Stab Magazine | What the World Tour has taught me so far, with Matt Banting

What the World Tour has taught me so far, with Matt Banting

Words by Elliot Struck The World Tour is a walk thoroughly devoid of cake. In fact, sweetness can be pretty hard to come by; The Dream Tour is what countless kids have pictured while hovering on the edge of sleep, and it’s driven them to an early rise, to the gym, away from the bar, […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Words by Elliot Struck

The World Tour is a walk thoroughly devoid of cake. In fact, sweetness can be pretty hard to come by; The Dream Tour is what countless kids have pictured while hovering on the edge of sleep, and it’s driven them to an early rise, to the gym, away from the bar, and to a level of focus beyond their age. Only a few break through each year, and in 2015 Matt Banting was one of them. Four events in and the blistering regularfooter is sitting on two 13s, a 25th and a 9th.

“I’ve learnt more in four events than I have in the past three years,” Matt tells Stab about his year. “Going into different heats with different people has been the main thing. Like, going into a heat with Slater? You can’t help but put so much more pressure on yourself. It’s harder to sleep the night before. You can’t escape that pressure.”

Which is how Rio came to give Matt one of his best moments so far: “It was fun making it into that no-losers round with Filipe and John John, even though John and I didn’t get that many and Filipe fucking ruled it. It was so fun just to have a heat where finally there’s not as much pressure and you can just go for it more. I only got a couple of waves, but just the feeling of it was good.”


That squeaky frontside pocket wrap was put to very good use at Snapper. Photo: Simon Muirhead

Speaking of Filipe and John John, finding them as opponents has caused a profound shift in Matt’s scope. “Everyone’s friends and everything on there, but it’s funny; before I was on tour I was looking up to all these guys. Now I’m looking at guys like Filipe, Medina and Kolohe, guys my age. It’s almost like you stop looking up to people, and start looking sideways more.”

Now, let’s break the tour down into some simple pros and cons. If we start negative, we can finish positive!

Cons: “The waves have shit me a little bit. It seems like they just want to run in the biggest, most dramatic conditions possible, which aren’t necessarily the best conditions to compete in. A couple of the afternoons I surfed Margarets and it was 10 foot, windblown and shit happening everywhere. And I couldn’t help thinking, is this really the the dream tour? Then at Bells I had a heat with Joel coming into the high tide and we only got one decent set in the whole heat. But I mean, you can’t blame the waves, cause then in Rio it kinda helped me beat Slater.”

Photo: WSL

You can almost feel the sharpness. Bells begs, Matt obliges. Photo: WSL

Pros: “The money’s pretty epic. I’ve gotta be honest and say that. Especially getting paid in US dollars, it bumps it up for an Aussie (laughs). And of course, just rubbing shoulders and being on there.”

And, how about some impressions? “The crowd in Brazil was gnarly. I saw Ricardo go down for a heat against Filipe, and he reckons people were grabbing his board and yelling at him, pushing him and getting all aggressive. Just to see the amount of people over there who are into it, and how much they want to see Brazilians do well and want everyone else to do bad was crazy. It was sick to see how involved everyone is over there.”


Brazil dealt Matt his best result on tour this year. Lessons, at every stop! Photo: WSL/Cestari

There’s new things to get used to as well. Unsurprisingly, smiling through gritted teeth after a loss while the divine Rosy Hodge microphones you expectantly isn’t a breeze. “If you win, you come in on a high and it’s easy,” says Matt. “But after I lost against Ricardo in the last one, I went on a kinda hot-headed little half hour burst, and they got me during it for the interview. I didn’t say anything too bad, but it was a little bit embarrassing. You live and you learn, I’ve just gotta keep my mouth shut. I basically just said that I thought I got the score. The air actually felt better than it looked, to be fair. I did an alley oop and got a 7.3. Then I did a full rote air rev twice the size on a way bigger wave and they gave me an 8 when I needed an 8.27… it was just like a punch in the face. You’ve gotta find another level of professionalism. Everyone does it so well. But you saw Medina at the start of the year, and he’s really professional usually. It’s so easy to slip up when you’re frustrated. So the stakes are way higher, but you’ve gotta be more refined. It’s a mind fuck. But I do think it’s good to show a little emotion. Everyone slips and swears, it’s real life.”

Nose pick for the Rio mob. Photo: WSL/Cestari

Nose pick for the Rio mob. Photo: WSL/Cestari

See? Not only tour lessons, but life lessons too. And also, physical lessons; While training regimes on the QS call for agility and being ready to kill it in one foot waves, things on the WCT require bulk and power: “The World Tour is a whole different level of strength,” says Matt. “Think about preparing for Huntington compared with preparing for Chopes…”

So, what would QS Matt tell Rookie Matt? “Don’t be in too much of a rush to get onto the World Tour. Julian planned it perfectly, when he got on his surfing was fully developed. I don’t feel like mine’s fully developed. But I’m on here young, making good money and doing what I love.”

But don’t worry, there’s also plenty of fun too! “I got back from Brazil last wednesday, and I was feeling pretty dusty after that,” says Matt. “Everyone went pretty hard after the contest wrapped up. Corona held a sick party at this big mansion thing on the last night, it was amazing.”


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