Mataio and I met some years back briefly and via the magic of social media we have kept in touch. I have watched as he has taken on every watercraft that is wind or wave propelled. He is without doubt ‘the master waterman’. A man as comfortable in the water as on dry land. As you will read it is his life’s passion. Mataio is Tahitian, and I have left his answers as he wrote them, if they are a little difficult to understand try reading with a French accent and all will become clear!
OK Mataio – tell us who Mataio Tahiti is – where you are from, how you got into so many water sports and why? Your family, wife and kids, work?
Hi Steve, I just wanted to say thank you for reaching out to me to do this interview. As for your question: I have the life that I have always dreamed of. In the past I have had many jobs, most of which were a means to an end to help me surf. Now I am lucky enough to surf and get a pay check for it. My main sponsor is RRD, they sponsor my SUP, wind, kite, and clothing, which is a waterman’s dream sponsor. I live with my girlfriend and my 18months lil mermaid called Malia in Papara, Tahiti.
Everyone I know who knows you describes you as a waterman – what does it mean to be a waterman?
I love that simple description, « The one who works or lives on the ocean »
A man who lives, breathes and sleeps the ocean life.
Also the one who understand it and know how dangerous like the mountain it can be.
Have you always lived in Tahiti?
After a very special childhood, travelling and living in different countries, from France to Vanuatu and Mauritania in Africa, I arrived at French Polynesia when I was 18, directly to Tubuai island before moving to Tahiti when I was 21 to go to the university. I never left Tahiti since this day.
How does Tahiti suit your waterman way of life?
French Polynesia and specially where I live, is a remote part of the island where time moves slow and people live with only the basics. I’m lucky to have a life where when I wake up, I decide what I want to do based on the weather. If there is wind, I will go kite board, windsurf, or downwind SUP. If there are waves, I will SUP surf. I do most of my photography on my own, or my wonderful and beautiful girlfriend Amandina will take photos of me for my coverage. I’m very detail oriented and try very hard to get the best and most creative shots and video.
You seem always at the cutting edge of new product how much are you involved with investigation and development with your sponsors?
A big part of my work is to test new gear, specially SUP and Foil products, to give them feed-back and improve the quality and performance of this gear. I’m very interested in technology, the evolution of shapes and materials.
You seem to be in love with each of the disciplines kite, windsurf, sub, foil, surf – is there one you are more passionate about and why?
My dad is a windsurfer since the beginning of the sport and windsurfing is my first love.
That sport helps you for all the others. Balance on the board also understand the wind with the sail. And that freedom feeling to go by yourself from a landmark A to a landmark B.
In a word tell me something special about each discipline?
SUP foil SILVER SURFER
Downwind FLYING FISH
Kiteboard BIG AIR
So do you also participate in Va’a the more traditional way of getting around on the water in Tahiti?
I used to be part of a local team when I spend 3 years in a remote island call Tubuai at 1hour plane ride from Tahiti. It was such a good immersion into the Polynesian culture. Now to tell you the true I have enough to do every day with the other toys.
Have you been involved in many competitions and how has that gone for you?
I was never ever involved in competitions and contest is not the thing that I enjoy watching to be honest.
Tahiti is known for some big swell – have you taken on those locally – I am guessing Sapinus would be close for you?
For sure my friend and Sapinus was one of my favourite waves but I’m lucky to get Teahupoo lil sister just in front of my house call ‘James’ this is famous Raimana’s Playground to training for big Teahupoo.
What does the future hold for Mataio?
In the future my next dream is to become a team manager at RRD in Italy where I’ll spend half of the year there, and the other half in Tahiti. I want to continue bringing people into the ocean who are not familiar with it to share the things I love to do and appreciate. Past that I have no plans as I’ve never wanted to plan my life out that far ahead. I always take what life gives me and make the best possible situation out of the cards I am dealt.