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10 January, 2014

An acceptable technique indeed

Grab Rail Take Off

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again.

Whenever you are challenged on your backside, grab your rail, drop your knee and hang on for dear life.

It’s called the pig dog and it’s a functional stance designed to lower your centre of gravity for improved balance and also to improve stability through extra points of contact with your board (ie: hanging onto the rail with one hand.)

Click here to watch this video to see a brilliant example of perfectly, repeated execution:-

It’s Aussie surfer Jeff Rowley. He’s no pro but the guy is an underground charger who frequently shows up at the world’s best big wave spots and shows how it’s done. Love it!

Watch the video and note:-

-he paddles into the wave like a maniac – really strong and committed
-as soon as he stands up he grabs the rail and drops the knee
-his hand grab is mid-board (too far forward and the fins slide out)
-he is super low and stays centred even when the board starts to drift
-he steers using push or pulls with that outside hand
-he slows down or speeds up using his inside arm in the face of the wave
-he maintains the pig dog through all the critical and vulnerable moments of his ride (which are mostly the initial steep drop and tube time)

When learning how to surf, I teach first-time beginners the pig-dog stance immediately so they can angle backside across a small white wash wave or their first ever green wave. It keeps them low, centred and stable so they don’t fall off. It sets them on the right path.

Many intermediate surfers struggle with steep backside drops. If this is you, your remedy is to tummy turn just a touch, jump up, grab the rail immediately, point and shoot (set your line) and hang on.

It might not feel too natural so I suggest that you practice the technique on land over and over until you don’t have to think about it.

Here’s some tips to build mileage using dry-land practice:-

-pop up
-drop the back knee to the deck
-point the front foot towards the nose
-grab the outside rail with the trailing hand
-point the leading hand forward
-balance in a low, squat position on your front foot and back knee

Flick through any surf mag and find a picture of a pro doing it and compare your stance to theirs.

If you’re an experienced surfer, mastery of this will get you deeper. And most good tubes are a result of taking off deeper at the initial point of take off.

And when we’re seeing the likes of Kelly, Jamie O’ or Bruce Irons doing the same at 12 foot Teahupoo then you know it’s cool. An acceptable technique indeed.


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