Stab Magazine | Can The Air Show Save Competitive Surfing?

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Can The Air Show Save Competitive Surfing?

Last evening’s “expression session” starring Chippa Wilson, Mikey Wright, Albee Layer, Matt Archbold and Yago Dora was the Surf Ranch’s finest hour. 

news // Sep 10, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

As Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness made his way through the crowd and under the arch of the crow’s nest perch on the south end of the pool and down to the dock where Kelly Slater and Matt Archbold’s beautiful bald heads were beaming in the afternoon sun, gearing up for an hour-long airshow expression session, Stab could just feel that very close by, WSL’s one-man fire department, Dave Prodan was at that moment a very, very happy man.

While Josh Kerr will and should get much of the credit for the upstart WSL airshow tour, Prodan deserves a thorough backslapping for twisting the knife behind the scenes. For the real, true core surf fan—the one’s so often these days feeling slighted, ignored, left behind in surfing’s modern mainstream age—Prodan will be our saving grace, regardless of whether he returns Rory or Mikey C.’s breathless email requests for comment.  



Mike Ness has been strumming the same four chords, riffing on the same scale and singing in the same raspy voice for over 30 years. It’s a program that works. While Social D played last night, a mosh pit broke out. It was dusty. Sometimes sweaty. And many attending folk said to each other, “Thank God it’s not blink-182.”


Sam Moody


Two icons of their generation, Archy and Mike Ness, discuss the finer things in life.


Sam Moody

As old friends Archy and Ness rapped out with Kelly, Chippa Wilson, Mikey Wright, Albee Layer, Yago Dora, mugged for a few photo ops, then hopped in the pool, and proceeded to get busy, lining up down the pool so as to create a sort of baton-pass situation, wherein each surfer took off and either immediately hucked something radical or humped down the line towards the next surfer who, taking off in front of them, would create a section on which to boost, making for a mess of half-cocked shuv-its, flared/flailed straight airs, and more than a few radical combos.

While no one was upset about Archy turning the airshow into in his own personal tube fest, the hour’s highwater mark came early, with Yago Dora popping a backside shuv-it, reverting switchstance and sliding straight into a proper pit, coming out, switching stance again for a layback drainer, and kicking out for Albee Layer before the end section bowl.



Costco Surf Team. Lemoore 2018.


Sam Moody


While the sun set, Yago Dora put together the most creative combo we’ve seen at the Surf Ranch. On the first section, Yago did a pop-shuvit revert into a switch stance tube on the right. While in the barrel he switched his stance back, grabbed his outside rail and laid back into the same tube. He exited and did a caveman flyaway. It was videogame shit. The crowd loved it!

The WSL nixed the livestream for the Expression Session, but we’re assured a highlight reel is forthcoming. Needless to say, the hour-long affair made us very, very excited for Stab High in just two short weeks.

As the last train ran, the crowd moved to the stage erected on the north side of the property for the night’s headliners, Social Distortion.

“I’ve driven this stretch of road a hundred times in my career,” frontman Mike Ness said. “I’ve never once had a reason to stop, but now I’ll be pulling over and asking them to fire up that fucking machine! Gimme one of those three-foot Hanalei Bay rights!”



While the young flyboys took to the air, Archy couldn’t help but hang in the tube for as long as the Surf Ranch would let him.


Sam Moody

As the band ripped through a few classics, Stab stumbled into Matt Biolos in the mosh pit.

“Southern California fucking icons,” Matt said.

“When was the first time you saw them,” we demanded, knowing Matt’s storied past.

“The fucking year you were born, 1984!”

There’s something about songs from the surf videos you grew up on. The East Coast section of …Lost Across America Vol. 1, set to “Mommy’s Little Monster.” The Puerto Escondido part of PsychoWard, set to “Telling Them.” Rob Machado’s G-Land section in Drifting, set to “Don’t Drag Me Down.” All-time.

By midnight, everyone was in the Tachi, well-lubricated and dressed to the nines, Ace Buchan looking very much the toy cowboy in black button down and straw Stetson, and Parko, Mikey Wright, and a gaggle of Aussies crowding a Blackjack table, and the thoroughly coiffed bartender—after inquiring as to what, exactly, all of “us” were doing here—claiming she’d never seen so many white people at the Tachi in her life.


Mikey, Albee, Yago and Chippa meet one of the World Surf League’s finest, Dave Prodan, in an admittedly very offensive Aloha shirt.


Sam Moody


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