Surf mat on crest of a wave
THEY were cool in the 1960s, and now the surf mat is making a comeback.
It looks a bit like an air mattress, but the surf mats of today are made with innovative materials and to very specific designs by some of the best surfboard manufacturers in the country.
And local manufacturers are helping to reignite the popularity of the inflatable surf mat.
Lennox Head-based Mark Thomson is one of Australia's most renowned surfboard designers and he recently launched a new range of surf mats and says they are a 'uniquely Australian surf craft'.
But the mats have come a long way since they were first developed in the 1930s.
Thomson's mats are the result of 10 years of design experimentation, using ultra thin, lightweight military fabric.
"The surf mat is not designed for aerials or tricks and it is not a body board," he said.
"When no one else wants to go out, a surf mat will turn unsurfable junk into gold."
Legendary surfer George Greenough, who lives at Broken Head, was a 'mad keen' mat surfer in the 1960s and still surfs them today.
His love of the surf mat has inspired many to follow his lead and he is often hailed as the man who 'invented' surfing on mats.
He is also making the most of the trend and now makes new 'high tech' mats.
The surf mat might look comfortable, but don't let that fool you.
Many experienced surfers have told how difficult it is to master the surf mat, so riding one is not as easy as it seems.
Lennox-Ballina Boardriders president, Jonny Hewett, said they were a lot of fun.
"It's great to get out on a mat if the surf's not real good," he said.
"I don't think they'll ever be as popular as a surfboard, or as popular as a body board.
"But there'll always be a place for them on the water."
The surf mat will be a retro must-have this summer.