Dale, i took a 1980’s mat out for a surf in small surf the other day. its one of those ones with handles and fins. the damn thing folded up whenever i tried to catch a wave. my question is do dale solomonsons mats fold like this or do they inflate to a higher more suitable pressure when erect.
Eddie I know it’s a question for Dale, but I have one of his mats and it doesn’t do that at all. In fact, just like they say, NeuMatics seem to work better somewhere near the 75% inflation level, and some guys go much lower. The problem you had with the old one may come from it’s length or internal tube structure.
eddie, The surfmats I
ve been building for many years are designed to be used with low pressure/volume, as Nels said. As a point of reference, I recommend that the mat be initially inflated until it can be easily folded in the center to 90 degrees. It must be remembered that YOU are a critical part of its suspension system, riding with chest and head down low on the surfmat... in many ways, rider posture and handling are the exact opposite of paipos, bodyboards or bellyboards. A mat simply will not work properly if you try to use it like other prone surf craft. Theyre completely different. The most basic level of competancy can often be acheived in a few hours, or more commonly, a few days. It helps if the surfer has some experience with bodysurfing. Of course all that is contingient upon the waves… length of rides, size of surf, how crowded, etc. Sloppy conditions are fine, as good mats will go even faster over chop. Short, heaving dumpers are the wrong kind of wave in which to appreciate a good mat. Because a surfmat
s rocker, rails, template, thickness and buoyancy are variable, much of a novices learning process is actually spent UN-learning! Ironically, this is especially true for experienced surfers who have spent most of their time using rigid, hard, finned, conventional equipment. The best mat surfers in the world prefer their equipment with extremely low air volumes… they ride w/chin and chest flat to the deck, in a relaxed, forward, low body position, skillfully regulating the mat`s internal pressure by increasing or releasing their hand/arm grip and subtle body posture. In this way, a mat surfer can have the best of both worlds… when necessary, a flattened and tapered rear third for fast skimming, and then a much fuller and firmer contact area for additional control. In the case of what I build, the master shaper is literally the wave itself. The energy from which serves to draw forward a deceptively sophisticated bag of air… an active interface of contained human breath moving quickly across the water. Pure watercraft for pure fun.
Dang, I can’t wait to get mine!!! I want to try it here in Santa Cruz enough so I can get some good rides in Tavarua. I also want to swim out to Indicators or just inside the Lane and catch a few so they have even more to squawk about. I just need to remember chin and chest down, legs up. I need to practice my new mantra so I am ready when it arrives. Thanks, Dale.
Now THAT’s a rail turn!!! Where’s Fred W.?
bh- take that thing to the slot- I’m sure the inquisitive minds of the young men at the lane will be quite stimulated. missed seeing you lately. 38th was fun today
Lee V., A few days ago, George and I were talking about that old shot, which was taken at Lennox Heads, NSW in the late 1960`s on a Converse Hodgeman rubber/canvas raft! The upshot is that after 35+ years, George said he still does severely banked rail turns on his modern ultralight mats, but instead of surfing clean, hollow, point break peelers, he now slices long tracks across choppy, flat-faced B-grade waves! Surfmats are as Derek Hynd describes them, “pure watercraft”. Dale
Dale, what about offshore winds and losing your mat when you get knocked off or such. I heard that you can get a rope on the mat. What is your expert advice? Nice pictures of George!!
Went to visit my Mom and drove across Oregon via the Oregon Trail. Almost got to the coast but she didn’t want to go. Oh well. Let me know where you are off to tomorrow.
