Words by James Royce | Photography by John Respondek
Fix a blown-out ACL, move house, pass the time away while you’re stuck on an island with a population of just 541,071. Enjoy yourself between it all.
Only a few line items that have been occupying Chippa Wilson’s daily planner for the better part of the past two years. Last we talked to Mr. Wilson, he was getting busy in Tasmania. And now that we’re entering year two of flight restrictions, select quarantines, and general nonsense-induced headaches, we thought we’d check in with our dear friend. See how the knee’s holding up. Talk covers he’s been scoring. Ask questions about his charmed existence in the personal slice of paradise he calls home.
Whether in Tokyo or NYC. Portugal, France, New South Wales, or beyond. We’ve had a whirlwind few years with Chippa on the road and we only hope to keep it up once this all blows over. But until then, we’ll clear 8,000 miles of distance through the modern marvel of FaceTime audio. Brew yourself another weekday tea and let it steep over the time it took you to read this intro then take a sip and enjoy reading what Chippa has to say on whatever glowing device is in front of you.
WT: Chippa! We’re finally making it happen.
Chippa Wilson: Got ‘yah! Finally.
Hear me all right?
Loud and clear. Much better than the other day.
How was the surf ?
It was fun! Just a little, mini, right-slab with no one out… It’s pretty cool here in Tassie.
That a local-ish spot?
Yeah! It was sick down there. We actually had a good run of waves lately, it’s been nice.
Is that wave you were texting over photos of (The photos of a very inviting, empty right-hand slab will not be included here so as to not “blow up the spot”… it’s called journalistic integrity — Editor) semi-localish? Pretty dreamy setup to have close by if so.
Semi-local. It’s like an hour and a half down the coast. Bit of a four-wheel-drive track just to get in which is cool.
What’s the deal with Tassie right now, then? Can people get over there from the main continent? Or did COVID pull the plug on the ferries so now you’re keeping all the waves and scenery and other good things to yourselves?
Nahhh… it’s crowded now. Thank fuck it’s been a while but they kind of dropped their guard. You are able to travel anywhere in Australia except for WA, there’s still a bit of a hard border there. It’s probably going to happen here but it’s all good now. This new virus has really softened up the crowds a bit, which has been great. They did stop the ferries too last time which was nice.
I know it was massive recently throughout the Gold Coast and select pockets of NSW, did you get any of that?
We got a little bit! We had a bit of a north swell, that’s why I went out to that one joint. It only really works on a northeast swell. So we got a bit but swells only last, like, two days here. Unlike a week up there where the lows tend to hang off. They just pass by down here. So we got two days and then that was it.
I want to say congrats on the Surfer’s Journal cover by the way. I have a copy sitting on my desk right now and considering ripping into it after hanging up.
Yeah! Stoked. I had no idea I was getting that. So… when was that? 2019? It was the last surf I had actually before knee surgery. Dion hired out the wave pool in Melbourne before it was complete for his movie, Dark Hollow. We did a night shoot there from, like, I want to say eleven o’clock through to three in the morning. Joe G and John Respondek were there too. And we just had a bunch of lights and smoke machines and were just doing some experimental shit. It was good fun! But I had no idea I had no ACL at the time, I thought I’d just sprained my knee real bad just before in France. Anyway, yeah, that was it. I was stoked to see the photos though. It was, like, “Ah, fuck! That’s a memory right there.”
“Dion hired out the pool in Melbourne and this moment was captured by Respondek whilst we were filming for D’s latest feature film Dark Hollow. This little tube was ridden in a man-made city wave around 1 am on a freezing winters night.”
So how does that work then? You just didn’t know about it until they put out an Instagram with you tagged in on it and you learned at the same time as the rest of us?
Exactly what happened. John’s got so many good photos it’s probably hard for him now to send all of them through to the mags. He probably just found it after sitting on it and clicked it over.
Nice little surprise no doubt!
I think I found out on New Years Day, too. Good start to the year!
You have to put it in a frame!
I used to do that. Can’t be fucked anymore though, haha.
How else have you been burning time around Tas? Just surfing and enjoying yourself?
I mean, me and Brinkley (Chips other half) usually travel to WA every year with the dogs but just being around this year I’ve hit the ground running doing big renovations landscaping-wise. I was doing pretty much nine-hour days for about a month here.
Digging holes and planting trees? Or full-on firing up a digger?
We’re putting in about six retaining walls with a ton of dirt and machinery. So, yeah, the works. I’ve only just really started surfing and getting back into it just lately, over the last few weeks.
And the knee’s all good now?
Knee’s been fine it feels great… it’s just about healed completely. You know how it is, you have to keep conditioning it to keep things in check. Once you do something like that the rest of your body tends to get a bit off centred.
Have you been back to tinkering with any new bikes or cars lately with all the time on your hands?
Nothing new as of late, I’ve got too many things on. I’ve been selling some stuff which has actually been really fun. I’ve sold my original Chevy C10 and I’ve got a few new toys coming over from the states in about a week. I’ve been tinkering with the old Harley’s too. Real basic shit but it passes the time down here, it’s nice. I’ve also been taking a fair share of day rides. Everyone’s like, “Why the fuck did you move down there?” And it’s like, “Ahhh… don’t worry about it, I’m good!”
