Its the question that people dance meekly around. Surfers are amazing athletes, sure. However, once they take to the air they are fucking hopeless. A spin where you body is extended and arms are rotoring doesn’t count. They have the aerial technicality of a whale. There are a few exemptions and examples but the consistency is not there. The progression is not there either, I’ve seen federal road schemes that are more progressive. With other sport’s aerials gaining such quick headway, why is surfing dragging it’s feet.

The internet wowed at Kelly’s recent frontside 540, much as they wowed at Tony Hawk’s 900 oh so many years ago. It was pretty, and it was technically sound but why has it taken so long. Stab Magazine released a short last year entitled ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ that explored the quest for the elusive ‘double alley oop’ or 720 (see below). It showed the aerial ‘masters’ of Chippa Wilson, Craig Anderson, Josh Kerr, Albee Layer et al all flailing like 7 year olds on a backyard trampoline attempting a double spin. Perhaps the lack of technicality has to be attributed to a lack of training.

Snowboarding and skiing have pioneered the way for aerials. The basis of these sports is to create as much speed and air to allow for adequate time to complete difficult aerials. The cornerstone of these skills come from a solid gymnastics background. Gymnastics actually forms the crux for all aerial activities. As such around a decade ago the powers that be realised that it would be easier to teach gymnasts to ski or snowboard than it would be to teach snow athletes to do gymnastics. Athletes such as Louis Vito were picked up and thrust into actions sports. It also paved a transition to new training facilities such as Woodward and Park City Water Ramps that allowed a steady gymnastic progression from trampolines to foam pits to water to snow. This training has seen snow sports skills develop at an unprecedented rate. A triple cork 1260 has become the norm and a quad cork 1440 is probably not far away. Only a couple of years ago talking heads concluded that the double cork was the limit….

Surfing on the other hand has very limited emphasis on non-water aerial training. Snowspnorts training ain’t all bouncing and still has a large emphasis on riding, carving and technicality on-piste. Surfers need to follow suit and expand their horizons to trampoline work. This improvement would at least teach them to pull in their arms and give a wee bit of confidence above the lip. It’s ok to train, our longing eyes want you to be better. Leading with the hips, following through with your shoulders and keeping a firm hand on the rail could see incredible corked spins become the norm in competition. Too long has surfing lamented on the chilled vibe where limited exertion is the pinnacle of sporting prowess.

…..From the watermen’s corner there is the difficulty of finding great ramps. Where other sports have purpose built ramps that apply physics and magic, surfing relies purely on mother nature. A surfer has a split second to ascertain whether a wave is appropriate for a barrel, turn, float or air. The ramp then is different on every single wave. This lack of consistency holds the sport back, sure…. everyone has a story.

Final word – A straight air hasn’t been awarded points in any other sports since around 1985.