tofino surfing - frontside air

Tofino Surfing: Frontside Air

by Peter Devries, Tofino


The Front side Air is considered a basic maneuver in today's new school era of surfing, and although, in my opinion, it is the easiest air to complete, it is still very challenging. Before attempting this maneuver you should have your cutbacks, floaters, and re-entry's down, and your surfing should be stylish and solid.

Once you have these manuevers wired catch a wave that is between two and five feet with some power and wall. You are going to need a lot of speed so pump down the line, staying between the middle and the top of the wave, generating all the speed you can. Look for a section that is about to close out, and bottom turn from the middle of the wave toward the section that is just about to break.

Carry as much speed as you can toward the curling lip by bending your knees and powering through the bottom turn. At this point your eyes should be focused on the part of the lip where you are planning to launch off, and your board should be aimed off the lip into the air above. Now, you just have to carry your momentum off the lip into the air. Make sure your board is flat on the lip when you take off, and don't try to go too high at first because you will end up flailing. To enter into the air you need to drive your momentum off the top of the wave by pushing off the tail of your board.

When entering the air turn the nose of your board towards the beach by straightening out your back leg slightly. Pull your knees up to your chest to stay in control and to stay stylish in the air. Make sure you are over top of your board, and not leaning back too far. You can add different variations to the air at this point by doing double grabs, mute grabs, frontside grabs etc.

Look down in front of you to spot your landing, let go of your grab (if you chose to do one), and extend your legs slightly so your knees can absorb the impact. It is best to land in the foam because it is the softest spot. Try to land with your board flat on the wave. As soon as your board hits the water bend your knees, and stay centered over your front foot. This part can be a little bumpy so stay low and centered. Ride out of the foam and be stoked because you just landed a tricky maneuver.

Frontside airs can be performed in many different ways, but in my opinion look the best when you use the wave as a ramp to guide you in to the air, not when you ollie off the wave. Get a video of Taj Burrow, and study it, because nobody does frontside airs better than him.

Frontside air tips

  1. Carry speed by driving through your bottom turn, and launching off the lip cleanly.
  2. Push out your back leg, and pull your knees to your chest to stay in control.
  3. Stay over top of your board.
  4. Stomp it, and ride away clean.

Peter Devries grew up in Tofino and has been in surf competitions since he was 14. Email him at

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Frontside air tips: Peter Devries, surfer from Tofino, BC, explains the 'Frontside Air' in Tofino Time Magazine.

tofino time november 2003

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