Photos: Tom Servais
The Pick Up: You'll Never Guess Who Stole Tom Carroll's Pipeline 'Snap' Board
Watch the clip, learn!
In the 1991 Pipe Masters, Tom Carroll did a turn that redefined heavy-wave performance surfing. This iconic snap, as performed on a 7’8” semi-gun, was radical beyond comprehension for 20th century surfing. Twenty-six years later, we still feel the same way. Even in 2017 nobody’s doing that shit at proper Pipeline.
But why not?
Well, for one thing, it takes a lot of guts. And according to everything we’ve seen and heard over the years, Tom Carroll could never be called a coward. To this day he surfs some of the world’s biggest waves for fun, but doing a turn like that at proper Pipeline is arguably more terrifying than tackling 30-foot outer reefs.
Next is strength. TC is a small, golden nugget of a man, standing somewhere around five-foot-six in slippahs. Tom compensated for his lack of height with tree-trunk quads and a steel core, allowing him to turn that 7’8 Suburban as if it were a 6’3 Carrera. Tight snaps on a board of that length come not without a gallon of elbow grease.
And lastly, guys don’t try turns like this in 2017 because it wouldn’t score well in today’s competitive arena. The WSL’s criteria is tricky in the sense that higher difficulty doesn’t necessarily correlate with higher scores. Pipeline, they’ve deemed, is a tubing wave and therefore turns are scored unfavorably, despite the inherent difficulty of a sharp direction change on an over-vert wave face. In other words, the reward doesn’t justify the risk.
Considering the legacy of Tom’s maneuver, maybe that’s something for the WSL to reevaluate.