The ability to stomp wild aerials isn’t the only thing Maui surfers, Matt Meola and Albee Layer are sharing in common at the moment. As of today, they’re also both bond agents, having posted bail for a buddy who got thrown in the slammer recently.
“It was just some family drama where he threatened his dad over something stupid and his dad had a restraining order on him. He went to pick up some clothes and his dad called the cops, so me and Albee went to pick him up (from jail),” says Matt.
Things haven’t been so rosy for the Maui flyboy, either. He’s only just recovered from a near catastrophic Macaronis head plant (pictured) when a flip attempt went wrong during the recent Kustom Airstrike trip. But what would amount to serious confidence puncture for most, is showing no signs of slowing Meola down. To the contrary, he boasts in this interview there’s barely a ramp in the world he won’t hit these days.
So Matt, are pro aerialists small wave cowards?
No way! Nah. Some guys, all they do is airs but here on Maui we surf Jaws on every single swell, so I don’t wanna call myself a small wave coward. On your backhand it’s like, really scary. I’m not gonna be one of the guys who’s gonna claim it’s not scary. The whole time I’m out there I’m petrified but the feeling you get after coming in is the best in the world so that’s what keeps us doing it.
What are you’re favourite conditions in the whole world?
A lot of my favourite waves are at home in Maui. My favourite wave is (sorry guys, no names), where I surf 90% of the time. I love it. It’s kind of like a beach break that’s a reef. It’s really windy most of the time and the lefts, when we get nice northeast swells, the wind is perfect. And Macaronis and the Mentawais. Macaronis compared to any other wave is just such a machine. You get consistent similar ramps and the same section every time to launch off and keep perfecting a move.
What’s your favourite rotation right now?
Anything upside down. Being upside down and sticking it feels the best. I don’t care if it’s a back flip or a tweaked out backside air reverse, it feels amazing! You’re just flinging it and the next thing you know you’re riding straight in the backwash and you’re like, ‘Holy shit! Did I just do that?’ A lot of the time it’s just a hail mary and everything turns to a blur and then you’re riding straight.
What’s your favourite grab?
For a while it was a stalefish. I wouldn’t say it’s my strong point, they just looked cool. But everyone’s doing it so it’s not as cool as it used to be. I think a melon grab is sick.
You’ve gotta be pretty inventive to stay relevant in your game. What keeps you motivated and positive?
I just like surfing uncrowded waves at home with friends. I get more excited doing that than anything. If I was with my really good friends on the road that would be awesome. I wanna keep my job so that motivates me to keep trying new stuff. Watching the X games recently, I was taking notes from that. And it gets boring trying the same thing over and over, anyway. It’s just natural trying something different. Sometimes I’ll be laying in my bed at home and start thinking about new stuff and then go surfing the next day and try it. Other times, you focus on something doable and you work on it for a while and you land it and move on.
Looking into the Magic Eightball now, what do you see in the near future of aerials?
Doing airs on bigger sections will allow people to do crazier rotations and it will look cooler landing on a bigger wave. We were tripping out on the Kustom trip watching surf movies from a long time ago. The waves that guys were never trying airs on we are trying to kill ourselves on them these days. We didn’t notice it but the sport has progressed a lot in the last ten years.
Who in the world of surfing is the man right now?
John John, for sure. He’s the best surfer in the world and not only amazing at freesurfing, he wins every fricken contest. He’s the whole package, one of the best big wave surfers and when it’s one foot he tears.
How does someone get that versatile?
He’s just a freak. I don’t know how he does it. Growing up in here in Hawaii is good for you though. You get so many conditions. In his backyard you’re surfing a tiny hard packed sand bar and the next day massive Pipe or Waimea down the road. Then you’ve got Rocky Lefts with perfect air winds. If you’ve got that kind of variety, you’re gonna get good.
Five years from now, where do you want to be?
I mean, shoot, I’d be happy if I was surfing for a living and I wanna hopefully have my own property and house and be filming and traveling and doing trips where I wanna go. Hopefully, I’ll still be one of the good air guys. All these younger kids are always nipping at you’re heels. Hopefully I can stay up there. – Jed Smith