THE EXPLODING MAN
Unbeknownst to most of the greater surfing world, there are few greater minds in surfing than the one that’s bouncing around inside the skull of Mr. Dion Agius. Sure, the squishy, juicy brains of the likes of Derek Hynd, Matt Warshaw, and Simon Anderson, amongst others, get talked about with reverie often, and with good reason, but in a career path that’s full of forks in roads, dead-ends, and just plain old potholed broken bitumen, Dion has never seemed to make a wrong turn that so many of his contemporaries have. Couple that with a sharp eye for style, an Adriano DeSouza-like work ethic, and an ability to boost like a fucking maniac, and you’ve got one of the most dynamic figures in professional freesurfing of the last decade. From working on movies with Kai Neville as a grom, to starring in Modern Collective, to defining the surf blog, to starting a successful sunglasses company, to creating his own films like The Smiling Bag, and whatever else he’s working on that we don’t know about while continuing to appear in the surfing’s best yearly released movies, the list goes on and on and freaking on. And Dion, like any decent entrepreneur (and we mean that with the best intentions), empowers and bigs up the people around him wherever he can, and with that in mind he had no hesitation to talk with us about how unbelievably well his mate Chippa Wilson was surfing on their recent Sumatra trip.
SW: You and Chip have been doing a few trips, and if I know you man, you’re always working on something, so what’s cooking?
DA: Kai is making a new Epokhe surf film. We’ve been quietly working on that and we haven’t really released anything yet or spoken about it too much. I think What Youth may have done an interview with him about it, but we haven’t even really figured out what the deal is yet. I’m not sure if it’s a Kai Neville film or if it’s just an Epokhe film. It started off as one trip in Byron with all the team and it just kept snowballing. We did a couple more trips, then all of a sudden all the boys started giving Kai footage. It went from being a five minute web thing to a ten minute thing. Then finally we were like, “Fuck this! This is a full movie!” I think it’s going to be a 30-35 minute movie, long enough that we can do a full premiere tour all up and down the Aussie Coast, and a US tour as well. I’m pretty psyched.
Live shows are the go for that kind thing, so much more fun!
So much more fun than just whacking it up on the net. I mean, eventually we’ll probably release it as a download through the net. We might do a Smiling Bag thing where you can’t actually watch it online, you need an email to download it.
So what about Chip, because I really think he’s surfing the best he’s ever surfed in his whole career. You’ve surfed with him a lot, how did you find this most recent trip?
It was nuts. I was talking to Kai about it the other day because he didn’t come on this trip but he’s been going through all the footage and he’s got something like 15 hours on his timeline from that trip, and he calls me and says, “Are you fricken kidding me?!” because he was completely baffled by the quality of the surfing that Chippa was doing and the number of clips he nailed. And Kai’s shot with him for quite a while now so he knows what he’s capable of but he was just blown away. Chippa’s been going on a full tear, but I think you’re right, I reckon he’s surfing at his best ever.
It’s wild, isn’t it? I had a chat with him about the trip, we spoke about the future of aerial surfing and what’s stoking him out about it right now, and he said it will go more towards skating, where you’re watching guys for the personality rather than just the biggest hangers they can do.
Yeah, for sure. I reckon that already started a couple of years ago, with Dane and now Noa too. I saw that Dave Neilson interview the other day, which was sick by the way, so epic, because growing up with him on the airshow series, he was pretty much our mentor. It’s so rad to hear more of his story, we haven’t spoken in years! But you can see that even back in the day Dave had such a solid style with his airs, his frontside grabs, it was full Dave Neilson, you could see his personality coming through in that. And I think there’s more of that coming through but with the inclusion of bigger, more solid, more boned out, and more tweaking it. On that last trip we did with Chip, you can see it in the photos that he’s doing way more straighties and way more boned out airs, really holding them. Getting aggressive, and poking them super hard. Noa and Dane are the same. It’s become a lot more solid. Everyone has their own unique way; Craig will grab in front of his front foot with slobs and really drop his back knee. And then you have someone like Dane or Noa who will grab in between their legs, slapping the front knee down and grabbing the slob in between their feet. Everyone has their own different tweak. Chip grabs in front of his front knee and bones it. He’s been doing crazy big ones too. He did a couple on the South Coast that were so insane, and so solid, and in control on the landing.
I love how with some of those bones his toes are curled back! He doesn’t have his feet flat on the deck, he’s curling his toes so that they look like a little elf shoe or something.