Have you been able to travel anywhere outside of Tas or have you been fully hunkering down?
Not really! Before Christmas, everything was pretty jammed up just with restrictions and whatnot. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere. Now that it’s all open I’m starting to fill up my calendar with trips. Get on the road again. It was so hard there because all my family and my crew…. Oh wait, hold on. I just have to yell at my dog real quick for digging holes… But yeah, my crew from New South Wales has been locked down for, god, a least six months or something like that. So I haven’t been able to film or shoot with any of the homies for a long time. Lovely here but it’ll be sweet getting back up there.
And you’ll be there in May for our big Indo boat trip no?
Fuckin’ hope so! That does sound seriously fun. Fingers crossed as we’re actually going to Sumatra right after that for what would usually be our annual Mandiri Beach Club hangout with Spon, Dion, Harry Bryant and Jay Davies. Trying to think who else normally comes but they’re the usual suspects… Fuck it’s been that long since we last did it! 2 Years since I’ve left Australia… So we’ll see what happens, it could be goo— HEY FRANNY! None of that! Sorry, dog’s in the backyard and kangaroos shit on the lawn and she gets her face in on it and it’s so gross. They start digging to find it and there’re little holes in my lawn everywhere it’s a nightmare.
Seems minimal when it comes to your standard wildlife complaint, though. Just the one dog?
It’s mellow man. I’ve got two, a four-year-old cattle dog and a little one. I think she’s one year old. A little border collie. They’re good dogs, but they’re like having fucking kids though. Just wild, hah. You just deal with them though because you love them so much.
Tell me a bit about this new artist collaboration you’ve got going with Adelio
That turned out sick! A good fried of mine, Jesse, or, Sketchy Tank, designed all of that. I’ve just been a big fan of his artwork since I first moved to California and met him. What would you call that artwork? It’s like edgy… well, fuck, it’s sketchy!
Seems like something that lives halfway between a Norwegian black metal album cover and classic California tattoo artwork. Very unique.
It’s really cool. I’ve just been a fan of his forever and the good part with Adelio is we’re all mates. I wouldn’t just do one with someone I haven’t met or don’t gel with. Every single one is with a homie who does really cool shit, and I think that’s where it’s going to continue on. And then I get to wear them and they look alright, so it’s a win.
How’d you link up with Jesse originally?
It was years and years ago. One of my first trips out to California I think. Back in, I don’t know, 2014 or something like that? Anyway he was doing Sketchy Tank and it was just an online blog thing at the time. He hit up my mate who was managing me at the time and asked if I would be down to wear a goon mask and surf Oceanside and he would film me. And I was like, “Ah, that sounds, well… sketchy, hah. Alright.” But, yeah, went down to the car park and we just hit it off. Said what up. Exchanged numbers. Surfed with a goon mask on. Stayed in contact ever since.
Never looked back. How about Adelio ?
I was riding for FOX and locked into some weird wetty deal with them for many moons and then when that ended I had a few offers on the table. In the end it was between Adelio and one other brand… I just gelled with Brett (Adelio founder) from the get go, he’s a full time builder and I can relate to that as all my family come from that line of work. My dad and brother are builders and I was blown away he had a wetsuit brand on the side whilst doing a 9-5 grinding. I was like if I can help him out in any way I’ll do it for sure. Hopefully I am? haha. Been working with Adelio for about 6 years now give or take.
You have a signature wetsuit bootie… Can’t be too many people who have those! Why dipped ? No strap?
I went for something a little more rugged… Dipped so it sears out the water, stops leaks and maintains the shape of the bootie for a lot longer. I just moved to Tasmania and wanted something a lot warmer than most booties out there. The strap doesn’t do much for me when they are on top.. I feel like once you’ve the dipped the boot they hold the foot better and are quite tight. We’ve actually just started to work on something new, way off grid bootie wise. I feel like every little collection has their perks and this one was more of a cold water number.
I know you mentioned you’re just getting back into filming but are we going to be seeing you here in anything soon?
Lately, I’ve just been doing a couple of team trips. I’ve done a few SurfStitch ones and trying to keep the majority of the sponsors happy and keep doing this team stuff at the start of the year. The plan is to start knuckling down and start filming a feature film of some sort. Just two years off I need to get back in and backlog all the homies and get the sponsors happy and then I can think of the bigger picture.
We need to get you back out to France!
Frothing for that. That’ll be good. When’s that ‘QS kick off again? It’s like October, right?
Yeah, like the end of September to early October. Not the worst time for a detox, early nights, that sort of thing.
I’d rather it be good right before and after and get it while everyone else is out of town! Maybe a little less partying this year too would be good…
The Coolin siren call gets everyone at one point or another.
Hah, that one ropes you in. Fucking excited to get behind the lens regardless! Or, in front of the lens, as they would say.
Well we’ll let you go as it sounds like you’re busy preparing for your trip. Where you off to exactly?
I actually just finished packing up the car right now! Off to the West coast of Tasmania and leaving super early in the morning. I’m going somewhere I haven’t been to before. Should be an adventure as I’m cruising solo and just taking the two dogs. Going to scope and see what the West has to offer! I’ve packed a 6’8 single fin, a Neal Purchas duo, a hi-fi board by Matt Hurworth, a bodyboard and a twinny.
Safe travels Chip x
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