5 Greatest Aerialists

Of all time, according to Josh Kerr

| posted on November 27, 2013
josh kerr

Easily one of the most adept aerialists today, Josh Kerr is as qualified as any to assess the field. Photo: Shield

Archy was the original aerial phenomenon, and a pioneer in the early California air scene. I remember being a grom seeing all of his old MCD ads in magazines where he would just be throwing huge no-grab, straight airs, and thinking they were so sick. He and Martin Potter were both on that level; they approached waves with that really raw, attacking style. I think Pottz got sucked into surfing the Tour and couldn’t focus as much on his airs, but Archy just kept going for it all the time and pushed the limits with his freesurfing.

Photo: Minton

Photo: Minton

Christian and Archy were part of the same early California air scene, but I think Christian really took it further by bringing variety to his airs. I remember seeing him do a Judo Air for the first time and thinking it was the sickest thing I had ever seen in my life. He also created that whole punk style in surfing that just screamed, “Fuck everything else, I’m just gonna do airs.” Back home in Australia, when I was like 11 or 12 years old, he really changed the way I looked at surfing.

Photo: Divine

Photo: Divine

I think Ratboy was the next guy to really push aerial surfing, especially when the whole air contest circuit got started, because he fully dominated those events. He was probably the first guy I can think of who was just incredibly consistent with his airs. He would do really lofty straight airs as well as big rotations, and he had every grab on lock.

Photo: Hoover

Photo: Hoover

Dane has always had a lot of versatility in his airs with grabs and rotations, but he brought a lot of power to the air game as well. He’s always had a really strong style that was based on lots of speed and big bottom turns that made his airs look explosive. When he was an up-and-comer, he brought about this transition in surfing where just being good at airs wasn’t enough—you had to be good at everything else as well. There are a lot of guys who can do full rotations now, but no one brings as much power to progressive surfing as Dane.

Photo: Made/Childs

Photo: Made/Childs

Right now Chippa is definitely the most technical aerial surfer in the world, without a doubt. And he probably lands his airs more consistently than anyone in the world as well. I remember when he was about 19 or so, he was definitely doing some solid airs, but something happened when he was about 20 or 21 where his air game just got ridiculous. It’s no accident; over the last few years he’s gone on a lot of trips to good waves and worked really hard at getting certain tricks dialed in. It’s phenomenal to go surfing with him and see what he does firsthand, because no one else can do what he does on a wave. He’s leading the pack.

Photo: O'Brien

Photo: O’Brien

  • rspkt

    Too short of a list… missing out on serious talent like Marzo as well.

  • felipe

    yeah kerrzy ! totally agree

  • doublett

    no john john? no matt? no albee? …. mmm

    • shacky chan

      no Maui???? hahahaaa

  • Irish

    Maybe 5 Greatest US Aerialists….any list without Jordy S or even a US list without Ryan Callinan is questionable.

    • flashorton

      Jordy is a sick all rounder but he doesn’t have the variety to make an aerial-list.

  • god

    weird im pretty sure i didnt see JJF on here?

  • SGU Surfer

    Gabe Medina

  • Claudio

    Bull!! Medina is the best!!

  • Mik

    “no one brings as much power to progressive surfing as Dane”…

    except Jordy… And John John… And Julian…

    • Ben

      No, not even close. Dane’s airs are by far the most powerful.

  • really?

    wait … so you left kerr out? whys that?

  • Andrew David

    meola? albee?

  • Daniel

    Gabriel Medina!

    • .,

      The only thing he’s pushed is his wide stance, full rotations aren’t progressive at all. These guys do technical grabs and bigspins, Medina rotates with a wide stance. Good aerialist- yes. Greatest? Not even close. If any one had medina’s style in any other board sport like snowboarding or skateboarding they would be ridiculed

      • david

        if wide stance discounts a surfer then what about fletcher? medina is easily one of the best air guys in the world.

        • .,

          Fuck off david

  • Some Guy

    How could you possibly leave Hans Hedeman off this list???

  • Base

    Then you’re gonna tell me Gabriel Medina and Felipe Toledo are not better than this guys??? ahaha The title then should be “The 5 best Gringos Aerialist”… I wont even mention other Brazilians who are at least 10 times better than any of those…


      and ronaldo kaka pele jajajaja

    • christian

      Maybe the Brazilians aren’t on this list because of they’re ugly wide leg style. They’re airs may be technical, but super ugly. I guess it depends what you like to look at, a sick air that has all kinds of style, or Medina doing some forced “wide leg” air.

      • Base


        • shacky chan

          the Brazilian kids just showed up..let em blow out their knees before you blow em off…It’s the ALL- TIME best air masters…maybe in like 10 years or so…

        • Malick

          “BRAZILIAN STYLE IS NOTHING COMPARED TO THE AUSSIES”!? What that even means dude? Since when guys like Wilko, Bede Durbidge, Kieran Perrow and Yadin Nicol (just to mention a few) have better style than Alejo Muniz or Miguel Pupo!? Do I really have to write a comment saying that every country has their share of surfers with crappy style and good style? Are you guys so racist/hatters at the point of being completely dumb? It sure looks like.

