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Inflatable surf mat with rubber handles

Date: 1970s
Overall: 1140 x 610 x 160 mm, 1.74 kg
Medium: Rubber, canvas, nylon
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Surf mat
Object No: 00033580

User Terms

    This 1960s interpretation of a 1930s rubber surf-o-plane was designed for the user to ride waves while lying down rather than standing. The yellow and green Merrin inflatable mat features rubber handles, a manufacturer's stamp and the the number '266'. The mat would have sold for around $20 in the 1970s.
    SignificanceThe design of the surf mat has contributed immensly to the development of surfing in Australia, and was a popular way for younger surfers to gain experience before advancing to surfboards. It was also used widely in New Zealand, Hawaii, California, South Africa and England.
    HistoryRubber surf mats, also known as surf planes or surf-o-planes, were common in the 1960s and 1970s, though similar inflatable crafts were common since the 1930s. The surf mat was invented in 1933 by Dr Ernest Smithers from Bronte, and in the 1940's, Olympic swimmer and industrialist Sir Frank Beaurepaire's rubber company manufactured a similar rubber air mat using the Advanx brand. These popular rubberised, inflatable surf craft were best for shore-breaks or floating around on flat water as they were not suited to large surf.

    Surf mats were a common hire craft on beaches such as Manly and Bondi. By the 1960s, however, the design was available from several companies, notably Clarke Rubber and Advanx, with sales directed more at the general public than the hire concessions. The surf mat's popularity waned in the late 1970s as they were superceded by the Coolite, the Zippy Board and the canvas mat, and in the 1980's by the Morey Boogie.
    Additional Titles


    Web title: Inflatable surf mat with rubber handles

    Related People
    Maker: Merrin

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