Going Shorter

Albee Layer breaks down his finely-tuned Jaws boards

Photo: Pompermayer
Albee Layer tends to ride sub 9-foot guns out at Jaws, but when the wave heights reach freakishly massive, he opts for his 10’3″. Photo: Pompermayer

“I ride smaller boards at Jaws because I don’t go for the biggest waves. I do try to catch big waves, but not necessarily the biggest. My main goal is to get barreling waves, which are usually a lot steeper and don’t have the big roll-in that the outside waves have. A shorter board fits into the curve of the wave. I’ve always found it easier to take off late but with a lot more control, rather than taking off early with no control.

With a shorter board, I feel like I’m actually turning, not just power-stancing towards the channel. I’m able to do fades and actually surf the wave. I remember towing back in the day was fun because you were able to draw big lines and do turns. I want to be able to paddle into big waves, but still be able to express some style.

On average, guys are riding 10 to 11-foot boards at Jaws. But I told my shaper, Sean [Ordonez], that I think you can ride a much shorter board out there and he was on the same page. So he started cutting down a few inches on each board he shaped me until we arrived at my 8’4”.

All my big boards are swallow tail quads. You want to got as fast as you can out there and quads create that speed. All my boards also have a little dome on the deck. It kind of holds your foot in place a little better. It’d be weird going backside with it but it’s good for going frontside. It also has something to do with having more foam, but feeling like it’s less foam. Making it more buoyant but without the weight.” –Albee Layer

8’4” x 201/4” x 3″
This is my smallest board. It’s not very thick or heavy. It feels like a big shortboard and is way more maneuverable than all my other Jaws boards. I feel like I can actually attempt to do a turn on it. It fits under really steep sections, where my other boards don’t really do that. However, I definitely only ride this when it’s glassy. If it was windy, I think it’d be really hard to catch a wave on it. But you can go really big on it if it’s really glassy. When it’s clean you can hold your position in the lineup much easier, whereas if it’s windy you can get blown all over the place.

Photo: noyle
Layer, on his 8’4″, charging towards the channel with style and control and getting seriously barreled in the process. Photo: Noyle

8’8” x 201/2” x 3″
This is the board I probably ride the most– I’ve had it for a long time. It was the board I rode in the Pe’ahi Challenge. It’s quite a bit thicker than my 8’4”, and is more stable when it’s windier. It provides a little more paddle power, but everything else is pretty much the same as my 8’4”.

Layer doesn't don a competitive jersey too often, but when he does, he rides an 8'8" and gets insanely barreled. Layer, saluting his competitors in the channel at the Pe'ahi challenge. Photo Aeder
Layer doesn’t don a competitive jersey too often, but when he does, he rides an 8’8″ and threads monster tubes. Layer, saluting his competitors in the channel at the Pe’ahi challenge. Photo Aeder

10’3” x 211/4” x 31/2
This one is an older model I used before I started riding shorter boards. But I still think it’s a really good board. It’s a more old school kind of shape- long and narrow– an old-school Waimea kind of board. But it holds its rail really well and has extra foam. I ride it if it’s really, really big and when you don’t need to be knifing into the barrel or anything. With this one, you need to be in the right spot, catching waves that fit the board better. You have a lot less control on this when you’re trying to turn it.

Photo: Noyle
Layer, on his 10’3″, scoring a bomb during what’s been called the biggest paddle session ever. Photo: Noyle