Let’s recap a little. Since we began our PSCo. Tutorial Series a year ago, we have covered fundamental surf skills including: Preparation in our Know before you go tutorials, the Pop-up, the Duck-dive, and most recently, we gave you a guide to Surf-viving in powerful swells. In that last piece, I mentioned that a good bottom turn is a crucial skill to develop in general, but especially if you want to feel confident in powerful waves.
Perhaps the most underrated turn in surfing, the bottom turn precedes almost all maneuvers. When you have this ‘on lock’, you have set up the rest of your ride for success. Dig in to this tutorial to improve your bottom turn!
“Choose Your Line” - Doing the right bottom turn for the kind of wave you are surfing is key. Different waves require different approaches. As you are paddling for the wave, you should assess its size and power, and therefore how its going to break. Is it fast, slow, me
Shallow (mid-faced): Perform a shallow bottom turn from the middle of the wave face. This is an ideal turn for mellow, sloping waves where you want to maintain as much speed as possible. The shallow bottom turn will set you up for a cutback or layback maneuver.
Deep (off-the-bottom): Use this bottom turn for steep, hollow or “bowly” waves where you want to perform vertical maneuvers such as a re-entry, or to set up for a tuberide. You will want to take off pointed straight towards the beach, and ride to the bottom of the wave before leaning hard on your inside rail (the side of your board closes to the wave direction. So if it’s a ‘left’, you will be leaning on your left-side rail) to project into your chosen maneuver.
Didnt understand a word of those last few bullet points? Don’t worry about that for now and stay tuned for a future tutorial where we will teach you some Intermediate and Advanced maneuvers.
Compression and lean
These are key aspects of your body position. A solid stance for any bottom turn is: knees bent just above 90 degrees, back knee slightly tucked. Hinge at the hips until your trailing hand (the one closest to the rear of the surfboard) will be able to touch the water. Touching the water on your bottom turn not only feels cool, but it actively makes you compress in the correct way and will lead to a better bottom turn. Just remember that you want to touch the water ahead of your front foot
So, remember my two main pointers: Choose your line. This involves assessing the wave for its size, power, and shape to inform what kind of bottom turn you will use (deep or shallow). Then put that bottom turn to the test with good Compression and Lean so that you are stable, and drive the board in the direction that you want to go.
NOTE: If any of this was holy-I-don't-know-what-you're-talking-about, that's great, too! We all start somewhere, and something like a beginner lesson is great for you to get your basics down. For any of you who want to dive into this, getting some time with an experienced instructor can make big gains in your surf game.
See you out there!
Blog written by Adam Tory