Contrast: First off, congratulations on winning the second Innersection, Albee!
Albee Layer: Thank you. I’m stoked.
Can I have you start by stating your name, age and hombreak?
Albee Layer, 20 years old and I guess Jaws or Ho‘okipa. One or the other.
You’re the first guy in my 11 years of surf journalism experience that’s ever said Jaws is his homebreak.
Does that sound cocky? Actually, (Jaws) is close to my house. (laughs) I didn’t mean like, that’s where I surf the most. I think it’s just the closest wave to my house.
That’s cool. How does it feel to win Innersection?
I don’t know. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s just been kind of a haze since the middle of (Wednesday) so I can’t even answer that properly yet I think. The biggest feeling so far is a sense of relief kind of because I felt like I didn’t want to let anybody down.
As far as letting anybody down, are you talking about your family, peers or Maui?
My friends, family and everyone on Maui. It just seemed like a lot of people expected me win so it was kind of a lot of pressure and it felt so good to live up to everybody’s expectations I guess.
Do you have any plans to spend that $100,000 first place prize?
I have a few actually. One thing I’m doing is taking my friend, Dege O’Connell, on a surf trip because I promised him I would because he rips and he works really hard. He earned it. Probably to Tahiti or Europe, maybe. We were talking about it and I think we’re actually going to do it […] is get a food truck. And, were going to work out another fundraiser for Kuau Mart.
Who was the most influential person in your Innersection campaign?
All my friends played a big part in it, but definitely Matt winning last year definitely lit a fire for me to get inspired, do my best and take the trips. His mom, of course, too helped manage us sort of and they played a big part of this working out the way it did.
How big of a factor do you think the Jaws waves were in your Innersection victory?
I think it was pretty big one because I had some alright air stuff, but a lot of guys can do airs. I think that wave (at Jaws) and that one big left made it a little more different than a lot of the other (Innersection) parts. There are very few spots in the world with waves like that so I think it definitely helped a lot.
Do you feel like your career path as a free surfer has been validated now? Are you over contests?
I still do contests sometimes and some of them look fun because all your friends are there and if the waves are fun it’s cool to surf in front of people sometimes. Just to base surfing around (contests) wasn’t for me. I got the best frickin’ life in the world now! (laughs) I couldn’t be happier with the way my year is going.
After you and Matt won Innersection, I have to ask: does Maui produce the best free surfers in the world?
I don’t know. I definitely think there’s no place else in the world that is this small with this many talented surfers. Like with me and Matt, we wouldn’t have a career if it wasn’t for this Innersection thing. There’s so many kids like that here that have the talent, but it’s easy to stay hidden here. Just with all our friends we definitely push each other a lot and that’s why there’s so many good kids here.
How does Maui’s normal, gnarly wind play into your development as a surfer?
Maui with the crazy conditions it molds every person from here. We learn to deal with, not necessarily scary all the time, but wild conditions and ridiculous wind all the time. It definitely makes it easier to go ride not-as-wild waves and surf better. We learn at Hookipa to use the wind to help airs. I can’t even do airs when there’s no winds. (laughs)
So what’s up with yours and Matt’s webisodes, “The Isle?” Who conceptualized the first episode’s intro?
The intro was my idea. If you ever watch the old South Park documentary, the creators, Matt and Trey, do the same intro: super cheesy and super funny. A lot of surfers take themselves too seriously sometimes, and I thought it would be funny to do. We’re all about laughing at ourselves. As far as the future of “The Isle,” each episode is a life of its own and we have no idea what we’re going to do until we’re cutting it up in Final Cut.