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Author Topic: How many steps to the tail?  (Read 4290 times)

SurfKiteSUP

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How many steps to the tail?
« on: June 30, 2021, 08:34:02 AM »
Relatively new to SUP surfing and after a few months on a 9'2" Nugg I bought a new 8'7" Starboard Wedge and have been surfing it for the last 3 months or so.

I'm very happy with the Wedge and feel like I catch my share of waves with it.  However, I'm having a tough time getting back to the tail to initiate a harder turn.

When I catch a wave and transition to surfer stance, my feet are roughly centered over the handle front and back.  Maybe 60/40 to the rear.  From there, I feel like I need to step back three times before my back foot is on the tail pad to initiate a proper turn.

I feel like I should be able to get back to the tail in two steps at the most but two steps seems too unstable and I usually start to wheelie.  Three steps seems more stable but takes too long. 

What should I work on?  Make my 3 steps quicker or work on my footwork and taking 2 steps to get to the tail?  Or does it just come with more time on the water?

Just for reference, I'm 5'11" and low-intermediate shortboard surfer so I'm used to just a quick small step to get to the tail.

The video below is an example of a wave that I am on where towards the end I'm trying to step back far enough to do a hard bottom turn to hit the lip but stepping back takes too long and I run out of time and just end up having to kick out the back. (Sorry it's so tiny, it's off of the Surfline cams)

http://youtu.be/wdV2ucOlWAc

Thanks!

slsup

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2021, 12:48:31 PM »
I had trouble seeing what you are doing in the video but it looked like you were surfing down the line pretty well. Try getting some weight on the paddle to help move/shuffle your feet. On your last turn/kickout you needed to make a better quicker bottom turn if you want to cut back off the top.

If you have a bump in the pad it can help you locate your back foot and just keep going until you feel it. Even if you can't get your foot all the way back keep moving your back foot rail to rail on the turns.

I have same problems going to a sup as I was never a longboarder before and had to learn to surf a bigger board. This is where some of the old guys who grew up with longboards have an advantage.

Lastly a smaller board always helps, but then you have to be able to stand and paddle it.


SurfKiteSUP

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2021, 02:21:23 PM »
Thanks! Yes, I feel fairly comfortable just going down the line - it's the more aggressive turns that I'm having trouble with.

Yeah, sorry it's really hard to see anything in the video. 

The video was really just to show the timing of my last attempted maneuver and, if you have a big monitor or 20/5 vision, how the board starts to wheelie on the last bottom turn and, thus,  I check up on my bottom turn a bit to take a shallower angle to just kick out the back (barely).

I know it probably depends on the wave-type/size but I would say this wave is typical of what I like to ride.  I'm just not sure what I should work on to get back to the tail of the board faster and more stable - LB-style cross-stepping? 3 quick shuffles? do the two-step? one giant leap of faith? Wider stance?
« Last Edit: June 30, 2021, 02:26:27 PM by SurfKiteSUP »

TallDude

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2021, 05:58:12 PM »
It looks like you are doing pretty good even through the bumpy drops. A few comments:
As far as cross stepping.... no. Single fin style master longboard stuff.
Short SUP boarding is more what you are doing. I like to step my back foot back and on to the rail. I let my big toe hang over the rail. Like doing a kick turn on a skateboard and dragging your toe. This drives the rail deeper into the face of the wave. Part of that motion is me leaning into the face of the wave. Another analogy would be a water skier cutting a hard turn. They'll almost lay down on the water while extending their rope arm out further almost dragging it on the water. On a hard bottom turm I'll lay my paddle almost flat on the water, dragging it kinda behind me, while putting a lot of pressure on it to keep me balanced close to the face of the wave.
My foot is near the tail, but not up against the kick pad. It's more about how hard you lean and bury your rail than it is surfing off the tail.
Shorter boards like shorter skis, turn in a tighter radius, so you don't need to be right on the tail. Long boards won't turn hard when you lean against the face of the wave. They will just rail.. and you'll fall into the face of the wave. So you have to turn more off the tail on long boards, and it's a flatter more upright turn. That's why they mostly have 50/50 rails. They drift, engage, and drift again. Plus they are like trains, you can drive them from the front or rear:)
So lean hard and get your toe over that back rail.
I'll paddle into the wave with my left foot forward (regular foot), right at the front edge of my deck pad. I'll pump it down the face sometimes. Most of my weight ( 90%ish ) is on the front of the board. Once I feel that pull from the wave, I'll slightly unweight and shift both feet back. Where they shift to is just muscle memory based on how big a drop it is, if I'm late and it's steep, or it's slopey and I need to maitain some speed still.
If it's a big drop, I will move back to a neutral postion and pause there until I feel it's time to make that turn. Then I'll move my back foot back a little and toe over the rail.
If I'm on a late drop, I'll step my back foot way back and get very low in a wide stance.
If it's mushy and slopey I'll keep my weight forward until I actuall want to make a turn. But don't turn too hard or you'll kill your speed. That's where you can surf more upright and off the tail.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2021, 06:30:55 PM by TallDude »
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8'8" L-41 ST and a whole pile of boards I rarely use.

