Tofino surf school: The Layback Snap
by Pete Devries, Tofino
Laybacks are one of my favourite moves because they are so unpredictable.
You never know what will happen. You could kick your tail out the
back and fall right away; or you could hang on with one foot and pull
best move of your life. There are a few keys, but you just have to
go with the flow, and trust yourself and the wave on your recovery.
Approach the section on your forehand with speed. You can either
do laybacks on steep sections or on closeouts that are bowling too
You want about as much speed as you would for a little frontside
air. Start your bottom turn earlier than you would if you were going
hit the lip to get to the lip before it breaks. A 50 to 70 degree angle
is what you want.
Stay low, focus on the section, and get ready to push your back leg
You want to start laybacks early so you don’t kick your fins
out the back, and loose control. Half way up the wave is a good place
to initiate the turn. Initialize the layback by leaning back, sticking
your back arm in the water and pushing as hard as you can on your back
leg. You want this to be a smooth motion. Your arm will serve as a
pivot point and give you stability through the turn. Don’t just
kick you tail out of the water with all the power you can because you
will loose control. Push hard through the turn with your back foot
to throw buckets out the back while still in control. You wo be able
to see to much once your tail has kicked out and you’re laying
back in the wash so you just have to go on feeling. Hold on!
Do give up at this point because sometimes miracles can happen. Even
if you’re hanging on with one toe try to make it. Once your board
has turned as far as possible try to pull it back towards you and under
your body. If you choose the right section to do a layback on the wave
will help you get back up, but having a strong core and stomach muscles
will help. The longer you wait to get up the harder it will be. Getting
your board close to you by pulling with your feet and bending your
knees combined with using the wave against your back will get you to
your feet. Ride out of the wash with style and look for the next section.
Layback snaps are a tricky move. A lot of trial and error goes into
learning them, but when you finally get lucky and land one it will
all be worth it. Slater and AI are the best in the game at laybacks,
so watch them for inspiration. Do your sit-ups too.