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How to: land that first damn air!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

It's easier than you think! Y'just gotta try… 

Cutbacks and swishing back and forth on a wave is, generally, the funnest thing in the world. At least it is until you discover the relative simplicity and ultra-satisfaction of regularly landing aerials.

Have you ever tried? Have you ever consciously forced yourself to not just throw your board away above the lip, but stay over the deck, land and ride out?

Probably not. It continues to amaze me how few surfers even try to lance the boil of monotony by taking their surfing to a different dimension.

You only need one good pump before you hit the section. And you want to be accelerating, you want thrust, when you hit it. So many people race, race, race, then slow down, and lose their pop when they hit the lip.”

We know you want to. And, so to further the cause, we’ve asked Josh Kerr, the almost thirty-three-year-old Australian surfer living in Carlsbad, California, rated thirteenth in the world, and a one-time aerial world champ, to talk you the through the mechanics of stomping aerials. This how-to is for the average and slightly-above average surfer.

First tip? “Stay in the top half of the wave and stall until you see the section. You only need one good pump before you hit the section. And you want to be accelerating, you want thrust, when you hit it. So many people race, race, race, then slow down, and lose their pop when they hit the lip.”

The pop! Listen to air guys and it’s a common theme. “It’s crucial,” says Josh. “If you use the right part of the wave, one pump and you can go from 10 clicks to 15 in a blink.”

A common mistake Josh sees is “people kicking their board out in front of them. They’re not staying over the top of their board and they’re putting their board flat to the beach. You’ve got to be committed to stay over your board. Don’t fall back when you’re in the air.”

And air reverses? If you’re a snowboarding kinda guy or gal, you already know what Josh is going to say. If not, add the word huck to your lexicon.

“It’s all about the huck. The main technique is swinging your arms and shoulders. It’s like a golf swing. You need to have full commitment to the swing and the follow through. Twist your shoulders, twist your head and your lower body will catch up.”

As for the semi-mythical full rotator, it requires an extra, conscious, and quite a physical huck. “The foreign part is coiling your body to get that extra part of the rotation.”

Feeling it? Go! Try! Blow a thousand waves. But that first big air you stomp?

Tell me you won’t be in a fog of ecstasy.