Surfing Rotations Compared To Skate And Snow

The Internet combusted when Kelly Slater stuck what we’ll call — for the sake of this video — a big ol’ spin in Portugal. Clicks rained and poured on every single media outlet this side (the good side) of buzzfeed and scrolls of rabble collected in comment sections. Most people said Kelly’s air was a 540. Others claimed 720. Some even rabbled that Zoltan Torkos Sr. landed a 540 in a semifinal heat against Johnny Laybacks at the No Fear Classic, Santa Cruz, 1997. A fiery blaze, that Internet.

Now let’s touch on that 540 or 720 debate.

We, at, labeled it a 540. The video above labels it a 720 and goes on to explain why. It’s rooted in logic. The points are valid. The concept is thought-out and well executed. I disagree with it all.

My two reasons:

1) Surfers, unlike skaters or snowboarders, do not start spins with the nose vertical to the lip (or coping). Watch Kelly’s spin again and notice how his board is parallel to the lip.

2) This isn’t skating. This isn’t snowboarding. It’s surfing. We can sit here all day and talk about angles, degrees and trajectories — we could even call the mouth-breathing geometry nerd that sat two seats to the left of you in ’07 and have him press a protractor to the screen. Then what? Call it a 623? Fuck that. It’s a 540. Just like a 15-foot wave at Pipe will forever be an 8-footer, Kelly’s spin shall always be a 540. A full rotation shall always be a 360. And nobody will say 180, ever.

And who cares if it doesn’t make sense? I recently came across a record called “Surf Music” from the 1970s. The cover art featured a guy getting barreled while riding a cheeseburger and smoking a joint with a beer in his hand and big pointy ’70s tits all over the beach. That’s our past. Those were our forefathers. Surfing was never meant to be orthodox, it shouldn’t be now and my hope is that it never will be.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Feel free to rabble in the comment section below. Or send some hate mail to I haven’t had good hate mail in forever. —Brendan Buckley