SurfKiteSUP

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2021, 08:06:20 PM »
TallDude: Wow! Thanks for the detailed explanation.

It makes sense and I have seen other posts and videos talking about the back foot on the rail for turning.  I always just assumed this was for drawn-out turns.

I will start working on getting my back foot on the rail for my turns and save getting back to the tail on waves where I have time to move around more.

It sounds like I just need to surf the SUP like a SUP and not try to ride it like a shortboard unless I start riding a sub-7foot SUP. haha

sflinux

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2021, 07:16:24 AM »
TallDude: great explanation, thanks for sharing.
You may find Joe Blair's videos helpful:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY9MytrZjhw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-LrmGFoW2k
My brother found watching Laird's video helpful when riding his log.  Laird has a wide stance.  You need this with longboards.  When moving up and down the board, it helps to try to keep your feet near the centerline of the board.  If you feel like you are starting to wheelie, maybe try a wider stance (front foot more forward).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dcuw4xGLaNk
When I switch between an 11', 10'6", 9'6", it is surprising how much real estate you have to cover to get to the tail, where you can feel the 6" of difference in board length.  For that reason I prefer shorter boards at low tide, as the waves tend to pitch more.  When you are on a 7'6" board, the front foot seems to stay still and it is just the back foot that moves.
Boards in the 8'7" - 9'2" range would probably fall in the longboard style category.  Where a 7'6" would probably fall in the midlength category.   Maybe check out midlength or longboard surfing videos for inspiration.  I love the lines that Torren Martyn draws. 
To see what is possible on sub 7'7" SUP boards, the film Progression Project - Current State is cool:

The Sup movie can be watched on Tubi:
https://tubitv.com/movies/489599/the-sup-movie
For longboard style, Colin Mcphillips, Dave Kalama, Jackson Close, Dogman is a good start.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2021, 08:08:18 AM by sflinux »
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Subber

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2021, 10:45:58 AM »
My brother found watching Laird's video helpful when riding his log.  Laird has a wide stance.  You need this with longboards.  When moving up and down the board, it helps to try to keep your feet near the centerline of the board.  If you feel like you are starting to wheelie, maybe try a wider stance (front foot more forward).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dcuw4xGLaNk
When I switch between an 11', 10'6", 9'6", it is surprising how much real estate you have to cover to get to the tail, where you can feel the 6" of difference in board length.

Love the Laird Compilation - watch it every few months.
I use lots of different fin setups.  The other day I was surfing with a very small 2+1 setup on my 10'6" Pearson/Laird and I was noticing how I automatically had broadened my stance about as much as I can and I was thinking, "Oh...Like Laird does!" 
That way I could just lean - it was tricky to step.

So with the smaller fins or a tippier board, I think a wider stance.  With a Bigger fin that adds stability I don't do that noticeably -
if anything it is the opposite.

Also, with the less stable setup....leaning way over....putting a lot of force on the paddle so I don't fall in during the turns,
especially if I experience a wobble at the bottom of a hard bottom turn.  I don't do this nearly as much with bigger, more stable
fins in.  Of course, fin shape/placement matters too.

