It's not as if the Hawaiian Albee Layer is an old fool ragged with bitterness, living a grim bleakness, hating everything. This is a progressive world-class surfer with ideas.

Albee Layer: “Other sports laugh at us!”

Why Jordy's "miracle" nine-pointer at Lowers should never have happened.

Albee Layer is a surfer who will dance a rigadoon in waves four feet or forty. Little surfboards and monstrous guns.
Nathan Myers, from Surfer magazine, wrote a profile on Albee a few years ago that spells out his arsenal. Read here. 
But.
It’s the suckling artistry of twenty-six-year-old Albee’s mouth that we come for today.
After Jordy’s miracle nine-pointer at Trestles three days ago, Albee posted an Instagram story that showed the wave on his television screen and the line, Nine points, ha ha ha.
Albee ain’t afraid to call it as he sees it. Let’s talk.
BeachGrit: I laughed my ass off when Jordy got the nine in the final. Tell me your reaction. Did you think, wow, perfection!
Albee: My first thought wasn’t, ‘Wow perfection’. (Laughs). But it’s not like that wave was shocking or anything. They’ve been handing out nines for “good” surfing every heat.
BeachGrit: Were you watching the magic unfurl with pals? What was their reaction?
Albee: I was watching solo. Just a sad little lonely man making fun of surfing in his living room alone probably while eating something other than a sala
BeachGrit: What was the reaction on IG when you posted the clip?
Albee: I got more replies to that than maybe any other video I posted. Everyone seem to be very much on the same page as me, wondering kind of why it seems like every heat now judges back them selves into a corner in the first set of scores
BeachGrit: Do you think it’s remarkable that it was, in the judges’ eyes, almost the pinnacle of surfing, the “perfect ride”?
Albee: I believe they give high scores for a couple reasons. A. Because its what they are used to doing and a hard habit to break. I also don’t think they really familiarise themselves with modern-day surfing as much as they should. And B. This is a big one. High heat totals get views. No one’s scrolling through the videos from the day and clicking on a heat with 10-point totals. No, they will click on the 18-point total heats. In terms of clickbait, the surfing is almost irrelevant because it doesn’t matter if you like what you see once you watch the video. Getting you to start that video gets views and views equal value to sponsors and overall make the company more valuable. Also I’m not picking on WSL in any way on this. Clickbait is used by every company with a website. I use it as much as possible, it’s basically my career. What bums me out is the way they use it. I believe it halts the progression of surfing.
BeachGrit: All that said, the judges do, and they’re transparent about it, operate according to a heat-by-heat scale. And if a couple of floats on an insider is granted a seven, even one turn on a wave double the size has gotta be the nine. Do you like the concept of “the scale”?
Albee: Hell no. Other action sports laugh at us for awarding perfect scores. You can go through the history of all other sports at X-Games and stuff and people not even in that sport can probably list you every 100 point score that has happen because they were all historic at the time. That’s what we should be reserving tens for. Something no-one has ever seen before. If one of the lowest-rated surfers on tour can catch not the best wave of the  day and do not his very best surfing and still get an excellent score, no one has any incentive to learn anything new. And when no-one learns anything new people lose interest in watching and when that happens surfing as a business suffers and I’ll lose my job! Ha! So it’s all connected and that’s why I make such a fuss about these things. Surfing is a spectator sport and without surf fans none of any of this is possible. So it isn’t fair to deny surf fans the absolute best surfing and I feel like the way the scale is set now we are doing just that.
BeachGrit: The scale system renders all statistics, all scores, irrelevant, meaningless. Because if they’re gifting nines in one heat, but not another, how can there ever be any statistical comparison? What do you think?
Albee: It needs to be consistent for everyone in every heat. So what if one heat the waves suck. Give them small scores, it won’t affect the outcome. If one heat is firing score them accordingly but don’t give anyone a nine or ten unless it’s a wave we can all remember easily in five or ten years. That way heats would stay wide open till the end. If we kept those nines like Jordy’s and several others around sixes like they should be in the scale of what is capable in surfing right now then barely anyone would end up comboed. So come to the end of the heat and someone needs a score maybe they learned a new trick in the off-season and with a minute left they need a nine and it’s time to bust it out and create a moment we will all remember.
BeachGrit: Kelly likes to jump on your social (ok, he jumps on everyone’s social) to debate these sorts of things. Does that thrill you?
Albee: I love kelly. Even though he still won’t take me to his pool. I’ve talked to him a bit about all this and he doesn’t agree with everything I say but he agrees with quite a bit and it’s rad ’cause otherwise I’d feel like I was that crazy drunk surfer at the bar rambling about back in the day or something. But the fact that the GOAT cares enough to at least engage in these discussions with me and others means there is something too it.
(Watch Albee’s marshmallow moves in his film here.)

