What’s up paddle freaks! We had one of those glorious mornings here in Costa Rica today. The arrival of a significant SW swell, 4ft. at 18secs and a mid-morning high tide made for some fun conditions on the reef. I used the session to work on the ColinBack. Working on being patient and holding the rail as long as I could in the turn. Amazing how a good board will grab and come around for you.
I said a new series was coming, and here it is… We’re going to break down the phases of turning. I’m going to start in the middle as it will be relevant to the majority of folks reading, then we’re going to go back to the beginning and then sum it all up. You can check out this journal for an advanced wrap-around or subscribe to the newsletter to get the guide to Man Hacks right away. Both of those are advanced turns.
We’re going to start this journal by apologizing to Oscar for throwing him under the bus. I’m using an old video of him to demonstrate the intermediate turn and now he’s an advanced paddle surfer. He’s been training hard for the last year and this turn no longer reflects his level of surfing, but it’s a perfect example of not committing the rail and wrong paddle/rail sequence.
Here we go –
In the first frame the surfer is driving down the line and preparing to turn. The bottom turn was high on the face and shallow. It’s difficult to drive a bottom turn off the face because the geometry doesn’t allow for a lot of buried rail, and the chances of slipping out of the turn, sliding the tail and losing speed are higher. So, if you’re doing a bottom turn high on the face it will normally be shallow.
Weight is transitioning back to the tail instead of over the rail. As we broke down yesterday the difference in Intermediate and Advanced turns is the sequence of rail and paddle being set in the wave. In this turn the paddle is set and the rail won’t fully engage.
Notice how much of the board is out of the water. To wrap a turn around with power you need to have the rail engaged for something to push on. Only about the back 18 inches of the tail are buried. Drive should come from the front foot, but the rail under the front foot is out of the water.
The paddle has also begun to pull, further setting the tail in the water, without burying the rail.
The pull on the paddle is almost complete and the rail never set. The board is accelerating, but without the rail to push on the fins are going to break lose. Direction won’t change back into the pocket and the result will be a fin slide instead of a cutback.
The board has flattened out. The rail never engaged. Spray is shooting out sideways, low in the water.
I’m being very critical of this turn to help us learn, but it isn’t a bad turn. It’s done in the correct spot, completed smoothly and looks great. We’re comparing good and great surfing, and if we’re not being critical, we won’t learn. So please don’t think I’m hating here. Oscar is a much better surfer now because he’s hard on himself.
Nice slide. Trajectory is still down the line. Balance is perfect, over the board and supported by the paddle.
Weight back over the board and direction is coming around to continue down the line. A great example of an intermediate turn.
Check back tomorrow to see how an advanced turn differs.
If you like this breakdown you’ll love coming down to surf with Oscar and I in Costa Rica at Blue Zone SUP. Email us here for details.
Today we’re going to breakdown the easiest backside turn, the backside cutback, but before we do, gonna journal a minute…
My son, who is seven years old right now, has discovered the bug for surfing. I tried and tried to get him to surf when he was younger and it just didn’t work. Then about six months ago, he started to play in the ocean. I made a conscious effort to not equate playing in the ocean with surfing. He could spend an hour by himself just jumping in the waves. Then he started bodysurfing. After a month or so bodysurfing he asked to take his boogie board to the beach. He’d just ride waves on his belly, then I guess that got easy, or boring, and he started trying to stand on it. After another month or so standing on his boogie, and starting to get frustrated that he couldn’t turn, and I said to him, “It’s a lot easier to turn with fins on the bottom.” That got him to ask to surf… And now he’s hooked. We go 3 or 4 times a week. It’s our best time. (more…)
What’s up folks! Been a crazy couple days. The Kai Lenny episode of the podcast dropped yesterday and I’m finalizing a couple magazine articles that will be coming out in the next few months. The Progression Project movie should be out here in late June if everything goes to plan…
On to the journal… surf was good this morning, whereas yesterday was 4ft. at 15, today was 3.5 at 14… That difference was enough to take the umf out of the waves. And where the starboard was excelling in the steeper, faster conditions, today I got to see its downside a few times. Slow and sluggish in flat sections and digging rails on drawn out cutbacks. I contend that it’s not a surfboard. Not in the traditional sense. Starboard gets 95% of it right… construction is top level, float for size is the best around, and performance off the tail is as good as it gets… but, when you have to engage that front section of the board on a lazy wave it just doesn’t come around.
