/*23 Breaths: March 2008*/

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mat Lust Unchained

Dale makes a few different kinds of mats.

He provides a description of their features here at Surfmatz

I have summarized two of the descriptions below.

The 200/70 Advanced design has a wide operating range of waves and surface conditions w/ emphasis on hollower, smoother, more powerful walls. Two conventional inner/mid chambers w/ two bisected, wider outer chambers. Usually 200 denier top/70 denier bottom.

The Contrail design (formerly Flatliner) has a very wide operating range of waves and surface conditions. Usually 200 denier top/ 70 denier bottom, sometimes the lighter 70/70 denier. One conventional inner/mid chamber w/ two bisected, wider outer chambers.

I am the proud owner of a 200/70 Advanced Designed that I bought second hand.

Somethings are meant to be.

I have ridden this mat and almost completed ignored a modest quiver of surfboards.

I have ridden this mat and been reduced on the surfing hierarchy to even lower than boogie boarders and newbs (I have a great admiration for both groups btw).

I have ridden this mat in so much sandy shore break that I have worn the traction material (Vulkem) smooth.

But unless my wife and friends stage an intervention and there is a national accredited 12 step program that accepts my insurance it looks like it's me and the mat from this point on.

Having said that (feel free to roll your eyes at this point) I have begun to develop some serious mat lust for one of Dale's Contrail designs.

Although they are similar in design I think the "one conventional inner/mid chamber" in the Contrail versus the two mid chambers in the Advanced design would give the rider more of a V hull to work with. I believe this would allow for a mat that is even faster on steeper conditions. Sounds like fun...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

For Sale

A quick note for you in the SoCal area.

I was in the Patagonia - Cardiff shop over the weekend.

A nice group of folks, some of which ride mats.

Over in the board room was an actual Neumatic Surf Mat

bitchen photo above by Ken McKnight

This particular mat is for sale!!

No not the one in the photo, the one at the Patagonia - Cardiff store!

No waiting.

No kidding!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

fin less fret less

I was over at Frequent Rip Currents and reading a post about the upcoming video Musica Surfica.

It looks and I am sure sounds great. Mick has assured me that there is some mat riding in the main video as well as some in the extras section.

Watching the clip of Derek Hynd's riding a fin less board using his edges (or not) reminds me of the freedom on the mat. The freedom and the skill required to really ride these things well. (Something I am still working on).

But actually that's not where I am heading today.

The musical score for the movie is something I am looking forward to. I haven't heard the whole thing but much has been made of Mick's and others musicianship and how the music will fit into the whole and how it approaches "surf movies" from a different direction.

I don't know how many of you play an instrument but it occurred to me that riding any fin less surf craft is a lot like playing a fret less instrument.

For those of you unfamiliar with frets I "borrowed" the following from the wonderful folks at Wikipedia.

"A fret is a raised portion on the neck of a stringed instrument, that extends generally across the full width of the neck. On most modern western instruments, frets are metal strips inserted into the fingerboard.

Frets divide the neck into fixed segments at intervals related to a musical framework. On instruments such as guitars, each fret represents one semitone in the standard western system where one octave is divided into twelve semitones."

So if some knuckle head, like myself, who has played the guitar for years but still can't play it, if you know what I mean, so if I want to play a particular note or chord and assuming the instrument is in tune I just go to the specific coordinates and you have yourself a G chord. Unfortunately, I have been genetically gifted with hearing that doesn't let me carry a tune in a bucket and it would be easier for me to build a machine to play the notes, but enough about me.

Now let’s take a look at how some fret less instruments are played. The player must know thru a magical combination of their hearing and the physical familiarity with the instrument when the notes are to be found.

A whole ‘nother kettle of fish let me tell you!

First off let me thank you for reading thus far in a long and only somewhat interesting post. We are almost done so hang in there a little longer.

The mat or Alaia rider needs to know how to use the rails or make and use a rail on the mat. This would be analogous with the player of the fret less instruments.

The rider of the finned board is on the fretted side of the fence. He or she will use the attached fins to perform certain maneuvers. Fins out or side slipping not withstanding!

Not that outstanding performances can't be made with either instrument or surf craft!

Not better or worse really just different and there is nothing wrong with that.

PS Let me know what you think! If you don't I'll just ramble on and neither of us wants that!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


No, the kind you put on your feet.

Lots of people discuss fins on the Internet.

This one's good, these have turbo ridges, this one is faster because its red.


Which fin is best?

There is no one BEST fin, but there are categories. Which I will, unfortunately over simplify.

Short and wide like these

Or long like these

The short ones are generally easier to kick with but produce less total forward propulsion due to a smaller surface area.

The long ones have a larger surface area and you get more forward propulsion but they have been described as strapping 2 by 4's to your feet.

Which one is best depends on several things the most important of which is you.

