Hawaiian surfer Albee Layer just became the first surfer in history to land a backside 540 (or at least the first one to do it on camera). This is already being heralded as one of the greatest feats in surfing history, and you’ll see why in about ten seconds of watching the footage above.
So the backside 540 is a full 1.5 backward rotations. Any rotation at all on a surfboard is incredibly difficult to land. Spins are crazy hard to land on snowboards and wakeboards and those are attached to your feet. Skating spins are terribly difficult and usually you’re holding onto the board while spinning AND you’ve got the grip tape + shoe traction to keep you stabilized. On a surfboard, you’re spinning and landing IN THE WATER, with the wave splashing over your feet. It’s almost unfathomable to me that someone could ever pull this off even though I’m watching it on repeat.
STAB Magazine scored an interview with Albee Layer about his monumental trick:
“The hardest thing about it is, when you’re landing, you just have so much momentum,” Albee told me pre-completion. “I couldn’t figure out how to slow it down enough.”
That’s really not a problem you encounter much in surfing, having to slow down. It is reminiscent of Laird Hamilton’s infamous Teahupo’o wave, the one that has since made Laird world famous. In that ride he actually had to drag his arm to slow himself down, a move that surfers worldwide touted as proof of Laird’s unmatched ability to ride giant waves.