We were joking about a bunch of the footage of Chip that Tyge shot on a 230 frames per second or something, so you really get to see how he coils up and spring loads before the air, his chest is seriously nearly on his fucking board! He’s so compressed, and he’s got that double jointed back thing like Slater, where he’s bending 45 degrees in his back like a little cat. Then he springloads outta there! Last year we did a trip to Tassie and he was wearing a black wetty, black gloves, and black booties, and we were calling him “the contemporary dancer” because it looked like he was spinning around in a full lycra suit. He surfed on a finless down there and it was the craziest shit I’ve ever seen. He’d be doing a 360 and halfway through the spin he’s doing a shove-it and before he’s even landed the shove-it he’s doing another one, into a backwards floater. I’ve never seen anyone with that much awareness of where they are on their board at any time. The way he’s able to adjust so fast, I’m convinced he’s got crazy fast twitch fibres in his muscles. Look at his core and everything, he’s super strong and able to make crazy changes really quick. In the air, you’ll see him adjust halfway through an air if the wind catches his board a little bit. He’s constantly adapting to the wave and his board every second.
What about the boards? There’s nothing on the WSL quite like what you guys are riding, with the wide point up the nose. Short, stubby, pretty flat boards, is that something we’ll ever see on tour?
I don’t think so. Sometimes you can get a lot more boned out, and go for bigger straighties on a bigger board. Look at guys like Dusty, Julian, Jordy, Dane. They’re all riding bigger shortboards. Not tiny fishes or whatever. I don’t think it’s so much a board thing, but Chippa is an anomaly. You can put him on anything and he’s going to be able to ride it. Those shorter boards can be good for airs and spins, getting speed is probably the most important part for surfing smaller waves, but I still think regular shortboards are better if you want to surf properly through your turns, and you can definitely still do airs. They might not pop as easy, but I feel like when you get them up there they’re just as good. I always rode those smaller fatter boards, but I’m going the opposite now and trying to move back up. Back to a shorty.
Actually when you look at the shots the outlines of your boards do look a little more narrow than usual.
Well Chippa will ride a 6’0’’ duo that’s super fat and on that it would be hard to do the same shit as he does on a 5’7’’ shorty. His shorties are so fine and thin and narrow. We surfed that one left for a bit, and I actually broke the best board that I had there, which was more of a regular standard shortboard, and ended up riding a smaller fish. It wasn’t as good, especially when you get those longer period swells with a bit more push like we did on the back-end of this trip. Those fish boards suck in long period swells because the wave has too much power. I’m not sure what Chippa was riding most of the time, but he had one shorty that seemed to be working for him.
Do you take on the mood of a trip or do you have your own agenda? How much does surfing with different guys affect your read on the waves?
Surfing with Chip is the best because he’s one of my best mates, so we’re always having a hell time. The best thing about surf trips, freesurfing with your pals, is that it’s never really competitive. It’s more like when you see a mate do something massive you’re just so psyched if they stick it, especially when we’re working on a movie project because every time you see the other guy get a clip you know it’s for the greater good. Which in turn gets you super pumped to try and do something good as well, so it lifts everyone. That session Chip and I shared for seven hours, I was getting so psyched watching every wave of him going bigger and bigger. Once you start landing some stuff you’ve got a platform to build on, because you start to know what you’ve got, footage-wise, for the film. You start to try harder and harder and go bigger and bigger. And usually by the end, unless you’re totally exhausted, you’re going for big Hail Marys and shit. On this trip I was getting exploded and Chip was making everything. It was pretty fun to watch.
Kelly Slater recently called Chippa’s air game, “Second to none.”
It’s huge! We were actually together on a trip to Tassie when that happened. I think Dane saw it and went, “Shit! Did you see this?” But you know what Chippa’s like, so understated. But it’s true, and Kelly knows. If a pin drops in the Pacific Ocean, Kelly knows about it.
It says a lot though, doesn’t it? Because Kelly is a guy who probably gets canned a bit for his airs, really. He only really drops the big ones in heats when they matter, and they’re phenomenal, but any airs in between seem to get shitcanned a fair bit. But he’s still so aware of what good aerial surfing is.
Yeah, and also what good surfing is. Where the level is at. He’s so well versed in every single facet of it. And every kid coming up. I mean he probably knows more about every young guy coming up than you or I do because he studies that shit. For him to say that about Chip, it is huge, and it’s true. There’s no one technically in the world that can touch him. He’s so far above and beyond . It’s insane.
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