I use video review heavily in the process of learning.  Without the feedback loop you don’t know if practice is moving you in the right or wrong direction.  Last week Oscar and I did a day of video and I thought it would make a good journal to post a couple waves and talk through what I’ve been working on…  how I see video.

If you haven’t done a video session before, it’s brutal for the ego.  I haven’t ever had a situation where someone saw themselves surf for the first time on video and said, “wow!  I surf way better than I thought”…  It’s common for folks to feel bummed, but that’s the first step in improving.

Without video you don’t have a basis for comparison between what something feels like and what it in fact looks like.  That’s a skill that you’ll need to train.  I’ve been using video as a training aid consistently for the last 2 years and I’m still surprised at times that the discrepancy between feel and look.  And it can go either way–   Look terrible, but feel great or feel terrible, look great.

Let’s take a look at the video here today.

A video posted by paddlewoo (@paddlewoo) on

I’m riding the 7.4 starboard with FCS Performer L as the front fins and an AM2 as the trailer using the FCS to longboard adapter (I don’t get anything here, or from any links, just posting for convenience).  It’s a blessing to be able to adapt fins, but the starboard box is deep and you lose about a cm from the fin.  My biggest complaint on the starboard right now is holding turns on the bottom, most likely due to the fin.  Sean Poynter had a bigger centre fin, but he wouldn’t leave it when I bought the board.  Tyler from FCS just sent over some fins, and I’m fired up to try them when I get back next week!

When I break down video, my video, I’m super critical.  And I’m never happy with how it looks, but I will pick out some wins here to discuss.  I want to sell you on the process of incremental refinement.

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Going back to watching some of Mo Freitas’ first videos I noticed how he’d stroke into his bottom turn.  It is a fast stroke right at the transition to driving down the line to coming out for your bottom turn.  It always seemed to give him a touch more speed which aided in carry to the bottom and a harder bottom turn.  I drilled on this for a while, but never seemed to own it in my surfing.  Picking apart this video at 11 secs in I do it, almost exactly like Mo…  Even incorporating the style I discussed on a recent blog.  It’s subtle, but definite progress.

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And while I love that paddle into the bottom turn, I can’t stand the next paddle at 15 secs when the top hand comes way over my head.

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Before my first trip with Fisher and Kieran Grant last August I don’t think I’d ever done a slingshot turn.  Not frontside, not backside… pretty much never.  During that trip, The Grant Boys sold me on the benefits.  Specifically, I loved their roundhouse slingshots to foam bounce.  I’ve worked on the maneauver over the past while and am getting it.  The difficult part is getting the weighting perfect.  It varies significantly board to board- length and rocker both play a huge part.  At 32 secs into the video I knock out a smooth slingshot roundhouse to foam bounce.  I find it a lot easier to throw out the tail and use power instead of precision, but this one came together nicely.  Hopefully I’ll be able to recreate it…  I felt it at the time so know I have a nice model in my head of how it feels done properly.  This one felt good and looked good.

You can watch the video of Kieran and Fisher from August. I’ve modelled the slingshot after some turns in this video. They do it as well as anyone out there. Better to model them than me 🙂

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In paddle surfing it’s easy to default to power.  There aren’t many situations that you can’t push or pull your way through.  It’s more difficult to go the route of precision.  I experienced this during the trip with Colin and Kalama.  Rail surfing isn’t always as flashy, but it can be much more technical.  Since that trip I’ve committed to refining my rail game.

If you look at the majority of my photos, it’s go fast, set rail and pull as hard as you can…  it makes a great photo and it’s a blast.

That power turn, that pulling, allows you to cover up little misses before and during the turn.  Overturn on the bottom turn?  Pull harder on the top.  Set too much rail?  Pull harder and slide out the tail.  Pull too hard?  Lay back on the paddle until the foam pushes you back up.

In the rail game you’re not relying on the paddle in the same way.  And given the board size you need to be on point throughout.  During a rail turn on a shortboard you can use micro adjustments to control the speed of the turn.  I haven’t yet found that level of control on a standup.  Thicker, longer rails are more of a blunt force weapon, which makes everything more critical… less margin for error.

That’s a sidebar, but it will help explain why I’m stoked on the turn at 38 secs (pictured above).  Up till now on the starboard I’ve been doing only paddle heavy, tail sliding turns.  Like the first turn in the video.  Go fast, set the rail and pull…  The turn at 38 is 100% different.  One of the first I’ve done on this board and it’s a result of focusing on rail game and riding the Infinity there for those 3 weeks.  Pulling skills across from a different board.

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I’m posting this photo as a few folks have asked what I do with my paddle when I pull into barrels.  This is about as clear a photo as I’ll get so there you go…  right after a bottom turn I generally will drop the back hand off the paddle and use the back hand as speed control in the wave and also as a gauge on where the wave is.  Eyes are usually looking up at the lip where it’s peeling off.  Don’t look down or you’ll be too low in the wave and get smashed by the lip.

If you like hand stalling for tubes in warm water on short paddle boards then you’d really hate our camp in Costa Rica… Don’t come.

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