Editor’s Note: This feature was made possible by Kershaw Knives.
There’s only a certain level of carnage the human body can withstand. Day after day, year after year, we push ourselves as far as our skeletal and muscular systems will allow. But eventually, if we slam our carcasses up against the raw, unrelenting forces of nature enough, something’s gonna break. And it ain’t just gonna be the waves.
Albee Layer’s body has endured those unrelenting forces as much as anyone, and the wear is starting to show. He suffered a serious concussion last year during the Jaws Challenge that set him on a path he’s only started to recover from. “It’s a month out and we’re still not sure how well I’m recovering,” he wrote after the injury. “The basic analysis from the doctors is that if I continue the next 5-10 years like I have the last 5-10 years, I’m at very high risk for CTE and other brain-related complications.”
Yeah, the last year has been an eye-opener for the Maui native. Albee’s prowess in the air has come at a price, too, so the dings were beginning to add up (not excluding a nasty facial laceration as this piece was being produced). At the time he wrote the above quotations, he was releasing an edit, The Hits So Far, and asking himself if it was all worth it.
Watching the man surf, and working with him over the last couple of months on this project and our “Random Thoughts,” features, it seems painfully obvious that it was all worth it. That it is worth it. All the tumbles, the broken boards, the broken faces (lest we forget the hip surgeries.) Albee has pushed the sport like no one else and that’s saying something, given its history. Go ahead, try it: how do you argue that a guy who’s one of the best out at Jaws, and one of the most progressive aerial surfers alive hasn’t pushed the sport at least a little bit? I don’t think you can. So yes, all the carnage was definitely worth it.
And these days, I think Albee agrees, as he’s rededicated himself to, well, himself. He actually works out instead of spending the Hawaiian summers partying. He’s returned to focusing on what he’s really, really good at: riding waves.
Filmed and edited by Take Shelter Productions.