is 17, and hails from Taapuna, Tahiti

Mateia dug the French Basque Co beachies as it gave him a chance to get away from Sancho for 5 mins… Photo: Alex Laurel

Sounds: Rap (Lil’ Wayne & Gucci Mane)
Food: Raw fish with coconut milk at home and T-Bone steak in France
What’s the difference between going over the falls at Chopes and at Taapuna?
At Taapuna, you’ve got more chance to hit the bottom and get a few cuts. The whitewater ends up straight into dry reef whereas Teahupoo can push you in the lagoon after having beat the crap out of you. At Chopes, you can hit the reef as well but it is more the size and the power of the wave that worries me.
Lime on reef cuts is it still the best cure?
Yeah, and still as painful as he gets, if the blood on the cut doesn’t turn black it is because you haven’t put enough or that there is still some reef bits and pieces in you!
Do you often lie to your mum before going surfing in the big stuff then?
No, no use, you know she is tahitian, so she knows when the ocean is angry and she calls me every 5 minutes to see if I am alright when I am off to Chopes.
Do you own a boat to go surfing?
No, I hitch hike to the surf or paddle to the pass. Boats are expensive. It can take me 20 minutes one way in front of my house and I just hope to get a lift somewhere along the way…
Where do you fit in the hierarchy on both of these line up?
Right at the top at Taapuna for sure, with only a couple of guys going deeper than me. At Chopes, it is a different story. I got introduced by the bodyboarding crew, Tahurai Henri and Alvino Tuquai, they were my ‘entrance door’ when Teahupoo starts to be big enough to do its thing. They were the guys calling me on the big ones and making sure it was mine.
Any scary moments?
Of course, kooking in it on a big day…I though it wasn’t that big actually so I sat on the inside and then a big set came…Made it just in time over the first one, then the second was of course way bigger, mowed me, then the third one, back in lagoon, back at school!!!!
You met also some Hawaiian chargers out there, made your trips to the North Shore a bit easier?
For sure, there is a true Polynesian brotherhood. I remember paddling out at second reef Pipe on my own one day, and straight away Derek Ho came to me and said come on at the back son! And there I was sitting in between Liam and Kala….they’ve been extraordinarly supportive!
Do you get that much love for the French?
Yes, especially the girls hahaha, they love my accent but I have to say it is easier to get lucky in Hossegor than in Biarritz, I prefer the more classy girls down south…
And I’ve been staying with Sancho, surfing and training with him. Getting some good advises from him like « don’t stay out after 2 or 3 am » etc. or when there are waves, wake up early enough for a good Gravière or Mundaka…
Did you get much joy in the contests last summer?
That’s why I came for, to get some experience and I did quite well at the pro junior and in Lacanau, sticking an air reverse and a kerr up in the WQS there! Surfing and watching the world best is an inspiration, when I see guys like Toledo or Medina, I can help thinking why not me! I got the family, friends and shaper support to get me there!

interview by Archi


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