Here’s a raw video breakdown. I know a lot of you have been asking for this for a while. And we’ve wanted to do produced tech videos, but the reality is we spend all the time making it polished and at the end of the day we can’t convey as much info. It’s why I love podcasts and why instead of doing the polished videos I figured we try some raw breakdowns first. This is as raw as it gets, it’s like sitting down over breakfast and going through footage. This type of analysis is how I learn and practice…
Let me know if you all like it and I can knock out more. Pretty easy and I have a boatload of footage.
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.
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.