PaddleWoo Guide: Frontside Bottom Turn
Welcome to the PaddleWoo Guides Series… I have been getting emails asking about progression so I thought I would put together a section of the site dedicated to it. Since Kieran and Fisher were just down here, you’ll be seeing them in a lot of the tutorials.
As you are catching a wave you should be preparing for the upcoming maneuvers. This will determine where you want to setup your first bottom turn, and it may not be right on the drop. This tutorial applies if your bottom turn is right on the drop, or farther down the line. If you are going down the line then you first step will be to turn towards the beach. After that it is the same turn.
Here, surfer Kieran Grant, is dropping into the wave and looking down the line for the section he wants to hit. Since he has a section quickly approaching, he heads straight down the face preparing for the bottom turn. He disengages his paddle, freeing it from the water which will allow him to start extending his rear arm and he moves his foot all the way back to the tail, all the while keeping his eyes focused on the upcoming section.
Kieran is preparing to set his rail and drive off of his fins. What separates paddle surfing from shortboarding is the leverage that the paddle provides. This allows you to lean way farther over your rail than you could without the paddle. Paddle position is critical. You should extend your back arm and the paddle blade should contact the water ahead of your front foot. This seems counter intuitive, but it works… trust me.
Make sure your board is pointing towards the beach and your are in the “flats” ahead of the wave. If you try to do a hard bottom turn while still on the face of the wave, your rail and fins likely won’t hold, and you will side out and fall on your face.
With the paddle placed Kieran’s weight is starting to transition over the paddle. On the most laid out bottom turns I am probably putting 40% of my weight over the paddle. If you look at it in slow motion or in photos the paddle is bending a good bit, and this is the biggest drawback of a flexible paddle, you just want lay out a bottom turn nearly as hard.
You can think of the paddle like the pivot point of a pendulum (this is even more apparent on inside paddle rail turns). When you do it correctly you will feel the paddle not only support your weight, but pull your turn tighter. It’s how you can do radical turns on such a big board.
In the photo above you can see the paddle starting to flex (this is the kevlar paddle with very little flex). The rail is fully weighted and Kieran’s eyes haven’t left the section approaching down the line. A big difference between a frontside and backside bottom turn is the sensitivity that you have on your toe side. Backside you really need to just dig the rail in and blast your way through it… frontside you can feather your turn and adjust to a much greater level.
Max G Force of the turn… Look at the water coming off the rail and notice that the outside fin is fully out of the water, but way more than 50% of the tail is buried. The turn is coming off the tail and the 2 fins are holding the board in the water. Eyes are still focuses at the lip.
At this point you have done the heavy lifting and your board should be set to recoil back below your center of gravity. You shouldn’t have to use the paddle too much to get the board back, but if you went’ too far, it can help.
A lot has happened between Step 5 and 6. The paddle is now out of the picture and the surfer is preparing to retarget the paddle on the lip. The board is coming off rail. Your goal needs to be to be completely off rail at the inflection point from bottom turn to top turn. If you stay on rail on your bottom turn too long you will probably lose the wave.
The bottom turn is done… The board is off rail completely and Kieran’s weight is starting to move over his heals preparing for the upcoming turn. The paddle is fully targeted towards the lip…
Stay tuned to Lesson 2 coming soon… Feel free to comment below.