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A beginner's guide to aerial surfing manoeuvres

Red Bull Airborne 2020 is coming. Here are a few of the aerial shenanigans you might expect to see there.
By Brett Winslow
3 min readPublished on
Ahead of Red Bull Airborne 2020, an event that will see the world’s finest aerial surfers take to the waves (and skies) of Australia’s infamous Gold Coast from March 26, we thought we’d take a minute to:
A. Tell you what aerial surfing actually is and;
B. Talk you through some of the moves you might expect to see at aforementioned aerial surfing event.
Re. point A: it’s surfing, with airs. You know, where surfers hit the lip of the wave (called a ramp) take off, pull a trick, and land again. Just like airs in skateboarding or snowboarding, but surfing. It’s honestly quite straightforward.
Aerial surfing has been around for a while now, but the Red Bull Airborne event is really taking the whole aerial surfing scene to – wait for it – lofty new heights. It is frequently nuts and often bonkers; a spectacle that will have the whole family going: “I didn’t even know surfers could do this kind of thing!”
In the competition format for Red Bull Airborne (brainchild of legendary Australian aerial surfer, Josh Kerr), it means surfers are judged on their aerials only. Not the usual, you know, wave-based surfing.
Re. point B: there are many, many ways a surfer might contort his or her body; spin on one (or both) axis; or otherwise grab, spin or flip their board in order to impress a set of judges or – more importantly – their peers.
So we picked some moves at random in a bid to provide a completely incomprehensive idea about what you may or may not be likely to see at Red Bull Airborne.

Aerial surfing manoeuvre #1: The aerial

The first move in this clip, as exquisitely performed by Noa Deane. It is, quite simply, a jump.
See it now:

Aerial surfing manoeuvre #2: The shuv-it

When the surfer goes straight, but he or she spins the board 180 degrees beneath their feet, just like what them skateboarders do!
Here it is:

Aerial surfing manoeuvre #3: The 360

This is where the surfer spins with their board in a full three-hundred-and-sixty-degree rotation, then ceases to spin as soon as they land. It is called the 360, or a ‘full rotation’.
Here’s a very good one:

Aerial surfing manoeuvre #4: Alley-Oop

So it’s a 360, but the surfer spins towards the lip of the wave instead of away from it (which is harder).
This way please:

Aerial surfing manoeuvre #5: Frontside grab

In which the surfer proceeds to go aerial, and soon after grabs the FRONT SIDE of his or her surfboard. There are many frontside grabs – slobs, indys, mutes, and more besides. Julian Wilson does a very good frontside grab indeed. He goes big and he tucks right up, and to be honest it's one of the most beautiful things we've ever seen.
Here is an example:

Aerial surfing manoeuvre #6: The Lien

A very nice backside grab near the nose, often performed with hints of shifty (a 90-degree turn, before turning 90 degrees back).
Cast your eyeballs ‘pon it:

Aerial surfing manoeuvre #7: The Stalefish

Decidedly not a Nemo that is beyond edibility, rather, a tricky backside grab of great repute. If you want to go 360 while you’re at it – as our protagonist below felt inclined to – well, that's up to you.
View it with your face:

Aerial surfing manoeuvre #8: The Kerrupt Flip

This one involves a backflip, a spin, a backside grab, and an alley-oop (more info below) and is a real crowd pleaser. It is called ‘The Kerrupt Flip’ in honour of its dad, Josh Kerr, whom we mentioned above.
Witness it:
See all of these, and more, at Red Bull Airborne 2020 at Duranbah Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland between March 26 - April 5.