Matt started surfing when he was 6 years old, in Cape Town, South Africa. He grew to become one of the best big wave surfers in the world. He watches the globe for large storms, and when all the elements come together, book's a ticket and chases the energy across the world. He documents the big waves these storms create and produces high quality content which is distributed through various global media platforms.Matt's other passion is sharing his experiences to inspire and empower people to ride their "big waves".
My closest near-death experience was when I was surfing at Nazare in Portugal. I got caught by a 30-40 foot wave and was pulled underwater. I was eventually rescued by a jet ski, but it was still a terrifying experience as I felt my board catching on the water and I almost got pulled off again with no breath. After a few more waves, one of them hit me straight on the head and I was coughing up blood when I reached the beach. Transcript: "My probably my nearest death experience, although I wasn't near death at all, but it was it felt really scary, was at Nazaré in Portugal. I was surfing, paddling surfing, and I got caught by about a 30 to 40 foot wave landed on my head. I went under the water, swam under the water, the wave just like was super violent with me. I pulled my vest so the cartridges inflated me with air and came up after a very heavy hold down. A guy came in on the jet ski to pick me up. I jumped on the back of the jet ski and there was another 30 foot foamy, a massive foamy coming. It was on my ankles and I was holding on and this thing was right behind me. And then I felt my board starting to catch in the water because my board was still attached to me. It stuck in the water and ripped me off and I didn't get a breath. So I got pulled into this huge foamy. It got so manhandled, snapped my leash, came up. The water was very aerated. Another guy came in to pick me up and I jumped on the back of his ski. But because the water is so aerated, he didn't get any acceleration. I was holding on the wave hit us and I was just holding on, holding on and he was trying to accelerate and I was getting ripped off with no breath again and got super ragdolled in all directions. Came up feeling like really exhausted after that. And the fourth wave, just this big foamy thing just landed straight on my head and I didn't have time to dive and I just tucked into a ball and this thing just blasted me up towards the beach. And I got to the beach, I was coughing up blood. The horizon was doing this, like felt like my brain inside my skull had just been rattled and I was totally defeated and that was a really, really terrifying experience."
I try to not label areas of my life or traits as weaknesses, but rather growth points. One of the most important things is remaining humble, which doesn't mean thinking less of oneself, but thinking about others more and how to uplift and empower them. This other-centered attitude is healthy for us and puts things into perspective in our lives. Transcript: "I would try to not label areas of my life or traits that I have as weaknesses but rather places that I can grow. Like to label something a weakness for me would maybe make that put it in a very negative space. I would try label as something as like a growth point something I need to work on. My wife's really good at helping me be reflective and aware so that's it that's a huge point. She's helped me with so many things and remaining humble I think is one of the most important things and I think remaining humble is not about thinking less of oneself but thinking of oneself less. So what that means is we're not putting ourselves down in order to remain humble but we just think about ourselves less and think about other people more and how to uplift and empower and help other people and I think when we have that other people other centered kind of attitude I think it is so healthy for us and it puts things into perspective in our lives."
People sabotage themselves and limit their goals by having a negative approach to failure. People will often fear failure so much they become overly conservative in their actions, leading to them not achieving as much as they could. It is important to view failure positively and use it as an opportunity to grow and learn. Transcript: "I think people sabotage themselves and limit themselves from achieving their goals by... One of the major things is their approach to failure. And I think when people fail sometimes, it just makes them feel worthless. It increases their doubt and their fear. And they maybe have such a bad experience with the failure that they don't want to experience it again. I had that when I was younger. When I used to fail, I hated it. So I used to surf very conservatively and I'd surf not to lose instead of surfing to win. And I thought that was one of the biggest mistakes when I was younger. Was surfing conservatively, surfing not to lose instead of surfing to win. So I think the way that we view failure and the way that we handle it, the way that we move through it and grow from it, it's really important. And I think this is a major area where people get stuck and they want to pull out of their sports or step back from being competitive."
I've gone deep into the water while surfing, about 10-15 meters. It's dark, cold, and can be overwhelming with the pressure of the entire ocean above you. But I've trained for it and never been in a situation where I felt like I was going to drown - you just have to relax and let the wave take you back up to the surface. Transcript: "So how far into the water has a way of taking me? Well I've had some some pretty bad why pots a lot of the big ways that I'm surfing on a break about a kilometer out to see, they probably in about start breaking in about 10 to 15 meters of water, so it's pretty deep. And yeah, I've definitely had times where the wave has crashed on me. Pulled me down under the water and you can feel the pressure on your Your ears balding. I've been pushed so deep that it feels like my ears are going to pop. You can sense the darkness around you is pitch-black. It's cold. It's a place where you just feel so alone. And the scary thing is, when you're deep under the water, you can just feel it, what feels like the weight of the entire ocean above you? That's weighing you down and the ocean is so much stronger than we are so you can only come up to the surface when the wave releases you. So yeah, I've had some pretty bad, why Parts? But I trained for it and I've never really had any situation. We all feel like I was going to drown, but it's like a crazy place. When you deep under the water, just have to relax can't fight the ocean. That's stronger than we are. And when the wave releases, you can consume up to the surface."
Dumping waves are unpredictable because they occur in places with an ocean floor that quickly goes from deep to shallow which allows the wave to maintain its energy and quickly rear up, making it more dangerous. Transcript: "Why are dumping waves considered unpredictable? Well dumping waves, they occur in a place that with ocean floor goes from Deep to shallow very quickly. So the quicker and steeper the gradient is from Deep to shallow the quicker, the wave will rear up and the more energy the wave will dump with. Because if for instance the opposite of that is a place that's very shallow, very far Far out to sea. So I learned to surf at the speech called muizenberg. It's shallow super far out to sea and the waves break a kilometer out, but there are small and they very soft. And they move very slowly that the energy is lost as it from way out to sea, because the energy, the, as a wave, travels, its oscillating energy, and the bottom of that drags and loses energy, as it feels the bottom. So if you have, if it's very shallow far to see It'll lose, Is energy very quickly whereas if you have a, The Dumping waves, it goes from deep water to shallow, the wave comes in out of deep water. It maintains all of its energy and suddenly the the oscillating system feels the bottom and it rears up very quickly with all that energy and unloads on to the sand bank or the reef and because it's moving so quickly and Rears up so fast, it makes it a lot more unpredictable and dangerous."
Having a "fail forward" attitude has been key in helping me to be resilient and grow from my failures. I process each failure, analyze it and use it to fuel me to move forward towards my goal. Transcript: "This is a tough one. I think for me what helped a lot when I was young, I had so many failures, I used to lose two people all the time. Who much worse Surfers at me? Because my strategy was off. All I got nervous and competition, I would often surf conservatively to not fail and set of Surfing to win, which is something I really regret. But I learned how to lose from a young age which was very hot. Awful. I think it deepened, my resilience a deep in my roots of grit and I think not having everything handed to me on a platter, early losing a lot and dealing with a lot of hardships early help me to be a lot stronger now. And I think this phrase at my friend, Matt macgillivray told me once fail forward. It's a had a huge influence on my life and I make sure they weren't. I have a setback so often. I think I'm paddling into the way of my life and I fall. Will I miss it, I get too scared. Maybe I don't go in the wave. I tried to fail forward so I try to use the experience of failure as a growth experience. So I make sure I analyzed the situation. I process it and then I use it to fuel me to move forward towards my goal. So having an attitude of failing forward, I think is huge."