Interview with a Surfer
When was the last time you realized that the guy that dropped in on you at Ditch was a commercial airline pilot? Likely it was Cheyne de Sousa, Airline Captain, local surfer and egg connoisseur. Luckily (for you and for him) his disarming smile and perpetual enthusiasm would make it difficult to be annoyed for very long. We caught up with Cheyne on a break between flying around the country to talk about the challenges of big waves, moral codes and those beginners in the water.
Where were you born and raised? -Born in Southampton Hospital, and raised in Montauk, New York.
Age (if you want) -28… and a half.
What do you do when you’re not surfing? -Ride my bike around town and show up at my friends house’s, uninvited. They hate it but I think its really funny.
Are you goofy or regular foot? -Regular.
Leash? -Absolutely, if you ever see a surfboard wash up on the beach without someone on it…. throw rocks at it.
What is the connection between being a pilot and surfing for you? -There are quite a few connections. Air is a fluid that behaves exactly the same way as water. The control surfaces on an airplane become more effective as you gain speed…. Just like the fins on your surfboard. An airplane is just a flying boat.
What do you love about flying? -Too many things to describe. I couldn’t do it justice in such a short time.
What do you dislike about your job? -Pilots are away from their families a lot, and it gets very lonely at times. And you can forget all about having a relationship. I feel like I’m missing my niece and nephew’s childhoods.
Best place to travel to while you are working? -Charleston, SC when my sister was going to school there.
The last book you read? -The Bible!
What moment in your life makes you proud? -When I can muster up the strength to do what I know is right even though its not easy.
How long have you been surfing? -About 7 or 8.
Who taught you? -My Dad.
If you had a super power what would it be? -I wish I had gills so I could breath under water…. I wouldn’t be afraid to surf anything.
Best part of being a surfer in Montauk? -Knowing that the place everyone wants to come to and be a part of is your home turf…. and you can drop in on anyone you want.
Something surprising about you as a surfer? -Big waves have terrified me my entire life and they probably always will. Cant help it.
You wish Ditch had…? -A locals only section!
Do you have a nickname that you’re aware of? -People have called me Cheyney-bop my whole life and I have no idea why.
Favorite nickname of someone else? -My friend Jake Styles…. I call him Cake, simply because it rhymes.
Ideal day in the life of Cheyne? -Ride my bike down to terrace with my dog and surf with my family and friends all day long. And BBQ that night.
Favorite Montauk restaurant? -I’d have to say maybe the new Salivar’s. I find myself stopping in for a burger every now and then by myself, is that weird?
Any winter surf plans? -I am hoping to be able to stay at my sister’s place in Hawaii for a week or two….But it probably wont happen haha.
Favorite book of all time? -The Bible or course.
What’s you favorite board? -I had this Nezzy back when I was 11 or 12. Just a basic thruster… nothing special.
Who is your role model? -My grandfather, I admire his work ethic and moral code.
Best post-surfing snack? -An egg sandwich from somewhere in town.
What is something we would be surprised to learn about you? -I follow politics very closely.
Dream surf spot? -Anyplace where its decent, and I have to place to myself.
Place you should want to surf but won’t? -Puerto Escondido. Those are some manly waves down there, but you wont be seeing me out there any time soon.
Any advice for beginners? -Don’t be naïve, you are very dangerous to others if you don’t know what you’re doing. Find a place where its tiny and surf by yourself. Also respect the locals.
If someone close to you has to describe you in three words…? -Goofball, Clown, Imbecile…
What’s a mistake you learned from? -I found myself in a terrifying situation at work over the winter. I learned a lot that day.
You are most inspired by? -My grandfather. He’s had such a hard and thankless life, but still puts a smile on his face. If he can then so can I.
The magic of Montauk is found in…? -The common people who live and die here.
If you were an animal what would you be? -I’d be a dolphin for sure. I could swim to any island in the world, and imagine all the delicious fish I could eat. Yum!
Who is your favorite local surfer? -Either Greg Engstrom or Chris Harmon. Those guys aren’t afraid of anything.
What’s for breakfast? -Eggs, eggs, and more eggs.
Last time you laughed? -I laugh every 5 seconds…. Cant help it.
Surfing is best for…? -People who work hard all day and need an escape.
Last time you cried? -My dog died at the beginning of the summer. He was my best friend.
Best surf moment? -The first time I caught a wave by myself, I fell right away and looked on the beach and my dad had his fists in the air. He was so pumped.
What is your motto? -Forgive, forgive, and then forgive some more.
What do you like most about your job? -I love how unique it is and simply just the flying itself gives me joy.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? -Knowing I am right with God, even if its just for a few short moments.
What is your greatest fear? -Losing a person I love and realizing I took them for granted.
Who do you most admire? -Ryan Dungey, Hes a motocross racer from Minnesota…. Look him up.
What is your greatest extravagance? -My dirt bikes! I have 12.
On what occasion do you lie? -When my dad asks me how my dieting is going haha.
What is your current state of mind? -Very stressed, and trying to forget about all the stupid things I have done.
What is the quality you most like in people? -Being honest, and not always going along with the crowd. Those who go against the grain.
What is the quality you most dislike in people? -When people try to act like someone other than themselves. Just be yourself! You are who you are, so own it.
What do you most value in friends? -People who look out for me and let me know when I might be messing up.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? -The word dude… my dad keeps track of how many times I say it when we talk on the phone haha.
Which talent would you most like to have? -Surf like Kelly Slater of course.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? -Sometimes I am my own worst enemy. I am extremely hard on my self.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? -Getting out of Montauk for a few years and going to California.
Where would you most like to live? -I’ve always dreamed of going back to San Diego where went to flight school. But I will probably never leave Montauk.
What is your most treasured possession? -The memories of my childhood and of how cool Montauk used to be that I will keep in my heart forever.
Any last words? -If you see a guy on a crappy old red motorcycle with the number 5 on it cruising around town, please try not to hit him, its me…….. and I am just having fun 😉