Portrait by Ryan Miller
My Style of Surfing, with Josh Kerr
From Stab issue 58, in stores right now and available online this week.
Since midway through 2011 til, like, right now, Josh Kerr has become Stab’s must-watch man on WT webcasts. Why? ‘Cause he throws caution (and tail!) to the wind with panache and is one of the few competitors who has Kelly Slater shaking in his booties. Josh is the perfect balance of Australian modesty and grit (he’s from the Gold Coast) with Cali jib steeze (where he lives now). Though, those aren’t the only elements of a dazzling surfer. Read on for the other ingredients that make Josh’s surfing so great.
Wavepark: Pitstops, Lakey Peak, Macaroni’s or Keramas. Just ‘cause you’ve got time to set up for your manoeuvre and you know where the section’s coming so it gives you time to prepare and gives you time to think through what you’re gonna try. It’s better for tech stuff to surf something more mechanical like a reef rather than a beachie.
Barrel spot: Shipsterns and Pipe or Tahiti. At Pipe, I’ve had my best ones during freesurfs. I never get through a heat there so I don’t get to surf it much during a contest (laughs). At Shipsterns, once you get over the ledge, it’s such an enjoyable barrel. That’s what I always tell everyone. No one really knows how enjoyable that wave is. I think it looks more intimidating in photos because of what’s going on behind you. You just gotta get over the ledge, pull up, put your hands above your head and have a hell time.
Grab: It varies but, if I’m doing a straight air it’s still just a big frontside grab. You have more control and you can really huck it higher. For an air-reverse, I’ve been frothing on stalefishes. I still do frontside grab air-revs during freesurfs, but definitely a lot less than I would have before. When you’re freesurfing, you wanna push yourself to do grabs that you wouldn’t usually do. You wanna get consistent at those grabs so you can bring them into the contest. The judges do recognise the difference in difficulty of certain grabs, but it’s more the section you’re doing the air off, the height of it and difficulty of landing. They don’t really care that much what grab it is. Obviously, after seeing Kelly’s 10 at Bells, you don’t have to grab to get a 10 so long as it’s real lofty.
Rotation: I’d have to say on my frontside, a full-rotation alley oop with a heelside grab is my favourite rotation.
Flip: I’m gonna start trying whatever those flips that Matt Meola’s been doing are. I froth on those – the grab helps your rotation. I’m excited to start trying them.
Rail turn: The Tyler Wright turn. Two hands back, Tyler Wright hook-down carve. That’s my favourite at the moment. You dig your two arms behind then wrap the back arm around. You’ve probably seen me doing them in contests, I’m either doing airs or doing those turns (laughs).
Combo: I’d need three sections for the perfect combo. I’d have to do a full-roter-heelside-grab-alley-oop, straight into a little Tyler Wright hack then into a stalefish air-reverse to wrap it.
All-round Sled: A 5’8” pushed-in shortboard. It used to be a 5’10” or 5’11” but now it’s shorter. Round tail. Sorta similar to what Kelly rides but a bit less volume ‘cause he’s got way thicker legs than me and can push with more power.
Fins: I rock Future Fins. The Captain Fin ones, at the moment. The Reynolds model, they’re good.
Trunks: I’m just on and above the knee. Not mega-short but I’m not over the knee. I used to be. I used to be such a punk kid, always wearing baggy, over-the-knee shorts. But now I’ve jumped on the short era and I’m the kinda guy I used to bag out five or 10 years ago. Trending with the times.
“Once you get over the ledge at Shipsterns it’s such an enjoyable barrel. That’s what I always tell everyone. No one really knows how enjoyable that wave is. I think it looks more intimidating in photos because of what’s going on behind you. You just gotta get over the ledge, pull up, put your hands above your head and have a hell time.”
Wax: Not really. Everyone on tour has their rituals, like they take their wax off and re-wax before every heat, but I’m just scrounging around for whatever wax I can find. Maybe some that the beach marshall has. I’m so unprepared.
Travel quiver: It’d be a 5’5” Magic Thumb, a 5’8” Kerr model and a 5’9” Slacker. All the Rusty models. The Slacker’s kind of a round, square version of the Joker, but has a bit more drive. It’s sick. You can grovel on it or get drive out of it.
Summer ensemble: Trunks, generally with no shirt. Just bronze the rig up and I’m happy.
Traction: Pro-Lite. Always with an arch, always a three-piece.
Winter ensemble: Well, in Cali right now, I’m in a 4/3 fullsuit with booties, gloves and hood. I’d like to be on the Goldy in just a 2/2 fullsuit.
Inspiration: I should watch snow and skate vids more. I do a bit and it definitely inspires me. But I just like watching other surfers and what they’re doing. Like, on little web clips, I love watching those.
Contest: Tahiti when we get waves, but if there’s no waves, then Trestles, because it’s pretty much always rippable.
Opponent: Oh, Kelly is f’sure my favourite guy to surf against. I get beaten most the time but it’s fun knowing that you have heaps of eyes on you, watching. It’s funny, everyone’s got your back, everyone wants you to beat that guy (laughs). It’s fun to go against the top guys and know that, no matter what, if you get beaten by them it’s not that big of a deal because you’re getting beaten by one of the best surfers in the world.
Heat strategy against Kelly Slater: No strategy, I just go for it. That’s the attitude I have to have when I surf against those guys.
Surfer: My all-time favourite would have to be Kelly. But I have so many guys that I enjoy watching right now. I enjoy it all. From Chippa (Chris Wilson) to Dane (Reynolds), all those guys are insane. I froth on the technical side but also the raw power of people, y’know? Session time: I don’t mind, but I don’t like doing airs in the morning. I like getting barrelled in the morning, then doing airs in the afternoon.
Big waves: I really wanna surf The Right in WA. I’d love to whip-in there. It looks like there’s so many things going on at once, it looks fun. And, not every wave’s the same, which is always fun. You’re always negotiating new lines.