Recent Blog Posts

18 November, 2015

The Safest Place

My feeble excuse for not posting for so long is that a few months ago I suffered a big blow. Surfing with a mate off the far Northern desert of Western Australia, a thick and pitching lip kind of decapitated my shoulder. Well almost. If you consider a dis-location, torn labrum and over a dozen fractures a decapitation then it sounds more horrific to me. It certainly was the most intense pain I’ve ever suffered. And I’ve had a few.

So camped in the middle of nowhere with no medical assistance for many miles of dirt roads, how did I come to find myself in this awful predicament?

The answer is simple. I was too slow pulling under the lip. The lip axed me. I didn’t even hit the bottom. Just the sheer force of water was my un-doing.

Now, having four months out of the surf has allowed me to contemplate my error, which is well summarized by 70’s Pipeline master Gerry Lopez who once famously said – “the safest place to be is inside the barrel.”

Often these decisions are split second stuff. Be decisive and pull in. Or get off. Or straighten out. But don’t hesitate. Never hesitate. The worst place to be is close to that pitching lip.

Riding in tubes can be scary. But accidents inside the tube are not that common. Mostly they’re caused by the impact of the pitching lip. Just as Australian Justin Holland also recently discovered much further South in WA when the lip landed directly on him broke his femur. Or as big wave maniac Nathan Fletcher recently said: “You don’t know what life’s about until you’ve broken your femur.’

Anyway … it wasn’t like I wasn’t trying.

But nevertheless, the message is clear. Think fast. Think ahead. Pull up high. The safest place to be is inside the barrel.


12 June, 2015

no apparent reason

Once again, after surfing my local point break of Noosa, I’m inspired to continue my series of how-not-to-do-it.

My latest observation is the up and down surfer.

Gliding across the face, they stand up tall, then they crouch down. They stand up. They crouch down. They stand up. They crouch down. But all for no apparent reason.

As a coach, I find it perplexing as to why they do that when there is no purpose or function to that technique. Judging by the look on their face, they probably are not too sure why they are doing it either. This is not the skill of the savant that’s for sure.

Remember – standing up (the art of leg extension) is definitely an important skill. The act of pushing your legs out straight can provide enormous speed and acceleration. However it MUST be combined with a transition to putting your board onto a rail, by weighting either your heels or toes to tilt the board to one side.

When you only push your legs out to straight, it can actually slow you down and even apply the brakes if your board is flat.

But if you’re extending your legs when your board is on rail, then that push will transfer into acceleration. Boom! Synchronicity. It’s time to hang on.


learn to surf better with surfing leg extension

26 March, 2015

The Limp Wristed

I like limp wristed people.

Well now that I think of it, maybe not all of them. But when it comes to surfing, tension in a surfer’s wrist and fingers can be indicative of stiffness and a kooky style.

On your next wave, observe what your hands are doing. Are they tense? If so, try to relax them and feel the love coming right through your arms, shoulders and overall performance.

Remember. The world admires stylish surfers. Stylish surfers make it look easy. Stylish surfers look relaxed. The opposite of relaxed is tense.

Wrist tension … aaahhh. Get rid of it.


Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 11.10.54 AM

8 January, 2015


I just surfed my local point of Noosa. It’s always entertaining observing the common and varied species of arm flappers.

Here are just some of the frequently observed variety:-

The Discus Thrower – Utilizes the widest, broad arc, swinging arm possible in order to generate speed in the most unstylish of manners.

The Over-arm Brawler – Unconventional overarm air punches allow the surfer to wind up speed and momentum across the face.

Reverse Moon Walker – The exact arm movements Michael Jackson used to perform his moon walk are cleverly performed in reverse. Subtle yet non-effective without music.

The Stretch Corder Exerciser – The reverse pull-back defies gravity and logic and efficiently destroys any positive forces of leverage in the turn.

The Ten Pin Bowler – this surfer walls across the wave swinging the trailing arm through and under like their life depended on ten skittles at the end of the wave.

The Double Arm Ten Pin Bowler – rarely seen but always enthralling to watch. This genus swings both arms through and under concurrently. Not easy to do.

Then there’s me. I’ve been known to do all of the above at times. It’s not pretty and I ain’t proud of it.

The best cure that I try at times is to surf a wave with my hands hanging limply by my side. Shoulders dropped. Doing nothing.

It feels liberating. Less is more remember.

So next surf – please check your arms. Put your hands down. Even behind your back if you have to. Look cool. Look casual. It may not be as entertaining for the on-lookers, but do it for yourself. Good style requires less effort.


31 December, 2014

Bringing in the New Year  

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet of late working on a new project.

But as this new year welcomes us over the horizon once again have you considered what your 2015 resolutions might be?

Mine always involve a couple of surfing objectives. This year I promise at least once to drop everything when the charts are perfect and get on a plane and go surf somewhere pumping.

Many of you may already be considering stepping up your surfing and progressing to some ‘next level’ stuff.

But what is ‘next level’ anyhow?

Here’s a very brief overview of a ten-level teaching system that I use. It may help you calibrate your personal performance into the big picture and consider some areas you need to look at to become a better surfer.

Level 1 – (Kook). Beginner with lots to learn. Master a range of board control skills – initially in calm water. Safety. Knowledge. Technique. Balance. Efficiency. Progress to a confident stand-up in gentle white wash.

Level 2 – (Whitewasher). Master a clean stand-up, balanced ride and controlled turn in white wash. Surf and exit safely with controlled board handling. Turn-stand-traverse the white wash to simulate level 3 green drops.

Level 3 – (Face rider).Ride your first green faces. A complex but exciting achievement that requires your instructor to assist you with positioning, wave selection, timing and push-ins. Set a line, trim up and down, adjust and exit safely at will.

Level 4 – (Independent). You paddle strongly into your own green waves with no instructor push-ins. Improve your vision, timing, wave sense, angles and pop-up using lots of verbal cues from your coach. Your objective is independence.

Level 5 – (Intermediate). You’re an independent and capable surfer who can trim, cutback and surf top to bottom with control. It may not look pretty yet so we’ll work on style, speed and economical turning. Learn a functional bottom turn to step up a level.

Level 6 – (Frother).Capable surfer doing basic re-entries, floaters and trying to get radical. Sometimes a little busy so you’ll focus on holding a rail, weight transfer, rotation and acceleration. Fine tune your duck-dive, trim technique and prepare for tubes.

Level 7 – (Carver). Perform with speed, carving top turns and a decent roundhouse. Not consistent so we’ll focus on vision, timing, sequencing of rotations and extension. Learn about counter rotation and performing snaps. Get barreled.

Level 8 – (Shredder). Comprehensive variety of radical maneuvers including a high-level bottom turn that precedes your majors. Time to check your bio-mechanics, increase power, fine-tune counter-rotation and try to punt a little air.

Level 9 – (Schralper). You go big and make it look easy but still could perfect some new school innovation such as slide, airs, wafts and reverses. It’s time to add more power in the pocket as well as improve finesse and spontaneity.

Level 10 – (Kelly). Your name could be Kelly or John John. You rip on any board in any wave type or size. Your surfing is innovative and inspiring. However you can still seek perfection using lots of video analysis and fine-tuning small details and efficiencies.

No matter where you are now, I hope this gives you a basic road map as to some of the areas you may need to address in order to end up where you’d ultimately like to be.

Hopefully I can help to answer a few of the question marks for you in 2015.

Oh … and happy new year !!!


rp nihi

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