And how’s Albee swing in contests? A little irony, given his online debating with Kelly, is his biggest contest win was at the Surf Snowdonia wavepool.


Hi-tech: A new modular surfboard!

Is this the future or... not?

Do you like or dislike traveling with your surfboards? I used to dislike it and extremely but then, just one month ago before a short trip to Baja, I went to my local surf shop, bought a brand-new 5’10 Pro-Lite bag and instantly changed my entire life.

It was heaven! Pure heaven! Two boards fitting safely and snuggly with their fins tucked in a pocked and the whole thing resting easy on my shoulder because designers got smart and crossed the strap across the bag kitty-corner so it wouldn’t swing around and whack the unsuspecting. Not only was it easy, it was sleek and hip, complimenting my Costume National carry-all perfectly.

Before one month ago I would wrap my boards in towels and then put them into a 9 foot coffin that professional snowboarder Travis Rice left at my house and then I would fold the coffin in half and ducktape it down. I hated. Hated. Hated. And hated so much.

All to say an industrial designer just made a new hi-tech new modular surfboard. Let’s read about it in Outside magazine!

…acclaimed designer Thomas Meyerhoffer prefers the word “adventure” when describing his latest surfboard, the 2PRT. His creation splits in two just above the fins to help it pack down for airplanes and buses. But more importantly, the split also makes it modular. Users can combine various nose and tail styles to create the perfect board for all kinds of conditions. Surfers of varying skills and preferences can mix and match nose and tail options to take it from a thruster to a fish to a pintail longboard with ease.

The 2PRT is hardly the first travel-minded board. For a short period of time, Walden sold the Tri-Fold, but it never seemed to take off and is no longer offered. Carbon Compact and North Shore Travel Boards offer segmented surfboards, but both designs require tube inserts and either bolts or clamps to keep everything from falling apart. Meanwhile, the 2PRT uses a slick and simple system where a key loosens a latch that pops up to separate the two ends. Total setup time: 30 seconds tops.

Surfers who travel a lot will love how well the board breaks down. In fact, Meyerhoffer has already designed a golf-style bag that fits two noses and two tails and won’t cost you extra airline baggage fees. (Checking a surfboards runs runs between $75 and $150.) You can also toss the system in the backseat of your Mini when grabbing a few waves before work.

Even if you’re not prone to taking surf trips to Baja or Indo, the 2PRT is worth considering since it allow for a lot of experimentation and adaptability. It can be set up for nearly any kind of wave, which means you can invest in one board instead of a quiver.

I don’t trust this Meyerhoffer adventure character at all. He may understand how things come apart but does he understand rocker, concave, etc.? He ain’t no Matt Biolos or Jon Pyzel or Sharp Eye or… Matt Parker (Album Surfboards) that’s for damn sure. Right? I’ll stick with my brand-new Pro-Lite bag thank you very much.

But what about you?


“You know what gets my dick hard? Helping out my friends.” John C Reilly, narrator of View from a Blue Moon, with the relentlessly fantastic surfer-filmed duo John John Florence and Mr Blake Vincent Kueny.

John John: “Forced to strip for Old Men!”

"Shorts down, shirt up. You have to show it's natural…"

Drug tests. How do you feel about ’em? If you’re shucking iron or exploding over a hundred metres, I suppose they do keep the charlatans from the honest folks, although perhaps it’s more a case of who can hide their juice best.

But surf?

All the beautiful musculature in the world ain’t gonna give you the rose bud jams of  Dane Reynolds or the cat-spitting turns of John John. Yeah, I get that peptides and so on help a brother come back from injury, but even so, does that matter? Wouldn’t it be a more wonderful world if Kelly could juice up and get that damn foot better?

Anyway, I’ve never wondered too much about the collection of urine samples, but in this episode of #TourNotes, a once-great franchise whose luminous glow has dimmed somewhat over the last year, John John reveals the crude machinations behind the collection of a sample.

Cut to: Tour manager Rentao Hickel introducing John John to a man, sixty-ish, wide-brimmed hat, face gothically stencilled with white hair. It’s the drug tester!

