Watch Now: Mateus Herdy In 'Call Me Mat' - Stab Mag
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Watch Now: Mateus Herdy In ‘Call Me Mat’

Yep, he’ll make the CT in the next few years.

Words by Zack Raffin

Mateus Herdy has arrived.

For many, especially those familiar with the Brazilian scene, this is hardly a revelation. The 20-year-old has had some form of spotlight illuminating his surfing since his early teens.

I got to know Mateus during the production of the Central American iteration of Vans Stab High presented by Monster Energy. While his surfing speaks volumes, I was most struck by how Mateus behaves outside the water. It can be hard for competitively-minded folk to ditch their cut-throat operating systems. Mateus, however, exuded a jovial, open, and overall grateful demeanor to everyone who crossed his path—which is much more meaningful than anything that can be done on a wave.

His new edit ‘Call Me Mat’ chronicles his recent time spent away from competition. While airs are his strong suit, Mateus’ turns and tube panache are right up there with his sinister abilities above the lip. After a lengthy break from formal competition, we’re certain that Mateus will be ready to take what you see above and use it to earn his rightful place amongst the world’s best.

Set aside 6 minutes to watch, then read up on Mateus’ current mindset below.

Stab: Mateus! How is everything?
Everything’s good bro! Smooth sailing down here in Brazil before premiering the new edit in Sao Paolo. 

You were recently in Mexico sporting a healthy gash on your face. Want to walk us through how that happened?
It was my first wave surfing a new spot down there. I took off and the wave felt really powerful and different. I went to do a turn and I fell into the whitewater, where my friend was duck diving right in front of me. We’re not sure if it was his board or my board, but next thing I remember I was laying on the beach with a bunch of people standing around me. The board hit me on the right side of my face and cut all the way through my cheek. Everyone was freaking out in the car ride to the hospital and the taxi driver was going so fast I thought he was going to kill us. I was trying to calm everyone down, but it was pretty crazy.

Stitched up.

Damn. Well, we’re glad you’re healing up well. You won the 2018 World Junior Champion and then nearly qualified for the CT at the age of 17. From the looks of this edit, it seems you’ve been enjoying your break from competition. What’s that experience been like?
It’s been amazing. I’ve just been enjoying my time at home and surfing as much as I can. I didn’t set out with the goal of making an edit, but we ended up with a bunch clips and decided that now was a good time. Brazil is a really fun place to be, too. Gabriel and Italo’s World Titles have brought a lot of surf media attention to the country, but there’s more than competition here. We have a real surf culture, a real skate culture, and an amazing lifestyle. That’s something I’d like to show the world. 

Do you feel like WSL events have given people a skewed idea of what the waves are like in Brazil? How good does it really get?
I went to Mexico when (name redacted) was really good. After surfing that I feel like I can say Campeche, where I live, is a world-class wave. I wish you guys could see it when it’s on. Yago, myself, and Marco Giorgi are all on it every chance we get, but it’s really hard to film because the wave is so long and the sun shines straight into it. There’s one wave in this edit where I get 2 barrels (1:29) and you can see what I’m talking about. But, yeah, Brazil has crazy good waves. 

Your airs are spectacular, but overall your surfing is quite complete. Is there anything you’ve been working on? 
I’m always trying to improve everything. I was trying to do backside airs recently and was struggling a bit because I spend most of my time at home going right. Where I live in Brazil, you get barrels but they aren’t that big. Growing up watching Andy, Kelly, Mick, etc, it’s a dream of mine to work on getting big barrels, especially big backside barrels. I’m excited for travel to start opening up again so I can go to Indo, France, and especially Tahiti. I want to keep working on developing my whole package.

In terms of innovation, I’ve been talking to Pedro (Barros) a lot about skating and trying stuff switch. I think if it would be sick if people used some of their limited opportunities in heats to stick things switch, or ripping a wave surfing both ways with style. Kind of like what Filipe tried at the pool. There are kids doing backflips at 11, so I can see switch being the next big step in surfing.

And that’s a make.

You told me down there that if/when you get on tour, you want to win an event right away. When competition resumes, do you feel like you’ll be ready to start working towards that goal?
I don’t want to come off sounding cocky in any way. I just want to keep my mind focused on my ultimate goal. And, to be honest, I don’t want to get on the CT and struggle to re-qualify. There’s a lot of pressure in Brazil to make the most of your opportunities, which for me is to take my surfing to the highest competitive level. I want that, and I want to be ready when I get there to perform my best. So that’s what I’m working on.

How long did you film for this edit and where did you shoot?
Like my character at the end says, it’s all in Brazil! This is entirely from the past 3 months, except for the last few waves where I have short hair—those were from mid-2020. 

Is it true that you talk to yourself when you stand up on a wave?
When I was 15, I was trying to qualify for the Prime events. I was still pretty small and felt like I needed to up my game and surf more powerfully if I wanted to make it. Talking to myself became my way of thinking about my surfing. Most people just stand up and surf the way they surf. But, through talking myself, I can figure out where I need to put my arm or if I need to compress/extend for certain things. I’ve found that talking myself helps me stay a lot more engaged and surf to suit the wave. 

“Ok, land an air now.”

You mentioned Kelly Slater in Black and White as an inspiration for this edit. What are some of your other favorite surf clips or films?
I feel like at some point in time, most surfers do an edit in black and white, so this is my version. As for other clips, I’m a huge fan of Julian and Dane’s old stuff. There’s one of edit of Julian from pumping Macaronis that I’ve been watching a lot, and I love Excerpt from Dane’s Marine Layer. The 5-6 minute clips that have the full package get me amped. Airs, barrels, rights, lefts—those two clips were the first ones that came to mind for me. 

What was your favorite session from filming this?
The clips are all mixed up in there, but I had one really nice session where I landed a couple alley oops, a backflip, and some full rotations. I surfed for less than an hour and stuck multiple airs, so I was pretty pumped on that.

Finish my sentence: In two years Mateus Herdy will be…
Happy! And going for a world title.

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