Born and raised outside of Johannesburg, South Africa Matti Buys’ story in wakeskating is just beginning. He has fostered his riding in a very secluded community of riders most of which today are following his lead. Matti has more or less progressed his riding in South Africa single-handedly. Self-motivated and professional in every sense, Buys has cultivated his riding through countless hours on the cable. Representing Wakeskating professionally and as an ambassador to outsiders, Buys has been the driving force behind wakeskating’s expansion in Africa for over four years. Not known for its abundant opportunities to ride Buys seems to miraculously make something remarkable out of nothing everyday he is over there. Matti’s current ability and exposure is a testament to his perseverance and resourcefulness.
• • •
What’s your date of birth? Where are you from? How long have you been wakeskating? What stance are you?
24/05/1991, Benoni, South Africa; I have been wakeskating for 8 years and I am left foot forward.
You are a pretty fresh face in this crew of heavy-hitters. What were your first thoughts when you saw the roster line-up?[Laughs] It’s pretty surreal, I’ve been watching all of these guys from the other side of the world in videos since I started riding and now to have the chance to be in a video section with them is pretty amazing!
You have progressed your riding from the start significantly on your own. With just about no one in your area quite at your level of dedication to Wakeskating how have you had such success with progression and your career?
I wouldn’t say that I am the most dedicated to wakeskating in SA, everyone here is really hyped on the sport, but I have been blessed enough to have some really great opportunities to come to the US and travel to some other cool countries. I have been able to ride with guys like Dieter (Humpsch) and Nick (Taylor) and then everyone who I have met from there onwards. I was also fortunate enough to have Diets in SA for my first season of riding so that helped me get on the right track a lot!
Being sort of a pioneer of riding down there in South Africa how has that shaped your own outlook on your riding and the industry?
I don’t think of myself as a pioneer there were plenty of dudes before me that got the SA scene underway from Dieter and the Vaal boys, to all the local guys Benoni side for me and then even the Cape Town crew. Traveling between the States and SA recently has definitely helped me and the SA scene in trying to keep with the movement of the sport. With the way contests are running and more guys getting amped to winch and do lock in tricks or even just focusing on being clean and solid. I suppose my outlook has been more shaped by following overseas riders than by my riding in SA, which hopefully has filtered down into the other riders.
You are one of the guys pushing wakeskating in person on the ground in South Africa right now. You are also the one out there motivating guys to winch, film, and progress themselves that is pretty “pioneer” worthy. Tell us a little bit about the tour you organized in your country, The South African Wakeskate Tour, How did that come about?
Haha, thank you. Yeah it was cool to get the guys winching and filming this year and to see how amped they were once we started doing it was amazing. The group of guys here is really solid and fun to wakeskate with; so I suggested we get filming and winching done and from there they jumped on it. The Tour was always an idea my buddy Dale and I had after seeing what the US was up to. This year we just decided to try and make it happen. It’s very basic for now and the set ups aren’t as amazing as the U.S. Version but it does get the guys used to riding in wakeskating conducive formats and doing their tricks big and clean. I think it’s working and it’s a good way to slowly introduce the scene this side to what guys over here in the US are doing.
Who’s riding has influenced your own? What makes their riding so impactful?
I would have to say the 2 major influences in the beginning were Dieter and Nick. Dieter being from SA and also just playing such a pivotal role in my learning process as well just been a pleasure to watch and then Nick has just always been one of the dudes at the forefront of the sport from a technical and style standpoint.
Which wakeskate pieces have inspired you to progress your wakeskating? Any films, particular video sections, or shots in magazines that motivated you?
The first section I ever watched over and over again was Nick’s Pro Spotlight in the Volume series. That really just got me hyped to go out and ride! More than Machines was also one that was constantly on repeat for me.
What places has wakeskating taken you to? Which place did you enjoy most?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Norway, the Philippines and the USA along with a bunch of traveling within SA. The US is always great to come back to, it’s just cool to ride with so many people who are amped! Other than that i really enjoy riding down in Durban back home. Its a super fun place to go.
Are there any places you hope to travel to and wakeskate in the future that you have never been?
I would really like to make it out to Thailand one day. I’ve heard a lot about it and never really got the chance to go there. I would also like to explore South America and the scenes over there. I’m really interested to see what those guys have going. Then even just more of Africa, places like Mozambique and Namibia have some fun spots to ride that I would really like it to go and explore. So Ja, the list is big [laughs].
What is your take on the decline in full-length videos and the growth in the solo online parts?
I have always enjoyed full length videos and it does suck that a lot of the focus has moved to online parts, although from an overseas perspective it is great to have solo parts coming out a bunch because it keeps us more up to date on what the world of wakeskating is up to across borders. I am really amped to see a new full video come out then.
What aspect of your riding have you been focusing on recently to improve?
I have been winching a few more spots back home in SA which is really fun and then I have also been trying to get a few more lock in tricks down, watching guys like Ollie and Austin lock in really make it look fun, and way easier than you think [laughs].
What do you want to see from wakeskating in the next five years?
Hopefully the Tour coming back next year and carrying on for the next 5 years and then just way more content for all the wakeskate publications. So that and more and more groms coming through.
Focusing on the last piece about the groms (young riders), do you find there is less of a presence from the younger generation as there used to be? Are groms hard to come by in South Africa?
There is definitely a slight decline in the number of groms these days but I think with projects like this and everything else that everyone is doing will definitely change it. We have a few groms this side that shred but for the moment we only have two [groms] that are really pushing. Wish is great to see but hopefully they can recruit some buddies and get it going back home. It’s always great seeing new blood in the scene.
If you were speaking directly with the latest generation of wakeskaters coming up in the industry what would you like to say to them?
Listen to the older guys, keep fighting those battles for tricks and ride with as many different people as you possibly can.
Why is it important to “ride with as many different people as you possibly can”?
It really makes you rethink your wakeskating and push yourself to land something new. You can ride with guys like Collin [Gee] who just want to make you flow the whole day. Then you can ride with Nick [Taylor] and really just want to feel as comfortable as you possibly can on the board. I love it. Riding with new people really does make you rethink your own riding and is a humbling thing to do. Whether you’re learning or passing on knowledge.
What are you expecting from Istudiomo?
I am really hoping to see a banging Yan [Lecomte] and Nick Robinson sections, some sick new locations and Andrew’s epic creativity behind the lens and pc. I’m excited!
• • •
Photography by Andrew Roehm
Cinematography by Andrew Roehm and Mitchell Cobb