Wilko guarantees you will have a good time, and learn a few things on one of his luxury surf camps.
Two years after dropping off the CT, Matt Wilkinson is now running luxury surf camp experiences from his pad in the Byron Bay Hinterland. It’s been a rapid transition from a surfer who finished 2016 and 2017 as the World No. 5. We talked to Wilko about his latest venture, the lockdown, and where he’s headed with his surfing.
Tracks: Let’s talk about the clip for your Wilko’s World weekends first. It reminded me of your glory years of your blog Out2brunch.
Wilko: I’ve been wanting to bring back some funny clips for a while and then I came up with the idea to do the surf camps. The idea was to have fun, so hopefully, it will attract people that are up for a laugh.
How did it come about?
I’ve been going overseas to the snow for the last few years and staying with a bunch of mates and having a great time, but I was staying at the exact same level each year. I thought If I could stay with a pro snowboarder, and he could take us on some sick runs and give some pointers, hit his favourite pub, that would be so sick. And with our location and set up I thought I could create that, but for a surfing experience.
How’s your coaching credentials?
I’ve done so much surf coaching over the years and I’ve always found it a little robotic. For the general punter to get better, there are few options where it isn't really high performance or paying a coach to video you. I figured if we could add great coaching while the guests are still really enjoying a surf experience that would help them surf better.
What about the business side, is that slightly terrifying?
Running our Friday Hut Dining restaurant and accommodation last year was a massive eye opener in terms of what it takes to start and run a business. We quickly found out that Anna (Matt’s partner) was better at that than me, but the surf camp plays more to my strengths. I can provide expertise and a good time and facilitate the best experience for guests. From the best eggs bennedict in town, to recos on restaurants, to kayaking to fishing, and the best pubs. I’ve done all the market research I’ll tell ya.
It’s all happened pretty quickly, how have you handled the transition from CT surfer to this venture?
Well, because my successful years came at the end of my career, during the times I struggled I was always thinking of what the plan might be after surfing. Then those couple of years at the top meant I had enough money to put a few things in place.
Is the competitive urge still there?
Falling off tour happened way faster than I saw coming and I assumed I could hop straight back on. However the QS was obviously way different than when I had been on it a decade ago. The small wave surfing level had gone through the roof and getting into only small waves, I struggled. I felt I didn’t do a turn all year.
Did you plan to come back this year?
At the start of 2020 I was a little confused on how I would approach it. Then Covid happened and that helped me be less confused. I was at home getting barrelled and saw the potential of what we have here.
How’s your surfing level?
Look I still think I have plenty to offer in great waves. Obviously I’m surfing as I like to surf, not what the judges want to see. I’m doing way more airs, riding loads of twin fins. My performance levels feel as good as when I was on tour, just with a different approach.
Well it's all in on the surf camps, and I want to start a blog. I also want to so surf a few selected events and travel to surf good waves. Whether that’s through a sponsor making that happen, which would be great, or funding it myself through the business, we’ll see.
Come up and check out at our place. It’s lux and it’s all-inclusive. We can do airport transfers, great food, transfers, coaching, video sessions, fitness, kayaking, fishing, hiking, the works. That’s the spiel. Head to www.wilkosworld.com.au to book. I can guarantee a good time.