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The Pioneers: Going goofy with Matthew Ciancio

Matthew Ciancio cover
💣🌊🏄‍♀️ “Everything is based around surfing… my job, my car, hobbies… everything”... Bomba catches up with one of Malta's OG's - Matthew Ciancio. 💣🌊🏄‍♀️

Ok, so here’s the thing. This is the closest I’ve been to a blind date ever. I never met Matt before, so in true fashion, I turned up in a bright orange beanie. Turns out there was no need. I was the only nutter out on the streets on a 5-degree evening. Oh. and I showed up on my moped. Freezing. Forget the usual rum cola, barman, hook me up with some warm tea.

Lucky for me, Matt doesn’t drink alcohol anyway, anymore, so we sipped on warm tea and talked about empty line ups, lefties, parties and the surf scene of yesteryear. We reminisced about the good old days, without being grumpy old men about them too, bar a few moans along the way…

While I worked my usual 9-5 (yawn) Matt spent his afternoon surfing at Bahar ic Caghaq, a spot that is gaining popularity amongst more experienced surfers.

Matthew rides Goofy, and craves those lefts which keep pulling him back to San Tumas Bay as “when that left works, it’s the longest one we have… though it’s not that big, it’s just there.”

Matthew’s first surf session was, as often is the case, a disaster in 2005. “I was in Australia, and bought a shortboard (really Matt, a shortboard as a first? – I judged) and caught the first wave… but,  the rest was horrible.”

There is the biggest newbie mistake. Going for a shortboard on your first attempt may make you look like a badass who knows what he’s doing, but in reality, it always ends in failure.

Matt found surfing tough initially, just like most of us, but stuck with it and dedicated himself to his sport.

But Matthew at least unearthed a new passion. His birthday brought the gifts of big waves and so he headed down to Ghajn Tuffieha. “There was one person in the sea, I got battered, I got beaten and it was tough. That person then came up to me, we talked about surfing and I got interested.”

Matthew was hooked from the start. “When I started surfing, I stopped everything else. All the other hobbies I do is to keep fit, prepare for surfing. I play basketball when there are no waves, do some laps, jog. Otherwise, I would be dead in the first month of winter. When I was young it was one way, now it’s a constant challenge. I try to keep active three to four times a week.”

At this point in our chat, the moans and groans of two older men started, so I’ll spare you the misery, but yes, in short… it does get more difficult. Sessions become shorter, sharper, and you do get colder faster too which is never fun.

“Back then everything was different” he paused nostalgically. “Mark Bencini used to organise these crazy parties during the strawberry season and they just kept getting bigger and wilder.”

In the meantime, however, Matthew doesn’t even touch alcohol anymore which helps him stay fit for the season. 

The surf scene has changed since then too. “Back then you’d have to physically get yourself to the beach… we had no windfinder, no webcams, nothing, so you’d often be disappointed.” 

It is easier to get into surfing now and we can see the community growing here.”Back then I’d be the only guy out there, I remember once we all complained because we were six surfers…”

Six surfers today sounds like a dream as each new swell brings more and more surfers to the line ups. “Back in the day, it was mine. I used to be the only person in the water. It is nice to have at least one other guy. When you’re alone even the small waves are big. On a stormy day. These big sets are huge, if I’m alone it’s like holy shit.”

His dedication to his sport is immense. “Everything is based around surfing… my job, my car, hobbies… everything”

Though, despite the lack of alcohol, his post-surf nutrition plan is, well, questionable, but certainly understandable. 

“I go for sugar. When I finished today I smashed a doughnut and a banoffee cake. Dahhantom man… Sometimes you get so weak I crave sugar, I can be creative with my sugar cravings.”

Another craving Matt has is big air. “I took a long time to learn, years to pick up surfing, but never gave up and now I just want to do a big air…”

Its his mission. “Every winter I say this is my year… but a mellow wave won’t work.” 

So when you see a mad man in a wetsuit trying to jump, there you go… that’s Matt! 

Featured photo credits: Nick D’Ancona

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💣🌊🏄‍♀️ “Everything is based around surfing… my job, my car, hobbies… everything”... Bomba catches up with one of Malta's OG's - Matthew Ciancio. 💣🌊🏄‍♀️