I’ve always lived in France but travelled a lot. I’m in love with a lot of countries especially Mexico and western USA. I’m now based in Millau, southern France, and travel as much as I can, living out my work for Jackson Kayaks as a European team manager, Adidas, and as an article writer for magazines. I kayak as an ‘outdoory’, mixing it with a lot of surfing, climbing, running… It’s very important for me that kayaking is the base of an outdoor lifestyle that takes me to experience a lot of different sports and moments. That’s how I manage my life. This passion took me to perform in competition as I have a bunch of French champion titles, two European titles and a few world level finales in freestyle. The highlights of the year in freestyle for me are the big wave sessions that we have in France, or during travels to Quebec or Africa. I paddled many different creeks too, and I’ve been doing extreme races like the Adidas sick line. Finally, I can say that I’m in love with any aspects of white water kayaking!
What kayaks do you own?
I have a Jackson Kayak 2014 Rock star (medium, competition version), Karma (Medium, for creeking and racing) and a Zen (small, perfect boat to appreciate home runs and class 0 to 4).
Where and when was your first paddle?
That was in the Ardèche River, like 99% of French people that ever paddled in there life. I saw a different perspective in this than most of the people I guess!
What and where was your first competition?
Do you really want to hear about a kid in a flat water slalom competition, that is trying to figure out which way is going upstream for red gates when there is no stream at all?
What has been the biggest accomplishment in your career?
Living the travel/kayak lifestyle I wanted to live since I was eight-years old.
What would be your ultimate achievement?
I want to keep it real for my whole life.
Apart from freestyle and river running – are there any other areas of paddling you would like to explore?
As a surfer I’m pretty curious to experience more surf kayaking and wave skiing.
Have you ever been scared and if not – what would it take?
Yes I’ve been scared many times. Every time I’ve been scared I’ve been thinking later if it was justified or not. If it wasn’t I’ve always got back to do it calm and concentrated. If it was I stayed happy and satisfied from my decision to walk. I think fear is a very important thing to survive especially if you are used to do risky stuff. Sport and adventure have seen either people that were too scared and didn’t perform, or some who weren’t scared enough and injured or worse. The smart and balanced one lasts long and performs hard.
Which paddlers out there are currently pushing the freestyle boundaries?
I think Dane Jackson is the one who pushes the most in freestyle right now. It’s obvious: he is the best in challenging big wave and competition/hole features. But there are also people like Nick Troutman and Ben Marr who push hard in wave features, Eric Jackson who pushes hard in longevity and a good group of kayakers that pushes hard in hole features…
Favourite freestyle move?
Helix, no doubts…
Can you talk about your training? Greatest inspiration? Role models/who/what kept you motivated?
I’m trying hard to inspire myself for the lifestyle part of it. For the performance I won’t do the list again but all the people who push freestyle inspire me a lot, each in their own style.
I feel close to a few athletes of other sports who can put some magic and artistic style to what they do. Sometimes they don’t win much or break records but everybody agrees that they are so sick! I can talk about Chris Sharma in climbing, Rob Machado in surfing… and Dustin Urban in kayaking;)
Over the years, which freestyle event has left a lasting impression?
My number one is the Rabioux festival that was organized in the Hautes Alpes back in the 90s. This was huge with people from all over the world in a great wave and a good ‘rodeo’ atmosphere. At the time with no internet, seeing those kayak idols in real was such a thing for a kid, as we didn’t have daily report from them on our computer. That was crazy in my kid mind.
Right no the event I really like is the Natural Games. We have in Millau this big event with five different outdoor sport competing. Amongst them is kayaking and we have a lot of bikinis watching us kayaking all along the weekend under a blistering sun. It brings a huge community of kayakers and outdoor lovers (about 40,000 people in the weekend); it doesn’t really get any better…
After paddling rivers across the planet – where is your favourite and why?
Probably a place that would look like France in the spring for big waves, Colorado in the summer for tour of events and creeking, and Vera Cruz, Mexico for creeking in the fall… if you know a place like that please let me know!
You’ve just returned from Hurley – what makes this freestyle event so special?
I love this event because we have all the best Europeans competing in freestyle in a all different context that usually: a wave feature, a chilled organization, two competitions in two days with innovating rules… It makes a very fun conclusion to our season.
What are the benefits of being a Jackson Kayak paddler?
You really feel like being part of a family who takes care of you. Anywhere you go you find people you feel confident with like Rona and Aaron from SquareRock in the UK. And also there is a place for anybody’s project. It’s the American way of doing that is way more opened than what we used to do, where energies of people are by themself organized as every body is paddling in the same direction.
European Team Manager for Jackson Kayak – what does this entail?
I’m trying to figure out who’s got the same passion for kayaking than us, answer people about boats and equipment, receive good ideas and energies around the brand.
I’m a paddler and going on holiday, where would you recommend?
In spring you drive to Lyon, have a great session in the wave, then keep on going to the ‘Cévènnes’ area and creek boat on the upper Tarn, Dourbie and Ardèche. This has world-class freestyle and creek boating in granite valleys.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I don’t really want to know, but I know what my life will be made of: kayaking, surfing, climbing, good people.
OK Mat let’s finish with something short and snappy…
If you could paddle with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?
Pick two celebrities to be your parents?
No ideas really!.
What’s on your TiVo recorder?
Favourite iPod track?
Nightmare of Paris.
If you won €10 million on the lottery, what would you do with it?
Take all my friend and family on a beach in Mexico and afford a great life to all of us. Any extra travel is at your own expense.
Cats or dogs?
Facebook or Twitter?
An ideal night out for you is?
You don’t want to know 😉
What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
What one luxury item would you take with you on a desert island?
A bottle of water.
Any broken bones?
What do you get really angry about?
If you could be a superhero for one day, what superpower would you choose and why?
Go fast around the world.
Fill in the blanks: I am ________