sunset gun: KZ
Tow-in board: 250 Super kart
These are the big kid classes
I am guessing the fins are primarily just for catching the wave. He wouldn’t be able to do much steering once moving. In order to catch a wave, you have to match its velocity and allow the slope of the wave to get steep enough so that the on-ramp happens and gravity sucks you in.
Turning a mat would basically result in massive front end push, understeer. Let’s say you were able to rotate the Mat. Then what? Without a fin, underneath, the front end could not find its set. You’d simply slide. You can lean in to the rails and dig if you had them, but mats are floppy. They are not steerable like a boogie board.
Watch as he drops (literally) in. The wave gets steeper and steeper until he starts to “fall”. Normally, with a rigid board, he would lean hard left, initiating a left turn to remain in the steep and unbroken (fast moving) part of the wave. Here, the mat is flexing away like crazy as the entry phase evolves. There’s absolutely bupkiss he can do to influence anything other than matching the speed, pointing it straight, and hoping to get a good run and outpace the giant lip that wants to come down on his head.
You can’t fall over if you are lying down!
Fast breaking beach break that gets hollow is the playground of body-boarders and to catch the wave you need a sudden explosion of speed. Thus the fins. The cool fins to have when I was young were the “Churchill” brand. You would have to walk backwards to get in the water or you’d look like a constipated duck.
With a surfboard and boogie board the edges or “rails” are what provide turning ability and with a surfboard you also have a fin which provides lateral stability so you don’t “slip” sideways. The boogie boarders have to “dig in” the rails pretty hard to compensate for not having fins or skegs on the board underside.
But their higher maneuverability and small size allows them to “take off” very very late on a wave and get very very deep in the pit of the wave.
Deep in the barrel
The guy air mattressing is probably a skilled bodyboarder as well. The wedge is a spot in LA where the swell comes in deep water and jacks up on a sandbar right up on the beach. When it gets big like this it is very powerful and taking it wrong (going over the falls) is pretty much a pile drive into dry sand, I think. He’s having a laff but is actually doing something pretty gnarly.
Mat surfing is the early form of Tom Morey’s massively popular invention, the boogie board (now known as bodyboard I think). He’s being a bit cheeky mat surfing, and is doubly so doing it in big surf.
Here is a video of a contemporary bodyboard pro that appears to be pushing the limits, in a big way. This video has some of the heaviest waves I have seen and he’s not shy about showing his “failures” that lead to his successes. He challenges himself with facing some of the heaviest “slab” waves in the world. These are waves of absurd power that literally look like the ocean collapsing when they break.
Here are some early boards that did not have fins. But, they had rails. Fins brought the ability to really turn and send it.
The introduction of fiberglass blanks by Clarke foam? further ushered in performance as it a) reduced weight and b) was shape-able easier and the board makers could introduce complex curves and concavities, etc. Hydrodynamics, physics, etc.
Then, on December 4th, 1969, Greg Noll paddled out at Waimeia Bay, and caught the first recorded monster wave, changing everything. (Followed by Laird Hamilton doing even crazier stuff with jet ski assisted tow in in the 90s). Both of these moments appear to have redefined possibilities in a generational sense.
I seem to be spending a fair about of time discussing water sports. Perhaps I shall find us a new racing challenge in a different elemental family.
Perhaps we should explore air and gasses next. I do wish I could articulate what messing about in the ocean feels like. If you think driving gets spiritual, the ocean really, really gets to you.