Wiki Post Project: How could we forget about airs? (Archival)

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. I also could not find the grade. I do recall it being a rather large chunk of your overall grade.)

While I don’t exactly remember the prompt, the basic gist of it was this: find an article on wikipedia and add to it based on your knowledge or knowledge you would find that was absent from the page. It was a cool out of the box assignment that would have you etch your name into the Wikipedia archives. 

Initially, when I learned about the Wikipedia project and that we were going to be editing a page within our discourse community, the gears in my head began turning. At first, I thought about making a page dedicated to the chop hop, maybe one of the grossest maneuvers in surfing and a facet of surfing that should never get any exposure (besides the ones mason ho does).

Here is a video depicting what I am talking about:

Note: the comments on the video show the surf community’s distaste for the maneuver.

When I got over the idea of doing a sarcastic page for the chop hop, my next initial idea was to edit a favorite athlete of mine in the sport. Kolohe Andino is one of Americas hopes for a world title in surfing since Kelly slater is becoming less of a competitive threat over the years. Kolohe has been in the surf spotlight for almost 10 years, starting to gain lots of exposure in his teens. While he doesn’t have the most competitive success, I definitely expected his Wiki page to be a little more developed than it is. I thought I would be a hero and give my favorite surfer the credit he deserves. Scope his wiki HERE.

When I sat on the idea of editing Kolohe’s page, I realized one thing that could potentially be problematic. I asked myself, “what can editing this post do for the surf community/how relevant is it to the overall sport?” On top of this, I only know Kolohe from a fan perspective. Sure, he faded me that one time out at Lowers before the Hurley Pro years ago, but that’s about the closest I’ve ever been to the guy. I figured there had to be something better I could edit and maybe know some more knowledge on. I headed over to the Wikipedia page for surfing, and braced myself for the kookiness that ensued.

Believe me, I could probably edit half the page. It also is just weird seeing all these terms in there most proper form. Everyone knows the slang surfers uses to describe certain things could almost be translated to a whole new language. While I thought most of the page was trash at first sight, there honestly I suppose is a lot of good information for someone that didn’t know jack shit about the sport I surround myself with daily. So as I scanned the page for something I thought was lacking for the sport, I stumbled upon the maneuvers section.

While there were some cringe worthy explanations most likely written by someone that can’t even perform the maneuver that well, the one that crossed my mind as the weakest part of an essential aspect of modern day surfing was the air/aerial. The first air was landed around the 80s or 90s and they really have come along way. Check out these clips to see the evolution from early on to modern day:

Here is a clip of Christian Fletcher, regarded as one of the pioneers of aerial surfing. This is earlier in the evolution of the air, notice the lack of rotation and low height in comparison to the ones below.

Kelly Slater doing one of the most innovative airs to date, a 540/720 depending on how well you can count (there is a longstanding argument between surfers and skaters alike on whether it is a 540 or a 720). Kelly is the best at every aspect of the sport, so including him is imperative.

John John nabbing one of the biggest if not the biggest alley oop to this day. It graced the cover of Surfing magazine and was one of the last clips in his critically acclaimed film “View From A Blue Moon.”

Felipe Toledo, one of the best modern day aerialist and is known for a crazy completion rate for airs in and out of a contest singlet.

So, we can see a lot has changed in the world of surfing in the aerial department, and new surfers post clips to instagram same day as they landed a massive air. My feed is always clogged with boosted airs and crazy rotations. It only seemed right to elaborate on an aspect that is pushing the sport in an innovative and crazy direction, since before my edit there were 2 sentences on the subject matter.

After my addition, I believe the community will easily be able to identify airs they see or even if they are competent enough figure out what to call the air they pulled last session to tell their friends. It has taken a long time being around the sport for me to be able to call airs based on grabs and rotations, but once you get the hang of it its not the worst thing in the world.

