Apparently You Can Do Airs Downwind Now? - Stab Mag
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Defying laws of physics, or so we thought... Photo: WSL/Bielmann

Apparently You Can Do Airs Downwind Now?

And some other things we learned over the weekend.

news // Nov 28, 2021
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 5 minutes

We’ve been enjoying a long holiday weekend on the US side. Turkey. Mash. Unsolicited opinions from outcast uncles. You know the drill.

In this time, there’ve been a few developments in the surfing world that we’ve unfortunately neglected. I wanted to take this time to catch everyone (myself included) up on the last few days, and discuss the big-ticket items. A Sunday morning debrief, if you will.

1. Apparently you can do airs downwind now?

If your name’s John Florence, that is.

The year’s final Challenger Series event kicked off at Haleiwa the other day, and as predicted, the surf was pretty fun. Overhead, consistent enough (unless you were in that one heat), and with a classic North Shore breeze, pushing firmly down the line.

Historically, this type of wind is terrible for airs on the right-handers. In contrast to ‘air wind’, which pushes into the wave and glues the board to a surfer’s feet (see: Rocky’s left), this down-the-line wind will disconnect the surfer from their board the very moment they leave the surface of the wave. So despite 16 heats being surfed by 64 of the world’s second-best surfers, only one of them completed a legitimate air. Actually, he did a couple.

John Florence, the two-time World Champ whom we haven’t seen in competition since the Margaret River event where he blew his ACL, made his long-awaited return to the jersey this Friday, and he did not disappoint. Surfing in a manner that was visibly superior to everyone in the draw, John dropped a seven, then an eight, then two nines en route to victory over Thiago Camarao (who put up one of the only other nines this day), Shelly Simkus, and another bona fide flyguy who didn’t even attempt to flap his wings, Mateus Herdy.

But it wasn’t just that John won, it was how he did it.

On his two highest scores, John went above the lip mid-wave, grabbing his toeside rail to maintain control while rotating toward the beach — a standard air rev in most circumstances, but an incredible feat of physics in the present conditions. (Apparently he’s been practicing this of late.)

This reminded me of a conversation with Eithan Osborne back while filming for Stab High Central America. Erin Brooks had just landed one of the best airs in the history of female surfing, and she did it in the same direction as the wind. To which Eithan said: “The wind doesn’t matter if you’re going faster than it.”

At first it sounded like a joke, but then I thought about it some more…and I think he’s right?

Say, for instance, the wind is blowing 15 mph down the line. If you’re traveling 16 mph or more, the wind’s speed in relation to you is actually in the negative. This means, in theory, it won’t push your board away from you if you launch an air. Any physics majors feel free to debunk this in the comments, but until you do I’m running with it. And so is John, apparently.

2. A charter boat washed onto the reef at Lance’s Right

If this doesn’t make you sick to your stomach, you’re probably a goofyfooter.

A few days back, a Mentawai charter boat called the Praya Mentawai ran aground on the inside section of the reef, known affectionately as the Surgeon’s Table. Here’s the official word from the Praya Mentawai website:

Today, November 25, at around 10am Mentawai local time, the boat ran aground while it was maneuvering to leave Lances Right. It was the last day of the surf-trip. With the necessary safety, surfers and crew were removed to the land and directed to HT’s resort, all safe, surfers and crew without any injuries and with all necessary documentation and items. Everyone will return to Padang on the speed boat that makes the commercial route Mentawai-Padang. Currently, our efforts are all directed towards helping the group that was finishing the surf trip to return to their homes, as today was the last day of the trip. Teams and local partner companies were called to carry out the removal of the boat and the necessary cleaning of the area It is noteworthy that the boat operated with all licenses up to date, including those recently renewed and necessary for navigation, in addition to the proper authorization of the entire crew for operation.

According to HTs Resort, the boat was eventually pushed off the Surgeon’s Table by the high tide, and no long-term damage has been done to the reef. The boat, however, is reportedly in very bad shape and the clean-up process is still underway.

3. Major Black Friday x surf deals are underway

The holidays are upon us. Which means, in order to keep in good social standing, you’ll need to spend large swathes of cash on items that elicit an, “Oh woooow, thanks, just what I needed!” before being stuffed in a closet and ignored for the next 10 years, until a move or yard sale comes around and they’re given away to a guy wearing cargo shorts and New Balances.

Or, you could follow our advice and spend less money on far superior presents. (Pssst, they can even be for you!)

Blur your bank account without bludgeoning it.

Haydenshapes has a major Black Friday deal going, with 20% off their ‘Alter’ collection. That’s everything from an HK twin to a Cohort_I to a Midlength Glider or soft board.

HS rarely does sales, so if you’ve been eying some fine Australian artistry but haven’t pulled the trigger, now’s the time. Discounts are automatically applied at checkout.

Because we all need a little coverage.

Slowtide is doing a last-call sale on many of its changing ponchos, and the deals are kinda ridiculous. We’re not sure if it’s a glitch in the system or a conscious token of generosity, but you can literally stack some of their discount codes to get over 50% off certain types of product. Use the codes “THANKFUL25” and “CYBER30” liberally, and find the robe that pairs best with a White Russian.

Also worth noting: we’ll be doing a Cyber Monday sale tomorrow for Stab Premium gift subscriptions (20% off), and we’ll be dropping our curated Christmas list on Wednesday. Everything the surfer in your life could possibly want, or need, in one place. Send it to your mammy!

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