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Mat riders in Point Loma and Encinitas

Doesn’t require much time to master

All the fun of a surfboard in something the size of a beach towel.
All the fun of a surfboard in something the size of a beach towel.

Before the invention of the Morey Boogie Board in the early ‘70s, the surf mat was the vehicle of choice for the novice wave rider. Until that time, liquor stores along the coast rented these rubber tipped canvas devices for 50 cents an hour. They proved great fun until the rock-hard surface sanded chest and arm skin.

By the late ‘70s, surf mats had deflated in response to Boogie fever. That’s when a genius inventor, George Greenough, began to run them full throttle at points like Rincon, in Santa Barbara. Riding in Greenough’s wake was longtime mat surfer Paul Gross.

In 1984 Gross began building mats under the 4th Gear Flyer logo. This handmade, nylon constructed inflatable never caught on in significant numbers, and today remains far less common than its foam and fiberglass cousins.

That rarity has bred a kinship not enjoyed among the mainstream surf community since the pre-Gidget days of the late ‘50s. The global brotherhood of mat riders shares waves, photos, and information, usually via the Internet.

Two of the most notable pockets of mat riders in San Diego exist in Point Loma and Encinitas. Ken McKnight, Peter Saint Pierre, and Henry Hester are among the dominant mat surfers in North County, while Steve Pendarvis is among the top riders in Point Loma. Like most mat riders, this crew tends to be non-territorial and is quick to invite everyone to the party.

While it doesn’t require much time to master, there is a learning curve in mat riding. The challenge with mats is more technical than athletic. Counterintuitive for board surfers, mat riding depends upon fine adjustments for turning, rather than raw power. A mere shift of the head, the lift of one or both fins, a tight squeeze of the fabric— any little thing can alter your ride, for better or worse.

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All the fun of a surfboard in something the size of a beach towel.
All the fun of a surfboard in something the size of a beach towel.

Before the invention of the Morey Boogie Board in the early ‘70s, the surf mat was the vehicle of choice for the novice wave rider. Until that time, liquor stores along the coast rented these rubber tipped canvas devices for 50 cents an hour. They proved great fun until the rock-hard surface sanded chest and arm skin.

By the late ‘70s, surf mats had deflated in response to Boogie fever. That’s when a genius inventor, George Greenough, began to run them full throttle at points like Rincon, in Santa Barbara. Riding in Greenough’s wake was longtime mat surfer Paul Gross.

In 1984 Gross began building mats under the 4th Gear Flyer logo. This handmade, nylon constructed inflatable never caught on in significant numbers, and today remains far less common than its foam and fiberglass cousins.

That rarity has bred a kinship not enjoyed among the mainstream surf community since the pre-Gidget days of the late ‘50s. The global brotherhood of mat riders shares waves, photos, and information, usually via the Internet.

Two of the most notable pockets of mat riders in San Diego exist in Point Loma and Encinitas. Ken McKnight, Peter Saint Pierre, and Henry Hester are among the dominant mat surfers in North County, while Steve Pendarvis is among the top riders in Point Loma. Like most mat riders, this crew tends to be non-territorial and is quick to invite everyone to the party.

While it doesn’t require much time to master, there is a learning curve in mat riding. The challenge with mats is more technical than athletic. Counterintuitive for board surfers, mat riding depends upon fine adjustments for turning, rather than raw power. A mere shift of the head, the lift of one or both fins, a tight squeeze of the fabric— any little thing can alter your ride, for better or worse.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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