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.