First the fins you use MUST fit and be comfortable or at least tolerable.
If you have wide feet you need fins with a wide foot box. Vipers while not very wide have a model that includes neoprene lining. A very good idea and one that can be used to customize any fin. Some break in of your feet is to be expected get over it.

Second you need to look in the mirror at your legs.

If you see tree trunks growing out of your body you can use long powerful leg movements and long fins to rocket thru the water.

If you see wispy thin legs try the wide short fins. You can use the short fast kicks to provide bursts of speed to rocket you thru the water.

So try all your friends fins and find some that are comfortable.

Hint if you wear Duck Feet upside down you get another half size up.
I am not sure why but I think it has to do with some sort of fin magic.

Hint number two there are those that will take a big fin (see the UDT's above) and carve them up to fit them better and change the flex characteristics. Thinning the blades increase their flex. Carve the straps to accommodate your ankle bones. Go nuts with it. It will do you good. See Swaylocks or Surfmatz for several discussion about fin mods.

Here are some Duck Feet that have had the blades shortened and thinned out.

These are commercially available so you don't get rubber bits all over the garden.

So even if you are not of the mat or boogie board persuasion get a pair of fins for the summer. Body surfing is a blast and it one of the things we lost when "Leashes Ruined Surfing

Let me know what kinds of fins you use.

I am starting a personal collection and hope to, one day, be the Imelda Marcos of swim fins...

Monday, March 17, 2008


The surfacing material (Volkem) Dale used on my mat wore down after two years of use in the sandy, occasionally dredging beach breaks I frequent. (If I don't come home with my ears full of sand it wasn't a good day.) I think two years out of a single "wax job" is pretty good. I will be the first to admit that I am not “handy” around the house so if I can resurface my mat, successfully without gluing myself to it, you can too! BTW there is a great tutorial with pictures on surfmatz.com.

Even thought I am a huge fan of quivers of surfboards the mat provides a quiver in a bag. One of my favorite things about riding a mat is that you can and do "reshape" your surf craft at will. If the surf is up you can add more or less air that you usually do. You might swim out with the mat deflated and blow it up after you are outside. (This works great). I usually take a few waves to fine tune the inflation for every surf to get the right combination of drive and drift for that day's combination of swell(s) and tide. One of Dale's many strokes of genius was designing the mat and the valve so that you can actually let more air out of the mat while you are setting up the inside section. So how would you feel about a board that takes off outside like a long board, flies through the outside section like a bonzer, cuts back like a fish and rides the inside bowl like a pin tail pocket rocket?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hawaiian mat surfer, Tony Lum

"Anonymous" left the following as a comment to a previous post.

I thought it deserved it own post.

Thanks Anonymous, feel free to contribute any time.

"From experienced Hawaiian mat surfer, Tony Lum:

Sitting on the shore, staring out to sea, preparing to return to Mother Nature's womb. Meditating on the rhythm of the swells as they ascend and descend in time with the measure of the ocean floor.

The melodies of the waves drown out all negative energy. The sound ofbreathing reverberates everywhere.

Waves created by a far-off wind, Mother Nature's breath. Air expelled from human lungs, breathing life into this inflatable wave-riding craft. The breath of life pulled deep and pushed long. It is meditation. Zen.

Surfing. Gliding on the liquid manifestation of cyclical energy created by a distant breath. This is a spiritual dance that has long,deep Polynesian roots.

Alien missionaries deemed surfing to be a sinful pastime of backward heathens, but for the Hawaiians, it was sacred. Breath was also sacred. It is the essence of life. Mana.

In Hawaiian culture, people would greet one another by standing face to face and simultaneously inhaling and exhaling each other's breath.

What would the ancients think of mat-surfing? Using the Mana of one's breath to perform the spiritual act of surfing on a wave formed by the energy of nature's own breath.

No wonder these surf mats feel so alive! There is some powerful magic going on here.

All things considered, it's funny to hear people refer to surf mats as just another pool toy. I can see how some might be offended. Perhaps it's all just nonsense. Don't spend too much time thinking about it.

Take a deep breath, let go and the surfmat will show you the way.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Good Stuff - Matafesto - The Delicate Wind

I know I am neglecting my duties here at 23B but I don't feel any shame in pointing you over to Ken McKnight's latest.

One again, courtesy of Ken McKnight and AllAboutSurf, another great article on the mat.

Matafesto - The Delicate Wind

Ken talks about mat riding and delves into what is quite an international cast of characters.

A good read!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why do I ride an air mattress?

I'll let George tell you...

I can only add that I have taken my stand up surfing about as far as I was going to. I enjoy stand up and have no intension of getting rid of the quiver.

Also I certainly don't mean to say that there is no room for improvement,
but that I am going to stand up surf about the same 10 years from now as I did 5 years ago.

Senility not withstanding.

So riding mats is a whole new deal for me.

I'm a grom again.

There are ten new things I really want to try on a mat.

If I can only get the locals to stop cutting off the guy on the pool toy...