I’m only 33 years old, but one thing makes me feel like a grumpy old man: airs. Look, when John John Florence or Filipe Toledo does an out-of-this-world air, I can appreciate it and be impressed by it, but I still don’t really like it. Admittedly, I am drawn to a more classic style of surfing. For me, it doesn’t get any better than the knock-kneed elegance of Mark Richards or the timeless silhouette of Gerry Lopez. The smoothness of Joel Parkinson and the flow of Mick Fanning need no interruption by attempts of aerial maneuvers. I’d rather see a beefy turn in thick water or a figure emerge from the spit of a barrel any day. It’s not even close.
Airs feel like a foray into a different sport, which is fine, but it feels like something beyond surfing. It can be maddening to watch a WCT competitor do little more than an air reverse and receive a better score than an opponent who just put together three solid turns. The judging seems to be correcting in that regard slowly but surely, but that hasn’t stopped the tour from becoming rather air-happy. It’s starting to feel like some guys finish every other wave with an air reverse. How is it still impressive at that point?