Lightweights and pointbreaks

Pointbreaks and unicorns – not my idea but the tag continues to amuse me.

While big grinding pointbreaks are indeed a things of wonder the microwave provides an alternative escape from the crowds. There is a certain point of diminishing wave size where for many frustration sets in. While, arguably, there’s no board that can ride all waves well, the surfing’s cryptoculture of surfmatting offers such equipment. Big waves or small, the polymorphic form of the under-inflated inflatable lets you ride it all.

Pointbreak power calls for a lightweight surfmat that can get you in and out with speed and control

For chasing the fleas that lurk in places where rhinos are known to tread  surfmats offer you a gutfull of smiles to rival that many folks might think are only harvested from the big days at the point. They have the agility to search and ride that lines of energy in some pretty small stuff; keep the inflation low-low and relax… with only subtle input – a squeeze here or there, a lift, a push – the mat will track itself along finding the fastest line possible.

Test pilot suiting up to begin some research on a lightweight pointbreak model surfmat

We’ve been developing a mat that will excel on points. It’s a lightweight design that enables it to generate speed quickly from take-off, keep the accelerator down through turns and down the line. Yeah, in small waves it has proven to be super fun which is great for tiny days but also for those who still find bigger days a bit sketchy. These same mats taken out in more solid surf have demonstrated that the design continues to excel under power.

We’re almost there and will release the design soon – we reckon it’s going to be a stay tuned.

Acid dyed surfmats are happening

Just in time for seasonal shifts in the northern and southern hemispheres – we got colour. Lot’s of colour. I’ve been having fun exploring the process of dyeing the nylon fabric we use to make our mats. If you’re interested in the process behind this design read about it on Organic Devolution.

The results of these new forays into the dyeing process have been quite striking. For now, this one-of-a-kind deck design is up for grabs. If you like what you see here get in contact and we can build you either a custom or one of our stock models using this acid-dyed freakery…

More of this to come so stay tuned…

Further down the rabbit-hole of acid dyeing surfmat decks...

Squid-gripped surfmat

This surfmat is for sale for £160 (convert currency here). If you’re interested contact us.

Pattern in nature is a wonderful thing – curious, beautiful and often evolved as a highly functional response to some environmental stimulus. With this new surfmat we’ve continued to refine a proven design concept – a concave design that has proved highly versatile in a range of conditions. Having a go-to surfmat that rides well in variety of conditions can be handy if you need to pack light and don’t know what conditions to expect. We’re onto something with this build design…

This new 200/70 build surfmat features a concave bottom and a squid-inspired grip pattern
This new 200/70 build surfmat features a concave bottom and a squid-inspired grip pattern

Acid dyes used for nylon fabric, and the techniques used to set them, offers up a challenging and rewarding journey. While whole-mat colour options can produce interesting results so can exploring more abstract ideas. The dying process is going to be pushed a lot further this year with some hand-made, purpose-built equipment. The evolution in process, technique and result is going to be fun.

Acid dying the surfmats produce some awesome results
Acid dying the surfmats produce some awesome results

Tentacles. Suckers. If there’s critters that know about grip it’s cephalopods – octopus, squid, cuttlefish and their allies. While not quite ready to put suckers on surfmats for grip, I thought a squid-inspired pattern used for the application of grip might be both functional and funky-looking. There was a few fiddly bits to sort out in getting the application right but the results were exactly what I was chasing – enough grip in the right places to keep you on while allowing the fabric to flex/respond as much as possible to the changing wave face.

The clear grip and pattern used on this new surfmat provides a balance of grip and freedom of movement
The clear grip and pattern used on this new surfmat provides a balance of grip and freedom of movement

This surfmat is for sale – It has been ridden twice and as an ex-demo mat it is discounted at £160 (see xe.com for a currency conversion). If you’re interested let us know through our contact page.

Surfmat design – new, different, further

Matt and I have been having a blast with our trans-global collaboration. Back and forth over email and Skype exchanging ideas about surfmat materials, production and build techniques. I’m very curious about how different materials and techniques can be pushed to explore aesthetics and have a little fun with the form and function of the build. It’s gotta be fun – that’s what these things are all about.

A new 200/70 build - grip form and function with concentric circles
A new 200/70 build – grip form and function with concentric circles

Matt knows how to put together a surfmat that stands alongside the competition – fast, lightweight, responsive and robust like the best of them are. I’ve taken many of his builds into a range of conditions; the last two winters (save this one) I spent riding his mats and was only more and more stoked. Winter on the West Coast of Ireland will consistently serve up solid conditions that will test both your nerve and your equipment. In heavy, cold water conditions you want complete confidence in your equipment – I had that.

