Amen Lee, There are people out there that can't think for themselves or lack the self confidence to break away from the "status quo" and try something different. Then there's the rest of us who don't give a S--t about someone else thinks and do what makes us happy. When I was a kid growing up in Santa Cruz my parents couldn't afford a surfboard for me so I made a "paipo" out of marine ply and surfed the point at Steamer Lane. Some guys said mean things but I said "screw'em" cause I was having a blast on my plank.
Hi Kevin, I`m the guy who`s responsible for the $295.00 surfmats. Way back in 1982, I built the original nylon and polyurethane mat for George Greenough... it weighed about 12-14 ounces. Over 20 years later, he still refers to it as his old "Hero" mat. George is currently using one of the mats which I made for him last year. My surfmats are an adaptable, low pressure, air interface between the rider and the wave, having almost nothing in common with bodyboards (or anything else in the water)... they tend to seek the fastest natural lines... long carving turns, high speed trim and tube riding. Their handling characteristics require very little rider effort to function. More than a few people have described them as being something like "bodysurfing with jet propulsion". My surfmats are all custom designed and handcrafted. I use an advanced 4 pontoon design, with a slightly elastic rocker. They`re used by many of the most experienced mat surfers/watermen in the world. One of the best things about them is that they function very smooth and fast in less than ideal conditions, i.e. across choppy, twisted walls... junky waves transformed by a magic trashbag: "Re: Did you grease that thing? Hi Dale, My mat got here yesterday. I was going to wait to take it out on a perfect day, but I couldn't. Had to go this AM. It was 3-4' WNW/SW swell. Crossed up w/ SE (side/offshore) wind. Not too good for surfing, but a great day for mat riding. Steep sections and fairly long right and lefts. Bottom line - it's FAST. I wasn't ready for it. That thing really goes. Gets in early. Holds a line too. Can't wait to take it out again. I'll give you another report as soon as I get used to it. I've got a lot to learn and I'm stoked. Thanks so much. It's better than I expected!" (Greg H.) --- "Hey Dale, Yes, I've had my mat out in nice, long, hollow waves down in Mexico, where we have a place that has good access to reef and point breaks. It's like flying. Well, more like gliding, I would imagine. But, to tell the truth, one of the biggest blasts for me is to be able to go out when it's lumpy, bumpy and thumpy in Northern California and still have a great session." (Peter S.) --- "Aloha... you might be interested to hear feedback on how these surfmats perform. I started off riding bodyboards around 1989. From 1994 to 1995 I made the transition to stand-up surfing and took an interest in "alternative" surfboard shapes (fish, twins, stubbies, etc.). In 1997, I began shaping my own boards and got a lot of inspiration from the designs and ideas of George Greenough. My curiosity in surfboard design eventually led to the beginning of a chain of e-mail conversations with Dale Solomonson.... It was my interest in Greenough, and alternative surfcraft that had me asking the questions and eventually ordering a mat. So finally the surfmat arrives in the mail! Even though the waves are small, I head straight to the beach and jump in the water. I had never ridden a surfmat before, so I expected it to feel like a bodyboard. I was wrong! The surfmat had a lot more flex than I had anticipated. It took me a while to get used to paddling the thing since I was just coming off of riding hard surfboards. I finally make it out to the breaking waves and get into position. A little set comes in and I paddle hard for the first wave... MISSED! I try again on the next wave... MISSED AGAIN! I just can't get used to not having something solid underneath me. I finally manage to get into a wave and immediately try to use my legs and rail (like a bodyboard) to "steer" the surfmat. I'm able to do a few turns but it just feels like I'm riding a soft bodyboard. I catch a few more waves but each one is less exciting than the last. I paddle back to the beach, humbled. What happened to that "Jet Propulsion" that Dale talked about? A week passes by and I'm feeling more comfortable on the mat but still lacking that excitement that Dale's e-mails seemed to promise. Then it happens! A solid 4'-8' swell comes pumping in. I sort of give up on the surfmat and take my surfboard out for a morning session. The waves are big, but it's really choppy and the sections close-out too fast for my surfboard. I'm not having much fun so I go home and grab the surfmat. As I'm paddling out on the mat, I remember Dale telling me that the less I try to ride the surfmat like a bodyboard, the better off I'll be... I see a big set on the horizon so I slide myself up a little further on the mat. I kick hard as the swell begins to wall-up and pitch-out. Instead of pushing the nose of the surfmat down, like I would on a bodyboard, I grab the two front corners of the mat and "pull" it into the wave. I'M IN! It's an extremely vertical drop, but the surfmat conforms to the steep face of the wave and I survive the late take-off. Instinct tells me to dig my legs and fins in for control, but I fight it off. I lay down low to the mat, lift my legs and the FRICKEN THING TAKES OFF!! I end up going so fast that I blast right by an entire closed-out section. I see a longboarder paddling out, with his eyes and mouth wide open, totally awestruck that I covered so much distance and was rocketing straight toward him. When I finally kicked