Mat men, your hour has come

Calling all matsurfers, spoon riders, and benders of paradigms. Check your calendar – what are you doing between Wed. 12/27 and Thur. 1/4? Are you anywhere near Santa Cruz?

I have a house rented on Pleasure Point for those dates. A dozen spoons, mats, and kneeboards are already on the way. I have it on good authority that there are roughly 30 of you matmen in the SC area. Email me if you want to get together, share waves, share equipment, and move the human race ahead ten years.

I’ll be there with Verde and a Solomonson Flatliner.

Scott and Vader will also be there.

Who else is in?

“benders of paradigms” or “an arcane gathering of anachronisms”?

Whatever- it sounds fun!

2 questions, August:

Does someone need a hug?

Are you coming? There’s a spot for you. The place is even pet friendly.

Yours from the future,


…this would be good to post in the general discussion section , too , perhaps , so more people could see it , maybe ?

Chip, good idea. You know the ins and outs of Sways better than I do. Dale suggested posting something but I didn’t want to break any forum rules or anything.

This informal gathering is not only going to be fun – Santa Cruz is a great venue, big enough to offer plenty of secluded spots and variety – but it’s going to be documented. There’s interest in getting good mat and spoon footage. So I say, let’s make a little history.

Why are old surfy things more interesting instead of technological innovation? A gathering of surfing’s neo-luddites?

Looks like it’s just you and me.

When you say old surfy things and contrast them to technological innovations, I believe you’re telling me you don’t understand what this is really about. It sounds like a cry for help. So I will try to explain what’s happening here, and you can explain to me what a neo-luddite is.

The technology behind spoons and high-performance mats is advanced. As far as spoons, a picture’s worth a thousand words.

OK, Greenough’s a good surfer but it’s the equipment, not the skills, that accounts for this freaky display of speed, g’s and projection. (frame grabs from Innermost Limits)

As for mats, plenty of good pics have already been posted, not to mention all the stoked commentary even by credible standups like Rasto.

A case could be made that surfing is still trying to catch up with the technology of the spoon / mat. 40 years ago the brightest minds in surfing saw the potential and tried hard to incorporate flex into standard boards. The closest they could get finally was the short board, which started a revolution but wasn’t the fulfillment of the dream. Guys like Loehr are still on it, tho, and I’ve noticed how many guys on Sways are still interested in flex.

Not that what’s being done in surfing today is anything short of amazing but the holy grail is still out of reach. One day the right man and the right materials will come together, flex will become an integral part of the equipment, and the paradigm will shift again. It won’t be because guys forgot the “old” technology but because they harnessed it.

“He dicho,” August. Your turn.

So why are Greenough and his ideas brushed off by modern kneeboarders?

Norm, you just cut thru all the crud and asked the $20,000 question. I don’t know. Maybe, “a prophet is not without honor except in his own home”? George didn’t fare too well in America. It was the Aussies that embraced him. At that time, there was no kneelo community to accept or reject his ideas. Now there is. Your question is embarrassing.

When I started doing spoon builds (with great guidance from Dale) and posting them on the kneelo sites, I was sure everyone would jump on it. Why not? The esoteric information I would have given anything to get my hands on 30 yrs ago was all out there in the open for nothing. There was a rush of interest but with a couple of exceptions it ended there.

It’s hard to put a positive spin on apathy.

“They cost too much.” What, $400-500 to build? Even if you buy one from Romo at $1500-2000, how many guys haven’t invested more than that in their 4-5 board quivers?

“They need perfect surf.” No, they need good surf, the kind we see in FLORIDA 10-12 times a year, let alone CA or Aus.

“They don’t float.” That’s why God made UDT’s and wake-boarding vests.

“That was 40 years old.” As in “ahead of his time”?

“They’re single fins.” It’s a big flexible single fin on a big flexible board. That changes everything. The feeling is impossible to predict, defies description, very addictive, very worth exploring.

Surprisingly, the most stoked reaction I’ve seen was from Carl Olsen from the Sways community. He built one. He rides it. He appreciates the complexity of the concept and the degree of difficulty.

Some spoon guys have gotten cynical and turned their backs on mainstream kneeriding. I haven’t and won’t, but I am in a permanent state of shock. I sometimes wonder if this is the Columbus feeling: “Yo, the world is round, seriously…”

I went to the popular kneeboarding forum and I’ve been reading through a bunch of their threads. A lot of the posters there seem to be seriously confused about their “identity”. They sneer at other types of surfers, especially standup surfing. But then they whine and argue among themselves about why the standup surf media doesnst give them the publicity they think they deserve! I wonder what George Greenouhg has to say about “modern kneerboarding”? I noticed he wasnt mentioned in their “Shapers corner” or even their “Legends” section! LOL

I’d love to come with my spoon but i’m in Australia. Sounds like SO much fun!

You could call or mail Greenough and let him know its happening. i’m sure he’d be stoked.

Great to see!

I eagerly await the footage and photos , and I know “Dudley Perkins” will be very very keen , even though he IS on the other coast from you guys .

I hope you can make it , ‘Dudley’ ?!



