Chris ‘Chippa’ Wilson was one of five men invited on the 2012 Kustom Airstrike boat trip. Ten days in the Mentawais as part of a crew that also included Matt Meola, Albee Layer, Ryan Callinan and John Florence, with each man trying to land the best air they could and win the Airstrike’s $50k prize money. Chippa had a similar boat trip prior to the Airstrike, and a land camp in the same area immediately following. So, all up, he did 34 days straight in the Ments. Now that he’s home, back in Cabarita on Oz’s north coast, he’s taking a little time outta the water to let some new ink heal (a small key and the Love Park sculpture on his arm, as well as a bunch of touching-up). Stab called Chip to debrief about the his time on the Airstrike.
All photos by Nate Lawrence.
Stab: So. The Kustom Airstrike.
Chippa Wilson: It was full-on. Everyone went crazy. John was the standout, for me. He’s always gnarly to surf with but it’s fun, he pushes everyone. He pretty much did every trick you could think of. Which wasn’t surprising – I knew that was gonna happen no matter what. I’ve got a feeling he’ll win it. Everyone else was impressive, though. Matt with his flips, Albee with his 720 attempts, and Ryan was doing some pretty fucking massive hucks on his backside.
What about ol’ Chips? Oh, I was going for cutbacks and carves and barrels (laughs). That backside mute full-roter was fun, I was trying a lot of backside indys and stuff like that, ’cause we (goofys) only really got to surf frontside for one day. So on my backside, I did a little bigspin, then one kinda decent board varial. I did one little flip, too. But you’re limited with what you can do on your backside.
Did you have one trick in mind that was gonna be your ace? When the wind was right, I was trying – and this has been done before – just a full-spin rodeo. So, you rotate the whole thing and land straight. I got close on a few, pretty much should’ve landed it, but… it’s funny, ’cause the Airstrike finished, then I was with another crew, and I landed the best air I’ve ever done. It was a backside indy full-spin, kinda inverted. I’m just glad someone got it on film (laughs).
After coming so close to winning last time, were you gunning this time? Before I left, I just wanted to get a good webisode part and try to be consistent. I figured that a big air would come along with that attitude. I didn’t wanna go there and just try one trick and then not get it. The wind was kinda sucky so I just went for whatever. But I guess it turned out alright in the end.
You’re one of surfing’s most tech, but it seems like lately you’ve been more about going big. Is that accurate? Yeah, for sure. Definitely. I guess it’s kinda got to the point where it’s almost as tech as it can get with board spins and varials and stuff like that. But I think the bigger you go, the more types of flips and spins you can do.
Does that come down to more hangtime? You’ve got your hangtime and you can grab for longer, which helps you spin quicker. I’ve realised, since that Mentawais trip, that on little backside airs when you grab, you only just get your momentum before you land. But if you go huge, you kinda spin slow at the start then grab late and it hucks you into a flippy-spin sorta thing. You can’t do that on a smaller wave. – Elliot Struck
Stay tuned for more to come. Til then, check out the Kustom Airstrike site for frequent updates.