Mat Surfing

Discussion in 'Random Chat' started by lwills, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. lwills

    lwills El Floppo King

    I recently stumbled across a pretty weird and (possibly) wonderful phenomenon ... 'Mat Surfing'

    Now, if I've understood this correctly, you ride prone on an inflatable mat (bit like a smallish reinforced lilo) with no leash and depending on preference, either bodyboard fins or divers flippers.

    I'm confused :confused: .... Don't get me wrong, this sounds like it could be fun on a clean smallish day in the middle of summer, but I can't get my head around how you don't lose the board (umm mat, rug, whatever) on anything remotely large or choppy. I honestly can’t count the times my leash has saved me from being boardless, probably at least once a sesh. My first thought was that these mats must be cheap as chips so, environmental issues aside, no huge bother if you lose one. But with a bit more googlage I found that they’re in the same price range as sponge?!

    More bizarre still is that apparently the traditional wave riding etiquette of ‘don't drop in’ isn't recognised by the mat riders, who supposedly try to ride waves in large groups like some deranged inflatable convoy! Sounds like a formidable sight :p

    Again, this sounds well fun but if there’s anyone other than mat riders or swimmers in the water, I'm pretty sure you’re gonna get dinged by some wayward stick.

    I may well be in the minority of never having heard of this water sport, so my spongy brethren, anyone witnessed or maybe even tried (and survived) this peculiar past time? I gotta know, what's it like?? :)
  2. sambuckle

    sambuckle Hand Dragger

    you might like this then.

    george greenough the pioneer of everything, yes i do mean everything we love in surfing today. stand up and bodyboarding. from surfboard fin design to in the barrel video shots.

    pretty nuts this clip is from 1967. not much has changed since then really. on a blow up matt!

    [ame=]YouTube - George Greenough Mat Surfing[/ame]
  3. Mattdei

    Mattdei El Floppo King

  4. lwills

    lwills El Floppo King

    Yeah not suprised its got a following really, especially with a history like sambuckles talking about. (Thanks, epic vid btw :) . I'll keep an eye out for some of greenoughs other stuff )

    It's just, up until recently I hadn't heard of it or seen anyone mat surf in the the two years that i've been bodyboarding 'round south wales. May just be a regional thing, either that or I've mistook them all for spongers with big feet :p

    My main question still remains tho, anyone on here tried it? how does it compare? etc.
  5. kidderlidder

    kidderlidder Local Charger

    I've tried it, and I own 2 mats, a cheapo tiki redback and a surfoplane.. real old school heavy duty rubber thing. Mats (in fact surfoplanes) were the first thing I ever rode, because when I was 8 I used to live a few hundred yards from the beach in Durban and the guy who hired out the deckchairs also hired out ready inflated ( infact massively over-inflated) surfo's. In a powerful shorey like that, as a kid straighthanding toward the beach, they were great fun. The waves were steep enough and powerful enough to throw you forward. It's actually one of my happiest childhood memories, looking down the line at hundreds of people on these things shrieking as each wave picked us all up , often bouncing us forward.

    It was only about 5 years ago I found out about "proper" mat riding. I had worked out how to turn to some extent when I was a kid, but never had to use fins to take off, and never realised they were better on low inflation. About 3-4 years ago I bought the 2 I have now, and tried quite a bit with them. It's a whole different take-off technique to a sponge, and it takes a lot of practise to get it right. On low inflation, when you DO get it right, they move so fast you will see jaws drop. But it was so difficult that after a few tries I had only had 2 successful launches (on low inflation). And in all honesty, with my limited water time I'm looking for a slightly higher wave count than that.

    Even so, a surfo can be great fun if you're with your kids and they're just pushing off to the shore. If you have a steepish shorey with a bit of grunt in it you CAN literally bounce as you drop, and bounce off things if you hit them (don't try that on other mats...surfo's are very robust).

    There's a place for them, but for me, I just don't have the time to master them. I'm already crap on a bodyboard...I'll work on that first.

    No leash because normally with them being so bouyant if you lose hold of them they get washed in, so you just go and pick them up.

    Good fun in big fat onshore conditions where a crumbly top to the wave will help push you into it.
  6. lwills

    lwills El Floppo King

    Thanks Kidder, thats just the sort of insight I was after. It does seem thats it's got a niche appeal and quite usefull if you've got a litter of sprogs. I'd happily have a go on a matt givent the chance, but with the price and what you're saying about the learning curve, I'd probably leave it at that.

    Oh yeah and you're spot on, surfoplane sounds a hell of a lot better than matt surfing :p lol It also brought alot more useful search results on the history of it as well. Nice to see how bodyboarding was born and what its progressed from :)
  7. Hello.

    I just had to join to reply to this thread.

    Mat's are completely different to bodyboards. Bodyboards have more in common with surfboards than with mats. The Surfoplanes described in the thread can be fun but aren't really what anyone who's serious about matting would consider a mat. More a hot waterbottle!!! I have a Surfo and it is used solely as a dive-float for spear fishing.

    Redbacks are a bit closer to the real thing as they are mats but to be honest, they are toys. Proper modern mats are made from Polyurethane backed industrial grade nylon which absorbs water making a slick water on water connection.

    Ridden on low inflation, the combo of super pliability and slickness is akin to priding prone on a belly mounted hovercraft... Amazing! As mentioned, mat's are super fast but if you're talking about Redbacks a nylon mat is like a bullet in comparrison!

    If you're interested I'd say come to one of our meets. It's a really good way to try things out. Anyway, more info here:

    About Mats

    Have a read and any Q's give me a shout. Joining the forum is a good way to hook up and try things if you fancy it too.


    PS Mat's are rare as. We're a pretty underground scene and every single session is met with someone on a thruster or sponge asking me "what the feck is that?!"

    PPS I hope this doesn't come across as spam. Meant as helpful info.
  8. weedkiller

    weedkiller Grom

    Had a good nosey at your site...looks quite a fascinating way to ride the waves! So what advantages do they have over bboarding? Is it all about the speed?
  9. lwills

    lwills El Floppo King

    Thanks very much dude :D not spam at all, buckets of info there! Sorry its taken so long to reply, this thread got a bit buried.

    I'll keep an eye on your forum and if I see summin coming up you may have a lil contingent of bodyboard ambassidors coming over to have a nose about... or if you're up for it... maybe even a lil race! lol
  10. :cool:Hey sorry for the delay in replies. I didn't get any notifications.


    Anyhoo, mats are all about speed and glide. That said, you can ride them in pretty critical waves too although you need to go with a bit more air to make them a bit more board like.

    My lad has recently started riding mats and summed it up beautifully... "You feel like you're flying". :D

    We have a meet coming up next month:

    MAT MEET 7 - Summer Love In!!!

    Probably West of Newquay but we'll see who confirms nearer the time. Should be mats to spare.



    PS This really IS spam but we're about to start selling DaFiNs on our site
  11. Just uploaded this which might help:

    All That Matters



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