Ever since Matt Kechele started boosting in Florida in the 1970s, aerials have been the future of high-performance surfing. Sure, well-rounded shredders still need to have their fundamentals in order—need to be able to pack pit, crack lips, and wrap textbook cutties. But airs are the apex of performance, the area of hi-fi surfing where progression continues and limits are still being pushed.
Air reverses used to be cutting-edge maneuvers that won world tour events, but these days they are a dime a dozen at your local spot. Back flips, full rotations, humongous straight airs—pros are throwing away clips these days that would have earned them a closing part in a Taylor Steele film a decade ago, and the evolution of aerial surfing has only just begun.
In addition to the inevitable progression that comes from younger generations observing and then improving upon the antics of those who boosted before them, another factor that is contributing to the progression of airs is today’s easy access to “air waves”—a category of breaks that didn’t exist when most of us first put wax to board. While these windy, wedgy peaks might not fit the “perfect wave” ethos that we grew up on, they are tailor-made for one thing—hucking your board skyward. Whether you are looking to stick a double rotation or simply put your fins out the back for the first time, here are four of the best ramps in the business.
Cobblestones, Western Australia
What Rocky Point is to goofy foots in Hawaii, Cobblestones is to naturals in Western Australia. A powerful, wedgy right-hand reef that pushes into a perfect ramp and gets tattered by constant sideshore winds, Cobblestones has played host to some of the most memorable video parts over the past decade. And if you get tired of punting there, you can always head up the coast to North Point, where you can streak out of barrels straight into a multi-lip ramp from hell.
Spot guide: South West Australia
Freak Peak, BSR Wave Pool, Waco, Texas
The BSR Wave Pool was introduced to the world on the shoulders of a back flip from Seth Moniz—and ever since then the performances at the world’s wedgiest wave pool have only gotten bigger. When the wackos in Waco turn the pool settings to Freak Peak, shit gets downright crazy, and over the past two years this Texan pool has become the go-to training ground for the world’s most innovative aerialists.
While Lowers might not be the rampiest or most powerful peak out there, it has something that a lot of other waves don’t—an extremely forgiving transition. The world’s biggest air will never be landed there, but it’s quite possible that Lowers has seen more high-flying acrobatics than any other wave on the planet. That’s because it is infinitely rippable and forgiving, with just enough oomph to put some pep in your pop. For those looking to take their first small steps into the aerial realm, there aren’t many spots that are better than Trestles—if only you can manage to sneak a wave from the crowd.
Rocky Lefts, North Shore
Air waves need four ingredients—speed, a ramp, a landing, and the right kind of wind. The left at Rocky Point has all four, combining North Shore juice with a lip that’s infinitely boostable and incessant trade winds that stick boards to feet better than FU Wax.
With the majority of the world’s best surfers descending on the North Shore for six weeks each winter, Rocky Lefts becomes ground zero for cutting-edge aerial surfing in November and December—at least whenever the swell drops below the double-overhead range.
Forecast: North Shore