Sex Wax EX, Windy or not, you
ll want to develop the good habit of hanging on to your surfmat. Theyre easier to grip than most any other surfcraft. I
ve heard from experienced mat surfers whove been out in 40 to 50 knot conditions with no problems. Others have watched as their loose mats got caught by lighter winds and tumbled away across the water, nearly loosing them. I
ve mat surfed many times in waves 12 to 18 feet, with and without a leash. Sometimes a session includes a bit of bodysurfing and swimming... I do offer an optional grommeted and shock cord-laced leash restraint across the front edge, but for simple, no-compromise performance, I dont recommend them. Water photographers most often request grommets and a leash attachment. My personal experience has taught me that if I use a leash, I
m better off to surf as though I didnt have one! In the January 1977 issue of Tracks Magazine, George Greenough
s article, "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Surfmats, A Survey" (evaluating 16 different mats), offered advice thats still relevant 26 years later: “Well the first thing to say is I removed all removeable handles and ropes. All they do is drag in the water. Okay for pulling the mat through a wave I guess but I
ve found in the past that if a waves powerful enough, eventually you
ll pop through the back of the wave with just a part of the mat attached to the rope! Ive had that happen before: ropes and handles can tear off in powerful waves… As far as rope handles are concerned, I find it as easy to grab a handful of fabric on the end of the mat but I can see that a chick might find a handle easier… I don
t usually surf a mat blown up really hard so Ive no problems in grabbing a handful of fabric to hold onto. I prefer a simple design in a mat. With all the mats I found I had to juggle the air pressure to find the best performance. This usually meant letting a little air out so the bottom and rail shapes change to fit the waves. In several cases, I found this really affected the performance. Generally speaking, a mat should be harder or more inflated in larger waves, softer or less inflated in smaller waves. It`s something you have to do out in the water all the time…” — http://www.momentoffame.com/snapshot.html?id=39858
The young dog has finals’till 12:45 and then, after huge caloric intake, most likely 38th.too small fer our side to work
Wax, I’ve got one of Dale’s mats on order also and am eager to try it on the choppy outside sets at Manresa and Dunes. Not sure I’m ready to deal with the BOYZ at the Lane yet. I catch enough crap as it is on a kneeboard.
I don’t want to deal with them, just sit inside from them and catch some leftovers through Indicators and maybe on a great day cruise into Cowell’s and onto the beach!! How cool would that be? Might need a pick-up car to take me back out. One of my friends called me yesterday and told me he was interested in the mats, maybe we could have a mat fest sometime. They might have to write a new etiquette book for boards and bags!! I can’t wait to have some fun!!
Walk a 1/2 mile or so… go find some peaceful uncrowded waves. Much better for the soul (and performance) than pack surfing at the Lane. That`s what Dirk does… http://www.momentoffame.com/snapshot.html?id=39878
It’s been a while since I’ve been up there but the Bridges would be the perfect spot to bag…lined up, breaking so shallow the hard board guys lose fins and best of all, if you eat it you’ll just bounce off the rocks…That’s one of the most “fine line” spots I’ve ever ridden; in the tube, as high a line as you can hold or you’ll get sandwiched on the cliff. Addicting once you figure it out…
I’m hoping to use the mat at those isolated breaks that the hardboard guys ignore. Should be fun. And Wax, you’ve got a great suggestiion on Indicators. Go out there on one of those big south or northwest swells. The ride would be so long you’d probably start talking to yourself. Natural Bridges is a good idea also although I’m a still a little creeped out about surfing there after seeing the “landlord” cruising through there about a year ago. Yikes!!
Bring me up to modern times here-- no joking. About Natural Bridges and so on. Why would anyone expect a surf mat to work in that kinda wave? Sounds like suicide to me. Don
t laugh! Hey werent air mats always made for kooks riding small mush?
Is Dirk riding a Neu? He doesn’t have the chin down thing going or the feet up. don’t worry Dale I’m not going to bag in on the crowd scene. There is a spot that I want to try that looks good but no one surfs it much and it gets the wind on it early so hopefully it will be just right for baggin’. How long do I have to wait for my bag? No pressure, just curious.
If you know what you’re doing, Dale’s mats will out perform just about anything on a wave. I’m on the low end of the intermediate level so I kinda know the basics and have a inkling of what they can do (even though I can’t get there myself). NB would not be a place to start, by any means (or maybe ever if the flannel suits are doing business there). But the longboard-like early take off and the love for the high line would make NB a perfect spot for surfmats. I imagine that the silhouette of someone on a mat flapping out the back would make even a sand shark’s mouth water…Maybe if you keep your feet up, you’ll look like a kelp patty.