He's just the world's hottest jibber! What else is there?
In a little Australian town overcrowded with late summer visitors (Cabarita!) we chance upon Mr Chris Wilson, just the world’s best huckster. Ain’t that good enough reason to gallop alongside and find out what life’s like when you’re paid to spin? Is it as beautifully romantic and as heroically sublime as it seems? BeachGrit has held Chris, nicknamed Chippa after the1960s TV show My Three Sons (kid in the show was cute as a button Chip Douglas), real close to our hearts ever since he stole 2009’s Little Weeds crown (an online search for new talent) by the stupidest of of margins.
When his sponsor master Analog changed direction a couple of years back and he was cast upon the shittiest of bear markets we foresaw black and heavy clouds, the oncoming crash of a catastrophe. Because Chris ain’t just your regular surf cat. He’s a little quiet, kinda shy in a lot of company, but smart, a thinker, a creator, and that don’t fit the structure of most brands that requires extroverts, hucksters in the 19th century sense.
He ain’t a drinker either.
“I just get super hangover. I’m like allergic to the shit,” he says. “And I can’t afford to be feeling like shit.”
Chip explains that if he’s out it’ll be the low-cal vodka-and-soda that”ll be in his paw. Beer, he says, is what makes him “get real cloudy.” (And honey we ain’t even going to mention the surcharge beer adds on your hips!)
But real talk, let’s get real. Tell me Chip…
BeachGrit: What do you do for kicks?
Chip: I’ve been working on a new motorbike at home, an old 1977 Kawasaki 100 road bike. It’s black and green with army green tank and fenders. It’s a good little bike, super rare. My friend at Byron at Thrills, Ryan, he Instagrammed a photo of it and I jumped on it. Hustled it down a bit and got it. I’ve also got this project in Cali where I’m chasing a 400 Honda and a big Ford van, somewhere you can toss your moto in the back and just cruise. That’s the dream.
Motos are great for kicks. And they kick back.
It’s addicting! I’m getting my license this weekend. I’ve been riding but I don’t wanna lose my license before I get it. And, yeah, it’s dangerous and you can kill yourself. That’s a setback. I’m going to be dressing to crash, f’sure.
What do you love and what do you hate about where you live?
Everything is so… easy. Just so green. It ain’t too overbuilt yet. I’ve lived there since I was one so it’s home. What do I hate? I hate it when there’s no surf and the surf’s shitty. But, pumping today, and yesterday, so all good in the hood.
Tell me all about your frontside 540, your new trick…
My goal is to nail it by the end of the year.
Is it an air reverse kinda flat spin or an alley oop spin?
Air reverse flat spin. It’s not inverted so it looks more crazy.
From there it’s only one more tweak to a 720, two full revs…
A 720 is gnarly, a 540 is weird enough. That last 180 is fucking trippy. You’re doing a 180 when you shouldn’t. Although the more you practise the more normal it becomes. Every time I’ve gotten close it’s been a pretty big wave, with a lot of speed, and a good wind. You need power and push to buck…
Were you bullied as a kid or did you bully?
When I was super young, like at primary school, I had a strong lisp and I got bullied. But then, thats what kids do. They’d copy what I was saying and tease me. Same old shit. Poor little Chippa, eh?
He’s doing alright now.
Ha! I ended up fixing the lisp myself.
Did you ever bully?
No way. I wasn’t into that. But, yeah, all kids do it to a certain extent.
What’s the meanest thing you’ve done to somebody?
Shaved eyebrows when the boys have been passed out. Dumb shit. But nothing real mean. I kinda sound like a pussy. I’ve been in a fight or two. Maybe a punch in the head is the meanest thing I’ve done.
How does a situation in your life escalate to conflict?
I only fight when I really have to, me getting punched in the head or sticking up for myself. I’ve only really been in two fights and the last one I blacked out, full of rage, and won. I was in Bali and some dude smashed his beer into my fish bowl drink. I got up and punched on. I remember I was on top of him on the ground. All the bouncers came and I got up walked out of there.
Do girls ever send you explicit letters with accompanying photos?
I feel like you’ve gotta be in the game to get that stuff from crazy creeps. I’ve got a gal so I deleted my Facebook.
How about our new pal Snapchat?
…that why I haven’t got it. That’s where It’s going to happen.
What about those tattoo gals? You’re a pinup for self art.
My friend Ben Grillo, he’s a real good tattoo artist from California, he made a few tattoos on my knuckles and he put the portraits on Instagram and he tagged me on the photos. I had 20 completely tattooed gals hitting me up, liking all my photos. Super weird.
What do you think about yourself?
Mellow. Tatted up. Shy. Put me on a stage with am microphone and I’d choke up and walk off.
Do you care what people think of you?
Everyone does. If they have a strong opinion, it’d be good if they told you. If they got it wrong, I do kinda care.
What is your favourite season?
Autumn in Australia. I like cold nights and cold mornings. I dig winter too so from here until a little after August. Nice offshore winds in the morning, full suits, coffee, it’s insane. I can’t stand summer here. It’s way too hot. In winter you can always find a place to get warm. In summer you’re completely fucked.
Are you comfortable talking to strangers?
Yeah! It’s interesting!
If you don’t like a person, how do you handle it?
I try not be near ’em. I stay clear and I don’t get involved.
What do you snack on?
I always eat bags of chips. Funny, huh?
What’s been your most memorable experience ever?
Getting my first house and moving out of home. I went thirds with my older brother and a good mate and we all moved in together. I always had so much respect for my mum and dad’s house and it was always in the back of my head if I brought people back. In our house, it was a free for all. You come home and you can make a mess, have fun, party, drink all night and turn the music up loud. always in the bad of himy head, bringing people back, one house, free for all.
What do you do when you feel sad or depressed?
Lately, it’s been the crazy fucked up shit going on in the world. That’s sad and that’s depressing. I was in America when that Boston stuff happened. And on the way over on the plane there was a lady sitting in front of me with a Boston Marathon t-shirt and a tiny little kid. She was flying over to do it. As soon as I saw the news, I thought about her and that little kid. That type of weird shit gets me sad.
What’s your favourite time of the day?
Morning. I like to see what it brings. Some days I get up and I have no motivation to do anything. But some days are good and you get up and surf and you’re super productive.
What’s your bad quality?
I get lazy on the internet and having to write back to people. If I don’t do it when I have to, It’s going to take a while.
If there is one thing you’d die for, what is it?
I’d die for a coffee right now. I’m sitting across form Gloria Jeans and it smells that good.
Who has had the most influence in your life?
I’m always looking up to people who are ahead of me. I’ve always looked up to Craig Anderson. I could see how good he was. He was king and he’s still killing it. It’s insane. My old man’s been good. He’s a carpenter and he’s still working so goddamned hard.
It could’ve been Chip the chippy who like to eat chips.
That’s where I was going. If I had a hammer in my hand, I’d be thinking about surfing and hitting my thumb. I didn’t allow myself to get good at it.
What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
Lately, been thinking about little projects I want to do, the moto, the van, surf trips, everything really…
Do you solve many problems in the car
No, but I make a few phone calls which can solve things.
On a scale of one to 10, rate me as an interviewer…
I’m going to toss you a nine. You actually talk back and not talk like you’re reading off a teleprompter. I get some where it feels like I’m talking to a computer.