Albee Layer is no stranger to pushing limits. Be it paddle surfing Jaws and other slabs on his native Maui, or redefining what is possible in the air, Layer has moved surfing in new directions.
"I'm still trying to do new tricks and catch the biggest, scariest barrels I can," Layer says in his new film Natural Process, neatly summing his approach to surfing.
This was filmed in a short window he had between hip surgery and the concussion he suffered in the cbdMD Jaws Big Wave Championships last year. You might remember that Layer suffered one of the heaviest wipeouts of the competition. A super late drop led to Albee wearing the lip of a 50-foot plus wave to his head. The resulting concussion has had him out of the water all winter.
However, prior to that injury, Layer had made his annual pilgrimage to Europe in the Fall. And whether it's in the warm waters of Maui, or the frigid perfection of France and Portugal, Albee is always crystal clear in his messaging: Progression is everything.
"When you stop trying to do something new, surfing will lose its joy," he says simply. For Albee that means attempting never been done before tricks, incorporating skate moves or simply having fun.
At other times it's paddling huge slabs and making the unmakeable, makeable. That is best illustrated in "Natural Process" by a one crazy knife drop at a secret spot that comes with huge rocks, massive cliffs and giant pinch sections.
"At this spot the year before I was absolutely destroyed on the rocks," Albee told the WSL. "That's what made this even more special. I think this is the best "Non-Jaws" wave of my life."
With his partner Nora Vasconcellos screaming on from the cliff and filmer Slater Norbesky capturing it all, it is one of the more dramatic waves of Layer's life. Albee might be currently out of the water, but the clip shows that few people in surfing do as much heavy lifting in terms of progression as the man from Hawaii.