Big wave surfer Matt Bromley tells how he faced his fear of going ‘Over the Edge’
Share this article:
Cape Town - As wave after wave of the pandemic engulfed the world, Capetonian surfer Matt Bromley took time out to tackle experiences of fear through his film Over The Edge.
The 54-minute documentary tells the story of how Bromley became passionate about big wave surfing and how he overcame his fears by chasing waves around Hawaii, California, Indonesia, South Africa and Ireland.
“I always had a desire to produce a longer film of my life, telling my story from the beginning, because I was a really conservative child growing up, and I did not like going on fast skateboards or jumping off high locks into the water like my brother, but weird enough my career right now is the totally opposite of my conservative nature. These waves are huge and the situations can be seriously scary,” said Bromley.
Growing up in Newlands, Bromley tested the waters at the age of six when his father took him to the beach where he enjoyed the calm waters during a swim. When he turned 12, Bromley and his family moved to a house that was on the beach in Kommetjie and from there he saw surfers take on waves 600m out to sea.
The feeling of conquering big waves resonated with him and he pushed himself to be the best he could be. This led him to focus on one of the big wave spots in Maui, Hawaii – Jaws.
“So one of the things that has inspired this movie is being able to reach the top of a really big wave and look over it. It’s a scary experience because you look over the edge, it’s deep and vertical, seeing the water drawing off the reef 40 feet below you and the wind blowing up the wave face leaving you with a split second to decide whether to go on that wave or whether to pull back and not go.”
“I wanted to be able to tell the story of the fear every person feels. I am naturally conservative I feel so much fear all the time and I get so scared and the underlying message is that everybody has their big waves in life that need to be ridden despite the challenges and struggles. I wanted to use my life example to encourage people and allow them to see that big wave surfers are not superheroes and they don't have a screw loose; they feel fear too.
“But it’s not about whether you feel that fear or not but it’s about what you do with that fear, and for me I got really scared and I felt a lot of fear but I found courage over and over again. That’s when I faced that fear and I pushed myself over the edge,” said Bromley.
The movie covers the drama of travelling during the pandemic, and Bromley’s wife having a baby, all while he was in pursuit of that one bomb wave at Jaws.
The director of the film, Andrew Kaineder, said completing it was a major challenge on its own, given the pandemic and the various forces that slowed down the project.
“Directing the documentary was tough. Initially we had 12 months, but on our first try, my grandma passed away so I wasn’t able to go. That was the best surfing of the entire film and it’s tough looking back at the timing of that.
“Afterwards we did three trips together and two were unsuccessful. Then Covid-19 hit and we weren’t able to do any more trips together. Matt had one small window to go to America, but I couldn’t go. But he went and scored some of the best waves of the film and again, despite me not being there for one of the pivotal trips, it all worked out as best it could in the end.
“I guess the biggest thing to overcome was Covid -19. As I’m sure with everything and everyone around the globe over the past couple of years. The nature of chasing waves around the world is that you need to travel quite a lot, but when that ground to a halt that was it. We did our best with what he had and it shaped the film in a completely different way. I’m just amazed we finished it.
“Surfing in general, and in particular making this documentary, makes you really just go with the flow. Some things in life cannot be controlled and that’s the beauty of life and travelling and experiencing new things. It was a really tough couple of years for everybody and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to do what we do,” said Kaineder.