Fully inflated the new surfmat design adds even more arcs to the arcs
Fully inflated the new surfmat design adds even more arcs to the arcs

Sure it might be easier if you lived closer to your collaborative partner. I’m currently based in Hobart, Tasmania – it’s about as far across the planet you can get from Matt in Cornwall before you start heading back around. Currently, Matt is working to refine some specific models and posting them down to me in Oz. Here, I’m getting to work exploring and integrating the creative element into the mix and testing, testing, testing…

I’m looking forward to 2017 -we’re going to have some great new things to offer the community. Happy New Years folks!

This new surfmat design with a clear and metallic-pigment in the grip pattern
This new surfmat design with a clear and metallic-pigment in the grip pattern

Deliver me again unto the sea

Saturday. After a week of… whatever – the conditions were looking fun for going coastal and chasing some sliders. Early morning (post-pancakes of course) the thrift-shop backpack stashed four mats, three pairs of fins, two wetsuits, snacks and more. Compact for adventures lurking seaward of the dunes…

There's something magic about riding your own breath
There’s something magic about riding your own breath

The smog and city funk starts to slough away as soon as the feet feel the sand. That heat underfoot… it soaks in. Grass is good but that chirp of ancient quartz beneath the feet sends visceral vibrations – tales of this land and sea before time. Soon enough the flaming summer sand tracks down to the sea will coax some serious jive stepping.

Backwash...is...awesome!
Backwash…is…awesome!

Where we got in the sand tilted into the sea such that the surge back out to sea was almost ridable. Where this met the incoming waves weird aquatic contortions vaulted skyward offering those incoming to properly test their air-bags. On a surfmat backwash is welcome chaos.

Take off deep
Take off deep

It’s been good to get out with a few other heads at once. It’s been fun seeing the eyes widen, brows lift and smiles contort the faces of friends fresh to these inflatable craft. Without fail so far, every time my offer to test-ride a surfmat has been taken up the response has been bewilderment and joy. Tomorrow too the conditions look promising…

Riding within the wave on a bubble of air
Riding within the wave on a bubble of air

Another day to build up that salt-crust insulation for the coming week? Yep, I’m in. You may deliver me again unto the sea…

“ALL IN!”

Somewhere on this big rock the summer is creeping in to warm the sea. We’re glad it’s made it’s way down here to Tasmania. But I feel for our mates up north. Sort of. Yeah I hear you, winter is coming but so too are those swells and the some that grumble are drowned out by the heave of seas upon their seething shores. I’ll trade you my sunburn, barbecues and all-too-near seal colonies for your frost-embrittled grass down the cliff tracks to another crowdless winter point-break.

Compromise. You can’t have everything but you can choose to make good with what shows up. You and I both woke up this morning… that’s a start we’ve gotta smile and be thankful for.

Come down to the sea and awaken into an inflatable dream
Come down to the sea and awaken into an inflatable dream

We got sunshine and few feet of sand-bottomed wedges for lunch over the weekend. There’s enough surfmats down here now to share around and offer to the oceanic-uninitiated an experience that will blow their minds. The warming water helps as does the chilled out conditions – for many who are spooked but the thought of being clattered by a hard board, the inflatable craft offers an ‘in’ that is nonthreatening, a bit goofy and a load of fun.

Sharing waves with a loved one is golden
Sharing waves with a loved one is golden

We’ve been loaning out the mats to friends, friends-of-friends and random folks. There’s a lot of interest in the surfmats when they’re extracted from a backpack on the beach – four or five mats rolled up with a few sets of fins. How can you fit a quiver in a bag? A collective few breaths and there’s a crew ready for the ridiculous…

Sunshine and clear water sliders make for big smiles
Sunshine and clear water sliders make for big smiles
Getting a group of heads together on surfmats just multiplies the fun
Getting a group of heads together on surfmats just multiplies the fun

I was hoping you were going to run into me…

I gotta say I’ve not heard that too often in the surf. The chaos-call of “ALL IN” on a set rolling in rallies everyone regardless of ability and results in a maelstrom of cross-overs, run-overs and mow-downs. How serious are surfmats? Sure, they can offer experienced air-pilots brain-boggling speed-runs, unhinged slip-drifts through the pocket, technical tube tweaking and, and… but for many it also provides shore-pound shenanigans that are as frightening as a pillow fight.

