Thank you Dale, Paul and George

I have been under the weather for a few days and so I have decided to re-post something from a while back.

I hope you don't mind.

Riding a mat is not like riding anything else,

but at times it's like riding everything else.

It's not like a body board.
Yes, you have fins. Yes, you are treated like a lower life form for no good reason. But there is a whole lot more going on with a mat that isn't with a body board. You do reshape the body board as you ride but not nearly to the extent as you do on a mat.

It's not like a short board.
First there is no ER or ING so there is no mass marketing machine telling you how cool you are if you have the right tee shirt and surf the right way. But seriously, when you are riding a mat you are surfing the wave in a more intimate way than you could possibly do when riding a fixed fin hard board. You can't really say you reshape your short board on the fly to fit the ever changing wave face, can you. The "moves" are a lot more subtle and aren't really maneuvers at all but optimizations to fit the context of the wave at the moment.

It's not like a long board.
Well maybe it is more like a long board. Position surfing, working with the wave, an emphasis on trimming and finding those spots on the face that provide bursts of speed. And the tube riding, eh well then again, maybe it's not like a long board.

It's "like jet-propelled bodysurfing"
This is right from the horses mouth.
Some people comment that a mat is a good thing to ride when it's big and bumpy. And it is a good thing to ride when it's big and bumpy. But it is even better when it is dredging and pitching. Don't take my word for it. Go look and any of the George Greenough's tube shots. Most were done while he was riding a mat. There is a feeling of connectedness with the wave that really helps when you are trying to sit in the tube. You can see the wave changing ahead of you and you can feel it, thru the mat, underneath you.

I have kept you a long time but here is one more comparison.

I surf in one of the more crowded areas of Southern California. But I surf alone. I surf it like it a early 60's longboard, lots of soul but maybe not that exciting to watch. But I am having a blast! As much fun as those first days as a super stoked grimmie in the shore break at Huntington. I hope to, someday, be a part of the mat revolution. Faster, more turns, more "total involvement". But right now it's like the 1950's or early sixties and I don't see another mat rider for miles and if I saw someone with a mat I would pull my car over and chat because I either know them or I share something very important with them.

So my final comparison is that mat riding is a lot like surfing used to be, a simple, joyful pleasure shared amongst friends.

Happy Thanksgiving, see you at the beach!

I will post again next week and will be answering emails and comments thru the weekend.


Anonymous said…
Hope you are feeling better soon-please don`t feel obliged to post if you are a bit crook!we can wait with baited breath for your next oratory!
Meanwhile sea is 21,air is 7 centigrade here in Japan,Pacific goes flat,Japan Sea goes off.
Quiver said…
I recently lost the stoke to the point that I'm selling two surfboards. I was looking around for a replacment board, but after reading this post, maybe I shouldn't be looking for a board after all.

(my word verification word was "sconesi", that sounds like it should be a real word.)
Unknown said…
Hey Quiver, pick up a mat and/or an alaia and the stoke very quickly re-ignites...

When I try and explain mat riding to other surfing friends who think I'm insane, I often quote the 'jet-propelled bodysurfing' line and this allows them to at least start to see it as something other than a degraded form of stand-up riding. It shifts their perspective a little I find.

But even that doesn't describe it...
Anonymous said…
"...preconceptions of what "surfing" is, and is not, abound within wave riding pop subculture... upon close inspection, many are nothing
more than illusions... crafted to manipulate consumers into thinking
one thing while giving them another. From surfboards to clothing and a myriad of accessories. Not all is what it seems in mainstream surfing, and there is a growing hunger for anything real.

The modern surf mat represents a very different paradigm: neither
bodysurfing nor bodyboarding... riding fluid on a layer of air.
Deceptive sophistication.. feeling alive rather than inanimate. The
old translated to new, individually created by human hands, yet finally shaped by the curves and textures of the wave itself. Filled by the rider's lungs to slide across powerful lines of energy, generated by the primal breath of nature."
Okemah said…
Wow! Most Excellent Bloggin' Prana! This is hands down one of the best posts/comments I've ever read about mats, let alone surfing. Trying to convey the feeling of matting to anyone is difficult at fully nailed it! How about an equally heartfelt reply by Anonymous! Hope your feeling better soon...maybe I'll see ya out someday soon.
Quiver said…
Hey Bongo, got a mat already and use it every so often. I don't ride it cause it doesn't act like a standup board. But lately, I don't ride a standup board as well as I'd like, or well at all. Gonna bring it back to basics over this long weekend.
Anonymous said…
Can I pop in here for a moment?

I cannot overstate the synergy between the three of us when the first nylon mats were developed back in 1984.

I truly believe that no one of us, or even two of us, could have arrived at the general concept that became the 4GF and Neumatic surf mats. The combination of all of our varied locales, experiences, personalities, talent, and life circumstances was necessary. And it was nothing short of a miracle that it happened...if you're a mat surfer.

We had a bad day yesterday. My mother's health is really starting to fade, and Gloria and I spent the day at a local hosptial with her trying to get to the bottom of her problems. (Severe dizziness and memory loss.) It's probably just old age (90), but we have to keep fighting.

Anyway, when we got home from the hospital, there was a phone message from George. He was going on and on about his impressions of a couple of mats I sent him a few months back. Even before he finished, Gloria and I just started laughing. We were blowing off steam, and appreciating what a gem George is as a surfer and as a person.

Even with us living 5 hours from the ocean, the mats once again re-surfaced as a kind of savior.

Sorry to sound so self-mytholigizing, but I've had 24 years to reflect on all this!

Thank you so much for your kind and insightful words, Prana. Hope you feel better soon!
Anonymous said…
"self-mytholigizing" how true!
paul gross: a legend in his own mind. dream on hollywood

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