How did we miss this wave? Surf Mats! It appears an underground swell has come and we almost missed it. You may see what you think are short air mattresses out in the surf. But no, these surfmatters are serious. And they are out there having some serious fun! Big Dogs love ’em. They say you can surf more conditions from trash to terror, and have more laughs. With your nose next to the waves you really sense the speed. And you’re safer in a crowd. Easier on the beginners. Mat pros wear fins and and twist and contort the slightly under- inflated mats for terrific control.
Surf Mats provide a cushion of air that rides over bumps and chop with comfort and without slowing you down. We’re talking fast. The current models are heat-welded out of the latest tech nylon twill (on the bottom for flexibility) and nylon canvas on the top (for wear and grip). Different matters swear by the classic 4-pontoon models, though others swear by the speed of the 3-pontoon models, and others promote as many as 6 pontoons. Roughly speaking, mats run about 42’’ long by 20” wide, they are 4 1/2 to 5” thick and weigh around a pound and quarter. Something you could roll up with your fins in a backpack and head to the beach. Performance mats are concave in side-to-side cross section and the buffs claim fluid amplification channels create dynamic lift to provide a high speed, frictionless ride.
Surf Mats were developed back around 1933 in Australia and were first known as the “Surf-o-plane.” Even with the technology of the era, that is, rubberized canvas, there was a boom on. At least in Australia. Then it spread to the US. Converse made them and sold them for thirty bucks! A huge US following in the sixties. Then Converse ditched them, boogie boards became the thing and for the most part the fad, as it was, faded.
But a small group of mad mat-ers kept with it, like George Greenough and Mark Thompson. Thompson says,
When I’m on the mats, I get a more pure surfing experience of gliding effortlessly across the wave. It’s kinda like the way a dolphin surfs or an albatross rides the updraft of a wave. The mat taps the hidden energy potential of a wave not available to a surfboard and massive increases of speed can be obtained with minimal input from the rider. I call it auto acceleration.
They run over chop and bumps in a wave like they don’t exist as they have the ability to bend and conform with the shape of the water. They can be used regardless of surface conditions and can turn a windy, blown out day into a day of high performance riding and fun.Thompson designs/promotes the Kryp Surf Mats
Kryp MT5 Surf Mat
Features a Dolpin non-skid Deck with a double coated ultra-slick bottom. Shaped with a Parabolic front end for no catch surfing. Side-to-side concave shape, with a nose-to-tail rocker design for dynamic lift on the waves. Square tail for maximum bite for drive through turns. Here you can see the grey top deck, with the dark grey bottom.
Fourth Gear Flyer Fatty Surf Mat
The sturdy upper deck is welded of heavy duty nylon canvas, while the bottoms consist of a thin nylon twill. The top deck is sturdy, stable and grippy, while the thin, slick bottom is perfect for skimming over the waves. Paul Gross has been hand-crafting these mats in the US since 1984. He’s been involved in the sport since the days of riding Converse-Hodgeson mats convinced him he could build a better mat himself. Mats run about 3 1/2 feet by 20 inches wide and weigh some 20 ounces. Can handle surfers up to 200 lbs plus. We’ll be looking for these in the test tank at OR–dream on!