WELCOME TO THE BEATING HEART OF YOUR ADDICTION
WE ARE THE SPIT
THE TRADE WINDS
THE HOWLING GALE
WE ARE BACKWASH
Sailor-turned-farmer, Matt Smith, on addiction, reading and conviction in a better world.
Tell me, in your eyes, what you’ve accomplished in the last few years at Moy, the community garden and up on the hill?
I suppose I have opened myself up in a way that cannot be closed. I planted my first conscious trees, stood still for the first time since being 8. I became part of a community.
It’s seemed to me at times that surfers are addicted to the freedom of the road and this has a cost to the planet, do you feel trapped now you’ve stopped moving around?
I have never felt so free. I totally understand that travel can broaden the mind and open people up in ways they never knew but soul searching at any deep level is within and it shouldn't matter where you are.
Do you think surfing in Ireland is in a healthier place than it was five years ago?
Depends on your meaning of the word healthier.
Your annual pilgrimage to The Maldives, which would fulfil most surfer’s dreams, has started to drag in recent years. How so?Because I was a contradiction to the life I was living, half the year I was planting trees, growing food and living lightly on the planet then for 4 months I would sit on a boat, drink beer surf and show Australians around a country that will be underwater by the flights they take to get there.
What does community mean to you?
Where one person acts for the benefit of not just themselves.
I like the way Fergal moved out, had a baby and then moved back in because he missed everyone. The crew there are like a family right?
We are good friends that all have a similar desire, we work very well together and i have learnt a lot from him and his family.
My mum was one of the first people at Findhorn, she saw the fallout of 60s communal living, but her crew were all bombed on acid. What’s the secret of making it work?
For us its communication, regular talking sessions, supportive listening in a safe environment.
Let’s talk more about getting high. The extremity of the experience during a good winter’s day under the cliffs, how do you come back down from that?
A long paddle in and walk up the goat trail, being totally immersed in nature for the whole session.
What does addiction mean to you?
Right now, addiction has taught me so many lessons in doing the right thing and the basics of being human.
Have you guys unearthed every secret under the cliffs in Clare, or are you still finding new waves?
We all enjoy surfing alone every now and again.
Tell us about this little wooden board you are riding in the Maldives?
Its 5’5” mini simmons twin keel made from Cornish cedar, shaped by a friend James [Otter] that I won’t give back.
The biggest joys I get in surfing are completely alone, I guess it allows my self to get out the way. Do you see surfing as a way of connecting with nature?
Totally but I live in a tent, I spend many days each week in the field growing veg and lived for many years on a sailing boat, I like to connect my whole life with nature.
Are humans just an extension of a gigantic planetary consciousness and our latent environmentalism just this super organism trying to save itself?
Groovy, but I’m not sure. I think at one time we might have been but not sure now. I see some very crazy happenings by humans that make me think they are not natural at all.
I like our unspoken book giving agreement and always look forward to what you are going to be packing. I’ve got Bobby Sands and Fante to return. How important is reading to you? How did your interest in reading come about?
Fante and Bobby, legends. My mum made me read because I didn't want to go to school, I needed to travel and she forced books on me each time I left. Books now are like surfing, I love them dearly but they will always be there. This morning I surfed a bore wave with a 67 year old man who learned to surf last year.
If you had to take three Desert Island books, to read again and again, what would they be and why?
Without thinking: For whom the bell tolls, 100 years of solitude and The Prophet. But practically they would be gardening books.
There’s a great quote from Erich Fromm that goes something like: ‘Because many people believe in a pathology does not make it sane,’ do you subscribe to that?
No, all of nature follows the same universal rules and truths.
Have you tried writing down a manifesto of the goals of the crew on the hill? If so, what does it say?
We are in the middle of it at the moment.
I get the strong sense we are on the cusp of a transition, some big changes en route. How do we stop that becoming another ineffectual trend?We all will have to make the transition, it wont be the easiest thing but we can make it fun. At some point either now or in the near future, things will change. We either do it now out of choice and connect with nature or it will force us to soon.
Backwash Issue Two is a surf anthology featuring Japan, the photography of Chris Burkard and Sergio Villalba, Hamish Laing and Woody Gooch. Kalani Lattanzi swims at Nazare, whilst Amy Kotch surfs barrels whilst pregnant and John Peck knee paddles out as he has done since 1958.Purchase