Sunday, August 5, 2012

How to stand up paddle surf: Bottom Turn II - projection.

If you've ever watched a good surfer in really bad conditions, you've probably been impressed with the speed they are able to make in what looks like mushy nothingness. These guys (and gals) have mastered the art of projecting out of their bottom turns and are using every little cup of a wave surface to bounce out of. If you learn how to load and unload your springs (legs) and push off of the bottom, you'll find your surfing improving significantly as you develop the ability to generate speed. And, as we all know, speed is life!

Want to see good projection? Check out Kelly Slater, look at the wave at about .49 and see how Slater zooms right by the guy ripping him off. The Snake muddles through a couple of turns, no projection. The 11x Champ, weighting and unweighting out of his turns, easily passes him by- lots of projection.

I'm assuming in this piece that you already know how to read a wave and make the decision to turn left or right on it. I'm also assuming that you've got the basics of actually redirecting the board figured out. I'm thinking that what you are looking for is a way to add some vitality to your riding- you want to go from slow cruiser to dynamic ripper, bouncing from section to section, carving with speed and flow. Sounds good right? Well, the key then is projection. 

The Basics: First, as you drop down a wave face, bend your knees so that you are compressing your body like a coiled spring. Your legs are going to pump like two pistons, firing in unison when you lay your board over off the bottom. Get those legs primed and ready to explode- the only way for them to do this is to have them bent. Straight legs can't pump. The second part takes a lot of practice, you've got to develop your timing and you've got to know your board and how it turns. Basically, in one fluid move, as you hit maximum velocity on your way down the face, simultaneously extend your legs and un-compress your body out of the turn. Imagine yourself jumping forward, pushing off the surface of the board. Your body, the spring, has uncoiled and you are unweighting yourself and the board- allowing it to bounce out of the turn. This is what we call projecting.

Basically, you are weighting (compressing as you drop in) and un-weighting (uncoiling off the bottom) the board through your bottom turn. If you've ever watched skaters or snowboarders in a half-pipe, you can see them doing the same thing; compacting their body as they drop down the half pipe then driving their legs and unweighting as they project up the opposite side. 

A couple of tips. Turn your head and look to where you want to go, your body will go where the eyes are looking- so look far down the line and you will get there. Work on your timing. The better you get at synchronizing the driving pistons of your legs with the smooth lean and swoop of your bottom turn, the smoother the turn will look and the more projection you'll get out of the bottom turn. 

And finally, if you're doing it right, your legs should be worn out at the end of a long ride. If they ain't burnin' chances are you're not projecting.


Casey said...

Oh, you make it sound so easy. :)

Mike D said...

Good post. Nothing better than an awesome bottom that allows you to fly up the face with power

John Ashley said...

Sorry Casey but practice makes perfect and practice is fun... that doesn't really help does it?

John Ashley said...

Agreed Mike D. there is no sweeter turn in surfing- except the roundhouse cutback- but that's another story!