Tofino Surfing: The Frontside Snap
by Pete Devries, Tofino
The frontside snap is not a cutback. It's a quick directional change that can be useful to surfers of all skill levels. It's a great move when you're first learning to turn because you don't have to set your rail perfectly; but it's also a perfect set-up move for an experienced surfer who's flowing into a big combo or hitting an air section.
Catch a frontside wave of any size or shape. Cruise down the line and look for a fairly steep section with a bit of wall off the pocket. There has tobe a bit of wall so you can keep your speed and not dig in your rail. If it's flat you probably want to do a cutback instead of a snap. You want tobottom turn at a 30 to 50 degree angle up the face. This will help youcontinue your momentum down the line after the snap is complete. If you try to go too vertical you'll get caught in the lip and loose all your speed unless your timing is perfect. Keep your eyes focused on the section you're about to slash while bending your knees and driving through the bottom turn.
You want to initiate the snap right when you get to the top half of the wave. To do this, turn your shoulders into the snap. Your front leg should be almost completely straight, (make sure your knee is not locked because that can lead to injury), and driving through the turn like you're going to do a cutback. This will only be for the start of the turn because as soon as you start cutting back you want to push hard on your back leg. This will cause your back leg to straighten out, your front leg to bend and buckets of spray to fly out the back. Push hard through the snap until your back leg is fully extended. Your weight should be over your front foot, but your back leg needs to be powerful and solid. Stay low and solid over top of your board. Your eyes should be focused on the shape of the wave, and the nose and toe-side rail of your board. You want to be sure to keep your nose up if the wave is steep so you don't stick it in on your next bottom turn.
If you are flowing into a combo you still need to be conscience of digging your nose, but you need to know what's going on down the line so you either have to see your section before you start your bottom turn or right after you complete the snap. Once you've pushed the snap as far as it's going to go, and your fins have caught back into the wave (during some snaps your fins can release for a brief second so feel for drive out of your tail again) your board will start moving down the wave again. Keep your momentum going by flying straight into another snap or by pumping down the line towards the on-coming air section.
The frontside snap is a perfect set-up move that can be used on any wave in all types of conditions. Points, reefs, beaches, anywhere, It's one of the best moves to have in your bag of tricks. Check out any video section of Taj Burrow. He does these all the time.
Frontside Snap tips: