Oscar Pippin Billy Wright
A young Australian with the unlikely name of Oscar Pippin Billy Wright is in fact a devoted member of the popping bretheren, and he gets it right more often than not. His friends call him Ozzie, and he’s as Aussie as meat pies and kangaroos. Living and surfing in the Narrabeen neighborhood on Sydney’s northern beaches, he’s his country’s most polished and published exponent of getting air. At 23 years of age, Oska is a soulful character with a keen sense of humor and an infectious laugh. He’s basically shunned the standard attempted route to surfing success, the WQS contest circuit, and is now paid as a free surfing pilot and artistic soul by Volcom Stone.[IMAGE 1]
So Ozzie, when did you first start wishing you’d been born with wings?
I guess about eight years ago, when I was fourteen or fifteen. The waves at the end of my street are really short, and to get anywhere you’d always have to be going really fast. When you got there, the most logical thing to do was jump.
Back then were you into aerials as a full-on surfing discipline?
No, not really. I think my strongest turn came from hitting the foam really fast and hard, bouncing and rebounding off the oncoming foamy section. Then I started kicking the tail out heaps, and then I just eventually started going to the air.
Was your dad responsible for putting you in the water first up?
Yeah, my dad was a surfer¿he got me into it. My mum reckons I used to go in on a foamie when I was two or three, but I didn’t get my first fiberglass board until I was ten.
Presumably your dad was also responsible for that name of yours. Where did that come from? Were your parents hippies?
Yeah. I don’t even know how they came up with that. I didn’t even know what my full name was until I was in my first surf contest and you had to bring your birth certificate. I read it and I was like, “What?” They Ozzie’s parents were hippies, and they just laughed when I saw it. My dad actually wanted to call me Ajax, but my mum wouldn’t let him¿so they called our cat Ajax.
You’re definitely the Aussie fly boy. Did you ever aspire to the aerial capabilities of guys like Christian Fletcher, Archy, Ratboy, and the American aerialist crew?
Yeah. When I was young we watched the Wave Warrior vids. I was always into what Christian and Archy were doing. I remember watching Christian’s Supernatural video at Chris Davidson’s one day and just being blown away by the huge airs he was doing. I wanted to do that. Those American guys always were an influence and still are. They are incredible, and I love watching them.
Who do you figure is the best aerialist?
Umm … I think Ratboy is. Chris Ward is amazing. They’re all pretty good, but Ratboy has some sort of strange pop to him. He makes it look so easy. He pops into the air a lot higher than you think he should. He’s got the timing down perfect.[IMAGE 2]
Art is another of your passions. How would we label it?
I don’t know how to describe it, maybe “silly”! I contribute a little to Volcom’s art department¿I love Volcom. I don’t think I could surf for anyone else. Otherwise, at the moment I’ve just been concentrating on getting enough paintings together to have an art show here in Sydney.
What other passions do you have besides Euro-exotica in women? You’re current beautiful girlfriend is Czech, yeah?
Laughing Ahh. I love snowboarding. I like skateboarding, but I haven’t been doing a lot of it lately. I love just hanging out. Oh, I like music¿I’m going through a Beatles phase at the moment. And I like Tricky, and Jebediah¿an Aussie band.
What have you been working on in the water?
I’ve been trying to link airs together, like do three in a row, land them, and just go straight into another turn. I’ve been working on pop shove-its a lot, too¿trying millions of them and making a couple here and there.[IMAGE 3]
You’re no slouch when it comes to layinng rail and pulling in, either. Is it airs, the basics, or the barrel that give you the most joy?
Ooh … definitely getting big airs is the most exciting thing for me! I’ve been riding a little five-five down at South Narrabeen, and I just know the bank, especially the end section. I’ve been jumping into the air, time and time again. But I do love a big cutback. Getting barreled is still the best, though¿getting barrelled, that’s it. It’s the best thing by far.
What do you need in the equipment department to go into orbit?
I think just a little shorter board, with a wider tail and a flatter rocker. That seems to be the easiest way to do it, but then again, when you’re on a six-two with more drive, you can go higher into the air. I dunno. You’ve got to get lots of speed and be centered. You’ve got to be over your board. You must be calm, too. Too many crews get too psyched and kick their boards out from under themselves. Leave it your board under your feet.
What does the future hold in the aerial department?
Well, you’ve just got to look at snowboarding and skateboarding. They’ve evolved much faster, as far as what tricks they can do. They’re light years ahead of surfing.
Well, yeah, but their ground doesn’t move, does it? What about the future for Oscar Pippin Billy Wright?
Me? I have no idea. We’ll see.