Stab Magazine | "If You Surf Cape Fear, You're Off The Tour" - A Message From The WSL To Their Competitors

And The Winners Of The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Are... Watch The Pick-Up Episode 5, Presented by Vans, To Find Out


“If You Surf Cape Fear, You’re Off The Tour” – A Message From The WSL To Their Competitors

“While I was watching it I kept thinking, I should be there right now,” says original invitee, Albee Layer.

news // Jun 9, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

It’s not often you watch an event where the saving grace is: At least no one died. If you tuned into Cape Fear yesterday over round two of the WSL event at Fiji: Good call. When we spoke to Mark Mathews, the man behind the most dangerous competition in surfing, he was thinking Monday would be too big, and Tuesday (Oz time) it would go. However, the swell down-sized and yesterday became a strictly tow day. “This is a one-in-10-year swell,” Mark told Stab. “It’s going to be a spectacle” – choice words… it was spectacularly nerve racking from the soft and safe couch cushions of my couch.

“It was fucking wild to watch,” says Albee Layer, who was invited but due to strict rules on WSL competitors was not allowed to compete. “I glanced over at Fiji, then threw Cape Fear on and was baffled. I don’t think anyone watched Fiji yesterday. There’s something about seeing guys do shit that doesn’t seem possible. I couldn’t look away from it.” When I spoke to Mr Layer this morning, he was replaying the waves on Red Bull’s site. “I can’t stop watching,” he says.


Richie OUrs

Like most waves surfed yesterday, Richie Vaculik had no chance on this one. Photo: Red Bull / Ed Sloane


In terms of heaviness, the waves at Ours yesterday rivalled the terrifying Code Red swell at Chopes in 2012, as well as the BWWT event at Jaws this winter. “What they were doing yesterday was 100 percent heavier than Jaws,” says Albee. “But it was similar. The morning before Jaws went was so big and gnarly. When we paddled out there was a lot of nervous energy and strong camaraderie. Yesterday when I watched all the guys get ready, it became less of a competition and more of everyone heading out to see if it was possible. It’s sessions like those that bring out the best part of big wave surfing. You can see the brotherhood behind it while they stepped into the unknown, thinking: Well, here we go boys! I’m so disappointed in myself for not saying fuck it and going.” Albee laughs, but there’s bitterness in his voice. To put the danger of this game in perspective, Mr Mathews, in the freesurf before Jaws, snagged one of the biggest waves ever paddled; he made the drop only to be devoured by whitewash. The beating Pe’ahi served afterwards did him the courtesy of separating his shoulder. Mark suffered the only serious injury of the day. Yesterday, Ours sent three maniacs to the hospital. Most notably, Justin ‘Jughead’ Allport. He was thrown over the falls, hit his head on the surgeon’s table, went unconscious and was picked up by water safety who proceeded to stabilise his neck.


34F7DBE200000578 0 image a 37 1465195924040

Jughead on the back of the ski in the nick of time. Conditions weren’t for the fair of heart yesterday. Today will be smaller, maybe small enough to paddle… Photo: Reuters


“It looked similar to the Code Red swell at Chopes” says Albee. “In terms of danger, it probably was heavier. The waves they were riding, were hardly ridable. I love seeing that. I wasn’t even sure if they should be sending people out in it. But it was the surfers’ decision and I trust the guys surfing to make the right call. I towed Chopes the day Laurie Towner got hurt for the new Point Break. Towing Teahupoo is almost too perfect. When you surf a slab like Ours or Shipsterns, it’s a different type of surfing. It’s much more technical when there are steps in the wave. At Chopes someone who’s not that good can get lucky and make a huge one. At Our’s, there is no way, you have to be really good to make one out there.”


the surgeon s table unlike anything else copy

Is this a surgeon’s table or a slaughter house? Photo: Matt Dunbar / Red Bull


If there’s one thing we love about Mr Layer (other than his hand in leading big wave progression), it’s that he isn’t scared to speak his mind. He’s rightfully annoyed by the WSL not letting the guys on the Big Wave Tour surf non-sanctioned events. “People who surf on the WSL full time aren’t allowed to do any other events,” he says. “Which for the guys on the CT makes sense. They get paid much better than the big wave guys and all have good cash coming in from their sponsors; they can make a healthy living.” But the Big Wave Tour has a fifth of the events the CT has; the competitors end up nickeling their way through the season. “On the Big Wave Tour we only get two or three events each year and not even a quarter of the prize money. If you won every event of the year, you’d still make less money than someone who places last every time on the CT.”


Albbe 2

Albee in his most ideal space, deep in the guts of Jaws.


