Stab Magazine | Dillon Perillo is into physics (Seriously!)

Dillon Perillo is into physics (Seriously!)

Story by Theo Lewitt / All photos by Tom Carey Dillon Perillo quietly breaks the current professional surfer mold. He needs some cerebral stimulation beyond what the QS, or chasing tubes and ramps in his downtime, provides. You won’t find him competing for social followers or riding an exercise bike waiting for his next make or break heat. In fact, after […]

style // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Story by Theo Lewitt / All photos by Tom Carey

Dillon Perillo quietly breaks the current professional surfer mold. He needs some cerebral stimulation beyond what the QS, or chasing tubes and ramps in his downtime, provides. You won’t find him competing for social followers or riding an exercise bike waiting for his next make or break heat. In fact, after ditching the jersey this year, Dillon will have more time than ever to do what he really enjoys; daydream about the future of our universe, nose down in a book reserved for the university inclined physics major. We wished to touch the cloud upon which Dillon’s head floats!

Stab: So… you’re into physics.
Dillon: I’ve just been reading books about it. I like to read. Can Stab make this look cool? I’m not sure (laughs). I like the History Channel and National Geographic, and such. They’ve done some cool programs on it.

Do you bring books along on your travels? Yeah. I’ve been trying to read Stephen Hawking’s books, but they’re too convoluted for me. I get little bits out of it, though. I don’t know the mathematics, obviously, but all of his ideas are pretty strange and interesting. Singularity is pretty weird, the Big Bang, black holes, trying to understand what happens, it’s all pretty exciting to me. Space…


Dillon gives some onlookers a lesson in trajectories.

How’d you get into it? Travis Ferre got me into existentialism, and I was reading Dostoyevsky and stuff, but it just seemed like a dead end source of information to me. Then I was watching the Discovery Channel and Nova, and there was a show playing about the future of the universe. I thought that was way more philosophical than just being super negative about life, so this last year I’ve just been looking into more of that kind of stuff. I’m just a surfer though, so I don’t know much about it yet (laughs). I just think it’s exciting to follow the route that these physicists are on and to understand more about the universe. I guess it’s like stoner talk, but it’s why we’re here.

I imagine good reading material breaks the monotony of a surf trip? Of course. Besides all of the good surfing happening and the waves, it’s pretty boring. Sometimes I look back on a trip based on what book I read. But, I still get really fired up on good surfing… I’m not too good for it (laughs).

What about surfing still fires you up? Well, I just went to Western Australia with Brendon Gibbens and surfed Cobblestones for two weeks straight and we just tried airs the whole time. It felt weird not doing half-turns, but I think just trying different things with my surfing is still mentally exciting for me.

Ever think about surfing in physics terms? Sometimes, with density and the pressure of boards and stuff… Apparently predicting the flow of water is one the hardest things to do in physics, and nobody has really gotten all that close to it. So, I guess you’d have to be able to predict the flow of water molecules to really understand if you’d be able to pull certain airs on certain waves and stuff like that. I don’t know much about that topic, but the flow of water is just as mysterious as the universe itself.


Here, he tests whether colder water densities affect his ability to recline.

Offers some ethereal ways to think about why people are drawn to surfing… Yeah. It seems like, with a meteorologist looking at the sky, its about predicting where the water is before it rains and storms come through, but we can only kind of predict swells and stuff. It’s constantly changing, so we really can’t all that well. I don’t know, I think about that stuff sometimes, but when it comes to surfing, you’re better off just not thinking at all… Just like contests, if you think in your heat, you’ll get all nervous and freak out… at least, that happens for me.

A lot of famous physicists are eccentric dudes. Richard Feynman used to pop a bunch of drugs and study in titty bars because they helped him focus… Oh really? I don’t know much abut him, but I’m readying a book of his right now. I don’t have anything like that for focusing (laughs). I’m not really into strip clubs. That’s interesting though. I guess everyone’s got their vices. A lot of those free thinking dudes are the ones that discover all the good stuff. They aren’t as boring as people think. I guess I do a lot of daydreaming… sometimes surfing just gets frustrating. Daydreaming helps.

If you weren’t surfing, would you want to go to school and study this kind of stuff? I didn’t before. When I was coming out of high school, I didn’t want to go to college at all. I thought it was stupid just because that’s what a lot of my friends thought about it, and I was f’sure influenced by other people. But now, yeah, I would. At the same time I’m kinda scared. I could say that I would go to college, but if my surf career ended today and I went to school the next semester and just didn’t pull through, then I really look bad (laughs). It’s hard to say, so I don’t really like saying things like that until I actual start doing it. Im just so capricious now.


Theories of propulsion hard at work…

For now, you’re focusing on freesurfing? Yeah. I decided not to do contests anymore. Rip Curl is doing The Search for the next three years and they wanted me to do that, so I’m changing my whole life around for that. But, I guess they want me to do the Lowers contest next month, so I’m gonna try and do that. I went to Australia last month to do those two six-stars because I’d already signed up for them, but I got put on this last minute trip, so I pulled out of the two contests and I’m pretty sure I’m gonna get fined thousands of dollars, so it could be really expensive for me… we’ll see. I’m kinda feeling what Medina said the other day (laughs).

Freesurfing is obviously less stressful. Yeah, totally. It just seems more fun to me. The contest talk is so boring anyways. Everyone just talks about having sex with women and shit. It’s funny when you’re drinking, but I don’t know. You go to breakfast with all the dudes in the contest and all they do is talk about chicks. I just get burnt out on it. If you’re making heats, I guess that’s all that matters, but I wasn’t making many. I wasn’t happy.

So, contests vibes are a little one-dimensional? Yeah, one-dimension, man! Just a bacteria in a sampling… One Direction…

Is that what you listen to on the road? Well, my friend Brendon Gibbens showed me The Cranberries, and I’m way into that. Every week I’m listening to new songs. That’s another things about being on the QS… everyone’s listening to rap music, and Lil’ Wayne, and Drake… what’s the guy’s name? Drizzy? It drives me fricken crazy. Even if you try to go surfing on the side, you jump in the car with everyone and they just listen to rap music.


And now, some field research…


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