Our friendship with Finisterre surf Ambassador Matt Smith goes back years. After first exploring Madeira together back in 2008, we recently reconnected on the island. A man of great verse and wise musings, Matt shares his thoughts on his time in Madeira, his relationship with nature, and how the ocean’s raw power brings clarity and light.
Matt Smith: The Other Door, Part 2
4 min read
Written by Matt Smith
I have a profound connection with nature, particularly the ocean, and I have spent significant time exploring and experiencing its beauty and power. Through my love of surfing, I have developed a deep respect for the sea's raw energy. My interest in environmental conservation is reflected in my work involving the creation of Atlantic rainforests.
For the past 15 years I have served as a surfing ambassador for Finisterre, promoting sustainable practices and fostering a connection with nature within the surfing community.
In 2008, on a whim, I visited Madeira, and it proved to be a transformative experience, teaching me a great deal about life and the world around me.
For those seeking a deep connection with nature, I offer this advice: approach the ocean with humility and respect, and it will reveal its secrets to you. Learn from those who have lived and breathed the ocean, and remember that the sea is masterless, and you are merely a guest in its kingdom. In the words of George Orwell, "In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Let us be truthful in our actions towards nature, and in doing so, we may find the harmony and balance we seek.
My journey to Madeira has been a nearly two-decade-long exploration of the beauty and ferocity of the ocean. The waves are a tempestuous dance of power and grace, serving as a reminder of the raw energy of nature. Although I am a fairly hot-headed person, I have found that large landscapes and heavy seas calm my spirit.
In 2008, after spending the winter in Ireland chasing raw oceans and empty spaces with a group of crazy surf rats, my close friend Mickey Smith saw that I was at a loose end and suggested I head to Madeira. And so I did. I spent three months there living in a cave-like apartment that overlooked the Atlantic; the next landmass would have been the Canary Islands, 300 miles away. I had a stack of books, cheap wine, and a beaten-up MacBook. It was there that I got my first freelance writing jobs, which led me to a lifelong relationship with words and the power they hold.
The Other Door, Part 1. Matt in Madeira, 2008. Directed by Luke Pilbeam.
It was also in Madeira that I reconciled many of the confusing parts of my life, such as where to live, who to live with, and what I want to do with my life. In my 20s (2006-2016), I spent most of my time working on small sailing boats, during boats, or fishing boats, and Madeira always felt like a safe harbor in between jobs, projects and surf trips. I racked up nearly two years of my life sitting in this apartment cave, looking out over the deep waters of the Atlantic.
Surfing in Madeira is not for the faint of heart. The fickle waves and unforgiving rocks demand a deep sense of respect and caution. Yet, there is no greater celebration of life than the adrenaline and sense of presence that comes with riding heavy waves. Osho once said, "Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated." And what better way to understand life but to celebrate life and to immerse oneself in the beauty and power of nature?
The sea has been, and feels like it will always be, a constant in my life. My work has always hinged on it; now, albeit in a slightly roundabout way, I work in the woodland creation of Atlantic rainforests, and each day is spent wishing for five miles of the big blue.