“I try to ignore it but it’s hard,” wrote Albee Layer on his Facebook wall. “Why is the surfing world preoccupied with rich, dorky hair cutted kids flicking around on two footers while guys like Marcio Freire and Jeff Rowley are nearly sponsorless and changing the limits of our sport? I will never understand how this f–king sport picks its chosen ones.”
The semipublic venting came after we did an “InfluencING” post on surfingmagazine.com about fashion-conscious East Coast surfer, Oliver Kurtz. The rant received 116 “Likes” and 21 comments. Albee, a 20-year-old aerialist and big-wave surfer, has become increasingly vocal with his disdain for the surf world lately. And while we might not always agree with him (maybe because we’re the subject of many of his lashings), we respect that he’s not a sheep and that, when he makes comments on our website, he has the balls to use his real name. —Taylor Paul
ALBEE: I don’t want to be lumped in with the rest of the surfers who are going through the latest fads. I want to show that the act of surfing is cooler than trends and that people should be recognized for their surfing.
Sometimes I get frustrated and bag on people, but then I realize it’s dumb and counterproductive. People who actually know me know that I’m just f–king around, that my goal isn’t to hurt someone’s feelings or be a dick, but sometimes surfers take themselves too seriously.
I’m not a big fan of the hipster movement. Their thing is their thing, but spending a lot of time dressing up and what not seems to go against every reason that I like surfing. I thought surfing was more punk rock and being like, “Yeah, f–k society!” I like the rebel side of it. But I realized recently that the surfing world is all about trends. Surf companies are selling clothes and clothes reflect trends, so there’s nothing you can really do about it.
What bothers me is when important shit gets ignored because surfing is focusing all its attention and money on one small area. A lot of people — because they’re not up with the fads or out socializing and bro-ing-out and talking about their favorite beanies — get ignored even though they’re surfing great and doing great things. Like, I spent this winter with Jeff Rowley at Jaws and I think he’s one of the best big-wave guys in the world and he doesn’t have a single sticker on his board. And he’s a good-hearted, cool person. It feels like surfing thinks it’s too cool for those types of people.
It’s a big thing to try and change. But my personal goal is to do my thing and hopefully get enough good footage to where people are like, “Whoa, that’s cool, and he’s not trendy at all — I guess that’s not what surfing’s about.”