Matt Meola breaks down ideal conditions for aerial surfing

The correct wind direction will keep your board with you and help you hold the landing. Photo: Screenshot.


Editor’s Note: Learn how to land your first tune or take your aerial game to new heights. Register for Matt Meola’s Guide to Aerial Surfing on Inspire courses to access a life of innovation above the lip. Matt Meola’s Guide to Aerial Surfing is supported by Rockstar Energy.

Matt Meola is no stranger to some of the wild conditions that grow up in Maui. The island is notoriously hit by trade winds that blow for most of the year at up to 36 mph, creating its trademark “Maui Glass”. And as one of the most innovative and experienced aerial surfers on the planet, Matt has learned a thing or two about using them to his advantage.

First of all, “if the wind doesn’t suit a tune, you might as well not try one,” Matt says in Matt Meola’s Guide to Aerial Surfing. “If the wind blows with you along the line, it will blow your board. As soon as you are in the air, it will blow it away from you. It is almost impossible to land when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.

When commitment to landings is key to mastering any aerial technique, your board being thrown from underneath will make the process unreasonably frustrating. For Matt, the work begins before the session to move forward.

“You have to go to the beach and see if the wind is blowing a little to the right or to the left,” he says. “If it’s blowing on the left, it’s good for the air on the left. If it blows in the rights, it is good for the right.

It sounds pretty straightforward. But like most weather conditions you can have variations. And Meola’s experience has shown her how and when to adapt.

“Now a straight-on you can still do tunes, and a straight-off you can still do them, but that’s not ideal,” he says. Inertia. “The best is a light, either straight in, or to the side, or to the side. This is what you are looking for. And whatever direction it’s coming from, you want to be facing the wind.

While Matt is known for pushing boundaries – he admits he might not be the best when it comes to safety advice – he also knows when it’s not worth the risk.

“As soon as he blows your back with you down the line, it’s just a complete no-go,” Meola says. “Don’t even try them. This is how we hurt ourselves. You can land on your fins. Go out and do tricks.

Wave shape

Surfing 101 tells us that the wind will affect the shape of a wave and the way it breaks. It is universal knowledge. But Matt has an unusual approach to looking for waves he wants: he follows boogie-boarders.

“You have to be able to generate speed, and the section you hit shouldn’t be too flat, otherwise it won’t give you any pop,” Meola explains. “So you want something stiff and powerful. I’ve always loved the waves which if you look at the surfers and the waves they ride are really big, mighty waves. Looking for a wave similar to what you see those ripping boogie surfers where the power source is really strong.

His 540 (or 720, depending on who you ask) flip, for example, was done at home on a steep, one-section slab in 2015.

But unlike boogie boarders, aerial surfing relies on the wind straight above the lip. So your three ingredients for the best air condition, Matt says, are “stiffness, power, and good wind.” If these don’t come together, “the worst thing you can do is try to force a maneuver the wave isn’t good for.”

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