Mark Mathews Talks About His Return To The Tube
“It will probably go down as one of the most memorable of my life” – Mark on his first barrel after injury.
Last Monday, Mark Mathews made his return to solid surf after a harrowing injury 16 months ago.
You’ve seen it splattered all over social media and surfing sites alike; images of Mark’s first proper barrel after over a year of being land-locked. It’s difficult not to feel the second hand stoke!
The prospect of seeing Mark surf the waves in which he suits best had us foaming with excitement. We therefore reached out to Mark in order to pick his brains about his return, the moments leading up to Monday and his plans on returning to waves which strike fear into those with fully functioning amygdalas.
STAB: Mark! Super stoked to see you back inside a heaving tube! How were the waves up there?
Mark: The waves were firing Sunday and Monday. 6-8 foot but super East swell which was making it really fast. I was too scared of hurting myself on Saturday so I didn’t surf Kirra. I ended up watching everyone get crazy ones all day, then seeing all the photos and footage on Instagram that night just tipped me over the edge. I had to surf before the swell disappeared.
Tell us about the lead up to that wave
Hippo got me out there on the ski on dark and picked off a perfect easy one before the crowd got out. That wave would have been probably a ‘3’ on a judges scorecard compared to the madness that was going on out there, but it was my first barrel back
in 16 months
so it felt like a ten to me. It will probably go down as one of the most memorable of my life [laughs]!
After that one, we moved down the line to avoid the crowd and it was heaving. I got lit up on one crazy death 8ft double up but, my leg handled it no problems. After that I felt way more confident and that’s when i got the one with my hands up. I probably should of been racing to make it, but the vision kind of just froze me still and I threw my hands up instead. That wave just cemented a grin to my face that won’t go away!
How did it feel being back in a barrel after 16-months? What was running through your mind?
Im still buzzing now! To be out in waves like that getting barrelled again with good mates was a deadset dream come true. I was actually more scared of losing moments like those than i was of never being able to surf big waves again.
How is your leg holding up?
Its been pretty swollen since surfing, but it doesn’t feel like i have done any further damage.
What was the key contributor which motivated you to get out there?
Hippo calling me Sunday night and talking me into it. And a photo of Brenno Dorrington standing in one of the biggest Kirra pits I’ve ever seen.
After the injury you mentioned wanting to get back to “60-70%, are you striving for a full recovery now?
At the moment thats my main focus. Im really only at around 20-30% now. If you saw me surf Snapper yesterday on a shorty you would realise how far i have to go. Jumping to my feet is still really awkward and if my bad foot doesnt land in the right spot I struggle to move it. With a jetski its okay because I get in early enough to figure it all out before the wave hits the bank.
I think any higher than 70% will take 3-5 years. But 70% is easily enough to surf big waves again. Small wave performance surfing is way more demanding on my leg. Riding big waves is much simpler, its really just a drop and bottom turn. The hard part of big waves is reading the ocean and what the waves are doing and I haven’t lost that part.
As many barrels as my leg can handle. Specifically, more step-offs in perfect 6 foot tubes!
Future plans on returning to big waves?
If rehab goes well im hoping to be back in Hawaii paddling some big waves early next year. Then i have a sort of big wave bucket list i want to surf – Shippies, The Right, Jaws, Nazare, Mavs.
Author’s Note: Whilst there’s plenty of discussion surrounding the use of skis on the Goldy at the moment. If anyone’s allowed to use one, it’s Mark Mathews.
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