Matt Brom­ley

Ac­cord­ing to many, Cape Town charger Matt Brom­ley was one of the stand-outs for the swell that re­placed dreamy, al­mond-eye bar­rels with the black holes of La­gun­dri Bay. In­ter­view by Craig Jarvis

Tracks - - Arrows -

How did it all start?

We were surf­ing the day be­fore, and the swell was sup­posed to start show­ing signs, and I just went out for an evening surf on my smaller board. It was still small, there weren’t re­ally any bar­rels com­ing through and ev­ery­one was a bit dis­ap­pointed. Just be­fore dark it all changed. I have never seen the waves change so dras­ti­cally within half an hour. The waves were all dou­bled up and messed up. The en­ergy all came at once. You couldn’t even pad­dle into the waves.

The next day it was boom­ing.

The next day sounded like a tsunami. Ev­ery­one was up in the dark, and there was so much wa­ter mov­ing. It was com­ing into the restau­rants and into the side al­leys and into the lodges, and I de­cided to chill for a bit to see if it was doable. Lau­rie Towner and a few other charg­ers went out su­per early, and there were 15-foot waves com­ing through and bot­tom­ing out. Then the guys started get­ting a few, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, they’re get­ting some, I bet­ter get out there.”

What board?

I went on my 6’9”. I was in two minds be­cause the waves were so steep. You wanted a shorter board to not nose­dive, but at the same time the waves were so big that you needed some pad­dle power. I just de­cided that I’m go­ing out there to get a life-chang­ing wave and I’m go­ing on a big­ger board. I was on one of the big­gest boards in the lineup, and I went and sat fur­ther out than any­one. I was su­per pa­tient, and just waited for a wave that looked like “‘the one.”.’ I got into the lineup, it was su­per crowded, and some of the best big wave surfers in the world were out there, like Billy Kem­per and Ian Walsh, and Koa Roth­man. The sets were stack­ing, but ev­ery­one was just pad­dling over them, look­ing at each other. There was just no way in. 15 to 18-foot dou­ble-ups, and you could see the lay­ers of reef as the wa­ter sucked off on the sets.

The best wave you got?

I got a lit­tle one, just to get my feet in the wax, and I was feel­ing su­per ner­vous after that. I went and sat way out the back. This big gnarly dou­ble-up came through and I just said that I’m go­ing, no mat­ter what. I put my head down and as I started com­mit­ting to the wave the whole crowd started shout­ing me in. It was one of the rad­dest feel­ings. I could feel it start­ing to suck me up the face, and as I got to my feet I leant for­ward and I was just in the air, slid­ing on my rail but side­ways in the air, and I was just hold­ing on with my toes, and then it felt like god just put the board un­der my feet.

Heavy.

I know. I wasn’t con­nected to my board the whole way down, and at the bot­tom I landed on my board, went over an­other lit­tle step, and then I bot­tom turned into one of the big­gest bar­rels I’ve ever been in. I stood straight for two sec­tions, and then pumped, and then un­for­tu­nately got clipped at the end. It went a bit wide on the reef and closed out. When I came up ev­ery­one in the chan­nel was hoot­ing, and when I got back to the lineup ev­ery­one was clap­ping for me and cheer­ing. It was a pretty spe­cial mo­ment, bru.

What was the heav­i­est thing you saw out there?

Just see­ing the sets come through and bot­tom out and check­ing all the reef ex­posed was just so ter­ri­fy­ing. Also, be­cause the wa­ter was brown, the bar­rels were pitch-black in­side. It was the scari­est bar­rel.

What about the boat pitch?

So we saw the boat float to­wards us in the lineup and a few guys tried to pad­dle and grab the ropes to pad­dle it fur­ther out, and then ev­ery­one started shout­ing at them to get away from the boat, and we were just watch­ing slow death hap­pen­ing. It was bob­bing along and get­ting pushed fur­ther in,

and then even­tu­ally that dou­ble-up got it. It was funny be­cause the wave that caught the boat was an in­sider yet in the pho­tos it looked like a re­ally solid wave. Ev­ery­one just started scream­ing be­cause we saw the boat pierce the lip and then go over in a back­ward som­er­sault. We couldn’t catch waves for a while be­cause we didn’t know if the boat was still in the lineup. It was ob­vi­ously up­side down, and it got washed in pretty quickly. Through­out the day there were big logs and trees and things go­ing through the lineup, so oc­ca­sion­ally ev­ery­one would have to put ev­ery­thing on hold and wait for the lineup to clear. I think the waves were surg­ing up all over the place and just wash­ing de­bris out to sea.

Who was charg­ing hard­est?

I saw my mate Lu­cas Sil­ve­ria pad­dle for a 12- footer and pull out and get sucked over the falls and it just looked like the end of the world. The wave was just ex­plod­ing, and he got blasted all the way in. Mark Healey blew minds in the af­ter­noon. He was nowhere in the morn­ing, and then in the af­ter­noon he pad­dled out on a 7’6” and he sud­denly had this an­i­mal-like men­tal­ity and he was on any­thing and ev­ery­thing. A big dou­ble up snuck un­der ev­ery one, and he spun and went un­der the lip on it. Some of the guys were say­ing that it was the big­gest wave ever surfed at Nias.

How was the pad­dle out? Did you go via the Key­hole?

The pad­dle out through the key­hole was soo gnarly. It was just wash­ing through and over it. Since the Tsunami you ac­tu­ally walk out to the key­hole and you just hop in, but when guys were try­ing to walk out there was so much wa­ter surg­ing that you would ac­tu­ally get sucked off your feet and sucked into the key­hole. My friend Eli Olson from Hawaii got swept off his feet on the sec­ond day and his leash snagged and he got pulled into the key­hole up­side down. He reck­oned he was un­der wa­ter for like 15 sec­onds and was ready to black out. He was try­ing to do a sit up to get to his leash and he couldn’t, but luck­ily his leash snapped. He got sucked into the rocks and un­der wa­ter and he popped up out­side the Key­hole. I saw him after­wards and he was su­per rat­tled. After that we had to pad­dle out from the bot­tom of the point.

An­other epic Indo trip un­der the belt then?

You know, when you go to In­done­sia you ex­pect blue wa­ter and clean waves, and this was brown wa­ter and black holes, and it just looked more like Mav­er­icks than any­thing else.

Photo: Gram­beau

Matt Brom­ley look­ing for a foothold on a ver­ti­cal de­scent.

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