Front side top turn
Having mastered the bottom turn it’s time to focus on your top turn – the next mile stone on the road to SUPer stardom.
Aiming to project up to the lip, just as it’s breaking, and use the froth/curl to send you back down into the trough – throwing buckets of spray as you do so (ideally) – is the aim of the game. Do this right and it’s a spectacular looking move and will solidify your rep as a bona fide stand up paddle surfing ripper!
Much of the top turn is about timing and reading how the wave will (and is) breaking. If the swell looks like a solid wall then carve along until you spot it about to throw or close out. Your vision should be focused down the line helping identify sections to smack – or scoot around.
Drop into the trough, perform your dynamic bottom turn (see first part of this mini series) and crank it up towards the ‘feathering’ lip. If you’ve come off the bottom correctly then you’ll have a ton of speed. Your paddle should move forwards in anticipation and vision should be eyeballing the lip.
A sense of weightlessness should be felt as you alter position, which is fine for a split second. About half way up the wave face start shifting to your outside rail with the aim of exposing the underside of the board. Hitting the wave’s apex you should be banked right over onto the SUP’s rail, paddle embedded in the lip, head looking in the direction of travel and your body low and compact ready to uncoil and rebound.
As you blast to the top stick a paddle stroke in to generate more speed and projection. With the blade now behind you, lean on it slightly and push with your back foot. This will ‘squirt’ the tail sending spray flying or ping the nose into a vertical climb. (The faster you’re travelling the better the turn will be).
If the wave ‘shuts down’ then that’s usually the end of your ride, however, if a clean section walls up you’ll boost along with increased speed and can get ready for another move.
A solid bottom turn is the key to SUP wave riding prowess. Master this first and a whole host of options will present themselves. The off the top described is just one of these but there are plenty more types of turn you can learn.
The key thing to remember with riding waves is that it’s all open to interpretation which allows riders to develop their own style. There is no right way of doing things – if there were the sport of stand up paddle surfing would be rather dull and you’d get bored.
Master the basics then get creative – who knows what you’ll come up with!