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Mark Mathews

Team Maxum

Inspired by sun, beach and surf, Maxum is designed for the active lifestyle. The Maxum Team is comprised of big wave riders, national champions and surfing prodigies.

The Maxum Team have been hand picked not only for their sporting achievements, but for their resilience, perseverance and determination to be the best they can be.

Meet your team

Mark Mathews

When the swell forecast predicts waves over 40 feet, Mark Mathews dives in across the globe. He’s won the Oakley Big Wave crown three times, and is one of the top big wave riders in the world today.

Introduce yourself...
I’m Mark Mathews, 32 years old and I’m from Maroubra beach in Sydney, Australia. I’ve been a professional surfer for the last 15 years.

How did you get into surfing?
It was my dad who first got me in to it. He grew up as a surfer down at Maroubra then gave up surfing when he started in medicine. When I was old enough to surf, at about 8 years old, he took up surfing again. So it was like we both started surfing at the same time. He basically taught me everything I know until I was about 16 and started riding bigger waves. Then I started surfing with the Abberton brothers. They took me to the next level.

Have you always been fearless?
It’s funny whenever people see what I do for a living they think that I must have been born fearless, or that I'm just completely crazy, but in all reality when I was young I was terrified. I always pushed myself to go out, but I always had this fear of coming back in, falling on a wave and then getting caught inside. So I was always stuck out the back in the surf and just wouldn’t be able to get in. More often than not it was actually my mum that had to come out and come and rescue me. I think my mom was always rescuing me until I was 12 years old and I’m not talking big waves but four foot waves. I don’t now what it was. I think I had a wipeout when I was really young that just terrified me, I carried that fear for years. I was just so paranoid about getting caught inside.

How did you get over it?
Just experience got me over the fear eventually. It’s just getting caught inside over and over and then realising that it's not as bad as I thought it was. And then learning how to deal wit those situations. Learning how to not panic and just making smart choices.

From a scared kid to one of the world's most renowned big wave surfers ... how?

I remember I was 17 and I was first starting to travel around and surf with other professional surfers at that time. And I think that desire as I was growing up just wanted to surf bigger and bigger waves just gave me a head start on everyone else when the surf got big. All of the sudden I was getting renowned as the guy that surfed big waves. That’s where the career came about.

Your careers not been without its challenges?
I can’t remember much of surfing that day that I got injured down at Shipsterns in Tasmania. I don't remember riding the wave at all. The first memory I have was waking up underwater and not knowing at all where I was. Just completely terrified, I was just floating around. It was dark, cold and eerie and I had no idea where I was or what was happening. It lasted for three or four seconds until I broke the surface. Then I felt huge pain in my neck and pins and needles running down my hands. Then I saw the big cliff face at Shipsterns Bluff and realised where I was and what had happened and it just terrified me. I was so scared at this point that I had done something that was just going ruin my career and I'd never be able to surf again.

Thankfully my mates rescued me, kept my neck stable and, after a two hour boat ride, got me to hospital. It was pressure from my disks compressing the nerves, as opposed to a broken neck, so I was lucky. The doctor said I'd be back surfing in a month. I was physically fine in six weeks surfing again but no part of me wanted to surf big waves. It took about a year to get over that.

Coming back from the experience must've been hard?
While I was coming back from the injury it felt like I had gone back to being a kid again. The exact same feelings all over again. It wasn’t so much about being caught inside or stuck out the back. But I just had that same fear of wiping out. And it was just like my confidence had completely gone. I'd built up this level of confidence of surfing big waves over, six or seven years, and I just wiped it out. And everything thing I did I second guessed, every wave that came through I second guessed before I took off and pulled back on every set. It was a painful year.

So the physical was easier to repair than the mental?
I spoke to sports psychologists but there wasn’t much they could tell me. It’s hard when they don’t understand what you are going through and they don’t have the experience of surfing big waves. I met a trainer, Norm Baldwin, he's a free dive coach and his help was really good in the lead up to big swells. So he got me doing a whole bunch of mental techniques. At least I didn’t have that anxiety for a week before I turned up to surf and that made a massive difference, because when I turned up to surf on that day, I was at least feeling healthy and fit. And that gave a bit more of my confidence back. I started to focus more on why I wanted to get my career back on track. On everything that it could bring into my life if I got things back on track. I think just focussing on that gave me the drive to start taking of on bigger waves again. I pushed myself a little bit harder and then it slowly started to come back right up until the comeback swell at Shipsterns.

Must've been hard surfing the nemesis?
That morning I was terrified. I was physically healthy, but I still had the doubts in my head but I just knew I had to get it done, I had to get to get that day over with and I would be back to where I was. So as scared as I was, I was more psyched to get my career back. And I remember Richie pulling up to the boat when I was waiting for my turn to tow and he was like, 'Jump on the rope!'

I said, 'Whatever comes through, as big as it is, just tow me into it. I just want to get it done.' Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for, because within five minutes the biggest wave of the day came through and the whole horizon just went black. Riding it, I was so scared, the thing was just like a six, seven story building, chasing me down the reef. It had all kinds of steps and I was just focussing on what I had to do to get the bottom and in the barrel and I ended up getting absolutely smashed on it, but I didn’t hit the bottom, I got rolled around like the most violent washing machine you've ever seen, eventually it just popped me up, and then I was more excited coming out from the wipeout than any wave I've ever ridden.Wiping out like that I felt almost invincible again. And then for the rest of the surf I had one of my best surfs ever. And it was like from that point on, I felt my confidence was back from where it was before the injury.

You're not shy of challenging yourself...
I had a friend in the industry who was a public speaker who climbed all the biggest mountains around the world and delivered talks about what it took to get to the top. He approached me and said you should really come and do this with me, your story of how you overcame your fears in surfing would resonate really well with people, so I just thought I'd give it a go. And I'm more scared of public speaking than surfing huge waves! It terrifies me. The key message I love to get across to people is that as long as you want something enough and you focus on what it is you want and what it will mean for your life and what it will mean for the lives of your loved ones, if you focus on that enough, then there is no amount of fear that can hold you back from getting there. You can get through anything that you feel is a limitation of whatever holds you back, you just need to want what is on the other side of the fear enough and then you do whatever it takes to get there.

If you’re not pushing yourself pass your own personal limitations I feel like you're wasting away I mean everyone's got that the chance of feeling those feelings of greatness it all depends on how far you push past your like personal limitations to how exciting your life’s gonna be and life is so short like it's all over soon. you might as well make the most of it now and for me that's living as an exciting life as possible. Life is really short. Today is perfect for you to overcome your fears.