Since I am surfing what today are considered big boards, I'm often walking all over the place.
Although, not so much if I'm concentrating on turning way back on the tail which is also a lot of fun.  Maybe I'll sit back there for a few turns,
unless it is big and I have to step (or lean) forward to get the board going back down the steep.

I'm not muscling the board I'm just putting my weight in places so gravity and hydraulics and the shape and the fins, etc.
turn the board.

My balance was pretty weak when i started SUP surfing about 10 years ago.  I spent a lot of time practicing turning and
walking on the board in the Harbor - lol, I would still fall a lot in flat water.  So different now.  Amazing how we improve and how much stronger
our bodies and our core gets.  Such a great sport!
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PonoBill

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2021, 12:45:42 PM »
Cross-stepping is a worthy thing to learn, but it's more for going forward to the nose than back to the tail though you've eventually got to get back. If you want to try it though, there are two key things that make it easier for beginners. The first thing is that cross-stepping is easy to practice at home. Anywhere that there is a line on the floor you can cross-step along it. Gong for a beer? Cross step. I'm not doing that anymore because it drives my wife nuts, but if you just do it until they threaten to leave you, then you're cool and you can leave the toilet seat up without recriminations as long as you don't cross-step back from the bathroom.

Second is that in a surf stance your feet are too far apart to cross step. The first step you take will unsettle the board. In all cases--going forward or back--slide your front foot back and onto the spine of the board, close to your back foot. Then to move backward, move your front foot behind your back foot, moving the foot behind the heel. Keep it close. Then move your new front foot behind your back foot going across the toes. Lather, rinse, repeat until you are where you want to go.

To go forward, slide your front foot close to your back foot on the spline. step forward across the toes, just a few inches past the foot. The next step is forward behind the heel, etc.

In all cases, never lean forward from the waist. Keep your head up, looking forward in the direction you want to go. If you look down, that's where you are going. If you want to move your weight forward or back do it from your hips, thrusting forward. You head is like a bowling ball on the end of a stick--uncontrollable weight. Keep it centered over your hips and bend your knees (I can't, so I fake it).

Laird is a cross-stepping magician. You need super-slomo to see what he's up to.

Shuffling is fine if inelegant, just do it right. short slides, with your feet on the centerline. If the board is yawing sideways you're doing it wrong.

Other than that, do everything Talldude said and you're gold.

Oh, and two more things. I foiled that same beach last winter. Sheesh--two turns and I was dredging sand. It's a pretty short ride so anything you're going to do you need to do quickly. Talldude is generally in the vicinity of SanO, so he gets four or five turns. I like Maui reef breaks, where ten or more turns are normal. Guys like Dake K and Junya turn that into twenty or thirty turns. Second, move your back foot to whatever rail you're going to turn on, regardless of where you are on the board. It's even more important when you're turning on the tail since your balance is already critical. I see folks step straight back and then lean more--fine if you have the balance to recover. But if you move your back foot to the rail you can turn while still saying more upright. When I don't do this and I lay out sometimes the board doesn't join me and I'm out there all alone.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2021, 01:09:22 PM by PonoBill »
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sflinux

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2021, 07:59:02 AM »
In all cases, never lean forward from the waist. Keep your head up, looking forward in the direction you want to go. If you look down, that's where you are going. If you want to move your weight forward or back do it from your hips, thrusting forward. You head is like a bowling ball on the end of a stick--uncontrollable weight. Keep it centered over your hips and bend your knees (I can't, so I fake it).
Excellent advice.  Clayton Nienaber (https://ombe.co/) recommends keeping your back straight, like you are balancing a book on your head.  As long as your back is straight, you are stacked over your hips.  A great tool to practice this is on a bosu ball.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2021, 08:36:20 AM by sflinux »
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SurfKiteSUP

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2021, 09:55:35 AM »
So much good information to digest - thank you sflinux, PonoBill, Subber!

SUP'd today and just happy to catch a few waves and forgot everything I was supposed to do though. haha

When I don't do this and I lay out sometimes the board doesn't join me and I'm out there all alone.

Been there, done that a zillion times already!
« Last Edit: July 02, 2021, 09:58:52 AM by SurfKiteSUP »

sup-n-skirts

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2021, 02:02:50 PM »
Lotta good stuff in here to try to absorb as a total newbie SUP surfer.