After being frustrated on a few cutbacks today, I came home and broke down some footage of Colin McPhillips. He does that cutback better than anyone and I wanted to see if I was missing something. It will make a good journal, so here you go… (more…)
Yesterday Kai Lenny recorded for the PaddleWoo Podcast. I’ve spent a ton of time with a lot of Kai’s friends, but have had no contact with him. He is an inspired human and the show turned out great. It will be up in a week or so — stay tuned!
Kai inspired me. He’s about as focused and passionate as anyone I’ve met. Got me all inspired to surf this morning. Early, the surf wasn’t any good. And after checking for 2 hours I decided to go out back for a paddle and try to learn that stroke that Kai does. He has a unique return, leading with the bottom elbow and a strong flick at the end of the stroke. So, this morning I broke down a few videos of him paddling and decided to paddle in the bay for a bit.
It took me a while to understand leading with the bottom elbow on the return. But after about 10 minutes I figured out why it’s effective. If you paddle like Kai, which is a very deep hinge, you’re almost at 90 degrees when you start your stroke. It takes some time to extend that far, and the meat of your stroke, the power, is all in that front 1/2 of the pull. So, I think what makes his stroke effective, is that 2/3’s into the stroke he’s already on recovery with his body. Leading with the elbow allows you to continue to pull while the body is recovering. Then, the paddle can come back much faster than if you were finishing your stroke with straight arms. It’s an oscillation.
This stroke and the leading elbow recovery also brings the paddle back perpendicular. You can have a lower recovery and if chop hits the blade it won’t catch. I focused on emulating the stroke today for a couple hours and that’s what I figured out. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
By the time I paddled around, a reef actually started to look good. Not great, but some good lines coming though. Direction was a bit off and there was some weird backwash, but if you got a first or second wave of the set you’d get a good ride. It was pretty mellow so I decided to work on rail turns. I’ve spent the last few weeks focused on the Colin/Kalama cutback, so I decided to focus on a variation that Mo is doing. There isn’t a name for it yet, so I’ll just explain it.
It starts like a normal cutback with paddle on toeside. Set the rail, set the paddle, pull into the turn. The limiting factor of having the paddle in the water when you’re doing a rail turn is that if you’re pushing the turn it will stop the turn at a certain point. What Mo Feitas will do at times is pull the paddle out about 1/3 into the turn and throw the leading shoulder and paddle back at the whitewater. It’s the same motion you’d do on a shortboard. Today was a great day for trying and I got about 15 reps through the short session.
Some notes on the turn:
- If the rail, not full rail, more back 2/5, isn’t fully engaged when you pull the paddle you come right out of the turn. This put me in a few bad spots where the wave was super steep and I was basically air dropping, awkwardly, to avoid pearling.
- If the rail is set, you can’t swing your weight too hard.
- The paddle gives you a nice swing weight to throw momentum into the turn. Just as you can counterbalance while standing with your paddle, the weight of the paddle will really help you come around.
- It’s a super fast turn. I got ahold of 3 or 4 and when done right you’re coming around super fast. I tried to throw out the tail on a few and it didn’t feel good. Better to just hit the foam.
- The good thing about this turn is that the foam bounce is easy as the paddle is still on your toeside rail.
Frame grabs below from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0RPjoj8JWU
(featured photo is from The SUP Movie – https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-sup-movie-poor-boyz/id953434802)