Stab Magazine | Pro surfers have to work sometimes with Chippa Wilson, Matt Meola and Billy Kemper

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Pro surfers have to work sometimes with Chippa Wilson, Matt Meola and Billy Kemper

Words by Morgan Williamson  Some of us work nine to fives in cubicles beneath florescent lights, make phone calls sporting feigned smiles and dread Mondays. Some of us are labourers, bartenders and waiters. Some write, film, freeload, hustle and gamble or have figured out how to capitalize on the internet. All of us surf. If […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Morgan Williamson 

Some of us work nine to fives in cubicles beneath florescent lights, make phone calls sporting feigned smiles and dread Mondays. Some of us are labourers, bartenders and waiters. Some write, film, freeload, hustle and gamble or have figured out how to capitalize on the internet. All of us surf.

If you work full-time then you know the torment of missing sessions because you’ve got to support yourself or your family. You’ve watched it fire all week and forced yourself to get in the water at six am and out at eight. You’ve had to explain to coworkers that the shit that just poured out of your nose was just saltwater. You don’t surf when the tides right, just when you can. You’ve talked with your mates about the pleasures of being a professional surfer, the charmed life; travel, party, girls and remote uncrowded waves. It’s impossible to avoid blue or white-collar jealousy. Some sit back and accept it, save some coin and make that purple blob trip happen. Some troll this site filled with indignation and disbelief that people in this world could have more fun than them. They sulk in their bitterness and write quasi-novella’s about how ‘faggy’ some of these ‘cunts’ are with outright malice. An aggression I can only assume’s a coping mechanism for a far deeper rooted evil…

The concept of no work just surf’s a dream. But not all grow up with a plethora of sponsorships and hype. Some have to work, or at least attempt. Surfing’s up there in the world’s hardest sport to make it in along with golf, tennis and baseball. And not to say that professional surfing’s not a ‘job’… It’s just a better ‘job’ than anyone of us have.

But if these guys worked full time your downtime would be filled with less surf porn and more porn porn…

“I was never too good in competitions when I was younger,” Chippa Wilson tells Stab. “I think I got fifth in one. When I was 15 and 16 I had a couple sponsors. They lasted about a year. I never made much money from them. I started to do labour work for my dad when I was 18. Just like shit kicking. I would dig holes and stuff. It was kind of fun I guess. I’d at least feel like I’d accomplished something by the end of the day. But I would just think about surfing the whole time I was at work. I was never that into it. I just wanted to surf. I also worked as a tree lopper. I’d cut all the branches, pretty much doing whatever I could to make some money. Before my sponsors I was 21 and pretty much dead broke, but not really stressing. Before Analog came along I was about to start working full-time. Thank god it did I’m much happier with what I’m doing now.”

Our dear friend Matt Meola tried to hop into the working world one time… just one time. “My story’s kind of funny,” laughs Mr Meola. “I needed to get a job, my parent’s were bitching at me. Like furious I wasn’t working. So I went down to Mama’s Fish House. I got an interview and was hired as a dishwater. I went in for my first day of work, made it about four hours and quit. That’s the day I decided I needed to be a pro surfer. There were definitely a few years where I was scraping. Me and Billy Kemper would go shoot fish and sell them to the Filipino market to make some extra money.”

“I wasn’t getting paid from surfing until the last three years of my life,” Billy Kemper tells Stab. “I just hustled and did whatever I could to continue doing what I love. When I was 20 I got hurt surfing this slab with Albee (Layer). I couldn’t surf for a few months. I grew up spearfishing and my dad was a commercial fisherman. I had this opportunity to go cut fish at this really high end restaurant; Mama’s Fish House.” Which is apparently the spot to work at if you’re a surfer needing a job in Maui. “So I figured I’d go work and make some money. It was a learning experience. It was cool to learn how to cut fish at a high level. But it’s funny when I look back, I was 20 years old and partying really hard on Maui. I’d be so hungover at work. I had to be there at seven in the morning. I used to go take naps on the tables in the bathroom. That’s when I realised I could never be someone who worked indoors. Luckily my boss was a homie. When I told him I going to quit, he was like ‘nah, I’ll just fire you. That way you can collect unemployment for a bit.”

Life’s hard sometimes…

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