Occasionally, the Inlet gets really good. On those days, we'll see little, thin-lipped, beach break barrels peeling off of fast A-frame peaks. For the last few years, I've been trying (with minimal success) to get my SUP locked into a good barrel. I've been looking for the full cover up. Well, I've finally figured it out and I'm stoked to share some of my "tube tips" with you guys. Hopefully, the local photogs will turn loose some of the pics they have been shooting of me getting barreled. I'd love to have some photographic proof.
Photo: Our inlet looking fun...
But we're here to talk tube riding, so here you go: Consider the wave from a regular foot's point of view. You'll be going right or front side to the wave. First, sit inside a bit, take off deep, almost on the left shoulder (behind the peak) of an A-framed wave. Now, as you drop in, do not do a full bottom turn or drop all the way to the bottom of the wave. When you start catching the wave, hook or swing your board to the right and angle in- keeping your board mid face. You want to be on the angled part of the wave. As you get going and are front-side facing the wave, drop the paddle with your back hand (the hand on the paddle shaft). Hold the paddle with only your forward hand (the top, grip hand).
The shaft of the paddle will sit right on your thigh. Use your forward hand to steer the blade, keep it from getting hung in the lip. Then, as you drop in put your free hand in the face of the wave, cup your hand to slow yourself down, pull your hand from the face of the wave to speed up. Dragging your hand also brings your body close to the wave face, try to get your upper body as close as possible to the wall. I get close enough to have my hand and elbow on the wave face and my cheek almost touching the wall. Keep your board up a bit high on the face, if it goes to the bottom the outside rail will get smacked by the lip and you'll be violently ejected.
The technique for riding the tube backside is a little different. We tend to hold the paddle to our front side when we are in surf stance. I am a regular foot and like to hold the paddle with my left hand on the T and right on the shaft. So, I like to catch the wave normally, as I drop in I swing the paddle around me holding the T handle with my left hand and clamping shaft under my left armpit. Control the blade so that it is planing on the wave face behind you. I like to lay my weight onto the paddle like an old school backside layback tube ride.
Use your weight on the paddle and your free hand to slow yourself. You can slow down even more by cupping water with your free hand behind you. You will be amazed at how stable this position is. And there's is no better view when you get it right and are laid back and bracing off your inside rail. A word of caution: Backside barrels usually make you fall onto your board. If you are laying on your paddle you can shoot your board down the line as you fall. One of the most important things to remember is trust the wave and have confidence in your ability to accomplish what you are doing. A little doubt will usually result in the wave kicking your azz and possible injury.
John has a good tip on doing a good front-side paddle turn or Swack! I think he calls it. The shortboarders here have named my turn a SUP wallet gash. I guess it's because when I do one front-side and get it right I actually pivot the board off my right butt cheek. That cheek is dragging in the water. Hence I'm sitting and spinning on my wallet, I guess. I see a lot of people doing this turn but most do not get high enough on the wave face and end up turning mid face. That's fine but in pitching conditions you will find yourself stuffing the nose a bit on re entry. I've figured out how to make this turn work on pitching waves- avoiding the stuffed nose and inevitable trip over the falls.
Photo: Capt Ron getting set up for a tail slide.
Here's how I do it: When I find a thin-lipped, front-side section that needs some smacking, I stick (I should say plant) my paddle up in the lip. To make this turn work, you've got to have a lot of speed of the bottom. Next, I drive my rail right at my paddle watching for the nose to breach the top of the wave. AS I come up I am already starting to do my turn. This is where a lot of people freak out- and this is where the quadfin is at its best.
The quad fin allows you to transition quickly to the outside rail. The quad also allows you to really start cranking down on that rail. As the turn develops, start to pull past your paddle, keep pulling on the paddle as hard as you through the whole arc of the turn. A quad finned board can easily transitioned from a rail turn to a flat fins first slide. It's fun (and radical) to let the nose come all the way around to 180 degrees or more, don't be afraid hold the turn, keeping your weight spaced on the paddle and board. As you come around your paddle will be behind you, use it to push your body up.
If you do it right, your butt will be on the wave face and you will be sliding a sideways down the wave in a controlled cavitation. At this point in the turn, there are two ways to pull it off: You can hold the slide down the face until you are mid-wave and then recover at the wave's base. The second way to finish the turn is my favorite: As you slide, bring your body upright, quickly bring the paddle around next to you, get a bite on the wave with your blade and turn your board straight toward the beach. Now push hard on the paddle and lift the nose by shifting your weight to your back foot while simultaneously lunging forward. If you were stalled enough, the wave actually starts to pitch and you and your board are now in the pitching lip. With luck you'll push yourself free of the wave and air drop right onto the flats. It feels realy cool and it makes the shortboarders jaw's drop...
Next Tip: AIRS, not just for the groms anymore! I have been adding these into my bag of tricks. As I get better, I'm landing them more often than not. More to come.... Hopefully I will soon have some photographic proof of all this stuff. The way I see it, we're just beginning to see what can be done on a stand up board. Given the use of the paddle and the crazy speed these boards are capable of I think we're going to be busting our own SUP-specific moves. Turns and tricks that won't be possible on other equipment.