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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.