You know the type. Young. Blonde hair. Athletic. Olive skin. Cruiser. I mean, it’s as if God was like ‘and I shall make thee fair-haired and good-natured with bronzed skin, and ye shall be a surfer’. So it seems Matt Banting was just always destined to be an epic at his craft. How epic you ask? Well, let me refer to my notes for a second. Yep, this guy has been epic since his two tiny feet first stepped onto a board. All his dad’s friends totally say so.
Now 20 and these days sponsored by Quicksilver, Matt has an impressive list of achievements under his belt. When he was 16 years old, he won the World Title in his age category. Oh and there was something else he did when he was 16…what was it…trying to think. That’s right. He won a heat against this guy that’s sort of well known in the surfing world and like, the world. You might have heard of him. His name rhymes with smelly hater. Yep. Kelly Slater. Imagine being 16 and being able to say to your mates ‘you should’ve seen the other day when I was surfing with Kelly Slater and’ well who cares really how that sentence ends because Matt surfed against THE greatest in the surfing world and came out on top. Not that he boasts about it. Nup. Matt, or Matty, takes it all in his stride and still can’t believe the life he’s living. He counts Slater as his hero, as you would, and is enjoying the ride like nobody’s business.
Banting is currently ranked 2nd on the Word Qualifying Series, or WQS circuit, which is sort of like the minor league of pro surfing (we totally didn’t look that up), and will next year be competing in the World Championship Tour, WCT, the big league of the surfing world. It’s where it’s at. Imagine being such a legend at 20 years old. This means Matt will be travelling and competing for about 35 weeks next year, which can sometimes be a drawback of his envious lifestyle.
‘Sometimes you’re rocking up to these dangerous places on your own in the dark, that can be a bit daunting. I’ve had situations where I’ve turned up in the middle of the night and my accommodation wasn’t sorted. It can get a bit hairy,’ said Matt. Not that he’s complaining. ‘You miss your friends and family and sometimes it’s hard to leave, but it just makes you appreciate everything back home even more.’
There’s been a few scary moments along the way in the surf as well. Once, when Matt was surfing in Hawaii at 14 years of age, he had a run in with ‘an older massive guy’. Matt was minding his own business when this guy started screaming that Banting had cut in on him on a wave. ‘He was a junkie and was basically trying to intimidate me so I’d give him some money. I paddled as fast as I could back to shore with him following me. Luckily my mate knew someone who lived just behind the beach and I grabbed $50 and handed it over. That was all he wanted.’
Matt keeps himself in top form to stay competitive at the high end of the surfing world. ‘I work out at the gym four to five times a week for two hours at a time. It’s all about getting fitter and stronger to go up against the best in the game.’
As the saying goes, if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life. Matt’s found this to be true. ‘The best part of what I do is just the surfing itself. I get to surf on trips away. I get to surf at home. I never lose the love for what I do. There’s nothing better than getting home to an empty beach and being out surfing in the ocean on your own,’ he says.
So the future for this young gun looks pretty bright, much like his career to date. He looks forward to doing well on the WCT and getting into the top 10 and then the top 5. His outlook on life is simple. He just wants to be happy and doing well in life and in surfing.
Uncomplicated. Content. How refreshing.
We’ll be watching and cheering you on Matty.