How does a drug test work?

“You to have to pull your shorts down and shirt up, show that that it’s all natural coming out of there,” says John John.

John says he’s been processed for drug tests more than ten times and describes the difficulty of having to urinate while an old man watches (and not even for five hundred dollars, as is the going rate in the queer game, “I love your vunderful pee-pee,” man says while you paddle his red ass), the process sometimes made harder by the natural course of events such as pissing in your wetsuit, unaware of upcoming test.

Also, in #TourNotes below is the surprise reveal that Todd Kline is a superstar bass fishermen and wildcards have to sling the WSL two thousand dollars for the privilege of competing.


"See that John? That is where I left my best pals on earth behind. I miss them every day."

Sad: Ross Williams’ resting bitch face!

Is John John's coach unhappy in his new role?

Was Ross Williams your favorite World Surf League on-air personality last year? The Momentum Generation star was just the right mix thoughtful, surf-smart, genuine and soothing. His mid-heat analysis toed the line between truly interesting and interestingly true.

When he announced that he would be moving from the booth to John John Florence’s side as personal coach it was a sad day but also a happy day. Sad for us, the audience. Happy for Ross who now got to share his insight with one of the most exciting surfers in the world and maybe just maybe usher in second consecutive world title.

But do you think he regrets his decision to leave Ron, Turps, Pete, Pottz n The Razz?

I studied him during the Hurley Pro there leaning on the competitor’s tent railing, staring out to sea. His expression never changed. It was steely. Serious. Sullen.

Someone intelligent messaged me asking, “Why does Ross have resting bitch face?” And I thought, “That’s is exactly what is is. Resting bitch face. Perfect. But why indeed?”

Is it very difficult to coach?

Is it not all that it is cracked up to be?

Does John John yell at Ross behind closed doors much like Trump does at Sessions?

Or is it simply a matter of having left the cast too early?

What if, say, Joey left Friends mid-season five. He would have had to watch five more seasons of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler and Phoebe having the times of their lives and I guarantee his expression would have transformed into permanently dour as well.

Speaking of, am I right here or no?

Ross: Barton

Rachel: Pottz

Joey: Turpel

Phoebe: Strider

Chandler: Pete

Monica: Ronnie

 


Live: WSL mini-comp at Surf Ranch!

A select few surfing rounds and heats this very minute!

I knew it was going to happen this weekend. A heavy buzz hovering just over the heads of the people at the Hurley Pro. To them, to the hard-working, blue-collar, salt of the earth, it was the simply the Africanized trash bees singing The Internationale. But to me. I knew.

I knew a select few World Surf League professionals, Filipe Toledo included, were going to blast up to Lemoore, California somewhere between Friday the 15th and Sunday the 17th. And why a waiting period for a wave that neutralizes God? Because the Hurley Pro. In case it finished early then Kelly’s Creation would whir to life early. In case it finished late then late.

Nobody in power would tell me directly but nobody in power would deny and there are too many people on the fringes so it was eventually confirmed that today, right now, there they all are, ten or twelve or so professional WSL surfers. In the water. Surfing a competition.

I begged those in power to let me tag along. “The surf press isn’t the enemy!” I insisted. “The people have a right to know!” I shouted. But was rebuffed. So I said, “Screw you bastards” and thought about driving up anyhow and flying a drone over the pool to broadcast live back to you. The people. But then was told that it is impossible to fly a drone close enough because there is an airport too nearby and the FBI would come chasing. So I thought about renting a cherry picker to sit in an almond grove and beam what is happening over the fence to you. The people.

But then I thought again. If I had a multi-million dollar invention that represented a possible future of professional surfing and had vicious competitors gnashing at the gate I wouldn’t want the first real try at competition to be public either. What if the waves don’t work right? What if all the professionals surf each wave the exact same? Professional surfers are smart. They know that judges love 75% safety and so what if each takes off, does a wrap, gets barreled, comes out, does a little jam off the top then squirts into the flats?

What if it is super boring?

What if it is even more exciting than even the most optimistic can envision and high bleachers must be built immediately to seat the masses who will gnash at the gate?

Yes, I would want a dress rehearsal too. I would want a proper opportunity to kick the tires. And even though a first-ever surf competition is happening today, right now and even though I should be there as an honest critic I’ll give them this one.

But not another. Next time I’m either in the stands or in a cherry picker for you. The people.