Breaking down an Intermediate SUP Surfing Turn

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
June 14, 2016

What’s up paddle freaks!  We had one of those glorious mornings here in Costa Rica today.  The arrival of a significant SW swell, 4ft. at 18secs and a mid-morning high tide made for some fun conditions on the reef.  I used the session to work on the ColinBack.  Working on being patient and holding the rail as long as I could in the turn.  Amazing how a good board will grab and come around for you.

I said a new series was coming, and here it is… We’re going to break down the phases of turning.  I’m going to start in the middle as it will be relevant to the majority of folks reading, then we’re going to go back to the beginning and then sum it all up.  You can check out this journal for an advanced wrap-around or subscribe to the newsletter to get the guide to Man Hacks right away.  Both of those are advanced turns.

We’re going to start this journal by apologizing to Oscar for throwing him under the bus.  I’m using an old video of him to demonstrate the intermediate turn and now he’s an advanced paddle surfer.  He’s been training hard for the last year and this turn no longer reflects his level of surfing, but it’s a perfect example of not committing the rail and wrong paddle/rail sequence.

Here we go –

Flat SUP Turn - 1

In the first frame the surfer is driving down the line and preparing to turn.  The bottom turn was high on the face and shallow.  It’s difficult to drive a bottom turn off the face because the geometry doesn’t allow for a lot of buried rail, and the chances of slipping out of the turn, sliding the tail and losing speed are higher.  So, if you’re doing a bottom turn high on the face it will normally be shallow.

Weight is transitioning back to the tail instead of over the rail.  As we broke down yesterday the difference in Intermediate and Advanced turns is the sequence of rail and paddle being set in the wave.  In this turn the paddle is set and the rail won’t fully engage.

Flat SUP Turn - 2

Notice how much of the board is out of the water.  To wrap a turn around with power you need to have the rail engaged for something to push on. Only about the back 18 inches of the tail are buried.  Drive should come from the front foot, but the rail under the front foot is out of the water.

The paddle has also begun to pull, further setting the tail in the water, without burying the rail.

Flat SUP Turn - 3

The pull on the paddle is almost complete and the rail never set.  The board is accelerating, but without the rail to push on the fins are going to break lose.  Direction won’t change back into the pocket and the result will be a fin slide instead of a cutback.

Flat SUP Turn - 4

The board has flattened out.  The rail never engaged.  Spray is shooting out sideways, low in the water.

I’m being very critical of this turn to help us learn, but it isn’t a bad turn.  It’s done in the correct spot, completed smoothly and looks great.  We’re comparing good and great surfing, and if we’re not being critical, we won’t learn.  So please don’t think I’m hating here.  Oscar is a much better surfer now because he’s hard on himself.

Flat SUP Turn - 5

Nice slide.  Trajectory is still down the line.  Balance is perfect, over the board and supported by the paddle.

Flat SUP Turn - 6

Weight back over the board and direction is coming around to continue down the line.  A great example of an intermediate turn.

Check back tomorrow to see how an advanced turn differs.

If you like this breakdown you’ll love coming down to surf with Oscar and I in Costa Rica at Blue Zone SUP.  Email us here for details.

Progression Journal

One Comment

  • Anna Ross

    Love the post Erik and great break down to help understand everything step by step. Makeing a sturd with surfing is one thing, but adding in the paddle makes it different and this helped me understand it better.

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