tofino surfing: pumping on a frontside wave

Tofino surfing: Pumping on a Frontside Wave

by Pete Devries, Tofino


Speed is the most important thing in surfing. Without it you won’t be able to complete even the most basic moves. So when summer time comes around, and you’re feeling slow because of the small mushy waves, don’t blame it on your board, just go out there and practice your pumping.

Paddle into a frontside wave with the nose of your board turned slightly towards the open face. Get to your feet as quickly as you can. Instead of going down the face of the wave to do an extended bottom turn, keep your board turned down the line towards the open face of the wave. Drive up the wave by applying pressure to your toe side rail. Most of your weight should be on your front foot as you drive forward and up the wave. Your back foot should be a bit farther forward than it would be if you were about to do a turn. It will help guide your board up the wave enabling you to get onto the flat portion of your board therefore helping you gain speed. As you drive up the wave your body will want to extend. Try not to pump with your back arm extending over your head. Keep your back arm bent at a 90-degree angle, and try to keep your style together. When you reach the top of the wave you should have more speed than you did at the bottom. Your eyes should be focused on the section in front of you, and you should also be conscious of not digging your rails in. Use the speed you’ve got to drive down the wave. Push down on your front foot and lean slightly on your heel side rail to turn your board back down towards the middle of the wave. Be sure to keep your board pointed down the line, and be ready for a quick change to your toe side rail, to accelerate up the wave again. When you reach the middle of the wave start your pump up the wave as you did before to gain even more speed. After a few pumps you should have enough speed to do a floater, hit the lip, or bust an air even if you’re surfing a 2-foot wave.

The idea of getting speed is great, but controlling it is a different story. This will take time and a lot of practice. You will find you have to make decisions faster, and have better timing when you have more speed.

The best way to control it is to do a long bottom turn before you hit the lip. After pumping down the line look for a turn section. Instead of going straight into a turn fade down the wave and do a big bottom turn. You will then realise how much speed you have because you will be using your rail, and it will give you time to set up for a better move also.

Pumping on a Frontside Wave tips:

  1. Turn your board down the line as you‚re quickly popping to your feet.
  2. Drive up the wave with your weight on your front foot while your back foot sits farther forward.
  3. Push down hard with your front foot to accelerate down the wave.

Pete Devries grew up in Tofino and has been in surf competitions since he was 14. You can reach him by email at

Tofino Surfing Articles 

Tofino Time Magazine August 2004

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Tofino surfer Peter Devries explains how to gain speed by Pumping on a Frontside Wave in this article from Tofino Time Magazine.

tofino time august 2004

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