A Mat Session in Pictures
In 2008, I talked about my first session on a surf mat. We'd even gotten pictures of that fateful day. I remember laughing as hard as I've ever laughed in my life. I also remember feeling completely lost and being thoroughly confused since I don't think I'd ever seen one ridden other than on YouTube.
The mat doesn't confuse me as much as it used to. I can't say that I've mastered it. I will say that I know how to ride it now. You learn something new with each session. What's been even more helpful is that the community of mat riders is now making a concerted effort to get together in the water. More experienced mat riders don't hesitate to pass on their knowledge. There isn't much in the way of competition since there isn't much about which to be competitive. There are no contests. There are no magazine spreads. There is no sponsorship. You get a mat. You ride the mat. You smile and laugh a lot!! There is no pressure when you ride a mat. You leave your ego on the sand, in the car, at home, wherever. You know that when you paddle out on a mat, people are going to stare. People make cracks about pool toys. People ask you what the hell you're on. Every once in awhile, someone will mention George Greenough or tell you how cool it is to see a mat in the lineup. Those instances are rare though. Mats are curiosities. I am happy to let them stay that way.
First, you inflate the mat.
Then, you kick and paddle out to the lineup.
One a good day, you'll catch the first wave you go for.
You spy photographer Randy Wright making the beach a better place for everyone.
You learn how to apply the brakes before heading into the rocks.
If you're lucky, a shoulder will present itself, allowing you to floor it.
After the session, since the mat and fins aren't heavy, you are easily able to pick up trash on the beach. (I also snagged a cool rock and cool seashell too.)