Yesterday a clip emerged of three world title contenders coming unstuck on three potentially bone shattering airs.
A mash up of three leg snapping punts all filmed this past week with @gabrielmedina – @john_john_florence – @jordysmith88 John is out injured due to his air in this clip, Jordy is fine, and Gabby’s was filmed yesterday, I haven’t seen him since… Hopefully he’s ok, his knee looked like it buckeled quite hard while doing the splits on landing. ? @ryzphoto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #surf #surfer #surfing #bali #surfphotography #worldsurfleague #injured
Luckily for fans of professional surfing, only John’s lead to serious injury. Jordy got straight back up, probably beating his chest and Gabby (inexplicably) was seen popping extravagant air-rev’s the very next day.
As Kelly finally looks to be moving on from the WSL we gaze towards the future and question if his legacy and world title record will ever be rivalled. During such ponderings, clips like this seem significant.
While aerial surfing’s constant organic progression seems in large part responsible for the increase air-borne injuries, the WSL event calendar also plays a significant role.
In the early 2010 there were perhaps only three or four stops where being a good aerialist was imperative to finishing on the podium; Trestles, Brazil, France and Portugal.
This year, Fiji has been replaced by the wave pool and waves like J-Bay and Bells, traditionally thought of as the ancestral home of wave-face based manoeuvres, have been transformed by the new guard into long reeling ramps. By our reckoning nine of this years eleven events could potentially be won with aerial acrobatics. And with the tour’s new format next year the pendulum could swing even further.
Big carve friendly Margies could well be off the roster after this year’s shark action and Pipe is gone, set to be replaced by a Mentawais event, pre-scheduled for maximum mainstream appeal. Accordingly, it could end up in big barrels, or perfect punt waves depending on which the WSL feels is likely to draw more mainstream eyes.
The more the tour comes to resemble an air tour, the more likely world title contenders are to shatter bones and snap ligaments trying to best each other.
Of course, Slater has been instrumental in the progression of aerial surfing and demonstrating the rewards of including it heats, clocking 10 point rides for a single full rotor in New York in 2011 and Bells in 2012, marking what many argue was a turning point for the sport.
Then, in 2014 after barnstorming aerial performances in Trestles and France, he landed the world’s first double spin, while free surfing in Portugal, setting surfing off on it’s current spin obsessed trajectory.
It was also he, of course, who opted not to sponsor the Fiji Outerknown Pro this year, allowing it to be replaced by a wave he literally created from scratch.
Accordingly, he has helped mould the very environment that points towards his legacy never being bested, proving once again, his grip on the sport will remain steadfast, long after he’s hung up his WSL singlet.
Cover: Current world number one Italo Ferreira, who was out for a few events last year with an ankle injury, never holds back in free surfs. . Photo @lugarts