NewsDrug Aware Margaret River ProFilipe Toledo

A Mortal Man's Tribute to Layback Snaps

We live in uncertain times, in a world where precious little is to be taken for granted, much less guaranteed. With the possible exception of the proverbial death and taxes -- and the fact that the world's best left-foot forward surfers are going to do layback snaps on the right at Margaret River Main Break.

Defending event champion Sebastian Zietz of Hawaii placed second in Heat 3 of Round Five to finish equal 9th in the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in clean 3-5ft Main Break, Western Australia. Sebastian Zietz thrives on spontaneity, reserving his layback hacks for opportune moments. WSL / Ed Sloane

For surfers with an excess of speed, and a not a whole lot of room to maneuver, the layback snap provides a functional, eye-catching solution in the quest to impress the judges. At the same time, they provide a certain blue collar, everyman appeal, wholesome fare likely to elicit appreciative grunts from even the saltiest of surf fans.

John John Florence of Hawaii winning Heat 6 of Round One at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro at North Point, Western Australia. John John Florence has about 90 variations of the classic move, which look good from any angle. WSL / Kelly Cestari

While the ultra-technical airs wow us and giant tubes have us gasp with incredulity, to mere mortals, they're out of reach, other-worldly, the stuff of fantasy. Things we'll never attempt, much less actually make. But the layback snap on a head-high wall? You can indulge yourself in a bit of mindsurf optimism, like... ‘Me… on a really, really good day?' Sure, they might be unlikely to trouble John John, but they're on the spectrum.

Jordy Smith of South Africa won Heat 4 of Round One at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro at North Point, Western Australia. Ultimately, it's all about the speed going in. Jordy Smith pulls the e-brake... WSL / Matt Dunbar Jordy Smith of South Africa won Heat 4 of Round One at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro at North Point, Western Australia. ...and maintains complete control. WSL / Matt Dunbar

In the live contest commentary, you might hear layback snaps referred to in myriad ways. From "Larry layback" (a nod to 70's style master and layback pioneer Larry Bertlemann) to a "dropped wallet" (for obvious reasons), to the skate-inspired "grind the coping." It doesn't really matter what you call 'em. What matters is power, aggression, and their close bedfellow: buckets of spray.

Michel Bourez of Tahiti winning in Heat 4 of Round Three at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro at the Main Break, Western Australia. Michel Bourez likes to unleash his in critical sections, and with full force. WSL / Matt Dunbar

There are the ones you see coming a mile off and therefore enjoy them all the more. There are the spontaneous, no backswing, off-the-cuff ones. There are pretty ones, and ugly ones. There are laybacks that serve like an exclamation point, an emphatic finishing flourish. And there are those that seem to defy the laws of physics, like a stuntman careening around a supermarket parking lot at 50mph and then e-breaking, tires smoking, into a perfect parallel park.

Filipe Toledo of Brazil advanced to the Quarterfinals after winning Heat 3 in Round Five of the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in clean 3-5ft Main Break, Western Australia. The layback can be done anywhere on the face: midway up, under the lip, or, as employed here by Filipe Toledo, up on the lip. WSL / Ed Sloane

So when competition at the Drug Aware Pro resumes to crown our 2017 event champions, and if Main Break is the venue, whoever emerges victorious in an event that's seen all kinds of ocean thrown at the world's best, it's likely that a little bit of Larry helped them on the way.

John John Florence of Hawaii winning Heat 6 of Round One at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro at North Point, Western Australia. Some are quick-burst releases, while others, like this one employed by John John Florence, can be time-extended. WSL / Matt Dunbar
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