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We promise this won't (really) hurt.

Wanna win a new surfboard? We have a custom Chilli ‘Black Vulture’ to gift (plus all the trim you’d expect from a premium dealer). To be in the running, just answer a few questions for us. It won’t take long.

The Five Best Airs In Modern History, according to Taj Burrow

Footage courtesy of Damien Robertson / Diego Santos / Blake Kueny / Rock Star Energy / Red Bull /

Taj Burrow sees life through rose coloured glasses and it’s not often you’ll hear him sigh or say dull things. He's been aggressively shoving aerial progression forward since before you filled out your first custom order. His tail kicks as high as anyone 10 years younger than him, and the reason he's kept so deeply in the mix is because when it comes to airs, he watches the young guys carefully. “I look at their techniques for getting their boards above the lip,” he says. “A few years ago, you would not throw yourself into positions that kids are now. But once you actually do it, so much more is possible. If you’re open minded about where you can put your surfboard, you can really make it become reality. You see some of the huge airs that go down at the moment. A few years ago it was too scary to land airs like that, but you see guys now making them.”

And so, because he's such an avid consumer of progressive content, and an authority on the subject, we asked Taj for his top five airs in recent history...


Number 5

Jordy Smith, Rodeo at Macaronis, Indo


Taj: "The biggest, cleanest, smoothest rodeo ever done. And even though it was quite a few years ago now, it’s still the best ever done. And he combo’d the wave, it was perfectly executed. He couldn't have done it any better. It’s still yet to be surpassed. The perfect rodeo. No one has ever beaten it because no one will. People have done them since but they've gone off the radar a little bit. Will they come back in vogue? Yeah, I reckon they're sick."


Number 4

Matt Meola, backside rotation, WA


Taj: "That air got overlooked massively, because it wasn't the highest ever done, but its probably the gnarliest I've ever seen. I know the wave that it's at and it isn’t very user-friendly, it’s really powerful and breaks right on dry reef and he just somehow hucks himself out into no-man’s land, into the flats, and just stomps it. It’s not even a position that should be possible to land in, but he just bounced out of it like a cat, it was incredible. I think it was overlooked, because everyone looks for height and rotation. That thing was just gnarly, there's no other way to put it than really gnarly."


Number 3

Albee Layer, double oop, Maui, HI


Taj: "Oh, it's incredible. He just chases down the biggest right ramps he can find, and goes head first into the strongest wind possible. He tried it for so long, along with heaps of people that were chasing it too, but yeah, he was the first one to do it and stick it. It’s still so sick to watch him ride out of that thing. I've seen so many close attempts of his, one that was actually at the same wave that Matt Meola did his air and it was just like a millimetre away from landing. But it was one of those things that people watch and go oooooh. Then when he made it everyone was just like, yes, he earned it."


Number 2

Filipe Toledo, backside rotation, Rockies, HI


Taj: "There’s so many good airs out there, it’s hard to choose just five. So, just in my opinion… Fillipe’s is definitely worth noting. It’s just a perfectly done backside air reverse on a huge section. It’s just one of those ones where it’s so smooth and he almost surprised himself with how well it went. He threw himself into a big section and to ride out of it with that much ease would’ve felt incredible, and it made it look incredible too. Rockies isn't difficult for airs. It’s a good wave for it. But that was not your average section to do an air on at Rockies. You normally have the wind blowing into it a lot stronger and kinda do it at the sandy end of Rockies. I felt that one was a bit deeper on the reef, and he bucked himself off the lip. If you watch it you see him leave the lip where it’s barrelling and then he lands on the bit where you normally do the air."


Number 1

John John Florence, alley oop, Haleiwa, HI


Taj: "John John’s oop at Haleiwa is one of the biggest airs ever done, I think. Haleiwa has huge sections and you gotta be really committed to hit one of them. He was on a bigger board and he just went for it. The wind picked him up and took him that little bit higher and he just landed perfectly. It was so well executed. I love that thing. It's better than the one at Keramas because it was a little bit higher I think, and done on a bigger section. They're equally as good but the Haleiwa one stands out. Haleiwa's actually really good to do airs on if the wind’s right. It can be unbelievable. No one else is known for really good airs out there – he's definitely drawn everyone’s attention to Haleiwa being a really good air wave. You’ve seen airs out there from time to time, but he realised what you can do out there and did it."

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