Surfmats East Coast - what equipment, conditions, when do you use... stories and so on

Discussion in 'Surfing' started by DownSouthSlidah, May 22, 2017.

  1. DownSouthSlidah

    DownSouthSlidah Member

    623
    4
    Oct 30, 2007
    hi All,

    I bought a 4th Gear Flyer UDT from a forum member quite some time ago and have not used it yet.

    Surfing - getting in the ocean at all actually - these last three years has been really sporadic due to launching a new business having it almost fail thanks to the insurance industry, re-branding and specializing and now starting to head toward the black and so on... well, very little spiritual time in Mother Ocean.

    I'm ready to get back in but we have hit the early summer doldrums and will have small trade swells up coast and windchop here. Likely will acquire another catamaran and start sailing again but thought I'd also try the surfmat out.

    So, I currently weigh in at around 215, have the UDT (which may be a bit oversized but I think that should be okay given the weak waves?) but I have no swim fins.

    I've done research and I know there was a thread recently here but those Pacific waves are really much more powerful and allow for long drawn out curves compared to our waves which are short, dumpy and require faster turns and the ability to get around a lot of sections. It seems like fin length and stiffness would be something that might change with our conditions. California surf matters seem to like 7" blades and fairly stiff... Vector 7s or UDT Duckfeet.

    I've been looking at Vector 7s, 5s, DaFin (my feet are fairly wide though)...

    Anyway, this is intended to be an overall EC mat surfing thread but an equipment discussion for me would be really helpfully l right now.

    Thanks!

    James
     
  2. Chilly Willy

    Chilly Willy Well-Known Member

    1,172
    163
    Feb 15, 2004
    USA New Jersey
    I don't mat, but I do boogie and have wide feet as well. Here's my experience with DaFin:

    I recently switched to DaFin from Churchills. As compared to Churchills (which, to me, seem to give uneven side-to-side thrust due to the longer outer edge), DaFin gives very even, straight, and solid thrust. DaFin's blades are stiffer and get me into the lineup with surprising speed. They burn a lot more energy, although I find that I don't have to work as hard with DaFin to get the same results as the Churchills. Expect to have pretty sore legs after the first few sessions. They have pretty good prone steering ability, and they are much more noticeable on your feet than Churchills (for better or worse -- better, I think). The DaFin rubber is soft and comfortable -- reportedly one of the more comfortable fins on the market. The foot pocket is wide but not particularly tall (think "squashed" like a panini), so it could be a squeeze if you have "tall" feet. DaFin has a thorough sizing guide on their website. (http://www.dafinsaustralia.com/size-guide/)

    I think that comfort almost always trumps function when it comes to swim fins, so I would focus on getting something that's comfortable. It's always a good idea to try them on and judge the fit for yourself since everyone's feet are slightly different. Good luck!
     
  3. jtsfla

    jtsfla New Member

    4
    0
    Feb 6, 2015
    4th Gear Flyer Vespa with UDT brown and green fins here in South Florida in anything knee high and up. Fins are different for everyone.
    Used to cramp up when I started matting around 2004. For reference I am 5'8 175 lbs. A lot of good info at http://surfmatters.blogspot.com/
     
  4. nedsurf

    nedsurf Well-Known Member

    2,101
    95
    Jan 22, 2005
    Fins? A must when matting. Comfort is really important, and it is almost always personal (although DaFins are pretty universally liked), and thrust is right next to it. I don't use my DaFins for matting because I get so much more thrust from Duck Feet, but they are great for body surfing. I've tried almost everything, have settled on much-altered Duck Feet, but they killed my feet until I trimmed them to fit. Best is to try various makes. Also, work on your swim/kick technique, archer/arrow argument applies. And consider fin keepers if you are going to be in any real juice.
     
  5. Salinity

    Salinity Active Member

    107
    36
    May 11, 2016
    USA Rhode Island
    I recently picked up a 4th Gear Standard from a forum member and have tried it out a couple of times thus far. I have a pair of silicone DMC swim training fins that I would not recommend for any type of wave sliding activity, as they are swim training fins. But they're what I have now so I'll keep trying them out to see if mat surfing is going to be for me. Maybe they'll hold me back? Not sure, but I have been poking around for a used set of more focused body boarding/mat surfing fins.

