MIKE CIANCIULLI AKA CHINCHMANAGING EDITOR, SURFLINE.COM
“For me, the thrill of harnessing the ocean’s raw energy is something that will always keep me coming back.” – Chinch
SILVR: When did you realize that surfing was your passion?
Growing up in Florida, I was a little skateboard rat. But when I was nine, my family moved to Flagler Beach and we lived right across the street from the Atlantic Ocean. I noticed that water splashes when you fall (and concrete most certainly does not). At first, I started standing up on my boogieboard and then began borrowing friends’ surfboards. Then I got my own board when I turned 10 and it was non-stop from there on out. There’s something special about spending your spare time immersed in nature. That feeling continues to draw you back and makes you really appreciate this wonderful world that we are blessed to call home.
Moving across the country to chase your dreams takes courage. What advice would you give to someone making a similar leap?
When I first moved out west, I was fortunate to have friends from Florida littered along the coast from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. I had no idea where I wanted to live and had no job lined up so I gave myself a little extra time to spend a few days in each region and catch up with my old friends. After visiting everyone, I went on a solo camping trip to Big Sur and really took the time to mull over all my options. In the end, I decided to live in SLO because it was aesthetically beautiful, filled with nature and my best friend had already been living there for a few years and showed me the ropes. After nearly two years, my writing began getting published more and more and I realized that I could get more work by relocating to Southern California.
My advice is to be confident in your decisions and don’t force anything. Sometimes things take a while to work themselves out. But if you’re true to yourself and your passions, things will eventually fall into place. And don’t forget where you came from but also…don’t look back!
SILVR: Who is your biggest inspiration, personal or professional?
I draw inspiration from anyone who is positive and passionate about doing what they love. Whether it’s the kid in Mexico having a ball by catching a wave on half a busted surfboard or the millionaire who got to where he is by simply being honest and working hard. But I’d have to say my parents probably inspire me the most. They never pressured me to do this or that and always supported me in any decision I made. I think they respect the fact that I chose to do what I love and live out my passion for surfing and life.
SILVR: When you were 16 did you picture yourself working within this field?
No. I’m pretty sure that what I wanted to be in high school was different than what I wanted to be in middle school and even on to college. I traveled a bit after I graduated and really got to experience a lot things that were different than the way of life we have here in the USA. Through reading, journaling, and writing descriptive emails home to family and friends, I really found that my passion was storytelling. But to this day, I still feel I communicate my thoughts better on paper than verbally.
SILVR: What do you love most about your job?
Working for an internet company has allowed me to travel the world and still get a full-time paycheck. I’ve been sent on assignment to Australia, Europe, Indonesia, China, Tahiti, Mexico and Hawaii. And as long as I have a wi-fi connection, I can post my stories. Sure there are some long days on the grind and late nights at the computer. But when you consider the monotony that most people go through in a normal 9-to-5 job, I’ll take this any day of the week. Plus, I get to paddle out alongside some world’s best surfers.
UP-CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH MIKE
SILVR: What is the strangest meal you’ve had during your travels?
A few years ago, we did a bizarre trip to ride a river wave in China. It was a full novelty experience but our Chinese hosts gave us first-class treatment. Every night, there were these elaborate, catered dinners and there’d always be some strange dishes arriving in front of us. We ate ants sprinkled over peanuts, teriyaki duck’s tongue, chicken feet and even turtle!
SILVR: Favorite beach ever?
Bingin Beach in Bali. During my first-ever trip to Indonesia, a random Aussie guy told me that I had to check that place out. It turned out to be so special that I ended up staying there for two weeks. It’s on the Bukit Peninsula which stretches down to Bali’s southernmost tip. You can watch the Indian Ocean lines roll through from Uluwatu to Padang Padang to Impossibles and finally reach Bingin. Plus, the place is straight out of a postcard with the lush cliffs, white sand beach, aquamarine water and green algae along the reef’s tide pools. I make it a point to go back and spend at least a day there every time I’m in Bali.
SILVR: What’s something surprising most people don’t know about you?
I was a Division 1 athlete. I ran Cross Country for four years at Stetson University.
SILVR: Do perfect waves ever get old?
Never. For me, the thrill of harnessing the ocean’s raw energy is something that will always keep me coming back. Plus, you can make subtle adjustments once you find that perfect wave — try different turns, draw different lines, put yourself deeper in the tube, ride a different board and learn about certain nuances within your surfing…those type of things. And the good news is: no two waves are exactly the same. That’s what makes our sport so special.
SILVR: Where will your next work trip take you?
I was just joking to some friends that I’m retiring after this one! I’m leaving Friday to the Mentawai islands off Northern Sumatra in Indonesia. This region is known to hold an abundance of the most perfect waves in the entire world. And, we’re lucky enough to spend 12 days aboard the Ratu Motu (formerly the Indies Trader IV) which is basically a floating luxury hotel. The ship has a helicopter landing pad, jetskis and small boats in tow, gourmet meals, a 12-person staff and the list goes on. It also has satellite internet so we’re actually going to be doing daily updates while floating around somewhere near the equator. As far as I know, no surf media has ever documented a boat trip in real-time before. Another cool perk of working for Surfline.com!