“We should be able to try and surf wherever we can,” Albee continues. “More than half the guys on the BWWT aren’t sponsored. They can barely afford to do it. There’s not enough money in it for anyone to dictate what we do when the BWWT events aren’t on. It’s not really fair… for the guys on the CT it’s a good rule, but something needs to change for the Big Wave Tour. For us, they can go a whole year without running an event; that’s not a career. If that happens we’re making zero dollars.” And for the gents that surf on the BWWT, this is troubling. They all surf professionally, put their lives on the line and are forced to pick up odd jobs to get by. “I’m lucky enough to have good sponsors,” Albee says. “But most the guys on tour don’t. They don’t have anything coming in outside of the tour and aren’t making good money at the events. When opportunities like the Cape Fear event come up, it’s a chance to get good exposure and make some money. It seems like the WSL teaming up with events like this would be mutually beneficial to all parties.”


justen allport on the biggest bomb of the day Billy Morris

When it’s big, heavy and life threatening, Jughead will be whipping into the more vicious of them all. Photo: Billy Morris


“I wish I would’ve done it (competed in Cape Fear),” Albee quips. “Just to see what would happen. But I really want to do Jaws next year; that was my main reason. If I missed Jaws I’d be devastated. But while I was watching it, I kept thinking: I’m a giant pussy… I should be there right now,” he laughs. “Who knows though, everything happens for a reason. I could’ve gone over the falls, hit my head and be dead right now. Which doesn’t seem far fetched after watching the waves yesterday.”


Russ Bierke

Russell Bierke’s 18 and is a proper maniac in the water. On the North Shore this winter, when Pipe was breaking off the third reef, Russ grabbed his board and packed closeouts. On land the kid’s calm, and pleasure to be around.



Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

The Pick-Up, Presented By Vans, Episode 5

Mason Ho helps us ring in our final week on the North Shore.

Jan 27, 2023

Goofyfoot Brazilian World Champion Stars In Stab’s Biggest Board-Testing Franchise

Can you guess who?

Jan 26, 2023

Surf Community Rallies To Raise Funds For Eddie Winner And On-Duty Hawaiian Lifeguard Luke Shepardson

Because it's the right thing to do, of course.

Jan 26, 2023

Interview: Caity Simmers On Machete Wars, Rihanna, Personal Project Problems, And The Rise Of Female Surf Content. 

A toast to ‘Toasted.’

Jan 25, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: Creed McTaggart, Albee Layer, Laura Enever, Dane Guduaskas, and Selema Masekela

Day 8: "65 years young and charging just as hard as ever at Pipe, Backdoor,…

Jan 25, 2023

“I’m Not A Big Wave Guy”

How Kai Paula accidentally made his mark at Jaws three weeks after surfing it for…

Jan 24, 2023

Everyone Went.

A toes in the sand, phone in the lagoon account of the 10th Eddie Aikau…

Jan 24, 2023

Breaking: Another CT Rookie Injured Before First Event

Sophie McCulloch pulls out of Pipeline due to Snapper Rocks snafu.

Jan 23, 2023


Watch: ‘Toasted,’ By Caity Simmers

Your favorite surfer directs, edits, and stars in her first feature film. 

Jan 23, 2023

On-Duty North Shore Lifeguard Luke Shepardson Wins The Eddie Aikau

Local man prevails over 39 big-wave heavyweights at 29ft @ 19 seconds Waimea.

Jan 23, 2023

The Eddie Aikau Invitational Is On

Grab a beverage and enjoy surfing's Super Bowl Sunday

Jan 22, 2023

The Women’s CT Is About To See A Generational Shift 

Only three women have won a Title in the past 15 years. Here's why that's…

Jan 22, 2023


“One For Marcio” – Albee Layer’s Tribute To Mad Dog

Imagine treating 30ft Jaws like Backdoor.

Jan 22, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: Noa Deane, Jamie O’Brien, Parker Coffin, Cliff Kapono, and Brendan Buckley

Day 7: "It's like he feels more comfortable when it’s as gnarly as it gets."…

Jan 21, 2023

Five Reasons Why The Eddie Still Matters

With better waves around the world and likely no prize money, why is The Eddie…

Jan 20, 2023


The Pick-Up, Presented By Vans, Episode 4

The science behind morning sickness, Sunset sliding with Noa Deane, and bailing on a President…

Jan 20, 2023

Which 2023 CT Rookies Will Make The Mid-Year Cut?

Just 10 days out from the start of the 2023 season, Mikey C and Stace…

Jan 19, 2023

Behind Every Surfboard, There’s A Complex Decision About Fins 

How surf shops and board manufacturers choose between FCS and Futures.

Jan 19, 2023