Skills: How to Bottom Turn With Kai Lenny

Photo: Hank Foto/Waterman League

Photo: Hank Foto/Waterman League

How to Bottom Turn With Kai Lenny

Bottom turns are the foundation of good surfing. They’re also my favorite maneuver. They set you up for the next turn and—if you do it right—you come out of the turn with more speed than you had going in. It’s the anticipation moment of the wave; you fade far enough away from the face and then slingshot back up into it, setting up for a big turn or maybe even a barrel if you’re in the right spot. Basically, having a solid bottom turn will allow you to make the impossible moves possible. And when you do it right, nothing feels better than a deep bottom turn. —Kai Lenny

Set up. The most important thing about starting the bottom turn is timing. Timing is everything, because if you time it right you will get to use the most power from the wave at your disposal. Speed is everything for turns. On my bottom turns, I like to drop down to the flats and lightly engage my inside (turning) rail before I fully commit to the turn.

Commit to your rail. Start by putting front foot pressure onto the rail. You want to feel like you are almost burying the rail into the water. If you watch the best wave riders, they use the rail as if it is an extra fin. Think engagement. Remember to look where you want to go! Where your head is looking your body will follow. At this point you want to be looking up the wave face.

Transition. Now that you have your rail locked into the water focus on your target (most likely the lip of the wave). At this point, you have the arrow pulled back—all you need to do is let it fly! The transition from front foot to back foot is super important. When your direction heads back up the face of the wave, transition your weight to your back foot. The smoother you can shift your weight the better.

Whip it. Putting more pressure on your back foot will make the board lighter on the water. The rail that you buried and then released is like a spring and will want to shoot you and the board up out of the water and toward the lip. Bend your knees and feel the boost and power you created from your bottom turn!

Choose your move. From here you have a variety of options: top turn, snap stall for the cover up, check turn and run down the line, maybe even an air if you’ve got that in your bag?. It all depends on what the wave is doing. As you do more bottom turns, you’ll see these opportunities coming and be able to time your turns better and better. Get out there.

This article originally ran in our Summer 2013 issue.

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