You ride a what?
Craig Stecyk III supposedly said “ surf mats are the fly fishing of wave riding”
While I don’t want to assume his exact meaning, I believe he meant that mat surfers were above all else, really into it. Their approach is mindful. That their craft and approach was as adaptive as the fisherman whose flies were tied to mimic the ever changing dance between the cycle of fish and their prey. That mat surfers as a group are not people who buy their surf vehicles at Costco next to the DVD's and the cheap, one season lawn furniture.
I bring this up because I was lamenting the reaction of some board surfers when I try to explain the mat. First comment I get, is the standard “I used to ride one of those in the 50's, 60's and maybe 70's. So after the lesson about variable inflation, reshaping the mat to fit the wave and that it’s not straight off to the beach anymore, I get the money question.
Now I’m usually talking to someone with a two thousand dollar long board under their arm and judging from their 700 dollar wetsuit it’s likely that they have several more at the house in two inch increments. So when I say that these are hand made craft. That they are the result of thousands of hours of R&D and untold trial and errors. That these mats, are the regular ride of some of the best surfers in the world can be had for only a few hundred dollars, I am taken back, nay offended, with their response that “that’s a lot of money I thought they would be about 10 bucks ”
This has happened enough so that I have a perfect fantasy reply. “You know we had a revolution in the 60's so you wouldn’t have to ride long boards anymore. I would suggest you get your head out and sell that piece of shit relic reproduction and buy a quiver of surf mats ” But I don’t, partly because I really don’t care what people ride. I would even object strongly that anyone has the right to do so. And I feel that a truly adequate quiver would contain a broad spectrum of long boards, Alaia, thrusters, quads, Bonzers, hand planes, swim fins and mats.
After listening to my rant, foam dripping from the corners of my mouth, a friend stops me cold by replying that most people who ride mats are nice, normal, intelligent people and that if someone doesn’t “get it” after you do your best to explain it, then that’s ok. They weren’t meant to. It’s not their karma to ride a mat. This has the sweet benefit of keeping twenty first century mat riders in a mode a lot like surfers in the 1950's. Except the equipment is much better! Everyone either knows the other matters in the water (if there are any) or is looking forward to meeting them.
Like surfing before Gidget.
How cool is that!