out of the wave, I was so far away from my original take-off spot that I didn't recognize any of the faces of the surfers waiting at this new peak... The thing that really excites me about surfmat is, as the waves get bigger, it seems to want to go faster and faster! I notice that with my surfboards, there comes a point where I feel I have reached maximum speed. In some cases the waves get too fast or big and I feel "under-gunned" with the surfboard. So far, I haven't found the upper speed limit of the surfmat. It seems like the mat can handle whatever you're brave enough to paddle in to. The speed will keep building... ...We've been having a small windswell here in Hawaii with short, inconsistent waves. Without many long walls to ride, I've had lots of time to practice and analyze my turning with the surfmat. Timing when and how to roll my body and grip the front corners of the mat to firm up the rail is almost coming naturally by now. No matter how many times I feel it, I'll never get over the incredibly sharp, crisp turns your can get from those big, soft, round rails of the surfmat. It's like magic! ... During recent mat sessions, I've been exploring the idea of intentional sideslipping. I'm beginning to see that in certain situations it can be an extremely effective maneuver. There was one wave in particular where I took a really high line to race a long walled section. I could feel the lip was about to pitch with me inside of it. I didn't have time to straighten out into the trough, so I shifted my weight, adjusted my grip and let the mat slide laterally down the face of the wave. It was such a quick and direct movement that I managed to slip out from underneath the falling lip. It's another unique aspect of matsurfing and I look forward to perfecting my timing and technique." (Tony L.) -- "Aloha Dale... We have been doing some work on our house and my old surfing buddy came up with (what Lou's Grandmother would call a young buck) one of his crew from Huntington Beach. The waves were flat when they showed up, and I could tell this guy thought I was a real kook when I pulled out my mat telling him the swell was coming up and the bigger the better for my mat. Rich looked at me almost hurt and said, " you are going to surf aren't you on a real surfboard? " The swell took a couple of days to show up. (In the mean time I was hassled to get out there and show him what I could do on a surfboard! ) when it finally did we woke up to the sound of waves and buoy reports of 12 ft. Swells. Rich and I took a break after lunch for a session, the swell was missing the point a bit but there were some nice sets coming in. The wind was picking up and there was a lot of kelp( did you ever notice how the mat loves kelp and air pockets) it was perfect for mat riding. I caught so many set waves that session that I had to hang out inside as to not arouse to much buzz. The mat was flawless and two waves in particular moved me to a new level in my confidence. The first was a clean double overhead peak I caught in the sweet spot and just flew all the way to the beach. The second wave was bigger, I paddled up into the face and threw myself off the lip, and I drew a line on my bottom turn that was so drawn out that I connected off the second point on my off the lip. I have made this connection before but never on one bottom turn. Rich caught some clean waves inside, and never brought up mat riding again... Aloha, Martin" (http://www.martinheadman.com) --- "... as I rolled up the mat I was feeling the material of the new mat, marveling at the design, It gave me comfort knowing that at age 46, I can still find the joy I felt as a kid in the ocean. The day before was one I will always remember. I had been working a long streach of concerts and rehearsals, The gig on Sunday night was a success and I finally had some down time... my wife (Lou) and I went on a walk with the dogs down to the beach. We were making plans for all the things we needed to get to, enjoying the warm day. As we came down the trail to the beach you could hear the surf pounding. There was a good size west swell just pumping, it was big and clean with a slight offshore. Lou looked at me and said, "This is the first good swell since your birthday mat, you better get on it." I was! When I arrived at the point it was classic Cruz 6-10 ft. Sunny with a light offshore breeze. I caught a number of good size set waves at a reef I don't usually surf. I was burned on every wave! I paddled up the point and the waves were better than I had ever seen them. The local crew was on it, pushing each other farther back in the pit. The tide was very high, macking out the waves with a 5 ft. backwash. I stayed off to the side and caught a number of juicy smaller waves. It was getting close to dark, and as it always seems to do at that time the set of the day was hitting. I waited in the channel for my chance and sure enough a beautiful solid 10 foot wave jacked up collapsed on the reef and swung out to the channel. After a summer of no waves, it felt so good to be on a real wave again. I pulled up into the bowl and released my rails the mat contorted into the tube and spat me out onto the face again, I flew down the line with a succession of bottom and top turns then I pulled into a tube and stalled and then did a nice sideslip out of it and headed to the beach. What a wave, what a mat... thanks again Dale for the stoke. I hope you know how much fun and joy you bring..." (Martin H.) (http://www.martinheadman.com) --- "The speed and performance of a modern surfmat is incredible. I have been surfing one of Dale's mats for a few months now and it is by far the fastest thing I have ever ridden. It's a totally unique