Art of Surfing owner and surf coach Matt Scorringe was in hot demand last week for his coaching skills in sellout workshops with groms and adults. Alison Smith asked the local some questions.
When the New Zealand Olympic team was unveiled, Whangamata surfer Ella Williams and coach Matt Scorringe, 35, were announced among the team. "Two surfers from Whangamata - that's pretty incredible for the town," reflects Matt.
Why does Whangamata produce such great surfing talent?
"It's definitely a combination of factors, the core are the rich history of the town with surfing, and it all starts with Whangamata Bar. That is the holy grail of Whangamata's surfing history, it's why so many moved into town and became the core pioneers of surfers and manufacturers. They were the first generation, and the then the second generation like the Kennings boys, Dune and Ben, Ella and myself and a list of school kids out of that time are products of that environment. Whangamata's surf environment plus history of quality of surfers and surfers to look up to and be inspired by and pushed by."
What attributes does Whangamata have in its set up that defines this environment?
"From my coaching perspective, a quality wave combined with the typically standard beach break. In competition, people have to surf bad waves good, and to do that they have to generate their own speed vs surfing places like Raglan and Taranaki. There's a long list of world champions that grew up on crap waves. We had that plus Whangamata Bar that didn't break often but when it did, it ironed things out."
How helpful is coaching for older surfers who've been surfing for a long time?
"I coach a lot of adult recreational surfers, we pick a bad day because it highlights issues. If you want to get better, go out in everything."
Can you unravel bad habits built up over time?
"Adults are fun to work with, they're easy to get the big wins from. There are two core principles that have strastically changed their surfing because they've never really been told. They didn't have Instagram and video footage to watch waves on, and these things are game changers. [However] take off and stance are your fingerprints now. You can improve really quickly as an adult, there's definitely hope, I've had a 60-year-old woman on my camp."
Do manufacturers play a role?
"We had Paul Shanks, Pete Anderson,[Ray Finlay] Byrning Spears who worked with Bob Davie, Moss plus Pete Mitchell at Saltwater Surfboards. The list is rich. Pete Anderson is at the absolute forefront of high performance boards. Most kids in the upper North Island ride his boards, he's definitely in the top three so we're so lucky. Not to discredit Shanksy, he's a massive part of my journey as is Moss and Byrning Spears."
What do you think about how busy it is surfing Whangamata Bar, and its localism?
"It's renowned for being a world class wave and also for having a local environment. It's one of those grey areas where I travel the world and want to share waves, I'm not a local at. Anyone that surfs with me would agree I'm not too into localism. I grew up in Whangamata so I know a lot of people and get nice waves but I'm mindful of my role and what I do helping surfers.
There are a lot who don't get around much because of their age and work life. It's hard when you get people in that don't understand the rules. That's locals wanting a line-up to be safe not having a chaotic mess. One thing it has done for surfers in Whangamata is teaching them how to hussle and get waves, and that's one thing you can get in an international line-up. You get good at being able to rock up and get waves anywhere in the world."
- Matt has coaching options and a blog on his site www.theartofsurfing.co.nz