Tom Carroll had been doing this move at his home beach of Newport, Australia, since he was about ten years old. It took him another 20 years to do it at Pipe.
Surfing Pipeline at this level is all instinct. Nobody makes decisions on manual. There's no time. That's why all the great surfing moments here have a kind of jarring quality. They burst out of the surfer's imagination and catch us all by surprise.
That's exactly how the Snap occurred. For Carroll, it was all about the moment. The beautiful board, tuned by master shaper Pat Rawson to Tom's exact specs. The shape of the wave, reminding him of a line he had grooved into his brain by years of practice. It all seemed natural to Tom. Like any surfing - move the body, let the wave and the board do their thing.
But for the rest of us, "The Snap" fell out of the sky. You'd never seen it before. You hadn't even thought it could be done. Nobody's done it since. It made no sound, but somehow, it was heard around the world.