I was reviewing some of the footage from the Oi Rio Pro, link goes to the WSL heat analyzer page, and this turn from John John jumped out.  You can go watch the turn by selecting the Final and the wave is his first scoring wave, yellow.

I have no evidence that John John has been paddle surfing, but here’s a few interesting notes.  He rides for Hurley… So does Kai Lenny and Noa Ginella.  He lives close to Noa and they’re friends.  Maybe one day, Noa and John were surfing out back together and John saw Noa blast a big ol’ left.  Then John asked Noa, “man, how’d you do that?”  And Noa said, “it’s all about throwing that weight back.  With the paddle it’s easy, but I bet you could figure it out on that board you ride.”  Then they probably went back and broke down some footage of Kai, Caio, and the rest of the Bush Boys and then John John went and used that turn to win a contest.  I expect John’s buying a few beers for Noa and Kai in the near future…

Sounds probable, right?

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Normal approach.

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Here’s where it starts to resemble a paddle hack.  Notice that his weight is shifting to his back foot and body is counter-rotating.  Most surfers lead with their front shoulder and hand, but to carve harder Johns going to throw is weight into the back foot.

In paddle surfing this will naturally happen when you carve off the lip with your paddle on the toe side.  The pull that you do to sink the rail pulls your from shoulder away from the direction of the turn.

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Here instead of pulling with the paddle, John’s throwing his front arm up to weight the tail.  Notice his head looking back, not forward down the wave.

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This is the frame, right here…  Now let’s look at a few paddle surfers from Huntington Beach… about as bad as waves get, but able to produce sick turns because of the paddle.

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Here’s Kai Lenny.  Head placement.  Foot placement.  Weight.  Momentum.

Same turn, but in waist high surf.

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Poenaiki Raioha on his way to win the event.

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World Champ, Caio Vaz.

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Kai Bates, rising Aussie star.

Let’s finish that John John turn…

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Actually, a paddle would have helped him here 🙂  He kind of gets stuck at the lip for a second and should have tweaked the turn farther with some enhanced paddle action.

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I’m not saying that John’s really been training or modelling paddle surfing.  I am saying that his best turn of the final at a world tour event is a paddle surfing turn from a mechanics perspective.  Tough to hate on that…

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