SSS Beach Marshall, Matt Malone Shares His Competitive Insights



With over twenty years of judging experience, Matt Malone is one of few who truly understand the ins and outs of competitive surfing. From judging local high school surf contests to giving 10’s to the world’s elite, Matt Malone has seen it all—creating heaps of competitive knowledge. Today, Matt is the Beach Marshall for our Los Angeles to Santa Barbara division, and is quickly rubbing off his competitive know-all on tomorrow’s rippers. After scoring Rincon for the last month, and agreeing to an online interview, Matt imparted his wisdom for new competitors, how he scores each wave, which pro surfers today are setting the tone, and how Rincon is having a late season bloom.

How long have you been judging surfing?
I’ve been judging since I was 16 years old. It started as a way to get into local events to compete. Then April Grimaud of the Christian Surfers Assoc. asked me to judge events here (Santa Barbara area) in 1990. Since then I’ve judged far too many events to count. I’ve been lucky to judge a wide range of events: Pro Jr. events, U.S. Open Trials, WQS events, professional longboard events, Volcom Championships, and other miscellaneous local events. I’ve never stopped judging, and I still get a thrill being part of an event.

What type of maneuvers are the judges looking for on each wave?
It starts with good surfing! What that means is doing your maneuvers in the right place and putting it on the line. We’re starting to look for more and more progressive maneuvers, like fins-free turns, but still never getting away from solid rail surfing. We want to see kids get two 10’s and not 10 two’s. Risk will equal reward.

What are some of the most common mistakes you see from young competitors?
The most common mistake is catching too many waves. As I said above, competitors should be looking for two 10’s and not 10 two’s. Not paying attention to where they are in the water is another mistake we see too often. Always surf in front of the judges and not in the glare. Listen to your coaches and surf smart.

Do you think surfers should train on top of surfing everyday? And if so, what type of training should they do?
The best type of training for surfing is surfing! Sports like basketball, tennis, and soccer are great for training, because they improve your cardio and eye-hand coordination. Also, yoga or some sort of stretching routine is really important.

Besides Kelly Slater, which surfer currently has an all-around competitive package?
I’d say Taj Burrow, CJ & Damien Hobgood, Parko, Bede Durbidge, Mick Fanning and Jordy Smith. All these guys surf smart, progressive, and use their rails to flow from one turn to the next. With that being said, Dane Reynolds is the most exciting surfer to watch, but he doesn’t seem as interested in conforming to the structure of contests.

If someone were looking to start competing, what advice would you give?
I would tell them to have fun. The most important thing to remember is that we started surfing because it was fun. Competing should be the same. Have fun! I’d also say ask questions when you have them. Contests have a structure and they can be a lot of fun when you learn that structure.

Thanks Matt.
No worries Aaron.

P.S. How was Rincon two-weeks ago?
Rincon has been so fun. I got the best waves yesterday after the storm passed. The sand, along with the angle of the last couple of swells was really good. Not too big, but just big enough to go all the way thru.