The hype surrounding Mateia Hiquily will not be contained to the islands of the South Pacific for long. The 16-year-old surfs with an unyielding swagger above the lip and an inborn moxie at Teahupoo—byproducts of a youth spent in Tahiti. With his recent clip for Taylor Steele’s Innersection attesting to all this and then some, he is primed for a bigger stage. Put him on your radar. Meet Mateia.
Interview by Bryan Brotherson
My name is Mateia Hiquily, I’m 16 years old and I was born and raised in Tahiti. I started surfing at 9. I happened to find a broken surfboard on the beach, and that’s what pulled the trigger for me.
What’s your timeline for the next few years?
I’m still going to school for now. I’m trying to grab as many points as I can, doing contests in Tahiti and Australia. Trying to get good results on the Junior circuit, and then qualify for the WQS. My ultimate goal is, of course, to make the World Tour.
What inspired you to enter Innersection?
The thing that stoked me about the contest was that they were asking for big maneuvers, and I already had some good footage. Being the youngest entrant really pushed me to give it my best shot. When you see the tricks the older guys are throwing, you just want to do the same.
How do you picture the future of surfing?
I think the surfers on the Tour will shred twice as hard. They won’t be doing turns anymore. They will change rollers into air-reverses on every wave. Take surfers like Jordy and Owen, they are the kind of guys who know how to surf in competitions and who know how to do airs. They are the guys who can change surfing.
Who’s your favorite surfer?
Josh Kerr. I love his surfing because he does sick airs and I love that he rips in competitive and free surfing. I also like John John Florence because he is capable of anything—big barrels and crazy airs.
What’s it like with Teahupoo as your home break?
I remember when I went out there the first time at 14. I was staying near the boat to watch the wave and see how it breaks. Five minutes later, everyone was screaming and shouting for me to come. And then a bomb started to form, they told me to go and blocked the wave for me, so at this exact moment everyone at the spot stopped paddling and I felt almost obliged to go in order to not waste the wave. It might seem rude, but that’s the way I learned to surf Teahupoo. Scared or not, you have to go when you have to go.
How does your mother feel about that?
I always try to create an elaborate escape plan from home because I know she won’t let me go to Teahupoo when it’s fat. Most of the time when she finds out the waves are big, she calls me like every 10 minutes to see if I’m okay.