Flynn Novak finished fifth at Pipe this year. Kelly Slater gave him huge props on his Innersection. And he's the only surfer in the world currently pulling legitimate backflips.
He also has no proper sponsor. No travel budget. No savings. And no emo art-guy surf blog marketability plan. He has really spiky hair.
He's a 27-year-old pro surfing lifer who never quite made it big.
But he landed another backflip at Padang today. He may just land one tomorrow, too. The Kustom Airstrike practically owes him $50,000. And this just might be his big shot.
If there's any brand out there who needs a hardworking, Pipe surfing, North Shore team rider with too-spiky hair who can do backflips into the barrel — please call 808-555-FLIP. Operators are standing by. —Nathan MyersTHE FLIP
SURFING Magazine: When was the first time you pulled a flip?
FLYNN NOVAK: I figured out that rotation eight or nine years ago in Tahiti when I was 19. Basically I just kept doing it and my friends were saying, "You're blowing so many waves." A few years ago I landed two. I was in Mokoli'i surfing by myself. So I knew I could do it. I've come so close so many times. Now a lot of people are almost hating on it, saying Timmy Curran was the first. It's like, Dude, he wasn't.
I remember when SURFING Magazine first ran Timmy's flip. No one had heard about you doing one. If there's no proof, who's to say you really pulled it?
It wasn't even about proof, because Timmy Curran never did a legit backflip. He's doing an air 360. I'm not even worried, because he hasn't done what I've done. When they ran a spread in SURFING I was like, Brah, I have Aaron Chang photos of me doing the exact same thing bigger.
Where were they?
They all get sent to the same magazines. I didn't have any sponsors and Timmy was riding for Hurley, so you know how that goes. Hurley's buying ads in the magazine. I know how that is. I'm not bitter, but I'm not afraid to say it. Ask Tim who he first saw doing it.
And this year was the first year you got it on film.
Just this last March. I was all excited about Innersection, and I basically bribed a friend — $500 and two surfboards — to film me. So he agreed to it, and we just started filming. I nailed two backflips in two weeks.
How many did you try?
A lot. You can't do it every wave 'cause the section's not there, but I was trying a lot of them every day.
Is it dangerous?
I've broken so many boards. If you look at my quiver, there's front and back heel prints in every board. But I've reached the point where I know where I need to be — it's just a matter of finding the right section. It's such a functional maneuver if you do it perfect. I have the one clip where it's the best thing I could have done on that section: backflip straight into the barrel.
Do you like doing them?
I love it. It's been going on for years. Even doing a huge one knowing I'm not gonna land it just feels cool, like jumping off a diving board. I love doing airs. You feel like you're flying.
Did you name it the "Flynnstone Flip"?
I was given that name when I was 17. My friend's three-year-old daughter called me Flynnstone and it stuck. It's a nickname — you don't choose that.
Part 1 of the Flynn Novak interview can be seen here. Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.Submissions for the 2010 Kustom Airstrike must be in by August 31. Here again is Flynn Novak's entry: