Waterman Issue 01 – Matt Atkinson


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FM: Where are you from?

MA: Margaret River, Western Australia.

FM: Age?

MA: Hmmm…trying not too!

FM: Day job?

MA: Shell Collector.

FM: Years Kiting?

MA: Seven.

FM: What else do you do in the ocean?

MA: Surf, tow surf, dive and relax.

FM: Tell me about the day this photo was taken?

MA: This day was epic. I’d only been there a day or two but was anticipating the swell arriving. It started early with some solid waves (minus the kite) at another nearby left-hand reef break. I knew it was gonna be on when the wind arrived, but I knew there was going to be some crew on it! A friend had mentioned there were some international pro riders around for this swell also. I went directly from the surf to setting up my gear. The tide was now getting quite full which was bringing the swell in. It was bigger than it had been 3-4 hours earlier – a solid six-foot and the wind had blown all the surfers out of the water. The early session on the incoming tide was awesome because most were waiting for the barrel session with less water on the reef; just a few of us out and great conditions for some hacks while the pro’s and paparazzi ate lunch. I went in for some hydration as the numbers in the water increased and the boats with photographers made their way to the lineup. It turned into a barrel feast before my eyes and I had to get back out there.
I’d met photographer Jason Wolcott a few years before and we recognised each other in the lineup.
Fortunately he was in position for this bomb!

FM: Had you ever kited heavy barrels with a photographer in the water?

MA: I’d never kited with photographers in the water. This day there were three! It was pretty hectic; 12 to 15 guys all trying to get barrelled while dodging three heads in the impact zone. If the barrel pinches on you, you can’t see where they are and you can only hope they get out of the way. They really put themselves in harms way!

Right about the time this photo was taken, one of the photographers who was there to shoot the Best team, was pitched headfirst into the reef when a lip exploded on him! He had so much Claret coming from his head I’d thought he’d been run over. Later he received 25 stitches.

FM: Who are your inspirations in kiting?

MA: Coming from a surf community, most of my inspiration comes from surfers and surfing. I had toyed with windsurfing in the early 90s after seeing incredible sailing going on at my home break. After traveling and working abroad through the late 90s and interstate in the early 2000’s, I returned to Margaret River at a time where kiting had been introduced. North kites were doing their R&D there and Sky Solbach was developing the Rebel kite. Before this time I’d only seen flat water kiting on wake-style boards and guys just getting in the way of the windsurfers. Now guys there were riding directional boards going vertical and hacking huge turns in the lip. The standout was Drew Beavis. His vertical attack at the lip on heaving 6-8 foot waves was like watching Slater tear apart Restaurants in Fiji on his black and white video from the early 90’s. It was what got me pumped!

FM: What would a perfect day be in your world?

MA: The word ‘perfect’ conjures up a lot of different images for me.  Big barrels, silky clean ocean conditions, groomed lines stretching out to sea, waves that dwarf the riders, big mountains with deep power lines and crew with icy cold beer in their hands and big smiles on their faces. As long as I’m in the water, on the ocean, or in the mountains, I’m not too fussed about what toys are being used. It’s all good!

FM: What kind of kites and boards are you using?

MA: For kiting I ride a custom Garth Gibbons Surfboards’ polyester fibreglass 5’8″ x 17’ ½ x 1’ 7/8. Garth has shaped with Maurice Cole and Simon Anderson. I ride surfboards and tow boards made by Garth also. My bigger guns for surfing are shaped by Marty Littlewood at Delta Surfboards.

I use North kites and have used them since I started kiting. The safety of the 5th line was great when learning and the wind range and performance of the kites is excellent. They now offer optional 4 or 5 line setup for some of their range.

FM: Shout-outs to your mates?

MA:  I’d have probably been less likely to start kiting if it wasn’t for the encouragement of Marty Littlewood, who is one of our local board shapers in Margaret River. He’s been the go-to-guy for kiting down our way since the start. Marty shapes Surfboards (especially great guns over 8ft) and kite boards and has been involved in windsurfing and sail making, embracing kiting when it emerged here in the early 90’s.
Cheers Marty, for everything you did back then to get me on board!

It’s been so much fun moving from surfing to kitesurfing. It seems to me like a natural progression. Kiting has given me a new passion and keeps me at the beach longer!