Matt was kind enough to spend some time chatting with members of our team to share his stories about returning to work and his passion for water sports.

Tell us about yourself.
I moved to the Gold Coast from Canberra when I was younger and, from about age 14, I was by the water. I love water sports: scuba diving, hydrofoil, wakeboarding, kite surfing, sailing. In 2018, I made the world record for the longest wakeboard ride at 10 hours non-stop. A record I plan on getting back next year! In 2020, I was involved in a motorcycle accident that left me with a traumatic brain injury and multiple orthopaedic injuries resulting in the amputation of my right leg, which is how I came to be part of NIISQ.

What’s a day in the life of Matt look like?
It has changed recently as I am now back at work which has been great. When I am not working, I am doing my rehab appointments, or I am in the water. Today I am down at Currumbin watching a mate kitesurfing. The weather is perfect, and I’m keen to get back out there as soon as Ross from Custom Prosthetics Mudgeeraba finishes my new wet leg! There was a bit of a setback as I was kite surfing a few weeks ago with the diagnostic socket on, Ross had told me not to do anything hard on it as I had broken the last one, but it was a really good, windy day so I couldn’t help getting out there. I was having a great time, doing great jumps, bigger than everyone who was out there, when I felt something wasn’t right. I looked down and found I had snapped the diagnostic socket. Ross was good about it though. He has been fantastic. I wish I had been with him from the start. It has made such a big difference working with him.

What’s your biggest success of 2023?
Returning to work. After my accident, I spent 5 months in hospital then about 6 months at home. I couldn’t go back to my earthmoving job. I needed to get my licence back and find something I could do from my wheelchair. Being such an active person and being in the water all the time, having to be housebound for so long really affected my mental health. My friend who owns the sailing boat ‘Yeah Baby’ also happens to own a pest control company. He offered that I could come work for him doing sales. Returning to work gives you purpose and a reason to get out of bed each day. It definitely has its moments and challenges, but I am happy to be doing something and my friend/boss is a positive person and that helps.

Finishing my surgeries. In March this year I finally finished all my planned surgeries on my leg. I am currently waiting on my new wet leg so I can get back out into the water again.

Starting sailing. I was out on the water kitesurfing and as the ‘Yeah Baby’ boat went past me. It looked like heaps of fun, so I reached out to the owner and said I would love to come out for a sail. He gave me a shot and has been teaching me since. I was able to go to Hamilton Island for race week and spent the week on the boat. It was amazing. Later this year I will go to Hobart to be part of the crew that sails the ‘Yeah Baby’ boat back following the Sydney to Hobart race.

What is your biggest learning?
It can be tough at times; this year I spent more time in the wheelchair than I have walking. Having an underwater metal detector comes in handy for water sport enthusiasts. I have lost a few things in the water like my Go-Pro and my prosthetic leg. You might have seen it in the news. I was kite surfing at Broadbeach when I got smashed by a wave and my prosthetic came off. It had been raining a lot, so the water was brown, and it immediately disappeared out of sight. I went diving with my metal detector but had no chance of finding it. Three weeks later someone diving at the Spit found it and posted it on Facebook. It had floated about 10km from where I lost it and gotten was wedged in the rocks. I was able to go collect it from the guy and took it home to clean it up. I found a little fish in the foot and everything. Thankfully, I was still able to use it and went wakeboarding with it the very next day.
What are you working towards for 2024?

Once I get my wet leg, I’m starting training towards getting my world record back. I’m aiming to hit 12 hours straight of non-stop wakeboarding in May 2024. I am also aiming to be being part of the Yeah Baby Sydney to Hobart crew.

How do you stay motivated?
Once I tell people my goal, I must do it. I don’t like not achieving something I set out to do. It helps that this is something I wanted to do before my accident. I had always planned to get my record back. I love wakeboarding. It keeps me fit. I head down to the cable park, listen to some music, strap in, and just keep surfing. It is way better than any gym-based fitness.

How have you found working with NIISQ?
When I first came to NIISQ my Planner was Samantha Lee. She was great, nothing was a problem, and she was supportive. More recently I have been working with Simon who is awesome as well. NIISQ have always been supportive, and I cannot thank them enough.

If you’d like to follow Matt’s adventures, training, and world record attempt you can follow him on Instagram: MattC_91

Last updated: November 2023