Note: my wiki name is surfbro808 (Here is the LINK to the page I am talking about. If you don’t want to scan on the wiki for the piece I wrote, here it is below)

Airs/Aerials: These maneuvers have been becoming more and more prevalent in the sport in both competition and free surfing. An air is when the surfer can achieve enough speed and approach a certain type of section of a wave that is supposed to act as a ramp and launch the surfer above the lip line of the wave, “catching air”, and landing either in the transition of the wave or the whitewash when hitting a close-out section.

Airs can either be straight airs or rotational airs. Straight airs have minimal rotation if any, but definitely no more rotation than 90 degrees. Rotational airs require a rotation of 90 degrees or more depending on the level of the surfer.

Types of rotations:

  • 180 degrees – called an air reverse, this is when the surfer spins enough to land backwards, then reverts to their original positional with the help of the fins. This rotation can either be done frontside or backside, and can spin right or left.
  • 360 degrees – this is a full rotation air or “full rotor” where the surfer lands where they started or more, as long as they do not land backwards. When this is achieved front side on a wave spinning the opposite of an air reverse is called an alley oop.
  • 540 degrees – the surfer does a full rotation plus another 180 degrees, and can be inverted or spinning straight, few surfers have been able to land this air.
  • Backflip – usually done with a double grab, this hard to land air is made for elite level surfers.
  • Rodeo flip – usually done backside, it is a backflip with a 180 rotation, and is actually easier than a straight backflip.
  • Grabs – a surfer can help land an aerial maneuver by grabbing the surfboard, keeping them attached to the board and keeping the board under their feet. Common types of grabs include:
    • Indy – a grab on the surfers (inside rail going frontside, outside rail going backside) with their back hand.
    • Slob – a grab on the surfers (inside rail going frontside, outside rail going backside) with their front hand.
    • Lien – A grab on the surfers (outside rail frontside, inside rail going backside) with their front hand.
    • Stalefish – A grab on the surfers (outside rail frontside, inside rail backside) with their back hand.
    • Double grab – A grab on the surfers inside and outside rail, the inside rail with the back hand and the outside rail with the front hand.


How Instagram Ruined Surfing: No more secrets and trying to prove oneself

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. I also could not find the grade. I do recall it being a rather large chunk of your overall grade.)

Instagram can be used as a news source in a sort of way. I am saying this because very relevant things tend to be posted rather quickly in comparison to on a website. Obviously, news outlets for global events and such is most informational in its website form. However, by way of experience, if you tailor your news feed to a certain genre, you can have very timely news feed pertaining to what is going on in that genre. One example is the amount of different hip-hop Instagram pages. Follow all these pages and you’ll know about all the rap beefs and new songs that come out daily and are posted same day. It’s all about being the first to post, so it’s a race against the competing pages.

This theory of using Instagram as a news outlet can be seen in many different genres, especially surfing. If you were to follow these essential Instagram accounts of the surf world (@stab @Surfline @surfer @theinertia) you could essentially know what is going on all over the world in terms of surf. You would see posts of who won the most recent surf contests, what countries and places are having exceptional swells, and some of the craziest surf clips that would maybe not see the light of day had they not been posted. For the most part, surf media outlets post where the waves have been firing. This is where the problem resides.

This may sound cliché, but secret spots are becoming a lot less secretive since the birth of Instagram and the geotag. Prior to surf forecasting sites and the social media boom, it wasn’t uncommon to hear of spots photographers aren’t allowed in and are held sacred to the people who have kept them secretive for this long. Secret spots would soon start dying out as soon as everyone becomes Instagram crazy.

It would give a sense of a fragmented reality, as we see all these crazy good waves but don’t really know the story behind them. Since the world is so large, multiple different places can have really good waves at once, but the only people that really know the truth are the ones posting it. I know of one friend that when the waves are only O.K. he will post a photo claiming it was from the day but really was from a far better day, stoking people out and making them feel like they might have missed out (FOMO).

