We’ve got Fisher Grant showcasing the backside slingshot bottom turn. This isn’t an extreme example of the turn, but I like the camera angle as you can see what the paddle is doing. The same technique applies for vertical turns.
To start, you’re going to want to find section to do a maneuver on, here Fisher has just come through a flat section of the wave and the wave is starting to bowl up again. As the wave develops, he is waiting in the pocket. In photo 1 the wave is starting to stand up and Fisher sees the section he wants to hit. In backside SUP surfing there are two variations of the bottom turn. This turn, the slingshot, uses the paddle on the heelside rail to create a tighter turn. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of the slingshot, you can read about it here.
I prefer a slingshot bottom turn for most critical sections as you can get your board to the lip faster, then the lip will throw you back down.
Notice that Fisher’s weight has yet to engage, he has decided to do a slingshot turn and is in the process of the paddle transition.
In almost every turn you’re going to need to find your tail. This doesn’t mean that in all turns your foot needs to be square on your tail block, but normally your foot will be in the area of your fins. Certain boards require a different foot placement, but we’re normally talking inches here, detailed refinement.
Fisher has found his tail and the paddle has transitioned. The next step is all timing. Waiting for the right place to engage the turn… Just like a frontside bottom turn, you going to want to be in the “flats” of the wave.
The setup to a bottom turn is the same frontside and backside and so many surfers just don’t get it… Your first turn is towards the beach. Vertical surfing happens on your bottom turn and it originates by turning away from the wave. You can see Fisher’s board is pointing directly towards the beach. If you watch intermediate surfers, you’ll notice that they would already be engaging their bottom turn at this point. By engaging too soon, you flatten out your line… so be patient!
Posture is such an important part of surfing. Head high and back flat. (If you haven’t listened to the Eric Goodman podcast I highly recommend it.) Bending takes place at the hinge in the hips and knees.
You can see in the photo that Fisher has committed to the turn and the heel rail and paddle engage simultaneously. You can see that he is a few feet in front of the wave, by being in the flats you can push a turn harder.
Notice the relationship between Fisher’s left hip and lead hand. What is happening here is that the paddle has anchored and Fisher’s weight is transitioning to the paddle which is actually planing on the water. The board is starting to slingshot and is actually accelerating. If not for the paddle you couldn’t lay out a turn this far. Hence “Paddle Enhanced Surfing.”
When you have this sensation for the first time you’ll definitely know it… In one turn your paddle will go from being in the way to an accelerant, like gasoline on a fire!
Look at that paddle flex. That is the kevlar 27 North paddle and it is a very stiff paddle. I would guess that there is a downforce of 40lbs on the paddle at this point in the turn. It would be great to get some drone, overhead footage of this turn to calculate the movement of the paddle throughout the turn, but it isn’t much.
For this turn, Fisher isn’t going to hit the lip, he’s going to do a cutback back into the pocket. So he doesn’t carry the turn vertical, but the only difference in the featured turn and a vertical bottom turn is the duration of the steps 5 and 6. More vertical means a longer turn. On steeper, more powerful waves you can lay out way more, almost to your butt touching the water.
Notice the relationship between hips and hands now last he turn has finished. The paddle is the counter-balance and as the board comes off rail the hands have swung back to a neutral position. They are in fact moving to brace for a cutback and the toe side rail will engage, but that’s another guide… coming soon.
A great way to practice the slingshot bottom turn is kicking out of waves. I like to see how far you can push it, really lay it out, as you aren’t planning on keeping the wave, who cares if you fall. It is amazing how much you can crank on it and still get back over your board.
Have fun trying!
If you haven’t read about frontside bottom turns, check out the differences here.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast you know that I am preoccupied with the naming of maneuvers… well, now it has become important as I am going to be trying to define them and break them down into steps.
Here is what I have decided:
Anything with your paddle on your heel rail, backside bottom turns heel rail, frontside cutback heel rail, where your paddle is acting like a pivot point, and not pulling, I am going to call a Slingshot. Think David and Goliath slingshot.
The pivot gives a centripetal force and accelerates the object in a new direction. This is exactly what the paddle does in a slingshot turn.
