Watch: Jacob Szekely Just Landed Surfing’s First Superman-Fingerflip
While getting cheered on by Josh Kerr and a horde of pro skaters, no less!
Flip tricks and surfing have a funny history.
Back in 2007, Volcom put up $10k for the first surfer to land a “proper” kickflip on a wave.
The official rules were as follows:
1. Your entry must be on video from the start of the trick through the ride out. No photos allowed.
2. This contest is open to everyone. The contest begins today November 21st, 2007, and will run until there’s a winner.
3. The kickflip must be a real air “above the lip” – No backwash, No chop hops, or anything in the flats or below the lip of the wave.
4. All waves must be self caught – You must paddle into the wave. This means NO tow-ats, step-offs, jetskis, boats, dinghys, winches, canoes, oars, helicopters, dolphins or assistance of any kind.
5. No grabs of any kind. Not before, not after, not during.
6. You must completely “ride out” of the kickflip. That means if you land on the back of the wave and fail to continue surfing the wave – it’s not a make!
7. No heelflips. Or else we’d have called it the Heelflip-Off.
8. No shoes. Who surfs in shoes anyway? Regular “made for surfing” booties are acceptable.
9. You must be riding a surfboard with at least one fin. No boogie boards, wakeboards, wakeskates, skimboards, kiteboards, trays etc.
So, the games began.
Ozzie Wright tried them for a while and got damn close to sticking. A few of the other Air Tour guys also put their shins on the line, but eventually the pain was too great and they retreated. Then came the surfer-magician from Santa Cruz, Zoltan Torkos.
With the inherent advantage of wearing a 4/3 and booties year-round, Zoltan was able to practice this maneuver time and time again without fear of maiming himself. And so…he did.
Then came his infamous completion on March 4th, 2011, which polarized the surfing world. Some (probably the same folks who thought Kelly deserved a 10 for his 4.17) thought it was the most progressive maneuver ever done, others thought it was a glorified chop-hop. Either way, Zoltan wanted his $10k.
After initially denying his claim to their prize on the basis that Zoltan had broken rule #3 (“Zoltan’s kickflip is clearly below the lip and not a real air,” Volcom said at the time), Volcom faced severe backlash from certain parts of the surfing community, which led to them overturning their decision and paying Zoltan his $10k, while putting up an additional $20k to the first surfer who could land a legitimate over-the-lip kickflip.
Presumably, it was somewhere in the bylaws that Zoltan could not win the $20k, as he’s completed dozens of kickflips since the OG one, and at least a few of them have surpassed the wave’s crest. As far as we know, nobody has claimed the grand prize.
Prior to that, and for no financial incentive, professional surfer and the son of a professional skateboarder, Cheyne Magnusson, had been trying fingerflips on Maui. Cheyne, who went on to become Waco’s first wavepool conductor and was instrumental in the design of their now-famous ramp, never landed a fingerflip, but he did sow the seed of possibility.
That brings us to the inaugural Stab High event in 2018, when an inspired Mason attempted two NBDs in our first live surfing event: a Christ Air and a fingerflip.
Mason had never attempted these airs before, but here he was “sticking them” (in the skateboarding sense of the word, meaning he was landing with his feet on the board) in live competition.
After the event, Mason famously retorted: “If I had known how close I was, I just would have landed them.”
Which brings us, finally, to Jacob Szekely, the star of the day, perhaps even the week, who as you surely already know, landed surfing’s first *recorded* Superman-fingerflip this week in Waco. We urge you to watch his full video above to see the progression and completed attempt, then read below for how it all went down.
Stab: First of all, give me a brief run-down of your Texas trip.
Jacob Szekely: So yeah: Greyson Fletcher, Alex Sorgente (2 times X Games Gold Medalist & 2-time Vans Park Series world champ) a filmer, and I flew out to Texas to meet Kerrzy, his fam, Mark McMorris, and Coco Ho. When we pulled up to BSR, Slater was there hopping in on random people’s sessions, cause you know, he’s the GOAT, he can do what he wants! And then yeah, we ramped out at BSR for a couple days, skated some mental spots in Texas, then drove four hours to Houston and went tanker surfing in the Gulf.
It’s been an insane week in Texas!
So how many times have you been to Waco now? You must be their most frequent non-Texan customer.
Haha yeah, I’ve been about 6 times now.
And how many sessions did you get on the ramp this trip?
Four hours of private sessions, but we had like 10 people.
Do you basically go to Waco with a list of new tricks to land every time?
Yeah, pretty much.
We obviously saw your Superman-reverse last week, how many tries did that take?
I actually stuck that on my third try.
Whoa, impressive. And the Superman-fingerflip? How long did that take?
About 20 tries this trip.
So you’d tried them before?
Yeah, I tried it a bunch last time I was here—I broke two boards in half, and broke out two fin boxes on my back.
Holy shit. And what about this time? Any damage done to body or board?
Yea buckled one board this trip, and fucked up my hip on the rail of my board.
Were all the attempts in one session?
Yeah. Last time I fucked up all my boards first sesh, so this time I decided to wait till the last hour to attempt the flip tricks.
Yeah, so after about five tries, I started landing on my board, and it felt do able. Then Kerrzy told me to throw it under me more and not to pussyfoot it. Then I started over-spinning it, so Greyson and Sorge told me to spin it kinda late, so Superman Late Fingerflip, and then I just started getting it down.
What did it feel like when you landed it? You almost look like you were in shock.
Yeah, I was baffled. I honestly didn’t think it was possible, but I was just ready to keep carcass-hucking till I either landed it, broke my board, or broke my body! And shouts out to BSR’s Brian Filmore and Rob Hensen for running the machine while I tried this.
Do you think you’re the best wave pool surfer in the world?
I don’t know, maybe.
I guess we’ll see in the next Stab High, you just booked yourself a ticket.
Haha fuck yeah, can’t wait!
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