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.
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