As well as a fragmented reality of we never really know if the waves are pumping unless we are there or know of some one in the area, we see a breaching of the private space involved in the sport of surfing. Surfing has always been an activity that in practice is somewhat private and just involves you and the ocean. Besides the people you tend to surf with and a couple people you can recognize by their face, it’s overall what seems to be a private space. However, we see increased posts of waves here and sandbars there that more and more people begin invading the private space. Now, when I surf I expect to have to interact with a stranger, which I don’t mind but sometimes just aren’t in the mood for.

With more people’s spaces being invaded, we see more people who do mind interacting with people they aren’t familiar with. We can refer to these people as “salty loc dogs.” These are older people and even some younger guys who just can’t stand new people surfing their spot. They typically tend to be loud and vocal about their dissatisfaction, and tend to act like they own the place. Here is a comical example featuring the late great Andy Irons being heckled for surfing a spot he wasn’t native to in a skit for a surf movie. (The irony is that usually the people who claim local status aren’t that good of surfers, and telling Andy not to surf a spot would be like telling Kobe you can’t shot on my court.)

Everyone needs to brag about how good of waves they scored. As a surfer, getting a good swell to surf is the ultimate challenge, and when you achieve this it is hard not to let others know. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see someone’s Instagram story perfect empty waves, and I am guilty of this as well. At first it seemed harmless, until the effects of the app really started changing the lineup.

I have a particular experience with one of the only waves I’ve ever missed from where I grew up (New Jersey). I would surf this wave before school junior and senior year of high school, and the crowd would be minor. Either it was only for good surfers or people who were known by the locals who would surf the wave. It wasn’t uncommon to hear someone getting yelled at along with the words “I’ve never seen you out here in my life.” I always was a little more cautious surfing this spots since I wasn’t born in the area, but was from a town down the road. However, my surfing would do the talking and people would notice I was just trying to surf good waves. Minding your p’s and q’s at a localized spot coupled with respect for older people at the spot can get you in the local crowd pretty quick. It was like a well-oiled machine: only people who were supposed to be there were surfing there. It’s a little selfish, but some waves should be this way, making it a lot less crowded.

I would come back to this spot winter break of my freshmen year, after being in school in SoCal but itching to surf this spot again. I heard from a friend down the grapevine it was doing its thing and made my way up the road. I arrived on the beach to see my favorite surf spot on the east coast going off. One thing was different: it seemed a lot more crowded, and seemed to be increasing in numbers out surfing by the minute. I went to take a snap to send to my 2 friends out in CA that grew up surfing the wave and was greeted with a “HEY NO PHOTOS” by a boogie boarder on the shoreline. I wasn’t too fazed since he was a boogie boarder (I now salute draggers but in my youthful ignorance definitely did not) and went on with my day. I would suit up and by the time I was in the water it was the most crowded I had ever surfed the wave. Probably 20 surfers, 20 boogie boarders, and 10 people bobbing in the water with GoPros. This made my surf session more dodging people in the water rather than actually surfing.

However, secret spots do still exist, again as cliché as that sounds. Check this clip of a wave only 4 people have surfed, and it might just stay that way if people keep their lips shut and put their phones away.

On top of the ruining of certain spots, people can get caught up in posting lots and lots of photos on their profile, even if they are not what they seem. We see the constant “who can do this better” on Instagram, and the surf community is no different. Everyday people are posting photos whether they authentic or not to make the illusion they are always scoring waves or always landing tricks in the photos they post. It can be a separate world, or act as a public diary of someone’s surfing progression. We can see it as “that different place,” where people can show their surfing talents when not actually surfing right in front of you. Instagram is changing the way we view media of the sport in many ways.

Overall, is Instagram going to kill surfing? No. Will it make it more public and “cool?” Yes. Exactly like the Olympics coming up in 2020. We can see popularity rising, but the ocean isn’t getting any bigger so I guess I should surf as much as I can before Huntington beach starts to look like this. (I swear some days it is pretty damn close.)