Fast, compact, innovative goofyfooter from Santa Barbara, California, best known as a pioneer of the floater maneuver in the late 1970s. Smith was born in Los Angeles (1958), moved with his family to Santa Barbara at age three, and began surfing at 10. His method of "whitewater ripping," as Surfing magazine described it, was in part a response to Santa Barbara's small, crumbly, almost shapeless summer waves; whereas other surfers had little use for the wave after it closed out, Smith began banking, or "floating," off the foam. (World pro tour surfer Cheyne Horan was doing the same thing at his home beach in Bondi, Australia.) Smith was also in the vanguard for aerial surfing.
A washout on the pro circuit, Smith was nonetheless regarded as one of California's best surfers in the early '80s. He was featured in a small number of surf movies, including Off the Wall II (1982) and Follow the Sun (1983), and was an early test pilot for guru-to-be boardmaker Al Merrick.