Bottom turning front side
Catching waves on your stand up paddle board is just the first step on your journey to becoming a stand up paddling SUPerstar. Once you’re happily dropping in and gliding along the unbroken face of a liquid wall there’s a whole heap of new skills to learn.
A green (or blue) watery canvas is just begging for you to draw your own unique lines as an artist would do their brush. Get all punk, rip a powerful arc and cut it up sharp and snappy – whatever floats your boat (or rather SUP).
Most SUP surfers who have progressed from simply catching waves will be quite happy taking off and gliding down the line – probably stoked just to be gliding on an unbroken wave face. To switch it up and become a more dynamic rider you’ll need to learn how to bottom turn correctly as it’s this one manoeuvre which will set you up for the rest of your ride. A solid off the bottom is key to successful surfing, whether you wield a paddle or not.
A cranking stand up paddle surfing bottom turn can be split (generally) into two types. A steep and fast wave turn or mush burger bottom turn. Most of us will have to complete both at some point – unless you live in a tropical paradise blessed with perfect surf.
The easiest to accomplish with any style is when you have speed from the get go. Taking off on the peak (not necessarily big wave) will set you up. Even gutless slop has its steeper sections.
Your chosen wave needs to be jacking up as your perfectly timed take off happens. Dropping in you’re aiming to rock the board over onto its inside rail as you hit trough (or bottom). With this increased speed you can stand further back, closer to the tail, which will allow your fins to engage and bite. Keep your knees bent, your trunk (stomach and chest) tight, shoulders square and your head looking along the wave in the direction of travel – don’t feet gaze!
Put a few extra paddle strokes in, for even more speed, and as you crank off the bottom you should be bringing your paddle forward ready for the next move. If you overcook your bottom turn then levelling your paddle with your body and leaning on it slightly will stabilise you. A decent bottom turn should slingshot you into the next section. There should be a slight feeling of weightlessness as you unwind, projecting towards the lip with speed.
Soft gutless waves need an angled take off to gather momentum – you should also learn how to pump up and down as this also increases speed. Once you have enough ‘oomph’, drop into the trough and complete your bottom turn as described above.
However you approach your bottom turn depends on how well you’ve ‘read’ the wave – something that comes with experience and time in the surf.
Stay tuned for our next instalment on the road to becoming a surf SUPer star. Next up, the front side top turn.