surfing experience. I can't think of any other type of surfcraft that works so well in such a wide variety of surf conditions. The surfmat is so fast and frictionless that you can actually catch and ride unbroken swells. Closeout waves become makeable and stormy, nasty conditions transform into dream sessions. I have tried some of the other flimsy, store- bought mats and they don't even compare to Dale's custom surfmats. A good surfmat will let you go places on a wave and travel at speeds unimagined with even the fastest, most maneuverable surfboard." (Tony L.) --- "This thing can turn! No fin? No hard edge? How can that be? What a treat to find such a pure form of wave riding that seems to have no boundaries of speed or control. The comments in the lineup are priceless too! My hair is still wet from a session this afternoon." (Tom S.) --- "Mats are the most challenging things I`ve ever surfed on. I love the way they feel to 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) --- http://neumaticsurfcraft.homestead.com/NeumaticSurfcraftwebsite.html
I am from the East Coast (surf Long Island breaks) and surf a number if different Neumatics. They are worth every penny and then some. Will you get made fun of? No. But then who cares if you do. Last Fall I took one of my mats out at a LB break...the one jetty break I was surfing was breaking nicely, truth be told I was riding my longboard (maybe my hull) but not my mat. It was soooo crowded. I was getting fun waves but it was just too damn crowded. The break, just a jetty away was empty...I am guessing because it was just breaking too fast for anyone to handle it. I did what anyone with a mat would have, I took the mat to the other empty break and had a blast. It was fast. It was steep. It was shallow. I made everywave and then some. I guy on a fish paddled out. He was open minded. We shared the waves for a long while, giving each other the ones the other was in a better position to take. He couldn't believe the speed and manueverability. I had a huge smile. THEN some other fella paddled out. He made some stupid comment about what I was riding. I don't think I said anything, maybe just smiled. I continued to catch lots of waves and ride em deep and far. He caught none. He looked stupid actually. Not because he didn't catch any, but because he prejudged and worse, said something. Soooo, who cares if you are made fun of...it won't be for long.
"Friend of Fred"... I was laughing so hard after reading your post, I screwed up mine and entered it twice! Can`t remember the last time I did anything like that! Ha ha! Anyway, sorry about the double post. Thanks to all my friends/customers for the wonderful support! Your kind words made my day!!! Dale
…Today’s beach adventure found the surf less than perfect…Bad sandbars…But a good offshore wind and a changing swell direction… …I rode my 7’4” carbon/balsa for an hour and half…Caught a few good ones… But spent a lot of time chasing un-catchable peaks…So I went in and grabbed the flippers and blew some life into the mat…Got the usual questioning sideways glances on my way back to the water…The other surfers who were out previously, also got out when I did…So, I had it to myself… …The waves would peak, hold the peak and sometimes not break until it hit an further inside sandbar…Frustrating on a hardboard, but great if you’re on a mat…The first wave was a 5’ left towards the jetty…On a mat that means a wave 5’ overhead…!!!…I got in early, pulled up my lower legs and did a long stretched out body rolling bottom turn into a flat section…This where a mat will blow your mind…They just take off…It’s so amazing…Something a hard board just doesn’t do…Anyway, after setting a line towards the upcoming section I’m hauling ass, backdooring the main peak, get the view and a nice fast exit into the channel… …After that, it was wave after wave…Mostly I would position myself further inside than usual, get positioned on the mat right, and when the wave started lifting I’d push the “nose” of the mat down with my chin, and drop into a nicely groomed offshore wave… …You can (with some practice) catch unbroken swells, drop in lay into a turn and just FLY down the line…When a mat changes gears it’s a giddy feeling…You are just laying there and this thing is ACCELERATING, and you’re really not doing anything other than just hanging on for the ride… …I stayed out for another couple of hours, getting wave after wave… Some other hardboard surfers came out, and for the most part they had a frustrating time chasing the peaks…Just like I did before I got on my mat… …To me, a mat is another surf vehicle choice I have…Some days it’s all longboard, on others it’s all mid-length…But a lot of the time after board surfing, I’ll grab the mat for fun…And to this day I don’t regret a single session on the mat… …A mat will allow you more quality water time than you could possibly imagine… Paul
o.k. I went to the archives. Then if all this drama about surf mats is true then why arent they surfed on anywhere? Why arent they popular? Why arent there pics in the surf zines? Sponges and surfboards are effn everywhere. Its a non-brainer why that they`re popular! You guys all write like you believe on this and your really stoked to have fun. I`d like to beleive too. So why don`t "numbers" tell the REAL story? Thanks in advance Swaylocks. From "interested person on the outside"
Generally, people would rather die first, than not "look good" to their peers and others. Those of us whose lives are dominated by our egos could not bare to be neutralized by a surf mat. My guess is that the experiences we miss as slaves to the ego are immeasurable. Roger
Well said Lee. Curious how the stubbie's working out.