第10回 マット・チョナスキー Art of Trim〜サーフカルチャーの昇華

No. 10 Matt Chonasky Art of Trim ~ Sublimation of surf culture

Matt Chonaski is well versed not only in classic longboard riding, but also in the history and culture behind it. He has gone beyond being a logger and has been boldly charging big waves in recent years, while also being active in shortboard and junior contests as a WSL commentator.

For our memorable 10th episode, we will be featuring MR. WAXHEAD, an Australian native who owns classic cars and lowriders and is a lover of SO CAL - California style.

(Narrabeen Photo: Ian Bird)

Since last year, you've been away from your hometown of Sydney, Australia for a long time and have been traveling all over the world.

I came to Central California at the end of November to commentate on a WSL QS event and hit some amazing waves at a secret spot. Then I went to El Salvador for Christmas with my fiancée and her relatives and got some amazing waves with a rare south and west swell for this time of year. Then I followed the same west swell back to California and surfed the once in decades giant Rincon. It was probably 20ft . At the start of the year I went to the North Shore of Hawaii and surfed some decent sized waves at Sunset Beach.

( Sunset, Jan '24 Photo: Dani Toro

I saw some epic sessions at Rincon and Sunset on your Instagram. What prompted you to go beyond longboarding and try bigger waves recently?

I think the world has changed dramatically due to COVID-19, including the way society works, but my own lifestyle has also changed significantly since going through the pandemic, and it's given me an opportunity to reexamine my life.

I went to three WLT (World Longboard Tour) events in 2019, and placed seventh in the first event of the year , Noosa. After Noosa, I went to the wave pool in California, then Malibu. I was pretty confident about my performance in Malibu, so I was focusing on the competition with my eyes on the world title. But then the world went into lockdown due to COVID. In Australia, people were prohibited from traveling more than a 5km radius from their homes, and it was even impossible to go outside the country. So I had to spend more time at home, but as a result, historic big waves came to Sydney every day, and the best conditions of my life continued for two years. Swells over 10 feet came every two weeks, and they never went below 2 feet.

I've always been into longboarding and I've always liked big wave surfing, but I didn't have much experience. During the lockdown, I got out of competition mode and started riding big waves at home on various board styles, such as single and quad guns, and getting into big barrels on a longboard, exploring my own potential with a new approach. At that moment, I reached a place I'd never been able to reach before! It was a moment when I felt really glad that I'd pursued surfing for so long.

The world stopped moving due to COVID-19, and people may have lost a lot. But in the end, it made me feel more important about the things I love, classic cars and surfing, and it gave me the opportunity to step into the world of big waves. Just like Bob McTavish and other pioneers pioneered the world of big waves in the 1960s and 1970s .

Are you in California again now? You've been there quite a bit outside of contests, haven't you?

I'm currently in Oceanside as a commentator for the WSL World Junior Championship. California is my birth of cool and inspires me a lot. I feel like I'm traveling back in time every time I come here, with its classic cars, surf style, and surf history. Of course, times change, but there's something about it that connects me. Of course, I love Australia, where I was born and raised, and it has a great surf culture. But I really think I'm a unique Australian. (laughs)

Do you continue to run your family car business whilst travelling around the world? What cars do you own?

Yes, the name is Taylor & Botham Bodyworks , and they do things like restoring old cars. The cars they currently drive are a 1971 VW pickup trap, a 1961 Chevy panel van lowrider, and a 1971 Ford Econoline surf car.

How did you get started as a commentator for the WSL and how long have you been doing it? You're not just involved with longboarding, you're involved with shortboarding as well.

I guess it's been five years now. I've been getting serious about it since 2022 and participating in more WSL events. I've always loved the history and culture of surfing, and of course I love surfing myself. Personally, I don't think surfing is necessarily a sport, but a performance art. It's fun to hear about the surfboards they use in interviews after the heats and to tell everyone about their backgrounds. I think I'm able to show a different side of professional surfing than others. Since I'm involved in the competition, I want to make it more enjoyable by participating. I don't just complain and watch from the outside. I want to cooperate as long as WSL and everyone finds my perspective interesting.

You also coach longboarders in competitions. Why do you specialize in women?

The reason is that I'm still competing in contests, even if I teach strategies to my male opponents (laughs). In the past 5 or 6 years, I've coached not only young Aussies, but also many champions, such as Chloe Calomon from Brazil and Honolua Bloomfield from Hawaii. They know surfing and are familiar with the culture. That's what it's all about for me, and I can't coach someone who doesn't want to feel that connection. What we ride the wave means to different people, but it's definitely a spiritual dance. If you can feel that connection, whether it's competition or free surfing to improve your own skills, surfing becomes more valuable. And ultimately, I want to create a better surfing environment.

(with Chloe Calmon)

What got you into longboarding?

My parents were originally Polish immigrants and I grew up in a non-surfing household. We lived right on the beach in Sydney so I joined the Junior Lifeguards and started surfing with my dad. My first board was a chunky 5'6" thruster from Hot Buttered in the 80's , which was the perfect board to start surfing on.

