How to SUP: The Backside Turn
With Chuck Patterson
Every day in the ocean is different, and though most of us prefer to ride waves on our frontside (toe side), conditions don't always cooperate. "Sometimes, the waves are perfect to ride backside," explains Hobie team rider Chuck Patterson. And when they are, you'll want a good backside cutback in your arsenal of surf skills. Standup boards are so fast that you can easily outrun the wave. Chuck's tips will help you dial your backside cutback and keep you in the wave's power pocket.
MOVE YOUR FEET. When I initiate a wave on my backside, I like to get my heels close to the rail as I'm dropping into the wave. Standup boards are a lot wider than a regular surfboard, so you need to shift your feet to set the rail. You can slide your feet or take a little step to the center of the board when you cut back to your frontside.
USE YOUR BOTTOM TURN TO TRANSFER YOUR WEIGHT. As I bottom turn on my heel-side rail, I'll lean more into the wave, then come up and hit the lip and quickly transfer my weight to my toe-side rail. It's an awesome feeling to go down to the bottom, then come up and snap a turn all the way around. Suddenly you're looking at the whitewater section in front of you. You can then hit that on your toe side before turning out of the section again on your heel side.
WORK YOUR PADDLE. I like to hold the paddle with my left hand on the top and right hand on bottom. I'm a regular-footer, so that puts my power hand--the one closest to the paddle blade--nearer to the back of the board. That allows me to use the paddle as a rudder, and really snap the turns. As I'm doing the bottom turn on my heel side, I'll lean hard into the wave with the paddle behind my right hip and the blade trailing behind the board or even slightly on the heel side. As I initiate the turn onto my toe side, I'll shift my weight to the strong side while driving that right arm forward. The board pivots around the paddle blade, which will be on the toe side as I execute the cutback. This really helps me initiate the turn and feel the rail carve into the wave.
USE THE POCKET. Every wave is different. Some are steep and roll with no lip. When you're making the bottom turn, you want to be in the pocket or the steeper part of the wave. It's really easy with standup boards to drive down the line with a lot of speed and get way out in front of the section and suddenly it's flat. That's when you want to come off the bottom and carve back into the soup. Again, once you're in the soup you turn back on your heel side and get back in the steeper zone of the wave.
- as told to Chris Bishow