tofino surfing - speed on a backside wave visit the photographer's website

Tofino surfing: Backside Airs

by Pete Devries, Tofino

the letter 'B'

Backside airs are great to have in your repertoire of tricks. They're perfect for finishing off a wave, and they feel really smooth when you do them correctly. In my opinion they are easier to do than frontside airs because it's easier to launch off the lip on your backhand, but the landings can be a little tricky.

Start by catching a steep backside wave with a bowling end section. Steep beach breaks are an ideal place to learn this trick. While you're paddling into the wave, angle your board down the line towards the open face of the wave in order to get lots of speed off the take-off. Pop to your feet as fast as you can, and drive up the wave with a powerful pump. Remember speed is going to be the key to getting your board over the lip so try to put as much effort into pumping as you can.

When you reach the top of the wave push down on your front foot to drive down the wave to gain more speed. Watch the wave carefully because the end section that you want to launch off will be coming at you very quickly.

Start your bottom turn from in between the bottom and the middle of the wave at a 20 to 30 degree angle so that when you reach the top of the wave your board will connect with the close out. If you do too much of a bottom turn your momentum will carry you out the back of the wave when you launch off the lip so you have to be very precise. While doing your bottom turn watch the lip you are about to launch off. Your arms should be balanced on either side of you and your head and upper body should be slightly turn towards the lip. Centre your weight and bend your knees before you launch off the lip.

Project your momentum off the lip by riding off the steepest part of the wave, right where the whitewater meets the open face. Bend your knees and suck your board up towards your body while turning your body towards the beach, and pushing on your back leg. This will cause your board to rotate slightly so the tail of your board will be higher than the nose of your board(style purposes). Try and stay balanced over the top of your board by staying low, and try not to kick your back foot off your board.

Once you reach your high point and start to descend, look for a place to land. You either want to land on the top of the wave (if it has closed out), or in the transition, not in the flats in front of of the wave. As you are coming down your body will extend. Keep your knees bent and try to keep your style together. Don't land airs with straight legs, unless you want to wreck your knees and ankles. Stomp your landing, and bend your knees to absorb the shock. Ride it out, and claim it for everyone on the beach.

Once you get straight backside airs down try to do rotations or to add grabs in for variation. I think it's actually easier to do rotation airs rather than straight airs on your backhand because your momentum carries you off the lip when you spin. You might want to try those if your finding straight airs too difficult.

Check out Taj, and Andy for these ones.

Backside Air Tips

  1. Get all the speed you can on a wedgey little close out.
  2. Bottom turn at a 20 to 30 degree angle towards the steepest part of the close out.
  3. Launch off the lip and suck your knees up to your chest while slightly extending your back leg.
  4. Spot your landing. Stomp it, and ride away clean

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

Tofino Surfing Articles 

Tofino Time February 2008

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Tofino surfer Peter DeVries explains how to execute backside airs in this article from Tofino Time magazine.

tofino time february 2008

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