Stab Magazine | 1080 Surfboarding, The Progressive Future
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1080 Surfboarding, The Progressive Future

Words by Morgan Williamson  Remember 1080 Snowboarding on Nintendo 64? The year was 1998 and these so-called ‘extreme sports’ were taking over the video game realm. The next year Tony Hawk Pro Skater would hit the market and the minds of the youth would never again be the same. In the tender age of 2016 things […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Words by Morgan Williamson 

Remember 1080 Snowboarding on Nintendo 64? The year was 1998 and these so-called ‘extreme sports’ were taking over the video game realm. The next year Tony Hawk Pro Skater would hit the market and the minds of the youth would never again be the same. In the tender age of 2016 things are being done on boards that can only be described as video game maneuvers. In the past two years Kelly Slater spun a 540 into the wind, Matt Meola stuck a spindle flip 540 and John Florence in VFABM was blasting airs higher then the imagination. Stemming from Kelly Slater’s “Rodeo Clown” attempt at Pipe in ’99 aerial innovation has been the driving factor of surfing’s progression. In ’98 a 1080 on a snowboard was the ultimate goal, in April of last year Billy Morgan landed a backside 1800 quadruple cork which is physically beyond comprehension. With this in mind we asked three generations of progressive surfers a series of similar questions. Here Taj Burrow, Matt Meola and the recently crowned King of the Groms, Sebastian Williams give us a take on where our sport’s headed in the uncertain future. “Stuff like Kelly’s wave pool is going to change shit,” Matt Meola tells Stab. “It could turn it into a snowboard or skateboard thing were you can ride the same wave consistently and try the same tricks.”

Stab: Growing up who were the more progressive surfers you looked up to?
Taj: When I was grom Kelly Slater and Shane Dorian were my two favourites. They were throwing tail and doing airs, I liked their style. From watching those guys all I wanted to do was get my tail above the lip. I also loved watching Occy and Tom Curren, but probably Kelly and Shane for the more progressive stuff. Then guys like Fletcher (Christian) and Archy (Matt Archbold) were doing airs before airs were even a thing.

Did you ever foresee the current state of maneuvers?
When it comes to progression in the air it’s come a long way. Guys are coming at bigger sections than I ever could have imagined, throwing themselves into the wildest rotations and riding them out. I never thought that stuff would be possible. Some guys have so much spring and confidence, they go at it as hard as they can and aren’t worried about hurting themselves. I’ve been blown away at some of the stuff that’s been done in the last two years.

Will 540’s eventually become the new full rotation?
It could for sure. Everyone’s going so fast at huge sections now they get enough rotation to start sticking 540’s pretty regularly. It might become pretty common.

Where will the next generation of groms take the sport?
I think the kids will take it so far. They’re more open minded to what can be done. When I was growing up you couldn’t even think of the stuff that’s being done now, it didn’t seem capable on a surfboard. I think the kids are going to be creative and they’re realizing that there’s no real limit. They think anything’s possible. Kids are already trying to stick their first 540’s and do what their favourite surfers are doing. Then they’ll be the kids who will create stuff on their own. We haven’t even seen what’s capable on a surfboard yet.

When someone lands something that’s never been done before how real of a possibility does it become?
It really brings the trick into reality. Like Kelly’s 540 or Matt’s spindle flip, that stuff’s just incredible. When moves like that happen other guys start to go for it. It’s always cool to see who comes up with the next big thing.

Stab: Who’d you look up to as a grom?
Matt: Bruce and Andy (Irons), Taj (Burrow) and Kelly. I used to watch Momentum and those were the parts I’d go to every time. I’d watch their parts, go surf, come back in and watch them again. I’d just watch them over and over again.

Did you ever think we’d be at the current state of progressive manuevers?
I remember when an air reverse was the coolest thing in the world. When you’re a grom you have to see somebody else do it before you can. But when you get older and better you have more of an imagination and are able to create your own stuff. Without those guys there’d be no way I thought any of that was possible. I remember landing my first air reverse, claiming it and freaking out.

Will the 540 replace the full rote?
It’s weird, ten years ago I thought an air 360 was the craziest thing in the world. If you would’ve asked me that question I wouldn’t have been able to answer. But we keep getting surprised. Right when you think it can’t get any gnarlier someone goes and does something crazy and you’re like WHAT?! Even now it’s really hard to imagine guys doing anything more than a 540, they’re so hard. I try them all the time, it gets to a point where it’s dangerous. I’ve been getting hurt so much. I don’t know if they’ll be able to do a 540 with no worries. I don’t want to say it that won’t be the case but it’s really hard to imagine it being a standard move. An air 360’s easy, you don’t need that big of a section but to get it to a 540 is so much harder. If it was going to become a standard move I feel like it would’ve happened by now. When Kelly finally did his 540 we were like okay at least we know it’s possible. But it’s been about a year since Kelly did his and I guess I’m the only one to land one since other than Albee’s (Layer) double alley oop.

How far will the next generation progress surfing?
I hope they take it way beyond what we’re doing because I’d love to be an old man and be like ahh I was a kook compared to these kids. I’d like to see it progress as far as possible. It’ll be interesting because for someone like me it’s hard to imagine it going further, every time somebody does something never before seen I’m always taken by surprise. The kids are going to do some crazy shit, (laughs) I just don’t know what that is yet. But there’s kids like Eli Hanneman who are so good in the air at 12 years old, who knows what they’ll be doing at my age.

Stab: Who do you look up to as far as progressions concerned?
Sebastian: My favourite since day one’s been Jordy Smith because of his innovation and crazy airs. When Frothing came out I saw him do that rodeo flip at the end of his clip and I was like damn I want to be like that. Every video that comes out with him I’m always the first guy to watch.

Will the 540 become the new full rotation?
I think so. A few guys have landed 540’s and Albee did that double alley oop. Kelly and Meola did them and Yago dora’s getting really close. I’ve been trying backhand ones at Rockies into the wind, I’ve been going for double backside spins. I think that will be going on. Personally I love super high tweaked out straight airs. I think they’ll be a lot of double oops and 540’s going on in the future. John John and Matt do full rotations like they’re nothing. I think somebody like that could spin a double full rotation. I don’t see why somebody couldn’t land something like that.

When you see somebody stick a move that’s never been done before how much of a reality does it become for yourself?
It’s inspiring, I’ve always wanted to go as big as I can. If I see somebody do it then I think why can’t I? The way Meola does his flips for example, I feel like if I get the right section and practice it over and over again I can do what those guys are doing. When someone actually lands it I start to think wow, he’s done it so I can do it for sure. It gives you that extra confidence to go give it a try.

Where do you see surfing progressing?
Well, my dad told me back when he was a grom he thought airs couldn’t be done. It’s a crazy thought for someone to do a double rotation but that’s what everybody thought back in the day about airs. I’m sure it’s possible. I think snowboarding has a big influence on aerial surfing. Like the way Matt tucks himself in on his cork 360’s is similar to snowboarding. That’s the way surfing’s headed.

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