In the span of two months in early 2016, Albee Layer paddled into the biggest tube in Jaws history and also completed the first backside 540 in surfing, which would go on to win both the Best Barrel and the Best Maneuver at the Surfer Awards last December, the first time the same surfer has ever taken home both honors. And it’s not like it was a fluke year. He’s also been nominated in the Ride of the Year and Best Performance categories at the WSL XXL awards for similar Jaws rides, and was the first person to land the frontside alley-oop 540 a few years back. So much for being a “big wave guy” or “aerialist.” From packing massive Jaws tubes to landing never-before-completed rotations (twice!), Albee is proving you can be both.
And he’s been doing both for awhile.
Albee stormed the scene when he won the Innersection video contest in 2012. Unfortunately, that was also the year pro surfing's focus began to shift away from freesurfing. Bad timing for Albee? Maybe. Since 2012, we’ve seen brands put their emphasis more on performance in competition, and move away from the once-popular video/photo freesurfer, and the big contracts like the one given to Dane Reynolds in the late 2000s, making it much more difficult for surfers like Albee to maintain a career. So, does he ever consider conforming to competition? “To me, the root of surfing is not competition. And there’s only a few groups of us around the world still focusing on freesurfing. I want to make sure the best maneuvers and the best surfing is being done outside of competition. That’s my goal.”
And that's the Layer Way.
[Intro by Zander Morton / Above Photo by Dayanidhi Das]