Sunday, June 30, 2013

Matt Rockhold: The Work of Surf

Where does your name come from?

From my dad’s side of the family--from what I know it’s Irish, Scottish and German and a little bit of English.

How many siblings do you have?

I have two sisters and three brothers. I was the oldest boy.

How important is your family to you?

Family is everything. Yeah, I love Santa Cruz, but people come and go. Your family is there forever.

You’re known to be a hard-working surfer. Is that true?

I believe it is. Probably because I do what I say I’m going to do. If I say I’m going to shoot photos or do video, then that’s what I do. I’m not going to bullshit, that’s for sure.

Do you think that surfing in general is misrepresented as being carefree?

Yeah, I do. A lot of people think that if you surf then all you do is kick it at the beach all day and smoke weed or something, when it’s far from that. There’s a lot that goes into it. Obviously a lot in the water--the ocean’s a big thing. To make it all happen out there is hard enough but you gotta be well-connected, you gotta keep your contacts, you gotta show face, you gotta convince somebody to pay you to surf. It’s hard, if you’re not on the CT—it’s a complex little thing. You gotta be on it.

That’s a key difference, too: you’re not that interested in contests.

I lost interest in contests a while ago. I have a lot of friends in the surf industry. I don’t want to go out there and jockey and compete and create animosity, cause that’s what it does. No matter how much people say it doesn’t; it does. I like to go out and have fun with my friends. If I get a photo in a magazine, then that benefits me way more than winning a contest.

Do you think it’s harder to get paid as a freesurfer?

You have to set yourself aside to be a freesurfer and get paid for it. Something marketable, and there’s a hundred other guys who are trying to take your spot.

How do you stay in shape, physically, for surfing?

I go to the gym. I try to eat right, but I’ll go to the gym. If I don’t surf, I’ll go to the gym every day.

What’s more important: strength training or cardio?

Cardio. There’s nothing like surfing shape. If it’s flat for a month and I go to the gym every day, I’ll think I’m in great shape but then when I go surfing—it’s crazy, especially here cause of the cold. But definitely eating right, going to the gym, and staying healthy is important for surfing.

Is it difficult to sustain your personal relationships with all of the demands in the surf industry?

My marriage has been a blessing. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have my wife. Everything we’ve achieved, it’s been together. It’s hard, though, you know traveling for a month, then you get to see each other for a half a day and you gotta go again. It’s hard, but if you can get through that, then you can get through anything.

I saw from your Instagram page that you recently lost a pet.

It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through. I don’t have kids. This is my kid. She’s been there since the beginning. She was a little more than 15 and ½. She was my baby. She was there every day. For the first 8 years of her life she was our only pet. We took her to Mexico.

I also saw on your instagram page that you’ve caught some pretty big fish. How important is fishing to you?

I love fishing. It’s my job. It was for a while. I’ve actually had my commercial license for 11 years now. It’s a supplemental income during the summer when it’s flat. It’s a lot of fun.

Surfing and fishing both require a lot of knowledge, patience, and work. What’s more important to you: being smart, being patient, or being hard working?

All of those are so important. You wanna be smart, in anything you do you don’t want to be an idiot. Patience is crucial in any sport like that. Hard working, that’s crucial too. You wanna be that hard worker that people know you’re going to get the job done. In surfing and fishing if you’re not hard working you’re not going to get shit out of it. I can’t even answer the question, though, because they’re all so crucial. Having to go out and catch your money? If you’re not a hard worker in fishing you can go out there and not get any fish in three hours and be out of there, or you can go fishing for eight hours and get two fifty pounders at five o’clock.

In life, do you think it’s more important to be strong or fair, generally speaking?

Once again, I’ve gotta say both are pretty crucial, but I think fair. You gotta be fair and give everyone their equal chance. I totally believe in being fair. Obviously being strong is crucial or you’re going to get tromped on and stompled on.

Is it more important to have fun or to succeed?

Obviously being successful makes you feel good and probably gives you a better lifestyle. You gotta have fun, too, though. If you’re not having fun, then why would you want to do it?

What’s the biggest challenge in your life, right now?

It’s tough being an aging professional surfer and seeing the future and not wanting to let it go because it’s been such an amazing thing to be a part of. I’m taking care of my dad, now, too. That’s a new thing. He needs full assistance. I’m trying to piece together the future. It’s hard.

If you were going to see a movie would you prefer: action/adventure, drama, romance, comedy, horror, surf, or documentary?

Comedy. I like to laugh. I like documentaries too, when you can find a good one.

What about music? What genres of music are you listening to these days?

I listen to country and rap. I’ve always loved rap and my wife got me into country music.

Do you have any advice for young surfers today?

One thing: surfing’s changed. You gotta be doing contests. I would also say to stick with school and make your parents happy. Don’t cut, just do your homework and make your parents happy. Cause if your parents are happy, then life is going to be a lot easier for you. It’s crucial to have an education to give you more options.

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