What’s The Best Air Ever Done?  - Stab Mag

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What’s The Best Air Ever Done? 

We asked eleven Stab High competitors and got six different answers.

// Nov 1, 2022
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 5 minutes

September 18th-28th, 2022 would have been an unprecedented time for anyone living at Lakey Peak. 

The small, normally very quiet, fishing village became overrun with eccentric foreigners who get paid to jump high on surfboards. Sure, Lakey and its locals are familiar with surfers and our culture, but never have they played host to a spectacle like Vans Stab High Presented by Monster Energy.

Along with 36 of the world’s best aerial surfers, a special forces team of filmers, photogs, directors, writers, Ladybird parents, and social media gurus descended upon the village — and its waves — with one thought on our mind. Big fuckin’ airs.  

Housed in various establishments along the beachfront stretch, we ate, drank, and generally congregated at the storied Fatmahs Restaurant. The first restaurant in the town, Fatmahs is a thatched wooden building with a roof full of stickered up sleds and a fridge full of ice cold Island Brewing beers. It’s run by the lovely Mawar, daughter of the eponymous Fatmah, and served as a watering hole, meeting place, and ceremonial venue for us throughout the 10 day event window.

We miss Fatmahs already. All Additional Photos: Jimmicane

My job, as Stab’s transient indentured scribe, was to corral our guests of honor — the surfers — and pepper them with various aerial related questions at any possible moment. These brief Q&A’s were anything but formal, often carried out over too many Bintangs or while trudging along the rocks post-surf. 

The aim of the questions was to compile a knowledge base from everyone’s favorite aerialists, which we might then use to inform you, the reader. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be releasing a handful of stories like this in conjunction with the release of Vans Stab High Presented by Monster Energy. Our hope is that they will not only serve to inform and entertain, but also to remind everyone of just how subjective surfing is.

The first question I asked each surfer was simple. 

What’s the best air ever done?

It was met with much humming and hawing. Some surfers eventually delivered their picks in a matter-of-fact fashion. Others waffled on, throwing a few ideas out there before saying something along the lines of, “It’s impossible!” Yes, it’s a matter dear to the hearts of all of these surfers.

Below, we pulled eleven of the most interesting answers. Here’s how the world’s best surfers think about the aerospace.

Editor’s note: This poll was conducted prior to Eithan Osborne’s recent Mentawai huck.

Erwin Bliss:

Fuck… I’m a big fan of alley-oops honestly. They can be so crazy. The one Noa Deane did at North Point was mental. With crazy airs, I feel like you can either go big and high, or get super technical. I’m a big fan of Chippa because he’s so tech, but it’s gnarly when people go as big as Noa.


Luke Swanson:

That’s a really hard question. I feel like for me it’s Matt Meola’s Spindle Flip 540. First of all the wave, how gnarly it was, and then it was so technical and he just stomped it. It was ridiculous. Game changing at the time too.

Sierra Kerr:

One of my favorites is the one Filipe did in the contest, backside in Brazil. Super perfect, the distance he covered was insane. In my mind, that’s perfection, he couldn’t have done anything better, and it was a huge section.

Luke Swanson, one of the gnarliest guys in a few years/now.

Matt Meola:

I don’t know. There’s so many, it’s hard to say. Depends what you like. I like big waves and lots of rotations. That kid Luke Swanson is super gnarly. The stuff he was doing in the pool was wild, I think he’s gonna be the gnarliest guy in a few years. I’ll always back Albee too, he’s still going huge.

Shaun Manners:

Noa at North Point I reckon. Just where he landed was so gnarly, the cunt broke his leg and the board and kept going. Next level.

Big smile, big airs, bad manners.

Eric Geiselman:

Deaney first, Manners [at North Point] second? I don’t think you’re gonna beat Noa’s at North Point for another 10 years maybe.

Inspired surfing from Mateus Herdy.

Mateus Herdy:

That’s the hardest question. I think, as far as perfection goes, it’s Filipe’s air in Rio. It’s a really big wave, heavy section, no air wind, and he landed perfectly. It was pretty high, with no soft landing, and he did it in a comp. That was so gnarly. That’s the best in my mind, that guy gets me stoked.

Isi Campbell:

I don’t even know. Literally anything Matt Meola does.

Chippa Wilson:

Hard one to put a finger on. Maybe Bruce or Andy or Nathan Fletcher. Someone real gnarly back in the day. Like Bruce in Campaign where he’s just going ballistic at HT’s. For me it could also be one of Ozzie Wright’s back in the day. As a kid I really idolized him. His airs aren’t the gnarliest they could be, but it’s more about style and personality for me at the time. He was gnarly. Still is.

Robbie McCormick:

That is a hard one. Probably John John’s oop or Noa Deane’s North Point. Hard to get much gnarlier than those.

Noa Deane:

Either Shaun’s one at North Point or John John’s one at backdoor. Those would be my picks, both of them were fucked up.

“Did John go bigger than you?” Not the question being asked here, but still.

Of all the Stab High surfers we asked, 7 of them said Noa Deane at North Point, 6 of them mentioned a John John alley-oop, 4 said Matt Meola’s spindle flip, 3 said Shaun Manners at North Point, and 2 said Filipe Toledo’s backside rotation in Rio.

Subjective indeed.

So, what do you think?


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