Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The trend towards smaller mats and is the mat rider average age index falling?

There certainly seems to be a trend towards smaller mats rather than larger ones although G's latest mat seems to bely that notion. You can find more info on G's mat building efforts here and I think we will now have to honour his consistent efforts with the title of "Bonafide Mat Builder"! I like the way he attends to the design elements of colour and line as well as the obvious form ensuring his mats have great individuality.
Fantastic that there are now mats being manufactured in 3 of the 4 corners of the world, Europe, the Americas and Australasia! I have always had a problem with that saying as I am still mystified as to how it is possible to find a corner on a globe??
In any case, back to the rise of the smaller mat and my assertion that this is because the mat rider average age is currently trending downwards. No doubt from the feedback he has had from this changing demographic, PG was inspired to resurrect the 5GF and now the dimensions have been reduced even further with the introduction of the MiniMax. I think this is a step forward as for sometime now I have believed that the smaller the mat you can use for the conditions the better and have forsaken using my larger mats the Vespa and UDT entirely.

Mat Max's recent report to PG on the MiniMax supports this notion when he states:

"Ironically,the waves were miniature when I took out the Mini for the first time. It is noticeably faster when kicking due to the reduced form drag. Paddling is much easier on the narrower platform with less nose out front. Catching and riding 1/2 foot waves is not a problem. Clearly, this is a completely viable model to add to the lineup"

Here is a comparison between the MiniMax with a UDT superimposed over the Standard and you can see just how huge the difference is.

So apart from form drag, being my main issue with the bigger mats, all of this reduction in size is also in the name of traction in more vertical and extreme waves. As I have mentioned earlier, I believe that there is a correlation between the exponential increase in the number of mat riders recently, many of whom are youthful, and the demand for smaller mats. These adventurous and seemingly less fearful souls along with some of the old guard like MatMax are testing the limits of their mats in more challenging waves and asking more of them. IE Stickney and crew at the Wedge!

MT has been experimenting with smaller mats since the early noughties with his MT2 and MT3 designs that were 3 ft 51/2" x 19 x 4 with a round nose round tail and round nose square tail respectively. They were restricted breathers and he reports that they were awesome mats that he was able to dominate to achieve high performance surfing. As well as reducing the size of the mat, he has also taken a slightly different path in the quest for traction developing a high-tech double coated fabric that grips the surface of the water. Interestingly, considering the content of this post, MT has confirmed the release of a grommet model to be called the MT5-5 when summer returns to the southern hemisphere this year. Now that might really make the mat rider average age index nose dive!

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