Something different

 A bit of a long one for you today

First, here is a little something I thought you might enjoy, about a man who thinks for himself

See it at the Surfers Journal in all it journalistic splendor

I like to hear people talk about their surf craft. Why it works and how they would like to change it. You know, giving it some thought. 

Mr. Hynd's is one of a handful of people in surfing (dare I say establishment) today that doesn't tell you that what you should be riding is what Kelly rides. Not that Mr. Slater doesn't rip on his tri fins.  There is no doubt about that at all. 

But sometimes you feel like something different.

Like a mat. 

There are a so many things I like about the mat.

They surf great, surf a huge variety of conditions equally well, and that variable inflation lets you fine tune the ride etc

But one of the best things about the mat in the “out of the water” category is the people you meet.

They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and they come from different backgrounds. Some are older, some younger, most have some experience on some other surf craft. I don’t even think there is one definitive characteristic they all share.

But a more interesting group I’ve never meet.

I like to think back to the early days of California surfing, maybe a few dozen surfers up and down the coast.

The story goes that if you passed someone going the other way down PCH with a board on their car, you turned around and stopped to talk.  The other guy was either someone you knew or someone you wanted to know because, like yourself they surfed.

It was a small club to say the least.

Now a days, everyone surfs.

And when I say everyone, I mean it’s like they have given every man women and child, from eight to eighty, who lives within a hundred miles of the beach a surfboard.

Well they probably didn’t give them a board, they probably bought it at Costco, along with a polyester Hawaiian print shirt, a set of Tiki torches for the back yard, some yard furniture, a ten gallon bucket of mayonnaise, and a “Family Size” 30 lb container of chicken parts to barbeque.

In other words, surf culture is just another commodity in our consumer culture.

But mat surfers are different.

First off mats are hard to get. By hard to get I don’t mean impossible  but if you went to every surf shop in Orange County, home to at least one of the cities claiming  “Surf City” status, and also the corporate headquarters of Quiksilver, Hurley, Volcom and dozens of other surf brands your chances of finding a surf mat for sale are nil, zilch, nada.

The next bump in the proverbial road is that if while prowling thru those same surf shops you were to inquire of the retail associate who has no doubt gone through extensive training in “action sports” if the latest “Surf Mat Monthly” was available or if the new Surf Matting was in, well dear friend you would be greeted with a blank look that no deer, stopped in the road, facing an oncoming semi truck could aspire to.

But the people who ride surf mats have overcome these hurtles. Lack of ready availability, lack of a magazine showing you the ten best mat waves, how to surf like the stars, ten tempting recipes to lose weight before summer, the whole “if you want to do X then here are fifty things you gotta buy” consumer program is completely missing.

And there's no WORLD CHAMP!

No contests at all really, occasional group gatherings when conditions are right.

Mat riders are people that have enough water knowledge to see a mat and say “that looks like it would be fun” then order one and teach themselves how to ride it.

They all seem to have a relationship with the ocean that doesn’t depend on emulating others.  

It also doesn’t depend on contests, winning, losing or even wearing the latest surf mat wear. There is no surf mat hair cut that they have to have to be one of the “in crowd”. There is no bauble to hang around their neck that only surf matters wear.  No colors to go out of fashion. No fins that must be bought before you gain acceptance.

Surfmatters are just themselves.

They enjoy being in the water and they like to ride a surf mat.

So this weekend I am meeting up with some.

And I already know it’s going to be a blast.


misterdirk said…
Nicely said. And you kept the handshake secret -- bonus!
pranaglider said…
First rule of mat club is not to talk about mat club!
tuskedbeast said…
It's indeed a blessing to be away from scrutiny by Thee Hairy Eyeball of Surfing, Inc.

Nicely expressed, thanks for writing.

Have fun on Sunday! Looking forward to pictures.
Brilliant post Prana.

Duly spread. ;-)

LESider said…
I have to argue the no world champion part.

I think we can all agree that Greenough is the "Undisputed World Champion".
pranaglider said…
LESider - I'm OK with that. But it would be a title conferred by the masses without the benefit of a ASP governing body or the stupidity of contests wave counts and the whole PRO circus circuit. (Queue Bobby Martinez)

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