The Kustom Airstrike ends in six days. Fifty K on the line. Innovative aerial manoeuvres the name of the game. Stab spoke to three men who earn their living capturing the progression of surfing through a lens to get some perspective on some of the leading clips. Despite vested interests in the Airstrike, (the filmer of the winning clip is awarded five K, and both filmers have clips in the contest), few in the world speak with as much authority on the topic of tech punts – Kai Neville having spent 12 months watching the boundaries of the sport shattered as director of Modern Collective, and Riley Blakeway about to release what’s being called one of the most innovative compilations of surfing ever, Chippa Wilson’s biopic, NOW. Finally, Stab couldn’t, in the name of journalistic integrity, author a story on aerial surfing without the opinion of James ‘Jimmicane’ Wilson, the most outspoken aerial surfing critic in the game.
Flynn Novak – Frontside Backflip
Kai: It’s a backflip… a fricken backflip. Yep, I’m just as confused as you are. Everything about it is difficult – it’s a backflip. No one has done this before to my recollection. It should win, it’s the best entry so far.
Riley: Backflip – double grab. A difficult manoeuvre no doubt, but I think there’s a lot more luck involved rather than technical ability (after all, it is a double grab). The fact that he landed two astounds me. Surfers often do fly away backflips or Kerrupt flips off the back of waves, but all of the difficulty comes with anticipating the landing and landing back in the transition of the wave. His success has a lot to do with the strong cross-shore blowing up the face and it’s obvious he has spent time practising the flip/rotation. The section he hits looks ideal for a rotated alley oop, he just takes it to the next level. Any form of backflip on a surfboard is pretty unique. The tweak and late rotation are wild, he pulls the flip right over himself. The way he landed with his board pointing towards the beach is hard to get your head around. Winner? I’m undecided. It’s an amazing manoeuvre, but it has been done before – debatably better. It’s not as technically-advanced as some of the other entries but it’s safe to say it’s in top contention.
Jimmicane: All of these airs are gnarly in their own right but the flip is a double grab and I can’t stoked on that winning.
Kai: I’m going to call it a lien 360 spin. It’s a full rotation oop with a lien grab thrown in for that extra tweak. It’s not inverted enough to be called a flip. Getting the spin just right so you come down on a buttery part of the wave is what’s difficult. You see guys try these and generate too much speed out onto the flats. A bunch of guys are doing these, but this one’s pretty mental ’cause he stomps the landing on the lip. I doubt it’ll win though.
Riley: I don’t know whether to call this a full rotation alley oop or a flip. It’s somewhere in-between. The way his grab inverts the spin makes it appear to be a flip. I’m sure there is a name that I’m unaware of, but I generally work off skate terminology and there isn’t really anything that applies. All full-rotation tricks are difficult because of the commitment needed. The way he tweaks the board into a flip is what sets this manoeuvre apart from all similar airs. He’s very centred and composed. Not for a second does he look like he’s going to fall. His head is over his back shoulder while he rotates and he spots the landing perfectly. It’s in the top three.
Josh Kerr – Backside indy grab air reverse
Kai: It’s a backside indy air reverse. What’s difficult about it? Throwing in the grab during a big backside air reverse. The section is way bigger than other backside indy’s I have seen. It’s unique because he stomps the lip and rides it out. Not the winner.