Matt Matoon, a California surfer, created the first organic surfboard wax. Determined to find an alternative to petroleum-based waxes, he invented an eco-friendly alternative that is good for both surfing and the environment.
What was it like growing up in California?
I enjoyed growing up in California—having the ocean accessible as well as the mountains. Santa Cruz was such a great place with so many diverse waves in and out of town. The air is always a bit salty and being so close to Ano Nuevo was one of my favorite spots. I also enjoyed being able to have fresh produce for all our meals from my grandmother’s farm.
When did you get your first surfboard?
I got my first surfboard when I was 9 years old. It was a Herbie Fletcher single fin longboard. It had a blue arrow on the front and was all white.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
I first started surfing at Cowell’s Beach in Santa Cruz, which is a great spot to learn. It was an instant feeling of wanting to be constantly in the ocean and feeling the freedom of being able to be so lucky.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
Surfing-wise, I admired Jason “Ratboy” Collins because I was always impressed with his ability to do airs. I also was always a huge fan of Yvon Chouinard and the Patagonia brand.
Of all the interesting places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I really like the simplicity of Mexico and I enjoy the food and people a lot. Sayulita stands out for me as a wonderful town with great waves and friendly locals.
Explain how the idea for Matunas came about.
Matunas came about in 1998 when I started noticing that the grocery stores were converting to organic produce. Since we had an operating farm and I was majoring in environmental chemistry at college, I wanted to have a wax that contained no chemicals or petroleum products. I felt that I could invent a wax that could use all the ingredients grown from our farm without compromising the quality.
Why do you feel it is necessary to explore alternatives to traditional wax?
I think having the option to purchase a surf wax that is free from chemicals and petroleum gives surfers the choice similar to shopping in a supermarket choosing organic versus conventional foods.
Who/what inspires you?
I think people who are trying to make our society a better place to live, whether from a small product to developing new ideas, are crucial for the greater good of our environment and humankind.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
That you can never achieve perfection and learning is a lifelong process.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
I wish that I had learned more languages, so right now I am studying French.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of being able to live my dream of doing Matunas and the opportunities that have arisen from following my passion.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Surfing is a long journey of learning about yourself, and it opens new doors for traveling and places that I would have never gone. Surfing has made me a more understanding person.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Good food, family, friends, and a sunny day at the beach in warm water with fun waves.
Who are some of the individuals you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
I am looking forward to watching surfing go into a new level with Dusty Payne, Julian Wilson, and Owen Wright. I think Kelly Slater is still one of our best ambassadors.
What is in your current quiver? What is your favorite board?
A 5’10” rounded pin, 6’0” pintail, 6’2” and a 6’4” squash tail and a 9’0” single fin. My favorite board right now is the 9’0” single fin since the waves have been a bit smaller in front of my house.
What’s your favorite meal?
It has to be mashed potatoes, a medium rare steak with horseradish and, for dessert, a piece of banana cream pie.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I don’t own an iPod yet, but I listen to Sinatra and the Doors.
What causes/projects/organizations do you support?
I am a strong supporter of organic farming, and also of innovative ways to find new sources of energy. I think any project that helps better our society or our world is a step in the right direction.
What’s next for Matt?
At Matunas, we are doing research and development for new products that are centered around sustainability. I have been focusing on new developments in the ski and snowboard world as well. But for now, it’s a shave and a shower.
Find out more about Matunas Organic Surf Wax here.