Tripoli's Travels: An Interview With Surfer/Curator Tripoli Patterson

by Adam Bertrand · July 23, 2008

Tripoli Patterson

Tripoli Patterson is a pro surfer. He's lived in Bali and New Zealand. He puts together fantastic exhibitions for artists he discovers in his travels. His tee-shirt line's like Christopher Holland's on acid. New York's hipster elite love him. So too do older, more established gallery owners. Among the east end's young wave riders, he is God. And he is only 24. In part one of our interview, he divulges the world's best beaches, Brazilian ladies, and New Yorkers' naïveté.

What's the story behind "Tripoli?" Have you visited it? My Mother always love the name “Trip” for a boy so when she had me that’s what she wanted to name me. However my father wasn’t as found of the name, probably thinking it sounded a lil too, you know, Trippy. So my aunt Heidi came up with the name Tripoli which pleased my dad, because he is a very religious man and it refers to the name of the three kings who brought Mary presents for  Jesus’ birth. And my Mom got her way as well because she knew she could call me Trip for short.

Bali, New Zealand, Australia...seems like you've surfed many of the world's most renowned beaches. Are there any destinations left on your wish list? Yes indeed. I have never been to Brazil and I hear it’s on of the most beautiful places with some of the most gorgeous women. So I will have to go there. Um, Croatia seems like and interesting place to visit, although there’s not much surfing. The Mentawais in Indonesia, some of the best waves, and even though I’ve spent years living in Bali and around some of the other Indonesian islands, I’ve never made it there. And I mean pretty much anywhere and everywhere, I’d like to go everywhere I haven’t been.

Have you always loved the water? Were you one of those kids that just would not get out when everyone else was ready to leave? Yeah, always the last one out, haha. Even to this day I’ll surf till it's so dark out I can’t even see the wave I’m on. Hey that’s when it’s the least crowded. Lol

Had you surfed at all before you moved to Bali? What did you think when you found out you were moving there? And what about New Zealand? Yeah, I’d surfed out here in the Hamptons. We grew up on the beach out here since I was a baby eating sand. We’d have boogie boards we would ride on the shore breaks, then I would just naturally start standing up on the boogie board and before long I graduated to a surfboard. But when I went to Bali when I was ten it was just such a different thing. Instead of having like 5 second rides, I had these beautiful long lefts that just gave you so much time to practice actually riding a wave. They seemed like they went forever. That time we were only there for 2 months but in those two months I progressed more than the two years I was surfing at home. We moved back there for us to go to school when I was 13 for two years straight, and that’s when I really learned how to surf. New Zealand was amazing too. Some of the longest left point breaks in the world. That helped my surfing a lot., really having time to finesse my style and technique.

Top five beaches? Sanur Reef, Bali. One Tens, Bali. St Lue, Reunion Island. Turtle Cove, NY. Jeffery’s Bay, South Africa. Wow but they're so many more.

What's it like being on the pro circuit? How are the surfer groupies (trippers)? When I did the pro circuit in australia it was great. Yeah its funny, here in New York people think its cool that I surf, but they really don’t know the first thing about it.

Stay tuned for part 2!

[Image via Surfer Magazine]

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