Rider Link: Matt Sexton
- Author: Kaesen Suyderhoud
- Categorized in: Articles, Interviews
WW: So Matt, give us the run down...
MS: Matt Sexton, 24 years old, I live in Saint Pete Beach, Florida. I just graduated from Eckerd College and at the moment I'm working a couple different jobs and just riding as much as I can whatever way I can.
WW: Can you walk us through a normal day in your life right now?
MS: Right now I'm on the road a lot. I'm trying to make some things happen and it’s requiring a lot more than I anticipated. If I'm at home I try to wake up early and go for a paddle in the Gulf. After some grub and whatever obligations need to be done for the day either a sea breeze picks up and I kite in front of my house with friends or we make the drive to Tampa and hit McCormick’s for a couple hours. If I'm on the road I'm usually throwing a demo for Slingshot kite or wake or just enjoying meeting new people and trying to have as much fun as possible.
WW: Ok, now wait a second. You go kiting and paddling in your front yard?
MS: If you want to get technical, the front yard is actually beach access parking, but, yeah, right past that is the beach/Gulf of Mexico.
WW: Might be a sore subject here, but living on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico, have you been getting any oil washing up on your beach? Is this affecting your kiteboarding or wakeboarding?
MS: At the moment, no. We haven't seen anything yet, but it’s definitely started affecting local businesses and the prices for fish have gone up all over the place. I work with a couple shops up in the panhandle that have said it’s hit hard up there, but thus far the Tampa Bay Area has been pretty lucky. Hopefully, they'll get that situation figured out before it’s too late. It’s a shame.
WW: So I understand that you are big in the kite industry as well as wakeboarding. Do you prefer one over the other?
MS: Kite is definitely my preferred form of pull since I come from a wakeboarding, windsurfing and sailing background and it’s somewhat of a combination of all three. Wind can be a real pain in the ass when it doesn't cooperate and it’s tough to beat a perfect day at the cable or behind the boat, but when things work out and you get a perfect flat water or wave session with some friends and some steady wind, that’s about as good as it gets.
WW: How long have you been kiteboarding for?
MS: I learned in 2002, but lived in Connecticut/New York and it wasn't the prime location to pursue the sport. In '04-'05 I moved to Florida and have been hitting it hard since. I'd call it five or six years.
WW: When did you start picking up wakeboarding?
MS: It was early 90-something. I remember getting up behind a Nautique in Canada on a family vacation and was trippin’ over how much fun it was. Winter dragged on forever usually and finding people to ride with was tough, but it was the good ol' days when I could watch the Tour or the X-Games on ESPN, so it helped me cope with how little I was actually able to ride.
WW: Where can we usually find you wakeboarding?
MS: I'm at McCormick's a lot, but try to get to Revolution and The Projects as much as possible. If I'm not there I ride my slingshot setup behind my kite in Boca Ciega Bay in Saint Pete and we've got a couple rails set up in the bay that we hit with the ski or the boat as well.
WW: A lot of kiteboarders ride at cable parks. Is there a similarity at all there?
MS: There's a similarity for sure, but they're each pretty unique. Cable is the closest feel to kiting because of the angle of the pull and the way you load and pop for air tricks. It’s the best way to cross train when the winds off and it will definitely get you to start throwing your tricks behind the kite with more style and power. I feel like I get a little thrown off though when I ride cable for a while and then have a kite session and try to bring all my tricks over to the different pull. Kiting is real three dimensional and there's a lot more variability in your power and the way you initiate your tricks, but once you get the feel back for controlling the kite, you notice how much the cable helps.
WW: Now you’re in quite the position to pretty much love the wind no matter what it’s doing. When you wake up in the morning are you hoping for wind or glass?
MS: I mean, the cable is always running and so as long as you've got gas you can get a pull. Wind is few and far between, so it’s definitely nice to get in a surprise session on the kite. I run a school in Saint Pete for kiteboarding, so wind usually means that I'm making some money too. It’s pretty much win-win. I've taught a bunch of wakeboarders how to kite already. It’s a quick crossover and it’s way more fun than trying to milk a session on the lake when its blowin’. The Shred Town guys got up and riding in less than an hour and had a blast.
WW: So you turn your iPod on. What are the first three songs you listen to?
