Watch: First Session Back In The Ocean, Albee Layer Lands The Best Air Of His Life
Did a weekend in Waco make all the difference?
Following his saline-free weekend in Waco, Texas, Albee Layer flew from Austin-Bergstrom International back home to catch a swell at his favorite righthand ramp. After hitting 100 perfect sections at Waco’s Barefoot Ski Ranch, Albee’s joints had been properly loosened and his mind well-prepared to attack the Maui reef.
While the swell wasn’t quite what Albee hoped it would be (you just can’t trust the ocean, can you?), the Hawaiian still found a few sections to launch off. One section propelled Albee with such force that he was able to spin beyond the standard “full rotation” and instead land backwards in what most would consider a “double-alleyoop”.
Historically speaking, it was just the third double-oop Albee has ever landed, and he’s calling this one the best air of his life.
Considering this happened in Albee’s first session after the wavepool, it must be questioned whether the punt was just a coincidence, or if those five hours in the pool led directly to this outcome. We called Albee to find out.
Like a schoolboy seeing naughty films for the very first time.
Stab: Albee, man, we know you’ve done the double-oop before, but this one was just so… perfect. Tell us, do you feel like your training sessions in Waco played a part in landing what you’re calling the best air of your life?
Albee Layer: Absolutely I think it played a role – one hundred percent. I wasn’t really trying double-oops in the pool, but that repetition of launching and landing was such good practice for airs in general. When I came back home for this well, I felt incredibly solid on my feet. You can have some sections at the right that are really sketchy and shallow, but I felt unusually comfortable and connected with my board. So I think that was definitely from the, like… 500 sections we hit over the weekend [laughs].
You rode a unique craft in the pool and also brought it out for the Maui session. Tell me about that soaring snub.
Yeah, my shaper and I just thought it would be cool to cut the nose off, round it, and then put some indents in the rails. I’m like six-foot-two, and the board is only 5’7. It feels a little easier to control in the air and way better for nose grabs!
You’ve had a little time away from the pool now. How do you reflect on your experience there and what are the major takeaways?
I just wanna go back [laughs]. Even though we got a bunch of clips, we left soooo many things to be done. I can’t stop thinking about them. I wanna get it to the point where you don’t just do a trick once and then move on to the next one, but instead you actually dial in different airs. Just do them until it’s second nature.
The judo-oop will eat at Albee’s soul until he gets another opportunity to land one.
Are things that we consider now to be a “difficult air” eventually going to become like a cutback in wavepools?
I don’t know about a cutback. Certain airs will always be hard because there’s so much room for error. But if you look at snowboarding, their best tricks are like 50% makes. With my double-oops, I’ve landed three and tried like… 150. So I definitely think you could get your percentage up pretty quickly.
These pools just further emphasize the fact that airs are the future of surfing, no?
Definitely. Even watching Kelly’s contest, everyone who didn’t do an air on the end section was half as exciting to watch. It was a pretty clear line. And then looking at the Brazil event, obviously everybody’s seen Filipe’s air, but even before that John’s crazy reverse made it to the Sports Center Top 10 plays of the day.
Airs capture the WSL’s highly-coveted mainstream audience!
Yup. Even talking with some of my friends, who aren’t that big of surfers but like to watch it sometimes, they get so much more excited by airs than anything else. So airs bring in fans, and what a lot of people seem to forget is that without fans, we don’t have professional surfing. No money, no WSL, no sponsors. Nothing.
That’s the strongest argument I’ve heard for why CTers should surf less conservatively. Doing three-to-the-beach might get them a momentary heat win, but it will kill their career, and perhaps the sport, in the long run.
Exactly! The fan base shrinks when they’re used to seeing something. Everybody wants to witness something new.
Albee is fanatical about progression, which is why he’s committed his life to pushing the boundaries of surfing in waves big and small.
Do you think that these pools will eliminate the non-airing pro?
I think it will. But there will be people who might not be naturally great at airs, but they’ll go to Waco with the mindset of practicing and improving and they’ll just start to get it. …Or not.
Assuming these pools are accessible to kids and pros around the world, how much faster is aerial surfing going to progress?
It’s hard to put a number on it, but just from us going there, we had two mornings, and Ian’s backside shuv it was probably the best he’s ever done (probably the best I’ve ever seen actually), Barron did a flip that he’s probably done a couple times but he pulled it within like 10 tries out there, and even I did the judo that I’ve only done one other time in my life. And a couple tricks I didn’t get, I feel like they were almost there. So it’ll go so fast – faster than we think. It’s gonna be a full transition in surfing. It might turn into two genres of the sport, but I kinda hope it doesn’t.
What happens if a guys gets unlimited access to one of these pools, and he just starts doing a bunch of crazy tricks that we’ve never seen before, but then he can’t necessarily replicate them in the ocean? How are we gonna react to that?
Ocean surfing is the true form of the sport. That will never change. Even with how amazing wavepools have gotten, they’re all barely overhead still, and there’s only so much you can do on a wave that size. So it’s just gonna be a stepping stone to being a great surfer, but you’ll never be considered a great surfer just for what you can do in the pool.
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