Controversial Opinion: Josh Kerr Surfs Better On Alternative Crafts
A leaf through his eclectic quiver.
Josh Kerr doesn't get the credit he deserves.
He was a genuine high performance pioneer in his competitive years, blending his airshow roots (of which he was the undisputed king) with deadly carves and a screw-loose approach to big barrels, and producing some of the most memorable jersey performances of his generation. Since slipping gracefully off tour, the Coolangatta-native-come-Californian resident has become enamoured with alternate surfboard designs, in particular those of Matt Parker, aka Album Surf, who now shapes the majority of his boards. Kerrzy has one of the cleanest, most interesting looking quivers of the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy, so we decided to dive into his board bag and pester the man himself for a guided tour.
Josh and the newest rendition of his much loved (and tested) Album Surf Insanity.
2+1's and Quads
"In 2017 I asked a bunch of shapers to make me one normal board and one fun board," Josh tells us when we ask how he became involved with Album. "All the funboards would be quarter of an inch wider and only a tiny bit different. I was like 'that’s not a funboard', but these guys (Album) just got it." Free from the shackles of finely-tuned, disposable shortboards Josh started experimenting with five fin boxes and different fin set ups, and soon he was hooked on the Insanity. "It seems to work with whatever fin set up I put in it: quad, 2+1..." he says. "When it’s smaller I ride a 2+1 to free it up a little in the tail - for beachies, rights and lefts, but if it’s more for linking turns then I’ll throw the quad in and change it up and it holds really nice through longer carves."
It's all in the finish.
It wasn't just in sloppy waves around his adopted Californian home that Josh's new designs worked either, as the footage up top proves. The Bankvaults wave at 2:47, in particular, is a remarkable piece of tube mastery in its own right, but when you consider it's on a tiny quad it's even more remarkable. "The board I rode at Bankvaults was kind of similar to this one, but with a pulled in tail," says Josh. "The board's called the Ledge. It's a similar outline to the Insanity, but pulls in to a tight pintail, with more volume through the front for paddling. That one was a similar size to this: five four, five six or something. You can ride in big waves and it holds really well."
Tail pads on twinnies: acceptable if tails are round and the surfing progressive?
"This is a super performance twinnie," Josh says of the craft pictured above. "Obviously I wouldn’t put keels in this, it’s kind of a shortboard replacement. It's not a groveller or a float down the line, wide tail type board. It’s more for ripping in the pocket." It would be easy for ex-tour guys to hop on a new design and assume they know it all, but Kerrzy's a student of surf and says that when it comes to riding twins there's two masters of the format he references: Torren Martyn and Asher Pacey. "I never knew about Torren until maybe three years ago," Josh says. "But now he’s up there as one of my favourites. The Morning of the Earth boards he rides and the way he rides them are pretty rad."
Josh pontificating whilst handling the single rudder that steered him to victory in the Single Fin division of the Champions Trophy.
Asher Pacey and Josh Kerr are old air show stablemates and close friends, so it's not surprising that Kerrzy's taken some hints from his pal when it comes to sliding on two fins. What is interesting is the different paths the two former flyboys careers have taken: Josh donned the jersey, whereas Asher reinvented himself as the crystal salvaging, twinnie savant we know him as today. "Asher’s a couple of years older than me, but he moved up to the Goldy when I was about 16 or 17 and we’ve been really close friends ever since," Josh tells us. "He’s someone who’s gotten better with age, his brand value is definitely way higher now than it ever was before."
Album sure put together beautiful looking quivers.
Searching for a closing epitaph to what had been an illuminating (and not too dry - dimensions, meh!) chat about boards, we threw Josh a scenario: you're going to the tropics, you haven't seen the forecast, you can take two boards, go. "I'd probably take my regular Insanity, and then the Ledge with the pulled in tail," he says. "The Insanity can cover anything from knee high to a few feet over head no worries, and The ledge anything above that. I don’t ride thrusters anymore."