Dusk Patrol

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2021, 02:25:15 PM »
Second, move your back foot to whatever rail you're going to turn on, regardless of where you are on the board. It's even more important when you're turning on the tail since your balance is already critical. I see folks step straight back and then lean more--fine if you have the balance to recover. But if you move your back foot to the rail you can turn while still saying more upright.

A great illustration of this is in a video Sflinux posted:

https://youtu.be/uXWuhyhHGZ8
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PonoBill

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2021, 04:59:33 PM »
If you want to turn all the way in a cutback, once you move your foot to the rail swap sides with the paddle and lean back into it. Your board will continue into a 180, turning fast for the entire turn. To head fack just do the reverse--up the face a little, move your foot to the downside rail, swap paddle hands and lean back into the paddle. The only problem with learning this is that it may cost you a few broken paddle shafts. I broke three in three days in tasty overhead Maui surf until Junya, who is the master of the paddle cutback, pointed out <quote> "Bill, you are not supposed to sit your fat ass on the shaft."
« Last Edit: July 21, 2021, 05:02:23 PM by PonoBill »
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nalu-sup

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2021, 05:28:52 PM »
Hi SurfKiteSup. With all the great advice, I bet you have your footwork dialed by now. Just in case you are interested in more input, here is how I think of moving back to set up a bottom turn.
On your 8'7", using this approach should get you where you need to be over the fins in one move.
Unlike cross-stepping on a long board, or moving up and down our 14-16 foot downwind boards, getting back over the fins on your board should not involve any real 'stepping' as you described it, but just one low hop with a reach.
 As you feel the board start to drop, hop back off of your back foot with the goal being to land your front foot on the center line about 2-6 inches behind the handle depending on the board and the wave. You can think of this as hopping back off your back foot, or using your back foot to slide the board forward until the handle is in front of your front foot which can look smoother. Now balance on that front foot and reach back with your back foot as though you are stretching to find the right spot. If you board has an arch bar (these run lengthwise over the fins as opposed to the kick pad which sits crosswise behind the fins), take a split second to feel for that arch bar. At first the reach may be further back than you expect, but once you have hopped your front foot in place behind the handle, you should have no trouble reaching it on an 8'7". Don't take additional steps; make a longer reach with that back leg. Stepping back with your rear foot instead of balancing on your front foot as you reach back may shift your weight too far back and stall the board; it is a reach while balancing on the front foot so that your weight stays forward as you are dropping in to build up speed. If you do not have an arch bar on your board and are working on finding the right spot to reach your back foot to, I would suggest building an arch bar while you are learning. On my wife's board, we located the ideal spot for her back foot right over the fins. I then duct taped a small 6" stick down the center of the board over that spot so that she knows to keep reaching until she feels that.
The resulting stance may feel wide at first, but it will allow you to get your back foot over the fins for those  cranking turns you are working on, while keeping your front foot close enough to the handle to shift your weight forward for speed. If you need more than one step, you are not reaching your rear leg back enough, and may end up with your front foot too far back to trim the board.
Bottom line:
No real stepping like walking to the nose of a longboard or stepping back for buoy turns on a race board.
Use the rear foot to push off from, and hop your front foot behind the handle.
Balance on that front foot while you reach your back foot back over the fins to find your sweet spot. Just two or three inches will make a huge difference in the turns, so for the time being find a way to mark the sweet spot either visually or preferably with something taped on the deck that you can feel, otherwise it is likely that your back foot will not reach far enough back.
Hope that helps.
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SurfKiteSUP

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Re: How many steps to the tail?
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2021, 10:53:57 AM »
Hi SurfKiteSup. With all the great advice, I bet you have your footwork dialed by now.

Hardly "dialed" but definitely working on it!  :D

Thanks for the additional help nalu.  I have looked at my foot placement after the first step back from my initial hop to surf stance and my front foot usually ends up right at the handle.  That is still a bit of a reach for my back foot to get to the center arch. 

Along the lines of what you (and others) are saying, I am working on making a more pronounced first step back to get my front foot behind the handle so the reach with my back foot isn't as awkward.

Thanks again for the feedback!

 


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