Tofino surfing - the frontside floater visit the photographer's website

Tofino Surfing: The Frontside Floater

by Pete Devries, Tofino


Basic manoeuvres, such as front side floaters, are often overlooked in modern surfing, but they can be very useful for a variety of situations. Floaters can be used to make sections, or to finish off a wave, and they are always a good way of generating speed for your next manoeuvre.

There are three important things to notice when learning to successfully complete a floater: getting on to the lip, riding the lip, and re-entering back into the wave. The first thing you need is speed so stay high in the wave, and generate as much speed as you can.

Next, look for a section that is just about to break, and start your bottom turn from the middle of the wave face. Bottom turn at 20 or 30 degrees, and carry your speed up and along the wave. You don,t want to go straight up (90 degrees) because then you won't go anywhere when you get on to the lip. At this point you want to watch the lip carefully. Place your board on the curling lip while staying low with your centre of gravity over your back foot. Once on the lip shift your weight from your toe edge to your heel edge. This allows you to stay on top of the lip without getting left behind the moving wave. Shift your weight to your front foot in order to get as much distance out of the floater as you can. Your eyes should be focused on the lip line ahead of you as you move along the top of the wave.

When you feel yourself slowing down, or the wave is about to close out, turn your head over your shoulder to spot the landing. When you are coming off of the lip you can either ride off with the falling lip, or you can ollie off to the bottom of the wave. An ollie should be used when the lip is heavy, or when the wave is sizeable.

Coming off the lip will cause your body to extend so try to keep your style together as much as possible, and brace yourself for the landing. Place your board flat on the wave face, bend your knees to absorb the shock of landing, and use the speed you have gained for your next bottom turn.

When you first learn this manoeuvre start on small crumbly waves, preferably a beach break. Once you get it down move up to bigger heavier waves, adding your own style and tweaks. Have fun!

Frontside Floater Tips:

  1. Get on to the lip with as much speed as possible.
  2. Ride the lip cleanly with your momentum pushing forward.
  3. When the wave begins to slow down, come off the lip with style, and drive through your next bottom turn.

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

Tofino Surfing Articles 

Tofino Time October 2006

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