The following will help… have fun!
"A mat has a variable shape. You shouldn’t blow it up rock hard then go out and ride it. You run it softer in small waves so the corners will stretch out flatter and it will skim more, and a little harder in powerful waves so it will be stiffer and hold in more. You can fine tune the handling between rides by adding or letting out air. That’s an unbelieveable thing to be able to do. It’s like changing boards any time you feel like it.
"I ride my mat really soft. When the mat’s soft and you are running down the wave there’s very little water coming off the outer rail. You can see this in pictures. As you throw a mat into a turn you squeeze the front. That stiffens the mat up and it holds in through the turn. You learn how to squeeze the front when you want to hold in and release our grip when you want to break loose and skim.
“The funny thing about mats is that they’re the easiest thing to surf on a basic, beginner level, but they’re the hardest thing to surf on an advanced level. It takes 10 years of experience before you can drive them anywhere near their potential. I’ve been riding mats day-in and day-out for over 40 years, and I’m still learning things. I’ve never been bored riding a mat, ever. They’re just too challenging and too much fun…”
“Mats are the most challenging things I’ve ever surfed on. I love the way they feel too ride, and they work in any kind of wave. Also, they’re very easy to transport. You can roll up two mats, a pair of fins and a wetsuit and put it into a handbag and carry it onto a plane. If I had to ride one thing out of all the surfing vehicles I have-- a mat would be my choice.”
George Greenough - Australia
The first part was filmed in the late 1970’s for Greg Hughlin’s film, “Fantasea”. George Greenough and Paul Gross were riding traditional “stock” (slower, heavier, less sensitive) canvas/ rubber mats at Government Point near Santa Barbara, CA.
The second section was filmed in the 1990s by Brian Taylor for his film, “State of S - Full Circle”. George was riding a much faster/ more sensitive nylon/ polyurethane 4th Gear Flyer, circa 1984-85, Lennox Head beachbreak, NSW Australia.
Note that Paul and George are very low profile most of the time, head and chest down on or close to deck… hands, forearms and elbows most often positioned around outside of rails… this is the most efficient style… pure, fast and fluid mat surfing style.
"I think the biggest hurdle in mat surfing is letting go of the mental baggage accumulated while riding other “solid” surfcraft… surfmats are a completely different trip. When you learn to separate yourself from old habits associated with hard-board surfing, you begin to realize the great potential in inflatable mats.
“With surfmats, more so than surfboards, you have to trust the equipment. The mat will naturally seek out the wave’s energy. All you’re really doing is slightly manipulating a trapped bubble of air… some of the best moments in mat surfing come when the mat is driving and accelerating on its own!”
"Surfmats actually work better at lower inflation levels. I usually keep mine at only about 50% to 70% full. With less air, the mat instantly conforms to the curve and texture of the wave. There is very little resistance because the mat is not pushing or plowing through the water. A fine-tuned mat will automatically find the fastest line on a wave. Squeezing and releasing the front corners firms and softens the rails, providing drive and edge control.
“From personal experience, I can tell you that surfmats have almost nothing in common with bodyboards. During my first few sessions on the mat, I tried to ride it like a bodyboard with horrible results. It took me a while to unlearn my old habits, and only then was I able to see a bit of the surfmat’s great potential.”
Tony Lum - Hawaii
“Learning to ride a surf mat is more about learning how to ‘not ride’ it. In other words, the harder you try the more frustrated you can get. The mat will find a balance on the wave face with very little effort from the rider. You can pull off some amazing turns and cutbacks… the speed you can generate from a mat will shock you!”
Tom Sterne - Texas