Slingshot Cutback and Surfing Paddle Stroke Notes

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
April 27, 2016

Buenas días folks! Here’s some notes on this morning’s session.

1. I drilled on paddle technique while surfing. If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, you can read it here.  The idea being that a lot of style in paddle surfing comes from technique of stroking while driving down the line and that good surfers have inactive, low front arms.  We reference Mo Freitas and you can check out videos of him and John John.  Goal 1 today was to consciously notice my stoke while surfing, goal 2 was to keep the front arm low.  I tried a few different variations of paddling, at the beginning focusing on the front arm and all seemed awkward.  I then decided to consciously focus on rear arm and to get the rear arm high in the return.  This worked, and took care of the front arm.  I’ll need to break it down on video to see where I’m at, but the feeling is much more in line with what I believe to be the best practice.  So, if you’re going to drill on this technique, focus on your rear arm, making a punching motion, like a low right hook.  The rest should take care of itself.

2.  Slingshot frontside cutback.  Tony, asked for this in the comments of yesterday’s journal, and it’s something I’m currently trying to improve. For my first 2 years paddle surfing I didn’t believe in paddle transitions.  To be more specific, I didn’t understand the value of your paddle being on your heel side rail.  Both frontside and backside I kept the paddle toeside, and this worked with my surfing.  Coming from a short boarding background I understood how to get the rail in the water and my default was more power by way of pull to bring the board around.  Set the rail, set the blade, push with your rear leg and pull with everything you’ve got on the paddle.  I still believe this is the best turn in paddle surfing, but I did have my mind blown watching the crew on the Progression Project.  Notably, Giorgio and Kieran were tight pocket wraparounds using the slightshot technique and in sections where the normal turn wouldn’t work.

Here’s a video of Fisher and Kieran Grant that showcases a variety of the slingshot turns.

PaddleWoo Presents: The Grant Boys and Steven McLean from PaddleWoo on Vimeo.

The slingshot turn is best used in fatter, bowly sections where there isn’t enough energy or wall to the wave to throw a big hack.  When you do throw the big hack the spray is generated by converting you momentum into direction change and unless the wave is going to give you more energy in the form of a steep recovery, you run the risk of losing the wave or at best an ugly paddle to get more speed.  The slingshot turn draws out your arc and maintains speed.  It’s easy to rebound off the foam.

To start the turn you need to paddle transition to your heel side rail before you bottom turn.  This will draw out your bottom turn, as you won’t have the extra leverage of leaning on your paddle, but most sections you’ll want to do the turn won’t require a huge bottom turn.  The ideal section to look for is a pretty fat shoulder without a lot of run in the wave.  You want time to turn, rebound and get back on the face.  As you finish your bottom turn, find the section where you want to engage your slingshot cutback and the first step is engaging your rail.  Rail engagement is where I’ve been playing these past few weeks.  I’ve realized it’s a bit counter intuitive.  With the toeside paddle hack the objective is to bury as much rail as possible and pull as hard as you can.  Even if you dig the rail, you’ve got a paddle and can pull it out.  With the slingshot, heel variation the anchored paddle will pull your rail into the water.  So going in rail heavy will turn into digging your rail and a slow fall to your butt.  Better to be tail heavy going in and then lean into the rail as needed to avoid slip.

So after you’ve found your spot and set your rail, your paddle should be simultaneously engaging at the center point in your turn.  This turn is easier for beginners to learn as it forces good technique.  Planting the paddle will open the front shoulder which should naturally lead the turn.  Rail engaged, paddle planted.  Now just hang on.  I’m currently having fun with really throwing all my weight on the paddle 2/3 through the turn and letting the tail slide around  and riding out fakey for a second.  You can also just hold the rail and hit the foam.

I’ve posted before about the Slingshot turn here and if you want to see a step-by-step of the variation used in a backside bottom turn read this.

Play with it.  Enjoy!  Erik

Progression Journal

One Comment

  • Zoe Grant

    Wow that was great Erik!! The slingshot is my favorite!! I enjoyed the content, so I’m.sharing!!

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