Matt Banting: Surfing's Rising Star

May 9, 2012, 1:08 pm Charles Turnbull Yahoo!7

After helping launch the Vegemite Surfgroms in Bondi last year, Matt Banting went on to win both the Pro junior and Open men’s titles at the 2012 Australian Open of Surfing. Banzai caught up with the 17 year-old to talk about his double-win at Manly, competing with Kelly Slater, and his new and improved surfing diet.

Matt Banting: Surfing s Rising Star
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Winning both the Junior and Open titles at this year’s ‘Australian Open of Surfing’ was a fantastic result. How does this rank against your other career achievements?

I always favoured my junior under 16 World Title but to win the under 20s and then the Open division at such a big event and in front of so many people definitely over shadows my old title. It couldn’t get much bigger!

After winning in Manly you have proved that you can make it amongst the best surfers in the world. Is the World Tour the next step?

Yes for sure! There's no rush to get there. Even my sponsor Quiksilver said there's no rush to try to qualify. It could all come together by the end of this year and that would be amazing, but if it takes 3-4 years I won't be fazed. I'll just enjoy the journey along the way.

Last year you got the chance to face Kelly Slater on the Gold Coast. How keen are you to get another crack at the champion?

That moment was amazing and definitely one of my career highlights. I remember the day I got the phone call from the Quiksilver team manager to say I was in the event and most probably going to surf against Slater in the first round. I think tears of joy came to my eyes, it was everything a frothing little kid wanted after watching him for so long.


What are your tactics when you go out and surf against Kelly Slater? How do you beat the champion and did he give you “snake eyes” during your 2011 Quiksilver Pro heat?

I’m never going to look into those eyes again! They’re powerful. He came into my little area when I was getting ready for the Quiksilver Pro Round 3 Man on Man heat against him. He casually came in and asked a few people around me a few meaningless questions and kind of just wanted me and my coach to know he was there! It was quite funny – everyone has always said he plays a few little head games and just to have that little encounter like that with him was pretty funny. We laughed a lot.

You mentioned recently that you have changed your diet and training regime. What changes have you made and what dietary and training tips can you give to aspiring young surfers?

I've stopped eating McDonalds and cut out most bad fast foods. Since I've started eating better food, I've had so much more energy and liveliness in my body. Don't get me wrong, I still eat a few chocolates and lollies every now and then, it's just that I've cut back about 90%. After training and surfing all day, you have to think about the best ways to refuel your body to grow, get stronger and to recover so you can surf all day the next. To refuel my muscles after training, I eat a lot of protein - eggs or steak with veggies or lean proteins like chicken. Water is always good too , you can never go wrong drinking as much H20 as possible each day.


You have been surfing around the world for years now. What are your top three favorite surfing spots?

I’ve had some amazing opportunities to surf around the world with Quiksilver, but my three favourite surfing spots would have to be in France, Hawaii and the forever running point breaks on the Gold Coast – nice and close to home.

You have said that you have been inspired by your school mate and Paralympian, Ryley Batt. What inspires you about Ryley and what are your other sources of motivation?

Just watching Ryley be so grateful, determined to conquer and make the best out of the situation serves as great inspiration and motivation! Everything he's faced since the day he was born is just amazing. I remember when we were at school and he used to skate around as his way to get from class to class. He could skate better than all his mates. Everyone looked up to him and still do today.

Lastly, after winning at the Australian Open of Surfing, you thanked your parents for their support and encouragement. How are you going to thank your mum this coming Mother’s Day?

I'm going to take mum out to lunch then take her shopping. My mum is an absolute shopaholic so I'm going to give her my credit card and just set her free! She’ll be in heaven.

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