Stability, Floaters and Late Drops
Today’s journal will be short one. The video call with Tyler of FCS is coming up here in an hour, so I’m preparing the discussion. Thanks for the suggestions everyone. There were a few common themes, so those will definitely be addressed: Tail width’s effects on fins, Quad vs. Thruster -when/why, What should we be riding in bigger surf, and smaller surf.
Some notes on today’s session. My focus continued to be on stability, and the understanding of what’s really going on. I’m reframing the lens to focus on controlled falling, not balance, and it’s allowed me to see a bit deeper.
The big find this morning was how I adjust rail weighting. The idea of slowly falling to your paddle side means keeping slightly more weight on that rail. I discovered that I do this by controlling weight on the outside rail by using my toes/ball of my foot.
Picture this. Paddle is toe side. Your foot on the toe-side rail, I’m regular foot, so my right foot, will be grounded from heel to toe on the board. This is the anchor foot. The outside rail foot is the adjustment foot and you’re controlling the board with that foot, using your calf and leg. I notice this for the first time today and then watched it, paddling on both sides, for the rest of the session.
I drilled paddling heel-side. I’m falling or missing waves while turning to the right to catch waves as they’re sucking up – digging the nose every once in a while. Working on adjusting balance to stay farther on the heel rail, it still feels awkward,but getting it at times. Also started working on the J stroke that Connor Baxter talks about on his podcast heel-side. That’s been my crutch toe-side – it is great be able to paddle on one side for as long as you want.
We’ve got a long way to go on understanding stability and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Everything I’m writing about is just personal experience, and I’m sure there are better practices out there that I’d love to know about – so help me out!
If you’re new to the discussion here’s a few links:
Floaters and Late Drops
There are distinct disadvantages to paddle surfing. I’m a believer that the positives outweigh the negatives in a big way, but there’s no getting around that duck-diving and tight turns in small pockets are better on shortboards. But surfing today and watching a few friends fall on floaters in weird conditions, I’m putting floaters and late drops in the SUP column.
Let’s start with floaters. Floaters are one of the first maneuvers you’ll learn in surfing. They’re simple – go down the line, when the wave is about to break aim towards the lip, ride up and let the wave push you down.
But as waves get bigger and you’re going faster, they become more difficult. Speed and projection play a huge part, as you have to time the lip coming down to avoid the explosion that will knock you off and possibly ruin an ankle or knee.
The beautiful advantage we have with a paddle in our hands is that we have the ability to hurl ourselves into the flats and over the explosion. So, even if you miss the timing, you have the power to launch to safety. The technique is similar to the paddle stroke Mo Freitas uses to prepare for a bottom turn. You pull with all your might towards the beach, turning in that direction at the same time. I’ll find some video and photos to break that down in the future.
The same holds true for late drops. The paddle allows us to create out own momentum horizontal and forward instead of gravity pulling us down. A few years ago, when I was just getting into the sport, a friend showed me a video of Dave Kalama catching a wave that was already breaking and floatering the drop. I thought it was an impossible maneuver. Now I do it at times. If you can paddle horizontal to the wave and time the lip pitching out, you just pull yourself into a floater and drop the wave. You have the paddle to stabilize the landing and engage the bottom turn.
That’s what I love about paddle surfing – the technical subtlety that the paddle brings to the art. Surfer’s who hate on it just don’t understand what’s going on, it’s not their fault. We’ve got to show them – Or not and continue our advantage in the water 🙂