Today’s Most Important, Outspoken Surfer | Pro surfing is being stifled bc “… they’re scared of the viewership decreasing.”
Albee Layer is probably the best all around surfer in the world right now. One of the best aerialists and also one of the best big wave chargers. So why isn’t he on the Tour? Because pro surfing is mostly boring and broken and they can’t even name their tricks properly most the time. Thank god Albee is also one of the most outspoken and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. Every interview with Albee is a good listen and this one is no different.
A lot of your posts are about aerial progression in surfing compared to other sports. What do you think surfing should be learning from skating and snowboarding?
I watch a lot of other action sports, probably even more than surfing, and surfing is comparatively the least progressive–and that’s because of our competitive format. Progression is all about incentivizing the best people to push themselves, and surfers have no incentive to do that in the current contest format. If you look at snowboarding or skating, the guys who are doing the best tricks are the faces of those sports. Whereas in surfing, the biggest faces are the guys on Tour, and only two out of the 10 best ‘CT guys can actually do airs that are new. Obviously it’s not a lack of talent, it’s just why would they even try to do them? To do those big airs–which is what we’re talking about when we talk about progression–you risk your body. You need a reason to want to go big, and if you can get the highest possible score in a contest without doing that, why would you bother?
So by that logic, if the judges saved high scores for truly innovative maneuvers, then that would push competitors to innovate.
The judges should never, ever, ever give out a 10. No matter what. It’s so stupid to tell someone his or her surfing can’t be better. That’s one of the things that has stifled progression more than anything. The 10th best surfer on Tour can do not-his-best surfing and get a perfect score. No other sport does that. Shaun White, for example, has only received two perfect scores in his whole life, and he’s been the best in snowboarding for over 10 years. If surfers had to do something crazy like a double spin to get a 10, then those guys would learn that stuff in the offseason. Then when that moment came and they needed a high score, they’d actually try big airs. And as a fan, that’d be so much more fun to watch.
Why do you think WSL judges give out 10s more easily than other sports?
I think it’s because they’re scared of the viewership decreasing. Maybe they think no one is going to want to click on a heat where guys were scoring 4s. But that’s a small hurdle to get over. We’ve just got to get accustomed to the fact that getting 5s or 6s would actually be a damn good heat. But also part of me thinks they don’t want surfing to change because it’s just been this way for so long. They understand turns and barrels. A lot of people tend to fear change and this is an example of that.