Surfer Matt Meola from Hawaii does not participate in a lot of contests. Not really his thing.
The 29-year-old is a soulful sort of surfer who likes to fish, hunt, wants to design fishing lures using his hair and is raising a deer. Yes, a deer named Doe-nut.
He is backed by sponsors and has a film crew — more like one person — who follows him to the waves.
The 2020 Tokyo Games, where surfing is to make its Olympic debut? That is not him.
Meola is content catching a wave wherever and whenever there is a wave worth catching.
“All my best memories of surfing are my highlight waves I’ve caught,” Meola said in an interview before leaving to participate in the World Surf League’s aerial event in France beginning this weekend. “I’m more into the innovative side and trying new tricks.”
His introduction to surfing began when he was two years old and his dad took him out, but it was not his first love. That honor belonged to skateboarding as his family constantly took him to the park to ride.
He started on the contest circuit when he was 15 — a couple in Maui, a few more on the other islands, but it was expensive and really not his forte.
Sure, he did well — really well, even winning a state championship — but he felt like he was in a pressure cooker.
“I don’t like being told when to surf or only to be able to go out for 30 minutes at a time,” Meola said. “I see surfing more as an art form than a sport, anyway. It’s hard to judge because everyone has got an opinion on who they like. I’ve never really been into it.”
Filming combined with surfing? Now that is a different tale.
A few years back, he made a video clip — with help from cinematographer Elliot Leboe — of his surfing exploits that won him a US$100,000 contest.
The video went viral and helped launch the next chapter of Meola’s career, earning him a deal with the Rockstar energy drink, along with other sponsors. Before that, Meola was making US$700 a month.
It changed nothing, though.
“I’m trying to do the next big thing that I haven’t done yet,” he said.
One of his favorite spots is in Peahi, Hawaii, which is better known as “Jaws” for its huge breaks that can exceed 15m. Once, Meola caught a giant wave and wiped out at the end. The wave engulfed him and the leash from his board bound his feet together. Somehow, he worked his way free.
That was pretty much the end of his big-wave riding.
“He was shook up for a very long time,” said his mom, Nancy. “He charges and goes for it, but we’re like: ‘You know, you don’t have to do that.’”
“He just loves surfing more for its artistic representation. He’s an artist. His art is putting together these videos that are anticipated, because he’s probably one of the most innovative surfers of his time,” she said.
These days, he is into aerials, where a rider does a trick off a wave. He studies snowboard and skateboard maneuvers and takes them to the water, even though no two waves are the same.
For most, this weekend’s aerial event could be viewed as a way to squeeze some practice for the Tokyo Olympics, but not for Meola.
“Winning a gold medal would be pretty huge,” Meola said. “But to me, the best surfer in the world is the surfer who can do it in all conditions.”
“My passion is to go out and try to get the best footage I possibly can and piece it all together and make a cool edit for people to watch,” he said.
A maestro on his surf board, Meola and his buddy, Jon Spenser, have crafted numerous short films. Meola is the actor and helps pick the music.
When he is not surfing, he is fishing or bow hunting. Among his pets is Doe-nut, a deer he took in.
While hunting on a ranch, a buddy texted him that he had shot a deer only to discover she was pregnant. His friend delivered the fawn, gave her CPR and put her in a backpack to carry out. They met up with Meola, who ended up adopting the fawn.
“I’d like to be more recognized as an outdoorsy person who likes to surf, hunt, spearfish and fish,” Meola said. “Surfing is a small part of that. When you blend it all together, that’s really who I am.”
TAIWANESE TO PLAY: Jason Jung faces Frederico Coria in the men’s singles first round today, while in the women’s singles, Hsieh Su-wei is to take on Barbara Haas Novak Djokovic is to renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown. The only man to beat Djokovic this year is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open. The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome. Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to
Taiwan’s Jason Jung was knocked out of the first round of the French Open in straight sets on Sunday, while Andy Murray said it was going to be “difficult” for the former world No. 1 to reach his level of old after he also fell to a lopsided defeat by fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Jung fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Argentina’s Federico Coria in 3 hours, 19 minutes at Roland Garros, despite hitting 55 winners. Jung served for both the first and second sets, then failed to convert two set points at 5-4 in
Michael Schumacher’s son Mick said that the prospect of Lewis Hamilton equaling the Ferrari great’s all-time record of 91 wins has given him something to aim for when he gets to Formula One. Hamilton, who replaced Michael Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, can take his 91st victory in today’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi — a race he has won four times previously. “One sentence my dad always used to say was: ‘Records are there to be broken.’ It’s everybody’s aim in this sport to do that,” Formula Two championship leader Mick Schumacher said on Friday. “I think Lewis had a very, very
Taiwan Steel on Sunday took sole possession of the top of the Taiwan Football Premier League standings for the first time this season after a 9-2 thrashing of Taipower in a title showdown in which man-of-the-match Marc Fenelus scored four goals and provided two assists. In a match billed as the season’s key battle between the league’s two leading teams, both on 36 points, Taipower’s players wilted under the pressure and got blown away by an outstanding display from Taiwan Steel, who cruised to their ninth consecutive victory. Taiwan Steel opened the scoring within five minutes in the rain in Taoyuan when