“I finally pulled that double alleyoop thing,” says Albee Layer from his home on Maui. “I’ve been fricken trying so hard to do it.” The Hawaiian ain’t lying. For some time now, the double-oop has been on the radar of a select few men. Men like Josh Kerr, Jordy Smith and, most notably, Julian Wilson (Red Bull sent Jules to Reunion Island recently to try and lock it up. He came close!) – but Albee’s had a larger stomp (not land) rate than anyone else. During the Kustom Airstrike, he nearly settled on numerous occasions, but as he now knows, the waves just weren’t quite right. A wave that is perfect, however, is a right on Maui that isn’t easy to get to. Turns out, it was worth the persistence.
Stab: When did you first think about rotating past a three?
Albee: I remember a long time ago, in Modern Collective, Jordy did a flyaway and over-rotated. I was like, woah, someone’s gonna do that one day. Then I was like… I wanna do that! Then I saw this one video of Julian in Bali a while ago, and he came pretty close, so it was like, that’s doable. I always wanted to try it, but on Maui, the north shore, the wind blows into the lefts, like 300 days outta the year. There’s no way to try an air on the rights, so I never really got too many chances. Then in West Oz I started trying it and got pretty close.
What kinda wave did you need to stick it? There’s this wave here that’s such a fucking mission to get to. You drive an hour and a half from my house to the other side of the island. Then you park and walk three miles on the gnarliest lava desert ever, with nothing in sight, not a single tree. Then you get there and it’s pretty much the worst wave ever for trying anything other than crazy airs. There’s a 30 mile-an hour wind blowing straight into the right, which is the only reason I like it. It’s just lava rock, which you hit all the time, and there’s no one around. But, it’s the only wave with that kinda wind on Maui. I swear, it’s the gnarliest wave that I’ve surfed at three feet in the world. I got so pounded there a coupla times. It’s just a slab, it has gnarly currents, the wind’s so harsh, it pushes you into the reef, there’s a big, dry rock in front of it. We hiked that trail seven or eight times this year. This was the last south swell and I’d been trying the trick all summer, so I was like, fuck, I need to do this! It wasn’t easy. It’s the perfect wave for airs if you get the right one.
Did you go there solely to do a double-oop? We always go out there and try to land airs, ’cause I don’t get to do frontside airs that much. I wasn’t really even thinking about that trick, but I had this new board that was way lighter than usual. I usually take a beater board out there, ’cause I don’t wanna walk three miles then break it. So this time I took an epoxy board that was a lot lighter. Then very first wave, I tried it and come the closest I’ve ever been. I was like fuck, I gotta do this today. I tried three and got really close, then I landed one off the back, then the next one was the one I made.
Have you cracked the code now? It was just that day. I felt like I started getting pretty close one day, then we didn’t really get the waves for a while. But that day (that Albee stomped), every attempt was closer than I’d ever been. I think the lighter board made such a difference. I could’ve done it again that day, but the waves went shitty after that. It feels way more achievable know that I’ve done it and I think I could do it again, but after I did it I was too psyched that I’d pulled it, ’cause I was so stressed out about it. I’d tried it so many times that I was like, fuck this thing! I just want someone to do it already so I don’t have to!
Is it a 540 or a 720, or neither? That’s the thing with surfing, every rotation is different. On a half pipe you come up straight and come down whatever way. I think it’s more of a 540 than a 720. You do a 720, but the 540 is actually done in the air. I have a feeling people are gonna argue that for a while.
Talk me through the motions. At first I was hucking myself into the wind, closing my eyes and spinning as hard as I could. ‘Cause we go left into the air so much at home, I got used to that backside rotation. So, I was trying to overspin that. It started feeling better and better, then I finally got to a point where I could control my board without it getting away from me. Finally I figured out I didn’t need to huck it quite as hard. On alleyoops, you do a half-turn towards the beach before you start pulling the other way. Otherwise you fly outta the back, which I’ve done a bunch of times. You hit a steep section, point to the beach then pull it around as hard as you can.
So, because you’re thinking big picture and trying to get through two rotations, does the first spin happen really quickly and then the second one slows down? Um, not really, I think that whenever you get a good wave you just kinda black out. But, I did realise that on a lot of them I was landing in the flats and falling into a layback. And I can’t do laybacks. The one I made, I think it was because I landed on the floater and got a little cushion. So, I could slow the spin down. ‘Cause usually I’d land in the flats really quick and just spin out.
How do you feel after landing something like that? I was so stoked. I’ve never been as stoked on doing an air. I’ve had a couple of waves that made me feel really good, but never an air. I’ll always get stoked on airs, but it’s just like, that was cool. But that one felt almost as good as catching a big wave at Jaws. I was like, fuck yes! I did it! I don’t have to try it anymore!
Will you stop trying them as much now? Well, that’s kinda the only wave I can try them on around here. If I get the chance, sure. I’m not gonna stop trying, just ’cause I’ve done it. I feel like now that I’ve done it, Matt or someone’s gonna do a real 720 the other way. Like a frontside rotation where you keep spinning. – Elliot Struck
Below is a video of one of Albee’s attempts. The make is being vaulted for Surfline‘s Punt of the Month, which Stab thinks Albee kinda has to win, right?