[I kneel on my fish occassionally , that’s the closest I get to being a “kneelo” heehee … but , I LOVE the footage in ‘crystal voyager’, ‘state of S’ , 'the innermost limits of pure fun ', and ‘children of the sun’[1965] , of George doing some SERIOUSLY on-edge , high speed surfing. There is even a wave of his in the original 60s movie "endless summer "]

August, they’re working hard on incorporating surfboard design advances into kneeboards and are doing a lot of the same moves–airs, floaters, 360’s. There’s good camaraderie on the site and most of them are into competition. They’ve taken the lead in organizing national comps and are hosting the Worlds in Santa Cruz, Jan. 7-14. Having said that, if you’re riding basically a standup surfboard on your knees, you can’t complain about not getting respect from standup surfing (and most kneelos don’t complain). The degree of difficulty is lower. It would be like a softball player complaining about not getting the exposure and money that players get in major league baseball. As far as George not being found under Legends, he’s respected but from a distance. What he stands for is partly unknown to younger guys and partly the opposite of what modern kbing stands for. I think there’s interest in flex but there’s also a financial and emotional investment in the status quo (who can’t identify with that?), and everybody’s waiting for someone else to make the first move.

Josh, what’s your board like? Pic? How come you’re not coming to SC? There’s still room in the house.

Chip, Dudley’s stoked! He’s also a poor deprived East Coast brother with me. From the looks of your avatars, you guys have the same girl friend.

I also wanted to salute some goodwill from Sway’s. Mike, the resident web magician, not only moved this thread over to General Discussion but is sending out a dozen t-shirts to the gathering: “Old Shapers Never Die”. I think the rest of it says, “They just move to a higher plane.” Thank you, M.

No wonder George Greenough represents the exact opposite of what modern kneeboarding stands for:

He had no desire to incorporate surfboard designs into his kneeboards.

Wasn’t interested in doing the same moves.

Didn’t see surfing as a social or competitive activity.

Avoided organized comps like the plague.

Cared nothing about getting respect and exposure from standup surfing.

Cared even less about financial and emotional investment in the status quo.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained!” George’s straight answer to “everybody’s waiting for someone else to make the first move.”

GG at Razors on an edge board in 1975

Oh man, MOW wish I could be there, it sounds like an opportunity of a lifetime.

Please follow up with any pics and footage - and thanks for extending the generous offer to the community here.

Have a great week and hope the swell and wind come together for you.



Great initiative. Have a ball.

I’m still on the spoon project, but being one of the “conventional” competitive kneeboarders I have to split time and money between making the boards I need and the ones I might like. Don’t worry guys, Kneeboarders are all a bit strange, including (especially?) the one’s on spoons :slight_smile: Actually most of them can standup and some really rip standup style. Kneeboarding’s just a lifestyle choice with GG and Terry Fitzgerald revered in about equal proportions.

I’ll post when I get my (the?) first machine cut spoon positive. Anytime now.

May the swell pump for you.


Hi Manowar! this is my spoon. i’d love to come for a spoon/mat festival but i’m 15 and live in Australia. i probably cant make it over on time.


Just be sure to post lots of pics - boards, mats, pre and post action party shots.

i’m there in spirit.

somebody’s gotta tell G2.



Bruce, great photo. I’ve never seen it. GG’s carbon edge boards were starting to approach mats in their ability to flow and give, and you can kind of see that in the track. Some people think his edge boards were finally just mats you could kneel on.

You can see the divergence between Greenough and the sport of kneeriding in the principles Dale took down during conversations with him. They apply to the velo-type spoon, not necessarily to the later edge board:

#1 - The thinner the board, the better the feel and the general surfing.

#2 - The template is based on a foil outline with the trailing edge cut off, giving a bullet shape.

#3 - It is good to keep the last 18-24" of template and rocker straight; a curved rear template is not necessary because the flex gives variable shape and maneuverability.

#4 - A hull’s rails are 1.75-2.0" high at the mid-point.

#5 - A spoon’s flex (twist & rocker) goes up to about the center (mid-pt).

#6 - The tail must flex and torque or it will stick and track.

#7 - Flex at the tail is about 1.5" when hand bent but sometimes 5-6" on a wave.

#8 - The last 6" of the tail corners are solid glass.

#9 - It is important to get enough glass on the deck side where it breaks.

#10 - 10+ lb spoons are common.

#11 - The fin is 10" deep, flexible, about 6" x .75" thick at the base, with the back of the fin base placed approx. 5" from the tail; use a 5- or 6-1 base-to-foil ratio.

#12 - The fin is made of unidirectional roving, one-way strands; saturate, place in female mold with matching male insert as cover, and jack up a vehicle over it to squeeze out the excess resin.

#13 - Most of the flex is in the top 25% of the fin.

#14 - The trailing edge of the fin is finished with a 2-3 mm sharp flat along the entire length.

#15- Faster speeds require thinner fins in both template and cross-section.

#16 - Maximum speed is achieved by the lowest possible center of gravity; all weight in construction should be lowered and centered.

#17 - Provide optimum surface texture by finish-sanding with 400 wet/dry; a surface that is rougher or slick will create turbulence between laminar flow layers beneath the hull; same treatment for the edges above the waterline – NO WAX.

#18 - As speed increases, drag increases; boards with displacement hulls need a .005 mm surface most of all.

You have to ask, what common ground is there between these guidelines and the ones followed in current kb construction? One of the best shapers, Bruce Hart (Flashpoint), has experimented with a foam/glass hybrid that incorporates some of these principles but the spoon design sort of defies assimiliation.

More to say, out of time…