What is Stab High?
Despite the oxymoron, this middle-American location may just be surfing’s ultimate competitive platform.
Some context: At Barefoot Ski Ranch in Waco, Texas, owner Stuart Parsons installed the first full-sized American Wave Machines wave pool. Professional surfer Cheyne Magnusson was hired to manage the site and lead wave pool testing, which led to the creation of the world’s greatest man-made air section.
Stab High will gather 16ish of surfing’s premier aerialists in Waco, where over a live webcast, surfers like Chippa Wilson, Noa Deane, and Albee Layer will attempt to land the biggest and most innovative aerials possible, for a significant cash prize (to be announced shortly). All of this will take place on September 22nd.
Without the slightest whiff of hyperbole, the BSR wavepool is the premier performance wave in the world. Surfers who visited with Stab there in May said they hadn’t met an air section as good as this pool provided in the past 12 months. Not one.
There will be 16ish surfers in the preliminary round.
All surfers will receive four rights and four lefts, with the top right score and top left score counting toward the surfers’ two-wave totals.
The top eight two-wave totals from the preliminary round will advance to the Semi-finals*.
Semi-finalists will receive another four rights and four lefts, again counting their top right score and top left score toward their two-wave totals.
The top four two-wave totals will advance to the finals*.
Finalists will receive four rights, four lefts, and one bonus wave of their directional preference.
Whichever surfer has the highest two-wave total (using a right and a left) at the end of the final, wins.
*Should two or more surfers tie in the qualifying round, there will be a surf-off between those competitors. In the surf-off, each surfer gets two waves of their directional preference. Top single score wins.
Waves will be scored from 0 to 100 on a static, event-wide scale (judges will be able to look back at past-completed airs to keep their scoring consistent throughout the event).
Only airs will be scored. Turns/blowtails/club-sandwiches will not count.
Airs must be completed with control and ridden out under the power of the wave, with at least the nose of the board breaking free from the whitewater. (WSL rulez)
Scoring criteria: We’re gonna be stingy with our scores, but only because we know how good these guys are! Here’s what the airs will be judged on:
Height (determined by the lowest part of board or body)
Speed/Distance covered (has anybody cleared the whole section yet?)
Style (if it looks good, it scores great)
Progression and creativity (any weird grabs, tweaks, spins, rolls, and flips will be noted!)
Landing (the cleaner, the better)
Albee Layer: 27, Haiku, Maui
A bona fide aerial pioneer, Albee Layer is the first surfer ever to land both a double-alleyoop and a double-backside-air-reverse. At Stab High, he intends to add a few more novel tricks to that list (hint: watch for the judo alleyoop!)
Matt Meola: 29, Haiku, Maui
Like Albee, Matt Meola hails from Maui and is the owner of his very own surfing maneuver, the Spindle Flip – a corked, 540-degree double-grab rotation. Matt is considered one of the most nimble aerialists in the world, and is an easy favorite coming into Stab High.
Dion Agius: 33, Beaumaris, Tasmania
A former air show competitor from the early 2000s, Dion Agius has built a career around his ability to take flight. The Tasmanian’s small stature and compact stance will be an advantage at Waco, where high flights and soft landings are the recipe for big scores. After the skyscraper ‘oop he landed in Epokhe’s “Listen Now, Misty Dawn”, Dion has to be a favorite for our $20k Big Air prize.
Jay Davies: 31, Yallingup, Western Australia
Physically speaking, Jay Davies is one of the biggest aerialists in the world. Despite being 6’1” and carved out of West Australian timber, Jay is incredibly flexible and can finesse a spin with the best. He can also consume more Texas BBQ than Dion, Craig, and Meola combined.
Chippa Wilson: 30, Cabarita, New South Wales
Christopher ‘Chippa’ Wilson is the most technically gifted aerialist in the world. The lynx-like Australian has both a deeper bag of tricks and a higher completion rate than just about anybody in the world, which is what makes Chippa the odds-on favorite to win Stab High.
Noa Deane: 24, Coolangatta, Queensland
The son of surfing royalty, Noa Deane has built a niche for himself in the world of non-compete aerial mastery. He’s landed a few of the biggest airs in the history of the sport, which can be attributed to his powerful thighs and general absence of fear.
Harry Bryant: 22, Sunshine Beach, Queensland
After bursting onto the scene a few years back, Harry Bryant has contributed many terrific oddities to the world of surf, but none greater than his patented bowl cut. With a clean line of vision made possible by his pin-straight bangs, Harry will attack the ramp with vigour and aplomb.
Stab High isn’t just a surfing competition – it’s also an end-of-summer-blowout, suitable for humans of all ages, interests, and ideologies!
Stab High attendees are encouraged to wade in the shallow-end while our surfers kiss the stratosphere, enjoy chilled beverages at the heavily stocked pool bar, or feast from our fleet of health-focused food trucks. The event will also feature vibrant art exhibits, live music and a wild after-party, making Stab High the ultimate way to bid summer* adieu.
*for those folks living in north of the equator.