        • BO

          For sure, KP, Wilko, Yadin Nicol they all have much better styles than any brazilian, just bc they are australians…what a nonsense. Miguel Pupo alone has a better style than most of the ausies on tour.

      • Chris

        And rat boy has style?? you are a joke!!! uglyiest style ever

        • zeech

          Rat has such clean style. Watch him on a longboard or in hollow waves. No wasted effort.

        • shacky chan

          Your a donkey, Chris!!! have you ever witnessed Ratty surf in real life??? he’s been ripping the shiiiit outta waves since we were 11… your a fucking KOOK for even having that come outta your mouth…

          • ramrod

            Rat boy was doing airs before those Brazilians knew how to surf you kook

      • Whatever

        Dude, don’t even get me start. Miguel Pupo is a better aerialist and has a much better style that any of these guys

      • MALICK

        Yeah right, so all this guys have better style than Miguel Pupo or Alejo Muniz. BTW, Archbold has a GREAT style and he’s air are better and more stylish than Medina airs….ok

  • Ben

    That’s a pretty good list, though I may take Chippa out and put Kerr (the author) in.

  • Manbearpig

    excellent list of past and present. but honestly Kerrzy should be on the list as well

  • foufdog

    Where is Ozzie wright man???

  • mike

    why not bring back the aerial contests? ran as an extention of the tour?

  • justin

    Everyone has forgotten about Justin Matteson. ( I think thats how its spelled ) That guy was way ahead of his time. What happened to him anyways

    • Justin Cyst

      what do you mean? Im here, just doing different things than playing the sponser game. Or maybe they don”t want to play with me.

  • Mastic potter

    Didn’t stab just do the ten best and worst? Lame content surfer stick to old dudes on mals

  • Nasty

    Quit ragging on his selection. Archy, Christian Fletcher and Ratboy all rip and have been doing HUGE airs since before Medina, Toledo, JJF, Jordy, or any of the HOT, NEW crop of rippers were even surfing. Most of his selection seems based on inspiration from when he was young kid looking up to these guys who were putting aerial surfing on the map. Everybody on this page listed rips and does killer airs. Kudos to Kerr saying it how he sees it.

  • Daniel Murphy

    where is john john ????????????????????

  • Ztrois

    Super cool to have remembered Matt Archbold and Christian Fletcher, are legends … If it were my list, plus the two add Dane Reynolds with its beautiful style, the versatility of Josh Kerr and phenomenal youth of Gabriel Medina.

  • Luciano

    Watch Occy do airs and it just flows… Pottz also knew how to flow

  • Daniel

    It doesn’t matter who is picking the “best” as long as any aerialist list excludes Gabe Medina it shouldn’t be taken seriously. And please save me the “ugly” style BS. Search for Medina’s best air ever on Rip Curll videos on Youtube and tell me who really calls the shots.

  • Mustard Tiger

    Kerrzy nailed it… Jordy, Medina, and JJF are all rediculous… but this list is on point… kudos for giving credit to ratboy…

  • leftcoast

    Cory Lopez. Nuff said

  • Jason Collins

    Well as usual always entertaining comments!!!

    Kerr is obviously one of the best ever aerialists of all time but what kind of a person puts himself on the list, we all know he is right up top!
    Josh is a humble guy that is well rounded and worked very hard to get on the CT, ask this question in another ten years and the answers might vary.

    Archy and Christian were a huge part of the evolution of surfing as we see it today.

    Kelly has done some of the best airs ever and isn’t on the list but nobody is whining about that.

    Dane best power surfer/air guy ever!

    Gabriel,Filepe and JJF are the best in the last ten years by far.

  • Ralphy

    This list is great for top 5 INFLUENTIAL aerialist of all time, except for Dane. If it is really of all times, Medina, Toledo, JJ, Julian are definitely on the list. By the way, I don’t know why all this hype on Dane. Great surfer, but so far away from being the best. JJ and Medina surf better in any conditions, free surf or contest (choker)… americans brainwashed by quiksilver and surfer/surfing/transworld magazines and surfline. Come on, JJ, Medina and Julian’s airs are double the height of Dane’s and they land them a lot more!

  • whamo

    The first surfers I saw do airs as a regular part of their ride were Rolf Aurness and Corky Carroll in the late 60’s when the twin fin first hit. People returned to the single fin, and I didn’t see airs too often until Matt Kechekle showed up. I would think Matt deserves a place on this kind of list.

  • Francisco

    Where’s Medina?

  • Goatmeat

    where’s kerrzy or double J?