I think you will all agree with me that surfing is still the best thrill ride, ever. From waves barely big enough to propel a surfboard forward, to waves so big and powerful the beach actually quakes as they break, riding waves runs the gamut from peaceful cruise to life threatening rush.Even so, sometimes half a century of doing the same activity can feel repetitious. Some suggest I get a new stack of boards to change my perspective. To a man of limited resources that’s not always possible.
My perspective has changed recently, however, by the addition of three inexpensive additions to my otherwise antiquated quiver.
The first is a bodysurfing handplane. This little gem was given my by my pal Scott Bass in the Cardiff parking lot one afternoon.
While small in size, that and a pair of fins have propelled me to many fun sessions in closed out shore break waves I would otherwise ignore. For me, however, bodysurfing is strictly a summer activity, best enjoyed in water in excess of 68 degrees. Thank you Scott ⎯ had a blast!
The second item is one that many of us think we are familiar with, the surf mat. Many from my generation began surfing on hard canvas surf mats rented by liquor stores on most Southern California beaches. While a great introduction into the wonderful world of waves, those glorified air mattresses were nonetheless limited.
It’s been about 40 years since George Greenough took surf mats beyond blown out beach breaks, into the long point breaks of Santa Barbara and Australia.
While amazing, Greenough’s wave riding vehicles were never meant for public consumption.
Then, 25 years ago, a surfer named Paul Gross took Greenough’s concept, made some modifications and came up with a super mat called the Fourth Gear Flyer. Still, few of us, including me, paid much attention until local surfer Ken McKnight got on one and began showing us moves we never thought possible.
There was Ken, racing sections and getting barreled. So, we all gave the mats a try, only to realize that they were not simple to ride correctly.
Next up was World Champion Skateboarder Henry Hester, a converted mat rider who introduced me to Mark Thomson, the maker of the Krypt MT5 surf mat.
For the first time in decades, I actually had a spare $100 and I bought an MT5 from the source. While the mat is the best $100 I ever spent, mastering an inflatable surf craft is more difficult than I imagined.
Then I got a gift in the mail from my old friend, ex-couch dweller and ex-patriot, Tom Wegener. Tom, a pioneer in the reintroduction of wooden Alia surf craft, has worked with Global Surf Industries in Australia to design an updated a soft Alia.
Called The SeaGlass Project, these finless boards have no real drawbacks, and my 5 feet 6 inch is not only among the fastest things ever on water, but also has zero learning curve and unlimited potential to improve.
I have loaned this board out to countless others and everyone from top surfers to beginners say the same thing: “This is so fun!” And that’s what surfing is all about, right?
To learn more about The Seaglass Project, click onto: youtube.com/watch?v=oBYASBqSC8E.