The fellas at Stab Magzine recently caught up with the God Father of free surfing, Ozzie Wright after a recent run of waves in Indonesia. The following words give a look into the life of Mr. Wright from none other than Ozzie himself.
Let's Start With Big Macs. How would I rate this latest surf trip to the Ments? It was pretty damn good. It might even be the best surf trip of my life. In fact the only thing I can think of that's more fun than surfing Macaronis with Dion and Craig is going to Ando's warehouse after a Goons gig, shredding his half pipe and doing hippy jumps over chairs til three in the morning. This might sound weird but this was one of those trips where we kind of had too much swell. When Maccas is big it barrels on the takeoff then foam balls to the shoulder and it can be a bit fat. The Maccas tube is identical every wave so you can end up getting bored. I know that sounds crazy but put it this way: you eat nothing but chocolate cake every day for a week, by the end of that week you'll think a bowl full of possum tits soaked in vinegar is the best shit you ever put in your mouth. Also the Maccas barrel isn't a long speedy down the line barrel. It's slow and I fucken hate stalling. I like an aggro little home made pocket knife shiv into the pocket but I'm not into dragging my hands and flexing my muscles to slow down for tubes. I like fast ones. Too fast for Satan is my motto. Go slow and the Dark Lord will drag you to Hades, man. I'm not writing off Maccas though. It's a beautiful wave and every day it was fun. The crowd was mellow and super friendly and we got some nice ones. I just like it a little more on the reef so you can get those rampy walls. Kinda like the shit we scored when I first went there in 2001.
Seven Slaves. Nudes Webster lived down the road from me and was the only bloke I knew with an earring in each lobe. He had a chain wallet, listened to Beastie Boys and had the longest boardshorts you'd ever seen. He was also a sharp fucker and he wanted to go to Indo and make a movie with his best mates. I was happy to be invited along.
We all went over there for a week and we scored small but fun waves and had a great time. Hollywood from Monster Childrenfilmed and edited it and when we got home the movie came out on the front of Waves magazine (God rest its soul). It was called Seven Days Seven Slaves and it kind of went mental. I think the main thing that made it a success was how easy it was to get hold of. It was free with the mag and the mag had giant distribution. Before that you had to go and buy a movie from a surf shop for $30. Seven Days was the very first cover mount and it was in the newsagency so everyone could get it. It was like the web clips of today and it was before anyone had really seen heaps of the Mentawais. You'd seen a bit on a few Taylor Steele films, but no one had seen it small and rampy like that.
For me it was awesome. After that I remember doing trips up the coast and every beach I stopped in at 20 grommets were like, "Yeah Ozzie!" It was only available in Australia but I remember everyone being stoked to see me.
Maccas is pretty much exactly the same wave today. Sadly there're heaps less trees on the point and it's so crowded. If you stay in the camp now, they shoo away the boats. They paddle out waving their hands and they say, "Shoo! Shoo away you pesky boats!"
Influence. I'm stoked to have had an influence on people who are doing such sick stuff. Dion is incredible. Dion went for 400 giant airs, trying to make everything even when he was landing right in the explosion. I was like, "What are you doing!" He didn't get hurt, which was good and he made a couple of monstrous ones.
Dion and Craig were pushing hard for clips. I was more, I dunno, I never really surf to nail one thing. I like to take off and ride the wave all the way to the end. It's not that I don't fall, it's just that I've never been the kind of person to have one idea in my head when I take off. I try to string it all together. I love giant airs it's just that I pick and choose when to do them these days. It's not about doing one on every wave for me.
As a grom I looked at a lot of people's surfing for influence. A lot of the Californians who were so good at airs. San Clemente guys, and Santa Cruz guys; Barney, Flea, Ratboy, Chris Ward, Corey Lopez. Christian Fletcher and Archy before that. I loved that way of surfing. All the aerials were more modern.
I'm proud to have played a small role in that lineage. I like that I've influenced something and I enjoy watching where it's going next. It fully inspires me too. I look into the past and the future at the same time because they are all happening simultaneously all the time. Yesterday is today is tomorrow. The sooner you get your head around that the sooner you can begin time travelling.