MS: iPhone/iPod got stolen, so it’s Pandora on the Droid now and either Buju Banton, Kid Cudi or Sweatshop Union Radio.
WW: Regular or goofy?
MS: Mostly goofy, but it gets confusing.
WW: Do you have a normal crew you ride with when you’re kiting and wakeboarding?
MS: There are a couple different crews I ride with. There's a solid local crew at McCormick's that are all fun to ride with and everyone pushes each other equally hard. Kiting I ride with a lot of local guys from Saint Pete. I also helped out a lot with the Collegiate Kiteboarding Association, so I've got a bunch of good friends in Jax Beach, The Keys and Cocoa Beach that are all fun to sesh with when on the road. Whether we wake or kite everyone brings something to the table and it’s lots of fun to push each other.
WW: So what do you like to do when you’re not wakeboarding or kiteboarding?
MS: Anything on the water is good by me; fishing, surfing, paddling, diving, sailing. It’s all fun. My Dad's a stunt pilot, so over the next year I'm going to be getting my pilot’s license hopefully. I'm also headed over to Sebastian next week to get my skydiving certification. Pretty stoked on that one.
WW: So do you ever get the chance or even want to ride behind the boat?
MS: For sure! That’s what I started on, so it’s nice to get back to it whenever I can. I took a couple years off cause of my knees, but a good day on the boat with some friends, some ladies and some beers is something that you can't really imitate any other way. So, yeah, wakesurf or just a regular boat set, I'm down.
WW: What’s your current set up right now for your cable park needs?
MS: Being the southeast wake rep for Slingshot has its perks and having a couple different set ups to choose from is definitely one of 'em. I'm rocking a Reflex 141 and a Response 142 for pretty much everything, but if I'm taking it easy and just hittin' rails all day, the 145 Response is what’s up.
WW: Any traveling you would like to do besides just the southeast United States?
MS: Yeah, for sure. Now that I'm out of school I've got a lot more time for traveling and I've got a lot of places on the list. Pretty soon I'll be driving across the country to spend some time in Oregon by Slingshot headquarters. It’s a much different lifestyle and a good break from Florida summer heat. I haven't done that drive yet, so I'm sure we'll be hitting a lot of cool spots that I've never checked out yet. I've been spending a lot of time in Texas, too, and I'm really diggin’ it over there.
WW: As a wakeboard rep, you must enjoy the traveling and road trips. Have you been anywhere cool lately that really caught your attention?
MS: Yeah, it’s fun for sure, but it’s a quick way to get burnt out if you don't take a break from time to time. Like I said, I've been hitting Texas a lot recently and the wake scene there is blowing up big time. Houston and Dallas both have several cable parks about to drop and they're all looking sick. The place I'm most looking forward to checking out is the Dallas Watersports Complex. The guys running the show there are doing it right and with two full size systems, two 2.0's and a huge variety of top notch rails. It'll be hard to get bored there.
WW: You got any future plans for the rest of the year with your water boarding adventures?
MS: I'm gonna be doing a lot of alternative rail stuff for both kite and wake. Kite makes it possible to hit a lot of different styles of rails, so I'm working with a couple people at the moment building some new concepts that aren't quite possible in wake but would be a blast when you’re getting pulled by a kite. I'm also going to be headed out to Maui in the fall to kite some big waves and check out some of their top spots out there. After that I'll be headed to Tahiti as well for some similar action and some private flat water lagoon sessions. Been planning these two trips for a long time and they finally just fell into place.
WW: Words of advice to all the young bucks out there?
MS: Ride because it’s fun, not because you want to get sponsored. And if somebody helps you get somewhere, then stick with 'em and don't just leap at the next best opportunity. It doesn't look good if you’re changing gear all the time and showing up with different stickers on your boards every session. Companies like to see loyalty and self-motivation, so do it for fun and push yourself hard and good things will come.
WW: Would you care to thank anyone for your accomplishments?
MS: Neil Hutchinson, Mikey Walsh and John Cleckner have helped me out for years and continue to help me. Also thanks to Slingshot Sports, Dakine, oTHErsideBoardsports.com, RataGata, Abington and the guys at WakeWorld for the opportunity to do this. Word.