At first, I was riding the waves desperately on a shortboard, but before I knew it, I was fascinated by the longboarders who came to my usual beach and gracefully rode the small waves. I didn't know it at the time, but it was 1964 World Champion Midget Farrelly. He would do one round every morning and then go to work. Later, I borrowed my father's longboard and copied his style by watching him. I was lucky to be surrounded by legends like Tom Carroll, Damien Hardman, Terry Fitzgerald, and Simon Anderson at home, as well as stars like Nathan Hedge, Nathan Webster, and Luke Steadman. But nothing could compare to the impact of Midget Farrelly that morning. In Australia, which was behind California and Japan, longboarding was not popular or cool in the 90s , let alone the early 2000s . But I was captivated by the timeless and creative style of the classic longboard.

I started longboarding seriously and met John Gill of Keyo Surfboards and then Robin Keigal, and rode Gato Hero . He's a California guy, but he's also familiar with Australian surf culture and makes unique spaceship style surfboards. That is, surfboard designs from after 1967 , when longboarding stopped evolving. It's new age, but it's different from the later 2+1 high performance longboards ( HP ). I don't like HP style longboarding at all because I'm a single fin. The whole reason to ride a longboard is for the trim and glide, which you can never get on an HP . True longboarding is flow, speed, trim, and glide.

How did you meet Bob McTavish, the pioneer surfer and legendary shaper who has been active since the 1960s?

I met Bob when I went to Noosa with Robbie. At that time, I was like, "Oh, Bob!" "Oh, WAXHEAD (Matt's nickname)! It's like my MINI ME " (laughs). About six months after that meeting, Bob's McTavish Surfboards decided to rebrand from its mass-produced style for overseas markets. At the same time, Robbie was also handing over the brand to a fellow distributor in Australia, and I no longer needed to ride his boards. So Bob started making boards for me, and he was able to reproduce the templates from the 60s .

A 9'3" Involvement Style, a 9'10 " D- fingered gun that Bob actually rode in Hawaii, a 7'6" Tracker model, and a Matt Tracker - a total of three single fins. These are the best boards I've ever owned, and of course I still cherish them. They are one of a kind, with the quality of the equipment and the purpose being what they are, and I've been incredibly lucky to be part of his team and ride his designs for the past 13 years. I've been involved in six board designs so far, and the Involvement Style was completed in collaboration with Bob, and was one of the first designs I started riding both domestically and overseas (Note: a log of the so-called PIG style, which is currently a trend).

I've had the opportunity to design boards with some of the best in the world, including Keyo , Bennet , Robbie Kegal, and Bob McTavish, and it has really increased my surfboard IQ and fin IQ in terms of everything from rails to rocker to fin position, and I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to experience surfing history firsthand.

(w/Bob McTavish)

What is the Art of Trim that you do?

Over the last few years , I've been riding classic single fin longboards, shortboards, and gams in a variety of conditions. Luckily, COVID gave me plenty of time to focus on surfing, push myself to the limits, and put together the Art of Trim project.

A lot of people around the world started surfing and now a lot of people contact me for information. But I don't do traditional coaching. Traditional surf schools teach you how to stand on a surfboard, but they don't teach you the culture, the history, the theory. That's why I started The Art of Trim .

We don't lecture on the technical aspects of how to hang ten, but rather help people understand why they hang ten on this part of the wave and where it comes from. For one thing, we talk about the origins of fins from dolphins and George Greenough. By providing various materials, telling backstories, and giving it a cultural aspect, people's surfing becomes a wonderful art.

The Art of Trim is, first and foremost, a fan of good surfing. When the mind, board, and waves come together, a beautiful scene unfolds. Although it is still a small-scale business, we would like to share the wonder of surfing with many people, whether online or in person.

What are your plans for 2024?

There will probably be four WLT Tours, so I will participate in them. I will also continue to work as a commentator for WSL contests held around the world. After Oceanside, I will go to the Philippines. In recent years, shortboards, longboards, and surfing have become popular in Asian countries, and I feel that they are developing in their own way. In the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Taiwan, surf culture is understood and stylish longboarders are also being cultivated. I will soon be completing a movie that compiles footage from the past few years, so I would like to go to Japan to show it soon.

What do surfing and the beach mean to you?

Freedom! For me, surfing is a means of expression and enriches my life. You only live once, so be true to yourself and pursue your passion so you don't have any regrets.

Matt Chonaski: Born in 1988, Matt Chonaski is from and currently lives in Sydney, Australia. He started to stand out in his early teens as a classic longboarder. He has deep connections with the legends and is well versed in surf culture and history. He owns not only vintage boards but also several classic cars, and although he is Australian, he is one of those who live up to the SO CAL style. In recent years, he has been charging big waves with the classic style of the past. As well as competing in WLT contests around the world, he is also active as a WSL commentator, conveying the fun and beauty of surfing in all genres, including shortboards and longboards.

Instagram: @thewaxhead @theartoftrim

Interview / Kawazoe Mio Born and currently living in Kamakura , Kanagawa Prefecture. Graduated from the surfing club at University of California, San Diego. With a father who was a first generation Japanese surfer, Kawazoe was exposed to overseas culture from an early age. From the early 1990s , she lived in San Diego and Malibu, California for 10 years, experiencing the longboard revival. After returning to Japan, she became the editor-in-chief of ON THE BOARD and worked on magazine media such as GLIDE . Until now, she has used her own network to introduce real California logs and the alternative surf scene to Japan.

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