Art. Every beach had a guy who was into art and surfing. Forever that's what surfing's been about. Everyone does it. It wasn't new when I came along but maybe putting it in people's faces in magazines with sponsorship was. It wasn't like I had an idea to commercialise what I was doing. I already had sponsors when I was doing comps. It's just that when I started doing what I really loved to do it was way more valuable for companies than me just trying to do what everyone else was doing. The people at Volcom in America were an inspiration because everyone in that company was really multi-dimensional. The entire art department all skated and surfed and played in bands and were a part of this culture. I was definitely into Sonic Youth, Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr when I was a teenager so it had to be the 90s. Looking back on it, it looks so cheesy, just chop hops and paintings all over your boards but fuck! That was the funnest shit to do at that time.
Aerials. Surfing has exploded. The airs are a lot bigger. And, the best air guys also catch the biggest waves. All the retro surfing is unreal, too. There're so many different things going on. It's amazing, it's a really creative place that surfing is enjoying right now. I love watching the guys on the longboards, the finless surfing, Dane and John John and Mason Ho – all those crazy innovative guys.
Mason Ho is probably my favourite surfer to watch. He's super creative and original and he's got so much character in his surfing. That's him. It's like he's Charlie Chaplin or something. He's just a full-on artist. I love watching Dane, too. John John Florence, Matt Meola, Chippa, Craig, Dion. There's so many of them.
Kelly's 720? I was so stoked on that. I was thinking Chippa would do it first for ages. Albee did the 540 alley oop, that was amazing. I was stoked to see Kelly do it for the older guys though. There're no excuses for not doing cool shit, now. I was reading an Occy interview not long ago and he's like, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks…" I was just thinking, "Try tell that to Kelly Slater!" I think about trying things I haven't done before, but more new lines and new movements. I want to zig and zag in between the zig zags that MP did in between his zig zags.
Cool Kids. Ando is such a legend. He reminds me a little bit of what I was like. Nice, mellow vibe, big smile, great hair, gentle to animals, similar lithe body shape. He's unreal. He's so long and skinny, no matter what he does he looks awesome. He's doing some huge airs and making them but I think what stokes me out most about his surfing is his all round vibe. He's like the violet shakra of wave skating. He's the Guru of Glide, the spirit wanderer of the moving water particles. He should start his own cult and only let blue haired teenage girls follow him.
The slightly younger guys are blowing my mind at the moment, too. Noa and Creed are ridiculous. I love watching their surfing and I love their attitude to life. That's the path to carve up. To me, that's what it's all about. Having fun, surfing, not trying to break a world record or anything but just enjoying every aspect of it.
If you start to get too mindful of it being a business it's hard and it takes the romance out of it and it gets lame. It's a little bit of magic in your heart and if the magic isn't there it's fake – and then no one wants to buy t-shirts.
Dion. In saying that Dion and I had a few conversations about it all. It's a rare job that we have so to find anyone who you can talk about work with and for them to understand and be in the same shoes is pretty rare.
Dion's a go-er. He lives for what he does. He goes and goes and goes. It's amazing. He's on the same level of commitment as Slater is to his comp grind. No time to be at home, or keep a girlfriend or a family, he's just doing what he's doing. Those things will come to him later in life but he puts heaps into it and it shows. He's such a talented surfer and nails it, not through a lack of trying. You gotta work hard to keep the dream alive.
Pro Surfing (WCT Style). Yeah I watch it sometimes. I like the way it takes all day and you only see 10 waves because I just sit there listening to the commentators trying to make it exciting when only three waves get ridden in 20 minutes. I like listening when Ronnie Blakey is commentating with Occy.
Christian Fletcher. I remember a time when everyone in the world was hating on him but I thought he was the sickest. He was doing those big airs, and I thought it was amazing. Everyone would carry on about his legs being too wide. What's the problem with that? What, you can't like Christian's stance if you also like Rob Machado's stance? Machado was one of my huge influences. All through the Momentum years. He was so light, made it look so fun. He shreds. I liked em both. They were both heroes.
Security. I don't know if free surfing is a career choice I'd advise for my kids. I'm still pretty young and I'm going to have to work forever. I certainly haven't crushed it enough to sit there and roll in the money I've earned from surfing. There's always that feeling of, "Oh shit! How am I going to provide for my family?" I didn't finish high school because I was too busy surfing. I have no qualifications. I think about that stuff and it's kinda scary. But then I also think if I keep working hard in a positive way then the universe will have my back. I just try and believe in karma. If the surfing career ends well, Cowboy, our drummer in the band, got me my first job when I was a teenager and it's possible he'll give me my last one when I'm old.