This week was focused on understanding bottom turns. I was frustrated with the new Rawson (7.9×26) on the bottom of the wave.
Some notes on the board – At 7.9 it’s a bit bigger than what I’ve been riding. It has an extreme tail rocker with fins a bit farther forward than my other boards. The board trims forward of center, so doesn’t carry speed off the tail.
All that said, I know it surfs amazing because I have a ton of Mo footage riding it better than anyone rides any board. So the problem is with the rider at this point.
I got frustrated on Tuesday, and decided to figure it out. This is my normal process for learning/refining a skill.
- Go to the source. In this case Mo. I broke down Mo videos for an hour or so. I found the Cali video most helpful (below). After watching a few times I started to realize how much rail he’s putting in the water. Also, back foot, which on a thruster is normally right on top of the back inside rail fin, seems to be a touch farther forward. It made sense to me, with a looser tail, you’d need more rail, but I didn’t realize how much Mo is burying the rail until now. His bottom turn looks a lot like that of Julian Wilson, very compact and low.
- Go drill. I rode the Rawson for the next 2 sessions and still couldn’t get it. I had some great moments, off the lip game is strong with the tail rocker and quad, but bottom game was still lacking.
- Try other equipment. At this point I rode 3 different boards for the next 3 sessions. The small 7.7×24 Hobie, the L41 6.10×26 and the bigger Hobie at 7.6×26.5. Bottom turns felt better and focusing on the bottom turn with the three different boards really allowed me to dial in the feel and foot placement. But, I still didn’t have the a-ha moment.
- Back to the video… This time I took the last few days of me surfing and broke it down with the below video. That’s when I saw it. Directly preceding Mo’s bottom turn he’ll do a stroke into the flats. I always thought it was stylish, but never gave it much thought outside of speed. But, it has massive implications for the bottom turn.
- Boards turn on rail better when the wave face has the greatest opposed angle. So, bottom turns are easier in the flats and cutbacks are easier when the wave is bending at you. Have you ever tried to lay down a huge carve on a wave bending away? It’s almost impossible. So, that extra stroke isn’t as much about speed as it is about clearing distance into the flats which allows more rail penetration and a tighter bottom turn. Which, if your riding a loose quad, is needed to maintain speed to the lip.
- The video above on instagram is after 2 days of practicing the paddle into the flats. Bottom turns are grabbing and redirecting like I’ve never felt before.