tuskedbeast said...

Hi Paul,

Not bitter- we get it. The piece is condescending, I can only imagine how personally insulting it would be for you.

I'm particularly sorry for Dave's pool toy comment. I think he came off wrong. I've mat surfed and worked with him as part of a environmental action, and he's not at all your stereotypical self-involved sponsored pro surfer. He loves mat surfing. I'm not sure where he was coming from with that comment, but possibly he might have been saying how the craft might appear to the unenlightened.


tuskedbeast said...

Yay, back in the water!!!

"The old dude looks like a seal" I'd say that was a high compliment.

I heard I was "the old geezer on the Li-Lo" amongst the kids in the place I surfed in NZ.

I loved it.

Geoffrey Levens said...

Just to be fair, that "pool toy" comment in no way originated with Rasta. This is from a 2004 post on Swaylocks
In a recent conversation, George Greenough called and excitedly described his surfing experiences on a $.75 cent discount store inflatable pool toy. George said the surfer who was riding it was really flying along, and because it looked so weird, he knew he had to try it. So he paddled out, offered its owner $2.00 and clinched the deal.

Humbling? Sure! Of course it`s all about fun. Yet for "serious fun", George (and virtually all other experienced mat surfers) still prefer custom high end surf mats.

Paul Gross said...

Hi Jonathan,

I agree with you that Dave R. isn't anything like the stereotypical pro. In fact, he and George are quite good friends, and I know he "gets it." What rankled me about the 'pool toy' remark is that he seemed to be playing to the attitude that a lot of surfers have about mats. It was an opportunity to enlighten, and he let it go in favor of a bro-moment.

I think he also said something along the lines of, "That's the fastest I've ever gone on a mat." I doubt he's ever gone faster riding anything, at least on a wave like that, and perhaps should have said so.

Paul Gross said...

Another thing that struck me about this video is the fact that even use by a well respected pro like Rastovich doesn't serve as a prima facie validation of mats. (Witness the vacuous comments made by the videographer.)

All of this said, would any of us have it any other way? Would we want mats to be a mainstream vehicle...with pro contests, flashy point-of-purchase displays at glossy surf shops, and anorexic, bikini-clad models holding a mat in beachwear print ads???

So, there's a "taking bad with the good" aspect here that even I, as potential beneficiary of mass acceptance, am happy to endure.

Anonymous said...

All the very best stuff is misunderstood by the masses! Mat Max

Anonymous said...

Whenever I'm trying to explain mats to a conventional surfer I just say if you think of wave riding as a drug, traditional stand up surfing is like smoking it. Riding a mat is like slamming it straight to the vein. A little off color perhaps, but always shuts them up!

Anonymous said...

The anorexic bikini clad models bit would be ok !

Anonymous said...

And you don't come across as bitter. Make no mistake about it however cool these soul surfers or whatever they are trying to emulate are in business for themselves to sell mass consumerism to the average joe. Everyone rides a surfboard these days and for that reason alone I don't like it. Even bodyboards are rare these days but not as rare as mats !