Getting To Know Albee Layer

Albee knows what it takes to be a slob. Photo courtesy Hennings/Oakley
Albee knows what it takes to be a slob. Photo courtesy Hennings/Oakley

Full Name: Alfred Louis Layer IV
Age: 19
Hometown: Haiku on the island of Maui
Sponsors: Well I don’t have any main ones. Xcel, SOS shapes, and High Tech Surf Shop all help me out though.

Ryan Brower: What are you most famous for? Growing up next to Laird Hamilton?
Albee Layer: Yeah, he was actually my neighbor till I was like seven. He’s one of my dad’s really good friends still to this day. They all used to play volleyball together all the time, the whole “straps” crew. My first wave I ever really stood up was on the front of Laird’s board when I was two or something.

So watching him pioneer Jaws, did that lay some groundwork for your big wave endeavors?
For sure. When I was young those guys would always say, “Oh yeah, we’re gonna see you out there in a couple of years.” And then I got caught up in the whole contest thing, I almost kind of forgot about it. Then one day, my friend Marlin got a jet ski and we got our shit together and went out there with some of the lifeguards from Maui, and I was just like “Whoa!” We both got absolutely addicted to it. Then we brought our friends Matt and Billy, and we just couldn’t stop.

That’s right, you’re good friends with Matt Meola ? Who else is in your crew on Maui?
Yeah he’s a pretty rad guy. My main crew I guess is Matt, I definitely surf more with him than anyone. And around my town Marlin, Louis is another kid we surf with, Billy Kemper (who just won the HIC Sunset Pro), and then the Hana kids like Dege O’Connell, Hank Gaskell, and Ola Eleogram.

What’s that backside frontflip thing you tried in this clip [at the 3:37 mark]?
Yeah, [laughs] Matt actually named that for me. He calls it a Flayer [pronounced flare], because it’s like my last name Layer, which is actually a catchy name. I was at Windmills one day and Matt was doing all sorts of crazy airs and backside you’re kind of limited, so I wanted to try something new, and then it just kind of worked. I’ve done a million out the back, but I haven’t really stomped a good one. It’s actually really funny, I was watching the X-games and the BMX guys do a thing called a “flare”, and it’s the same kind of rotation somehow.

Yeah, that’s kind of weird that he named it a “Flayer”.
Yeah we had no idea, and I was looking at it and thinking, “Maybe we should call it that.”

Do you think that’s a better name than the Flynnstone Flip?
[laughs] I think so, that’s a little too long. Flayer is catchy, it rolls off the tongue.

The Flayer.
The Flayer.

Was Innersection made for guys like you and Matt? Guys who don’t get a ton of coverage and don’t surf that many heats but charge everything from 2-20-foot?
Yeah, I mean it already helped Matt so much. Both of us freakin’ hate crowds, so getting video clips and putting it all over the web, you can get away from crowds where no one is watching you surf and you’re not in a contest or anything and still everyone can watch you afterward.

Why the bad showing for you and the good showing for Matt then?
[laughs] I don’t know. He just stomps the craziest airs. I’m working on it though. My part, there were definitely some clips that I thought were pretty good, but we didn’t really take the time to edit out the shitty stuff and give a personality behind the video. I was kind of just throwing it together too fast, I think that hurt. I had too much footage, I only had four or five sessions on it.

Why do you think it is that guys who are doing huge, technical airs and also surfing some of the biggest stuff around aren’t in the spotlight more? Flynn Novak comes to mind.
I don’t know, I’ve been trying to figure it out. That part of surfing kinda bums me out. I watched the U.S. Open and it was like two foot and pretty boring for most of it. And then there are guys like Flynn and Matt that are probably some of the most exciting surfers to watch. But that’s just how it works I guess, you just gotta figure it out somewhere in between.

I think companies will start figuring out shit and realize that guys like Flynn shouldn’t be unsponsored. Matt was putting in hard work for so long, so now he’s getting what he deserves with that new deal from Oxbow. There’s a million guys like that. It sucks.

Do you see it as just being a well-rounded surfer?
Yeah, that’s what I think it’s got to be. To do one thing is just boring. A lot of the ‘QS guys are doing really good in contests, but if you watch them surf it’s not really all that exciting. Especially when the conditions aren’t too good.

What about some of the stuff that say Jordy and Dane are doing in contests?
The tour is for the most part exciting. There’s like four or five guys you want to watch who don’t surf it like a contest, to them it’s just freesurfing.

Who are those four or five guys do you think?
Dane, Jordy of course. I like Slater but I feel like he surfs for the score sometimes. There’s a bunch of guys with cool styles, but pretty much just Dane and Jordy whose heats I’ll actually watch.

Albee at this year's Oakley World Pro Juniors in Bali. Photo courtesy Hennings/Oakley
Albee at this year's Oakley World Pro Juniors in Bali. Photo courtesy Hennings/Oakley

We’ve also heard that you’ve dated Carissa Moore. What was it like to date the soon-to-be ASP Women’s World Tour Rookie Of The Year?
Yes we did. It was pretty cool. I had a crush on her back in the day. She actually beat me in two contests in a row and I was kind of pissed off, but then was like, “Well she’s pretty, maybe I should just try and be friends with her.” Like if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em kind of thing.

Do you think she’s got some world titles in her future?
Definitely. I would love to see her win some world titles. It’s definitely her time.

We hear you have webbed feet?
I do. I was born with webbed toes, pretty weird.

Does that help with your surfing and swimming then?
I have no idea. Everyone asks those same questions: does it help with your surfing? Does it make you a better swimmer? I’m sure it does, but I have no way of knowing because I’ve never had non-webbed feet.

So do you wear fins when you dive?
[laughs] Yeah I do. I could survive without them though.

I’m sure you could. Can we call you the web footed wonder?
[laughs] Yeah, go for it!

Interview by Ryan Brower.