Stab Magazine | Watch: The Complete Joy Of Fear Series, With Mark Mathews

Watch: The Complete Joy Of Fear Series, With Mark Mathews

Friendly conversation about the spectre of terror, featuring people who scare themselves professionally.

Words by Photograph

Is there joy in everyday fear? The type of fear that you bring upon yourself? Perhaps! If nothing else, it reminds us we’re here. And, like, without the dark there can be no light. But, what about those who take the bizarre activity of surfing to its wildest limits? How do they wrestle the high-voltage fear they regularly encounter? This greatly interests us.

We like Mark Mathews because he has a penchant for swinging on big, black walls of water and putting himself in situations that most of us can’t comprehend (see also: the belly of a bomb at WA’s The Right). Since Mark has such an intimate relationship with fear in his day to day, we asked him to host a series in which he opened the passenger door of his Land Rover to other professional athletes we like, to clock some clicks and discuss the mysterious phenomenon of fear, in its many strange forms.

You watched the episode above? Within, Mark rolls with the then-recently-retired (and loving it!) Taj Burrow. Stab once whipped these two gents into the same wave at WA’s The Right, in search of the greatest surf photo ever taken – unsurprisingly, this topic is given some airtime during their day trip. Taj isn’t so well known for charging big waves, but he certainly knows a lot about fear (of failure, or injury, and of the The Right, among other things). Their banter both entertains and enlightens.

Now, let’s dive into the rest…

Sally Fitzgibbons, part 1

In this ep, we roll with Miss Sally Fitzgibbons, a perennial World Tour top five from the South-Coast, whose bright wrappings hide a very gritty competitor. The focus here is on Sal’s experiences with bursting an eardrum during an event and going on to win it – not many people get to experience what they’re truly made of in their lifetime. But, Sal has.

*

Sally Fitzgibbons, part 2

In episode two, Mark takes Sally to what he considers the most dangerous wave in Australia: Cape Solander, otherwise known as Ours; a place dripping with the realest type of fear there is in surfing – the fear of being held underwater against your while for an extended period of time (or, perhaps forever…). But Sal has endless grit, and has a good swing at the wild ledge.

*

David Pocock

This episode marks a deviation from the pro surf dynamic of eps one to three. Rather than being exceptional at standing over a piece of foam, Mr David Pocock makes his living being incredibly proficient at the game of Rugby Union. Much the same as with high-performance and big wave surfing, one must be physically and mentally superior in order to earn and hold a position at the top of this sport. Instead of the thought of asphyxiation in the depths of the ocean, or being pole-driven into an unforgiving section of reef, David’s fears involve concussions, torn muscles and chronic injuries that can end not only a career, but a lifelong passion as well. Preparation is the key, and as David mentions to Mark, “worrying about the result isn’t going to help you.” Though they may come from separate worlds, listening to Mark and David discuss their views on overcoming the obstacles of the mind is enlightening, to say the least.

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