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21 January, 2012

The Other Thing

How did you go trying to increase weight to your back foot?

For some of you new to this, perhaps the board felt out of control – with the nose waving side to side. For others, you may have felt the board slow down and stall.

Good! If you only weighted your back foot and nothing else, that’s what will happen.

So you need to add the other thing.


80% of surfers, 80% of their turns, 80% of the time just need to engage the tail rail, which is the last 18 inches of the rail at the back of your board.


Surfboards are designed with a bottom curve called rocker. When you engage the rocker, you tap into all of the design features that your shaper had in mind. But most average surfers never get that far, instead surfing with a board flat in the water.

Imagine a flat piece of timber plank, tipped on its side in a sandpit. Push it forward and which way does it travel? Straight ahead.

Now imagine that same plank has a curve in it. Tip it onto its side, push it forward and which way does it travel? It turns left or right. It follows the curve.

I cannot emphasize this principal enough.

In order to turn your surfboard, you must tip it onto it’s side. Once you do that, the rocker will kick in and do all of the work for you, enabling an easy, fluid turn with very little effort on your behalf. A board on edge also presents less surface area resistance, meaning less drag and more speed.

But many surfers instead are trying to turn with their boards very flat in the water. This does not engage the rocker, it drags and pushes more water and you tend to go slow and straight.

So which kind of turn would you prefer? Fast, fluid and easy. Or slow, straight and cumbersome?

How is the best way to tip a board to rail?

It’s simple really. Put weight on your heels and it will tip that way. Or put weight on your toes and it will tip that way.

(Or on big, wide boards like SUPs or logs, you can actually step your rear foot across to the side and stand on the rail. This is the only way to really tip those wider, heavier boards.)

Try it this week – a simple ankle roll to heels … or a simple ankle roll to toes. Nothing else. Minimize the effort. Close your eyes, put your hands behind your back and do nothing other than heels or toes. You will discover it’s like finding the power steering. Less is more. Economy of motion. Board on auto pilot. Giddy up!

Then, as your path to enlightenment becomes more vivid – it’s time to combine the simplicity of heel/toe with the critical first tip from last week … WEIGHT ON BACK FOOT. The combo of the two leads to a very smooth and effortless turn.

Check out the photo below of Tropicsurf guide Jacob Stuth, stylin’ off the bottom in the Maldives. Weight back. Nose up and out. Toe weight on inside rail. Minimal effort. All class. (Photo by Nigel Arnison.)

I will share more detail on this topic next week. Stay tuned for the final in this thrilling trilogy!


Tropicsurf guide Jake, stylin' off the bottom, Maldives.

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