STUCK IN TRANSIT M AT T BEMROSE
You hear it when you travel, you read it in the travel magazines and online. New Zealand, our country, has a reputation as the most beautiful, serene and untouched place on the planet. A visit to our shores is on most tourists ‘Bucket List’. As locals it is easy to take what we have for granted, so we thought from now on we would catch up with visiting surfers that we run into on our travels and get the word from them on their experiences while taking in the waves, views and vibes of Aoteroa. It just might make you appreciate how good we have it just that little bit more. This issue we feature Matt Bemrose who as the Volcom Coach/Team Manager for the top level WCT Men’s-Prime WQS Men’s and Woman’s WCT athletes, has spent a heap of time this side of the Tasman and hung around our shores on and off for a decade.
What usually brings you to NZ? Competitions, Juniors, WQS, and Women’s
When did you first come to NZ and what were your initial thoughts? My first trip to NZ was over 10 years ago, and my first thought was Holy shit this place is amazing. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes when I first came over the hill into Raglan…. I wondered why anyone would want to leave this place and why it wasn’t more built up. That trip was for a Pro Junior at Raglan, I remember hearing about the wave from people that have been there but words don’t do the place justice. I was taking about 10 grommets and I remember the first day of competition waking up to 4-6 foot flawless Whale Bay and I remember thinking to myself "WTF" this is better than every place we competed around the world in WQS's and these bloody Juniors get this to themselves… I couldn’t believe that this wasn’t a WCT and I told every Junior that day they should cherish this opportunity because when they hit the WQS it aint nothing like this…" you lucky bastards" As a professional surfer you get to travel the globe to many epic locations, so what gives NZ the big thumbs up in terms of attracting you here? The simplest answer is, the waves. NZ is one of the most consistent places on the planet and has a vast variety of waves (from what I have seen) out of anywhere. And it’s also one of the more beautiful places on the planet, long rolling hills with plenty of trees. The drive from Gisborne to Raglan is amazing in itself, going down the gorge was crazy.
You were a travelling pro yourself, at what level did you compete? I competed on the WQS for around five years and got close to Qualifying then got injured, then the job opportunity came up with Volcom and I jumped onto it. I represented Australia two times and Captained them the first time at the ISA World Champs.
How many times have you been to NZ and what have been your most memo
rable experiences? I have been to NZ around 15 times and each time I have had very memorable experiences, I think a lot of the time the people make the place and even though I’m an Aussie everyone has been cool as with me, if you don’t act like a dick head in the water and give respect then I was shown respect (after a while hahahah) and I loved that. But if I could break it all down to the most memorable then it would have to be when we I flew with the Volcom team over for the Cold Water Classic in Gisborne. I also flew my then girlfriend (now wife) over with us for a special reason - I wanted to ask her to marry me and after four failed attempts I got it done… I wanted to do it in NZ because of its beauty and if she didn’t say yes I could leave her there with the Quinn's hahahahah. Also on that trip, like every other one I have done, we scored ridiculous waves seven out of the eight days staying there….
Where have you scored the best surf during your stays? Every trip I have done we have scored. I was in Taranaki earlier this year for the woman's WCT with Coco Ho, where she got second. Chicken Boy (Laura Enever's brother) and I surfed every arvo and it was pumping. I remember saying to him "does this place ever get bad?!". Out of all the places I have been there I can’t go past Raglan, that place fucking pumps, it has so many different sections each challenging, and offers up a variety of wave shapes that would be very hard to get sick of even if you lived for a thousand years.
So will you be back anytime soon? I plan on checking the charts when I get back from Hawaii and if there are any good swells coming I'll be there, taking up space on one of JC's couches.
Matt not only loves the NZ vibe, he's also got a great track record of scoring here. A late arvo backhand shred at Fitzroy Beach, Taranaki. Photo: Cory.