Renaissance Man: An Interview with Chippa Wilson
Chippa Wilson is a Renaissance man: he's a world-renowned professional surfer and X Games silver medalist, new heritage lifestyle icon, weekend project enthusiast, and rancher. He hails from Cabarita Beach, Australia, where he has a ranch and hones his surfing skills while building retro motorcycles with his own hands. We recently spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness and donations for charity, and are working to spur innovation and creativity through BC Weekend Projects. Together, we built the Beach Sled from a Triumph Bonneville T100, inspired by the desert sleds ridden by legends like Steve McQueen, Bud Ekins, and Eddie Mulder using only quality bolt-on parts.
British Customs: Tell me about where you grew up.
Chippa Wilson: I grew up on the East Coast of Australia, and moved from Sydney to Cabarita Beach when I was young. That’s where I started surfing. Cabarita Beach is a tiny surf community, but it’s changed as it's gotten busier; but I guess everything is getting busier. I don’t really like that: I wish things would stay smaller and simpler.
BC: What did you tell people you wanted to be when you grew up?
CW: I always just dreamed of living out in the country, of living free.
BC: What’s a day in the life for Chippa Wilson like?
CW: It depends on where I am. If I’m home, and the waves are good, I’ll make coffee and go surf. Then when I get back I’ll let the chickens out, get any eggs they laid, and go surf some more. But if I’m on a surf trip, all I do is surf.
BC: What got you into riding motorcycles?
CW: I remember watching flat track races on TV with my dad when I was a kid and thinking it was the coolest thing. After seeing those, I knew I had to get into it myself.
BC: You’re pretty close with your dad. What kinds of things do you guys do together?
CW: We surf together a lot. He got me into it. He still surfs with two reconstructed knees at 60. Which is awesome. Growing up, I used to watch him make houses. He used to do everything with his hands, and that inspired me.
BC: What keeps you on the bike?
CW: Exploring new grounds and new places. That sense of freedom you get. Cruising is the best. I love going from dirt to tarmac and then hopping from cafe to cafe around Cabarita.
BC: Is the feeling you get while riding at all like the feeling you get while surfing?
CW: Totally. You feel disconnected from all the noise in your life. You can just reset and enjoy yourself.
BC: What about retro things do you like so much?
CW: Vintage things have style, and they’re classy. They’re not overdone. They’re simple; like less is more. They’re just easy on the eyes.
Photos by Brin Morris @thedeuk