Stab Magazine | Kelly Slater and John John Florence text Meola about spindle five flip

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Kelly Slater and John John Florence text Meola about spindle five flip

By Lucas Townsend Home is the result of Matt Meola’s entire winter season, and this air is the showpiece. It’s an extension of the spindle flip, a manoeuvre Matt’s been landing for a few years now. But progression doesn’t move slowly in Maui when your sparring partner is Albee Layer and the winter is long with aerial opportunity […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Lucas Townsend

Home is the result of Matt Meola’s entire winter season, and this air is the showpiece. It’s an extension of the spindle flip, a manoeuvre Matt’s been landing for a few years now. But progression doesn’t move slowly in Maui when your sparring partner is Albee Layer and the winter is long with aerial opportunity (wind, swell and reefs). Matt’s added a rotation to make it a 540, which pushes the move into the difficulty bracket of Kelly’s Portugal spin. And there’s a similar variable here: the powerful trades. As Matt says it would’ve been impossible to spin fast enough without the wind. Kelly attests to that, too. But while we’re seeing it for the first time, Matt shared the footage in a three-way text message with KS and John John Florence two weeks ago. And their reaction is the perfect competitive digs you’d expect from three gents changing aerial surfing.

Stab: When did you land the air?
Matt: I did the air about two weeks ago now. It was just Kai Barger and I, and he was going to fly to California for the Lowers event. So we were like, let’s go surf over on the west side and I’ll drive you to the airport on the way home. The waves were so good that Kai cancelled his flight and the contest to surf again the next day. We went back and it was even better. The waves were as good as they get for airs but I had two shocker sessions. I was all fired up to pull something. Everyone went in but I stayed out and I was so angry to the point where I was screaming under water. Then I got that wave and I did that flip, and it made my whole day.

What does that break offer that makes a move like this possible? It’s super powerful, so you go twice as fast as you would on your average air wave. It’s super shallow and the section bends at you and the wind is perfect. It’s the best wave in the world for getting in the air, but it’s super hard to land high airs because the wave rifles down the reef super fast.

Could you’ve done it without the wind? No, no way. The wind is everything. It helps you spin so much faster. I mean, I’m sure kids will be doing it without the wind in 10 years, it’ll probably just be a standard air reverse but for me, I couldn’t have done it without the wind.

How are you directing your body through the flip? It’s a corkscrew rotation for the first half. As soon as you hit the lip you already want to be looking over your front shoulder. You have to get the grab. If you don’t get the grab there’s no way you’re going to flip because it spins you so fast if you’re not holding your board. Then you immediately look over your shoulder and your body will follow. With everything in surfing, wherever you look your body will go. That’s the first bit. Then the momentum from the flip will start you spinning even more, and that’s where the 540 comes from.

You’ve landed the spindle for a while. How does the 540 come into it? Yeah, it’s an awkward rotation to get used to. Once you get the hang of it, it starts to feel more natural and I realised it kept wanting to spin me. I just needed a bigger wave that’d boost me high enough.

Why the name? I named it a spindle flip back when I first started landing them. I called it that, almost as a joke, because if snowboarders or skateboarders had an actual name for it I’m sure someone would’ve told me. I’ve never seen the flip done before. But, I mean, snowboarders have done so much crazy stuff I’m sure they’ve done really similar shit so they can correct me if I’m wrong.

What was the board you were riding? That was a board I made, actually. It was the third board I’ve ever shaped in my life. My buddy’s Dad is a legendary shaper here on the island and he showed us a few things. We got the shaping program on the computer and started grinding out our own files and he taught us how to fine shape it and glass it.

What are the dimensions, and is it hanging on the wall yet? (laughs) It’s 5’6” 18 x 1/8″ x 2 1/8″. And after the air I came in – and you’ll see it in the edit – I freaked out claiming it to my filmer and the board slipped out of my hands and I smashed the whole tail on the rocks. I was too stoked to care in the moment but looking back it’s like, shit I wish I didn’t do that.

When Kelly Slater landed the 540 in Portugal, I heard you sent him a text. Yeah, I did. I was so blown away, and I texted him because I wanted to do a 540 so bad. Of course, Kelly has to just smoke us all.

What will he say when he watches this? He’s already seen it. I have Kelly and John John on the same text. I sent it to them and Kelly goes, “Ah, you should’ve pulled it.” Then John John wrote back, “I thought it was better than Kelly’s 540.” And then Kelly rousted John back and was like, “Well, there’s an odd man out here in these messages.” (laughs) I just rousted them both back and said, “Fuck that, it was a pull!” Kelly and John John are my idols so I had to send it to my two favourite surfers. I’m sure they’ll just come back in a week with something way gnarlier.

If you haven’t yet, watch Home here.

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