Chasing down microwaves is always super fun
Chasing down microwaves is always super fun

Call me un-Australian but given the choice between this and the cricket…

Full throttle down the throat of a wee one
Full throttle down the throat of a wee one

New ideas materialise

Recently Matt and I have been deep in discussion about new design ideas, new materials and new techniques. I’m constantly bewildered by the nuances of design and the possibilities for progression. There’s still a lot of scope to reassess current ideas of what works and what doesn’t. What aspects can be reinterpreted (again) to unlock further secrets? Have current ideas about design, materials and processes been pushed far enough? Foolish to think so. And what about the things not yet thunk? And so we go…

What's he building in there? A new Mc Surfmat prototype exploring new ideas.
What’s he building in there? A new Mc Surfmat prototype exploring new ideas.

It’s exciting when an idea gets materialised.

The package that arrived in the post a few days ago sent a fizz through my brain. This was one of those ideas, now a tactile presence between my fingers and thumbs. The deck material is new, something different. And there it is as we discussed – the hook here, convex there and revisiting that stagger of the pontoons to incorporate the magic of a prior build. The discussions and trials with the new dyeing technique are producing strange and surprising results.

Materialised - the first inflation of a new prototype surfmat.
Materialised – the first inflation of a new prototype surfmat.

This mat is special – purpose built for a specific riding style and particular waves in mind; a dye job developed from numerous discussions searching for something… something. No one rides the same – style or waves; the former progressive, the latter stochastic; evolution is inevitable. The opportunity of collaborating closely with a craftsperson to create a uniquely personalised surf craft is a deeply rewarding experience.

Now, now, now… how and when can I sneak away to start riding trials? Ah… though I know how exciting it is to head out to trial a new, custom surf craft, what tickles me more is the knowledge that it will have me back in conversation with my maker again to further evolve the species…

Stoke miner

Surfmats completely shifted my ideas about riding waves. I’ve ridden all sorts of craft but the surfmat was is in a dimension of it’s own in terms of speed, versatility and just pure fun – whatever the conditions.

Two seaweeds who know how to jive an airbag
Two seaweeds who know how to jive an airbag

Riding waves has always been about going into the sea for fun – for the craic. Any deviation from this base idea is simply delusional. It’s about fun – whatever you’re riding, regardless of your experience, regardless of who or what you think you are or what you think you’re capable of. Whatever the conditions, when you go out you feel good.

Stoke miner; get in and you always find your diamonds
Stoke miner; get in and you always find your diamonds

For me, the biggest mind-shift for me about the surfmats was that I was that it no longer felt like I was being judged for what I was riding or how I was riding it. People often see  the surfmat and have no frame of reference for judging it. Where ever I took my surfmat into the waves in Ireland, and now here in Australia, few people have a clue what I’m on or what I’m going to do with it.

Microwaves and macrosmiles
Microwaves and macrosmiles

From the spectator’s point of view it mightn’t look like I’m doing much on the wave. Compared to other wave-riders there no big moves, crazy tricks or super-styling. No performance, just pure ride. You lie down, you go fast! Ahh now sure, there’s more. Whatever is going on with that guy lying on the funny-looking lilo/pool toy/camp-mattress, he mightn’t be doing that much but by crikey, he looks like he’s having the time of his life…

Lose yourself, find yourself

Lose yourself, find yourself

The lift arrived at 7am. My mate still looked a little bewildered when he sees my backpack. We’re heading two hours east to a break I’ve not surfed before. “Ah, you got everything you need?” Hmmm… snacks, thermos, water, two-piece dive suit, two sets of fins and three mats, “I’m all good.”

I scored from a thrift shop a new/secondhand set of fins I wanted to try out and had the duckfeet for backup. Three mats? Why not – it’s good to have options. Sure, today is overkill. It’s usually just wetsuit, fins and mat – unless you’re living somewhere warm where a suit would be ridiculous. But then again, riding a mat is a bit ridiculous. Everything fits into a backpack. A delightful concept. In three mats I cover conditions from one to ten feet. Ten feet? Ok, so I should’ve packed some toilet paper too. Regardless, the logistics have become far less complex.

A friendly vibe in the water goes a long way. It’s two sided too – you’re a bit part. The confused looks from those who have no idea what you’re on or how it might be possible to catch a wave on it. The sideways looks are always turned to open smiles when you rocket past, fins up and hands behind you. Seriously though, there’s probably some really serious surfmat riders out there who are seriously trying to be taken seriously. Seriously? It’s hard to hold you composure when you’re drifting out of control sideways…

The sheer delight that leaches from your features whether its one foot (double-overhead on a mat) to ten-times overhead and up is the same. This is about fun – get on the wave, go fast, go faster… Every session I’ve had riding a surfmat throws me back to my youth – it didn’t take much to get you excitable back then. I wonder about that now – losing myself in the joy of the moment is reconnecting me with my youth. Good time, smiles, freedom. Lose yourself, find yourself.