By Alex Ryden
Matt Wilkinson ain’t a chump. He knows how hard getting paid to surf is these days. Just like college, graduation from the WQS doesn’t always ensure a financially successful surf career. Plus, the grind is losing its grandeur. Money is tight in sponsor-land and tuition to the big leagues has been scaled back. Many of the world’s most exciting surfers have turned from competition almost completely, knowing they can get twice the amount of exposure hunting down photos and clips rather than points. And then there are guys like Wilko — he could go either direction: photo slut, contest slut. Either way, he’s got the talent to succeed. And it is this conscious pursuit of well roundedness that has made Wilko the threat he is today: a surfer committed to the traditions of the competitive battlefield, yet radical enough to excel in surfing’s ever-changing and innovative future.
HOW’S YOUR YEAR BEEN?
I’ve had a really busy year doing the ’QS. I’ve hardly been home, but I’m having fun. Going to all of these contests can be torture if you let it get to you, but this year I’ve decided to just enjoy myself…and it’s paid off: I’ve had a few good results and now I’m sitting at 12th in the ratings.
WE’VE BEEN SEEING A LOT OF GREAT PHOTOS FROM YOUR LAST INDO TRIP WITH RIP CURL; SEEMS LIKE YOU WERE IN YOUR ELEMENT OVER THERE.
That trip was so much fun. I had been surfing terrible waves in contests for the first few months of the year, so it was awesome to find some perfect waves without 300 frothing ’QS surfers. I think it was the first time I had even seen a barrel since Hawaii last year. [laughs]
ARE YOU SQUEEZING IN MORE PHOTO TRIPS THESE DAYS?
For the last few years, all I’ve wanted to do in-between contests is go home, but this year I’m willing to just stay away and do as many photo trips as possible and work on my profile.
WHAT’S MORE SATISFYING TO YOU: WINNING CONTESTS OR GOING ON A LOT OF PHOTO TRIPS?
Photo trips are a lot more fun than contests, but winning a contest definitely gives me the best feeling.
NOWADAYS, WITH ALL THE POSSIBILITIES OF INTERNET STARDOM, DO YOU THINK IT’S EASIER FOR YOUR NAME TO BLOW UP FROM GOOD CONTEST RESULTS OR FROM GOOD PHOTOS?
I think the longevity of the stardom you get from photos is a lot shorter than if you were to be winning contests. You can be the flavor of the month or year from getting a bunch of photos, but once that wears off I think you need to be doing well in contests to stay at the top.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE, WILL IT BE ALL ABOUT WHO HAS THE BEST 1-MINUTE VIDEO CLIP PLAYING ON YOUTUBE OR SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT?
It looks like it’s heading that way right now. It is pretty awesome though that someone can land a crazy move and within the week it might have gotten a thousand views on YouTube.
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