In the future we might shorten this to bottomsling, slingback, sling-gouge… whatever, but for right now, I just want to be able to discuss different maneuvers that don’t have names…
I should add, that if done correctly you feel like you’ve been slingshot, especially on bottom turns.
Now that this is defined, I can finish writing the Backside Slingshot Bottom Turn Guide… Enjoy.
Welcome to the PaddleWoo Guides Series… I have been getting emails asking about progression so I thought I would put together a section of the site dedicated to it. Since Kieran and Fisher were just down here, you’ll be seeing them in a lot of the tutorials.
Paddle Surfing Bottom Turn Guide, Step 1
As you are catching a wave you should be preparing for the upcoming maneuvers. This will determine where you want to setup your first bottom turn, and it may not be right on the drop. This tutorial applies if your bottom turn is right on the drop, or farther down the line. If you are going down the line then you first step will be to turn towards the beach. After that it is the same turn.
Here, surfer Kieran Grant, is dropping into the wave and looking down the line for the section he wants to hit. Since he has a section quickly approaching, he heads straight down the face preparing for the bottom turn. He disengages his paddle, freeing it from the water which will allow him to start extending his rear arm and he moves his foot all the way back to the tail, all the while keeping his eyes focused on the upcoming section.
Paddlewoo Guide to BottomTurn on a SUP, Step 2
Kieran is preparing to set his rail and drive off of his fins. What separates paddle surfing from shortboarding is the leverage that the paddle provides. This allows you to lean way farther over your rail than you could without the paddle. Paddle position is critical. You should extend your back arm and the paddle blade should contact the water ahead of your front foot. This seems counter intuitive, but it works… trust me.
Make sure your board is pointing towards the beach and your are in the “flats” ahead of the wave. If you try to do a hard bottom turn while still on the face of the wave, your rail and fins likely won’t hold, and you will side out and fall on your face.
Rail Engaging, Paddle Surf Bottom Turn, Step 3
With the paddle placed Kieran’s weight is starting to transition over the paddle. On the most laid out bottom turns I am probably putting 40% of my weight over the paddle. If you look at it in slow motion or in photos the paddle is bending a good bit, and this is the biggest drawback of a flexible paddle, you just want lay out a bottom turn nearly as hard.
You can think of the paddle like the pivot point of a pendulum (this is even more apparent on inside paddle rail turns). When you do it correctly you will feel the paddle not only support your weight, but pull your turn tighter. It’s how you can do radical turns on such a big board.
Paddle is Fully Weighted, Rail Engaged – Paddlewoo Guide Step 5
In the photo above you can see the paddle starting to flex (this is the kevlar paddle with very little flex). The rail is fully weighted and Kieran’s eyes haven’t left the section approaching down the line. A big difference between a frontside and backside bottom turn is the sensitivity that you have on your toe side. Backside you really need to just dig the rail in and blast your way through it… frontside you can feather your turn and adjust to a much greater level.
Step 5 of the PaddleWoo Bottom Turn Guide
Max G Force of the turn… Look at the water coming off the rail and notice that the outside fin is fully out of the water, but way more than 50% of the tail is buried. The turn is coming off the tail and the 2 fins are holding the board in the water. Eyes are still focuses at the lip.
At this point you have done the heavy lifting and your board should be set to recoil back below your center of gravity. You shouldn’t have to use the paddle too much to get the board back, but if you went’ too far, it can help.
Coming out of the Turn – SUP bottom turn, Paddlewoo Step 6
A lot has happened between Step 5 and 6. The paddle is now out of the picture and the surfer is preparing to retarget the paddle on the lip. The board is coming off rail. Your goal needs to be to be completely off rail at the inflection point from bottom turn to top turn. If you stay on rail on your bottom turn too long you will probably lose the wave.
Transitioning from bottom turn to the next maneuver – PaddleWoo Guide
The bottom turn is done… The board is off rail completely and Kieran’s weight is starting to move over his heals preparing for the upcoming turn. The paddle is fully targeted towards the lip…
Stay tuned to Lesson 2 coming soon… Feel free to comment below.