“Some Of The Girls Surf Jaws Better Than Some Of The Guys.” – Albee Layer
Last year’s runner-up’s analysis on the Pe’ahi Challenge tomorrow.
“It’s going to be pretty small,” Albee Layer, last year’s runner-up tells Stab on the Jaws event tomorrow. “Well, not small, but not huge Jaws by any means.” Regardless, the 10-foot guns are being waxed, fins screwed, and the press releases from the WSL keep shining the green light. Albee, who’s notorious for riding a smaller board than anyone at Pe’ahi is going to “ride my 8’4” he says, “It’s the smallest board I got for out there.”
So will we see an event similar to last year? “No, not even close,” he quips. “But who knows, we could get lucky. This last swell was supposed to be 15 feet, and it ended up a whole lot bigger than that. Hopefully it surprises us. Honestly, I haven’t thought about it much. Once they made the official call, I stopped checking the forecast. I figured I’d see how it was in the morning, no reason to get worked up over what could be.”
And this year, for the first time, they’ll be running heats featuring the premier female big wave surfers in the world. “I think it’s awesome,” says Albee. “With this year’s forecast they could be ripping. I can’t wait to watch that. And some of the girls surf Jaws better than some of the guys in the event. On big days I’ve watched Paige (Alms) and Keala (Kennelly) wax a lot of the guys out there.”
“Paige, Keala and Andrea Moller are going to be pretty hard to beat,” he continues. “When Jaws is going those three are getting the most waves. And I don’t think it’s going to be very typical Jaws for the event, so it’ll leave the gates open.”
Out of the women surfing the event, the most surprising is the lovely Laura Enever. “I think she could do really good,” he tells us. “She’s got a big wave mentality. I was just out with her at Ho’okipa, and she was trying out a bigger board. She’s a wildcard, but I think she might surprise everybody and end up winning or getting close to it. She’s always been good in the big stuff. She’ll either struggle or give the regulars a run for their money.”
Last year, the WSL told the competitors they wouldn’t be scoring waves on the inside bowl, which is Albee’s spot at Jaws. His MO is to get as barreled as possible, and to do so, that’s where you sit – being the outspoken gent he is, he took to social media in rebuttal stating, “In the meeting they discussed insiders as they called it and how they won’t be scored like the outside waves because it’s a “BIG WAVE event” which I obviously took personally (like a preteen) and disagree with. On a side note, bad mouthing the event and judging criteria before your heat is a very bold strategy… I’m probably the dumbest person I know.” But after the tube shooting spectacle that occurred in 2015, high performance (or as high as Jaws permits) is what will be scored.
“It’s funny, we had the surfer’s meeting last night and they mentioned it wasn’t going to be 50 feet and performance would come into play a lot more than usual,” he says. “All my friends just laughed and looked at me. Especially after last year’s event. It’s apparent that everyone wants to watch somebody get barreled. Even if it’s not the biggest wave of the day, it’s a lot more entertaining.” And as spectators, that’s all we want, to be entertained. Think the Pe’ahi challenge last year with Greg Long packing the closeout of his life. Or Red Bull’s Cape Fear event that, after each spill, had everyone holding their breath until the surfer popped out of the white wash in front of the rock shelf. We want to see the line pushed, and raise the bar and blood pressure. Big wave surfing, as a spectator, has the tendency elevate one’s heart into their throat–and it’s easy to wish for that from the comfort of one’s living room. For the competitors, it’s a level of adrenaline only obtainable in the recreational use of Epi-Pens – I assume.
“With the conditions on hand for tomorrow, if it ends up being bigger than projected it could be firing,” says Albee. “If everyone’s getting barreled in their heats, it might be the sickest event ever–it won’t be huge, but it will be makable. I’m excited. Hopefully it’s bigger than we think.”
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