    I've caught a couple of waves so far that I'd consider ok rides - more angled along the face vs. straight in - though it seemed like a lot of work to keep from stalling out. I've been told there's quite a learning curve and I still have a hard time putting down the surfboard when the surf is decent. Because the two disciplines primarily rely on different muscle groups for the majority of activity (surfing: shoulders and arms; mat surfing: legs), I do hope to split sessions more frequently now the water's warming up when I have time. I also need to look more at beginner technique-type information.

    I picked up some fin keepers as well as 3mm fin socks for use in the colder water we see most of the year in RI. I'd also certainly welcome some more mat talk.
     
  6. nedsurf

    nedsurf Well-Known Member

    2,101
    95
    Jan 22, 2005
    DMC training fins won't get it for you, although I have a friend that uses them for body surfing. What they will do is help you learn balance between upward thrust and downward thrust, giving you more drive. They are a good example of comfort without thrust unless you really have your shit together on kicking. Don's newer Repellor fins are better and extremely comfortable, but primarily designed for body surfing, and I'm still evaluating them. Not a bad fin at all, and at least as good as DaFins, and somewhere between those and Duck Feet. And fin keepers are a must on all DMC fins as they are non-floating silicone. If you have sox then you can try other fins that might have more kick with less comfort. A mat doesn't have a built in glide component like a surfboard, you need to get it into the energy of the wave. Once there it will fly. Longboarders can chase peaks, it's a lot harder in Mat surfing so you have to learn positioning and timing to get into waves. That will help you when you jump back on a board also.
     
  7. Salinity

    Salinity Active Member

    107
    36
    May 11, 2016
    USA Rhode Island
    I was thinking this may be case. For some reason, I was under the assumption I had a set of silicone hydros (fin looks similar in pictures and the DMC brand mark on the top foot is somewhat similar to the F2's if you look really quick) - I swear I purchased a set of hydros way back when. Maybe I'll go ahead and spring for a new set soon.

    This seems spot-on to my initial experiences - there were certainly what looked like makeable waves to my high-volume-surfboard-trained eyes, but unless I was right at the breaking part of the wave it just rolled under me.
     
  8. DownSouthSlidah

    DownSouthSlidah Member

    623
    4
    Oct 30, 2007
    Thank you for all the awesome advice. Comfort is really important for me because my right lower leg has some damage and the calf and plantar fascia cramp pretty easily. I'll probably have to get it conditioned to the flippering motion.

    Likely, I'll try the DaFin first - maybe with a sock on that foot.

    Anybody ever dolphin kick into a wave or out to the lineup? It might be impractical with a mat because of the use of the pelvic core?

    Needless to say, I'm a total noob to matting.

    Thanks again, everybody. This is my favorite part of the forum - such a wealth of information out there.
     
  9. sintered

    sintered New Member

    12
    1
    Jan 27, 2009
    USA California
    I have DaFins and like them for body surfing. I have Viper V5s and V7s that I like a lot better for matting. Feels like I get very little thrust on the upkick with Dafin, much more balanced thrust on the up- and down-kick with the vipers. Vipers don't have the same soft tapered toe box as Dafin but they are comfortable enough for me.
    Have tried a couple mat models and Omni my favorite. Just email Paul and he will provide good advice for your size and surf conditions. He has a nice sale going now, $50 off.
    Dan
     
  10. Salinity

    Salinity Active Member

    107
    36
    May 11, 2016
    USA Rhode Island
    I got the mat out a couple times yesterday and today in some crumbly 2-foot windswell - Nedsurf's advice about needing to take off in the "energy spot" (breaking part) of the wave is spot-on. I also tried a technique I saw on a vid where you extend the mat out in front of you at full arm's length while kicking to catch the wave, then once I felt the wave was "caught" pulling up on it so basically my pelvic area was on the aft-end of the mat. I found this technique to work fairly well, even in the crappy waves.

    I did find a hardly-used pair of Viper orange dots on Ebay in my size I was psyched about ($50 shipped) - but I still had an old shipping address in there and when I emailed the seller to see if she could change the address, she cancelled the order. Bummer.

    There's definitely is something about matting that brings a silly smile to my face. I do really like the "immersive experience" that matting is, from sitting low/half-immersed in the water to sliding along with my face close to the wave. It's still hard to put down the surfboard in decent surf, but I feel a bit of a change 'a comin'...
     

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