Interview with Mark Mathews
Layne Beachley made a fantastic ride at Ours with the Bra. Is that a place for women ?
Yeah for sure all surfers.
What do you have to say to all those guys who want to ride your waves such as Ours ?
It's all about paddling fast! You have to stay at the bottom of the wave to be able to get into it. Cover your head when you wipe out.
What are you doing when you're not surfing Freaky waves ?
Answering your interview questions! hahah! Ii'm pretty mellow on land, nothing too crazy, play some music, hang out with friends.
We see you on the small waves of WQS events, what's your goal, the Dream Tour ? Is it annoying for you to ride small waves ?
Mark Mathews, Maroubra (Aus) 26 years, has built a career on conquering the biggest, gnarliest slabs in the world. He is actually THE biggest charger on tour, we could compare him to Ross Clark Jones. He won the “Biggest Wave” in The Oakley Big Wave Awards, was nominated in the top three best overall performers in the 2008 Billabong XXL Awards and remained nominated this year. And what about his crazy June session in Western Australia where he took the Barrel of his entire life. Actually residing in Maroubra beach, you can also meet the BraBoys on WQS, where he has good results in small waves too by boosting airs. Mark Mathews the Slabs Hunter...
Freaksurf Magazine : Hey Mark it's a pleasure to have you in Freaksurf Magazine mate ! When did you start surfing ?
Mark Mathews : I started with my dad at Maroubra beach, I was probably about 9. He had stopped surfing while he was studying medicine then he took it back up when I started surfing again.
FSM : Why did you choose this sport ?
MM : The feeling you get from being in the ocean and riding waves. It's addictive !
Tell me about your home spot.
Maroubra means "Place of thunder" in Aboriginal. It is a working class suburb in inner Sydney. It has the most consistent waves out of all the Sydney beaches. There is a family like local surf community. There are a lot of world class waves within an hour drive !
Are you more a freesurfer?
I enjoy every aspect of surfing small or big waves competition or not. I get the biggest thrill out of chasing big swells to remote places. But getting to surf out Pipe with only 4 people in a competition is pretty cool too.
Why did you choose big wave riding ?
For me, it's the pinnacle of surfing. Riding a huge wave would be like hitting a hole in one playing golf or scoring a goal in the world cup.
Tell me about your first time in Big Wave riding. When, where, and with who ?
My first ever magazine trip was down to Shipstern's Bluff in Tasmania. I was with Kieron Perrow, Drew Courtney and Koby Abberton. The waves were terrible the first couple of days and there was a cyclone on the Gold Coast so Kobe ended up bailing up to the Gold Coast. The following two days, Shipsterns was 12 to 15 foot and pumping. They were still some of the best days surfing I have ever had.
Biggest wave you have ever seen ?
It's hard to tell when it gets over 20ft you sort of loose count but i surfed Jaws one day it was really big. Probably 40ft faces??
Biggest wipe out ?
I got smashed down at Shippies once. I'm not too sure what happened either my board hit me in the head or I hit the reef ? I was lucky at the time I was using Brook Silvesters Helmet camera so the helmet took a lot of the blow. I was still knocked out for a second. They took me to hospital because I thought my neck was broken. it was scary waiting for the scans I was thinking I was never going to be able to surf again. Ended up being fine though just pinched nerves.
Do you have fear after such wipe out ?
Yeah for sure it takes a while to get over you just have to get back on the horse though. Otherwise the fear will ruin your life.
Biggest wave ever ridden, Western Australia June 2009 ? Tell me about this amazing session !
That was the biggest barrel I've ever ridden. I wrote about it on my site chasingchalk.com
Have you ever had fear seeing a big wave ?
Yeah there is always an element of fear. It could in a way be because it heightens your senses. It's dangerous when it turns to panic though. I have panicked a couple of times underwater when I was younger. I've realised now though that panicking doesn't get you anywhere it makes you run out of oxygen faster. When I feel the panic coming on, I just try and remind myself this.
Tell me about Slabs.
They're just all about trying to get the biggest barrel possible. Really deep water folding onto a shallow reef that's how they are formed. I just find it more exciting riding these waves rather that big deep ocean walls livke Mavericks etc.
In your opinion, which wave is most terrific ?
Tell me about Cyclope ?
It's barely even a wave! Way too shallow.
Ours, why such a name, and tell me about this wave ? Occy said he knows this wave since a long time, but didn't think it was possible to ride it.
It's just around the corner from where I live. It breaks super close to the cliff face but it's one of the most intense perfect barrels I've surfed. I think size for size it's one of the heaviest waves in the world. Ours just came out because the bodyboarders in that area have shark island so we just said this wave can be for surfers.
Toby Martin told me : "The slab hunters, waves like ours, cyclops have really created a new surfer for the surf market. It's amazing to see these guys challenge the bounderies of what we believe to be surfable waves, great for the sport, maybe not so for the body, very much a gladiator type mentality."
Yeah that sounds cool, I definitely enjoy seeing shots and footage of other guys surfing crazy heavy waves. I think it's always interesting when there is an element or possibility of death involved.
What do you think about Teahupoo?
Perfect ! Wish i was there now.
Do you prefer surfing waves like Jaws or Slabs ?
Both but more so slabs less crowds and easier to get barreled.
Whose surfer inspire you the most ?
Rasta, Richie Vass, Dorian, Slater, Irons brothers, Kobe, Long brothers,
Tell me the story of your website Chasing chalk ?
I just started it a few months ago. It's all about taking everyone along with us as we chase waves around the world. I've had so many injuries through out my life that all my mates believe my bones are made of chalk so they call me “chalky” That's where chasingchalk comes from.
It is annoying when it's small. But the WQS is getting a lot better this year, we have had waves at most events. I'd love to make the CT I just need to give up chasing big waves for a year or two to focus on small waves surfing. I can't see that happening right now maybe i'll just fluke it and get on anyway?
What do the Bra Boys represent for you?
It's a second family for me, a brotherhood.
Tell me about all your tatoos
Just one BraBoys tattoo I got it when I was 16.
A few words on Maroubra place.
Cool surf community and fun waves. Starting to get really crowded like most places in Sydney though. And getting super expensive to live here.
2 zero 3 five ?
My Brother Keeper... a life philosophy ?
Yeah for sure applies to all your family and friends, not just brothers.
Your favourite place to live ?
Still looking ...
Mark Mathews best of :
Wave : Ours
Spot : Maroubra
Town : Maroubra
Friend : BraBoys
Event : Pipe
Board : Aloha
Crew to ride : Richie Vass
Thanks Mark !
Interview by Johann Mouchel for Freaksurf Magazine - Photo Credit : O'neill