Archive for the ‘Everything Surfing Related’ Category

Surfing Beginner’s Guide: Bottom Turn

Friday, April 27th, 2012

So you’re learning to surf and things are going well? We’re stoked for you! If you have a specific goal to reach, or if you just want to see what’s possible there are several building block maneuvers that almost every surfer uses. These are the foundations for aerials, nose-rides, power carves and everything in between. In the following posts I’ll break down the maneuvers with definitions and a few tips. For experienced surfers honing these skills will keep your surfing sharp and allow you to progress as well!

Before these tips become useful you will want to have a good grasp on take-offs, and riding the white-wash straight into shore. It is crucial that you are able to be fully standing before you reach the flat water infront of the sloping wave-face. Look for slow-rolling waves to start.

Bottom Turns

Image from

A bottom turn is a change of direction performed at the bottom/ trough of a wave (as opposed to the face or top of a wave). The function of the bottom turn is to set up for a “ride down the line.” To ride down the line means to ride a wave parallel to to the shore line (technically you’ll be moving towards the shore at an angle. Check out almost any surf video and this is what you’ll see surfers doing!

Advanced surfers will use the bottom turn as a platform for top turns or other maneuvers. This makes bottom turns one of the most important surfing skills, even for pros!

Bottom turns can be done frontside (toes to the wave) or backside (heels to the wave). Follow these steps to get started:

1. Take off with the nose of your board pointed to the beach

2. From take off, ride down the face of the wave (still pointed towards the beach)

3. Point your leading hand towards the unbroken face of the wave. Let your upper body follow the line of your hand and arm.

4. As your upper body opens to the direction you’d like to go, simultaneously weigh your toes(frontside) or heels (backside)

5. As your board and body move up towards the face of the wave unweight your turn and set a path down the line of the wave

Bottom-Turn Tips:

-Steps 1-5 happen in a very short succession. Imagine linking them into one fluid movement and you’ll become one with the wave (or something like that).

-Don’t jam into turns. As you learn to weigh your toes or heels into a turn proceed gently. It doesn’t take a whole-lotta force to turn a surfboard. There will come a time to throw your weight when you become a full fledged power surfer.

-If you find that your body is moving and your surfboard is staying-put (this always ends with a splash) remember to keep your body centered over your board. It’s easy to get excited and leave your board behind.

Remember the bottom turn is the first thing you’ll be doing once you take off. It sets up the entire ride!

In the next beginner’s guide we will tackle top-turns and more.

If you’ve got any tips or great examples of bottom turns let us know on Facebook!

How to Hang | Intermediate Longboard Skills

Friday, April 13th, 2012

I recently came across this video of Joel Tudor explaining to Robert “Wingnut” Weaver his approach to Nose-Riding, Cross-Stepping and Drop-Knee Turns. I decided to break down some of the skills discussed in the vid for those who aren’t familiar with them. You’ll also find some of Tudor’s talking points! Like the narrator Robert “WIngnut” Weaver (a legend in his own right) mentions, Joel Tudor makes the art of long boarding look easy. Who better glean a few tips from?

  • If you consider yourself to be of an “intermediate” level of longboard surfing chances are these are some maneuvers you’re working on. If you consider yourself to be an “advanced” long boarder then take some tips from a pro!

Kassia Meador

Kassia Meador cross-step guru.

What is cross stepping? Trim is the optimal state of glide on a board, usually this means the board is perfectly flat on the wave and moving it’s fastest. If you’ve learned to trim a longboard then you know that it requires some footwork. Shuffle-stepping is a very functional way to get around, but lets face it, it doesn’t look so hot. Cross stepping is the smoothest way to move around  a board. Cross stepping can put you in position to turn, set your board in trim, or allow you to hang.

  • Joel’s Tip: The speed of your step should reflect the speed of the wave. If its a short beach break wave you’re riding, you will get the most out of your ride by making quicker larger steps. If you’re cruising a point-break or slow reef you have time to make smaller calculated steps.

Joel Tudor Noseriding

What is Nose Riding? Ever heard “hang ten” or “hang five” ? Sure you have! Hanging is a fun trick that involves cross-stepping to the front of your board and placing the toes of one or both feet over the nose. Skilled nose-riders can maintain their perch for a short time and then retrace their steps back to continue maneuvering the board. Intermediate riders should focus on learning when to nose ride and how place their board in the pocket of the wave so they don’t nose-dive!

  • Joel’s Tip: When hanging five-frontside both feet will be on the toe-side of your your board. The opposite is true hanging backside. On the nose move your back foot forward as a wave slows, and move it back as the wave speeds up. This will help you get a longer and more controlled nose ride!

Robert Wingnut Weaver -Acrylic on Wood by Hannah Vokey

Check out this awesome painting of Wingnut doing a drop-knee turn. Click on the image to see the artist’s homepage.

Drop-Knee Turns are a turn which can be done as a bottom turn or as a cutback. They involve extending your back foot and turning your back knee downward to apply pressure to the inside rail. The wider stance of this turn requires both knees to be bent more than usual.

  • Joel’s Tip: When turning position your back foot over the top of the fin-box at the front edge of the fin.

Who’s your favorite longboard style maestro?

Are headstands the ultimate performance maneuver?

Send us a picture of your favorite long-boarding move on Facebook!

Did you know that Nice Rack Heavy Duty Surfboard Racks are the best for storing your longboard on your wall or ceiling?

Wetsuits: Nice Rack Beginner’s Guide

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

How does one put on a wetsuit? It might seem like a silly question if you’ve never tried. In reality putting on a wetsuit falls somewhere in between deciphering the Da Vinci code and astrophysics. I would hazard to guess that 100% of surfers have had a traumatizing wetsuit experience(TME) like falling over while entering/exiting or putting one on backwards.

Here are some tips to prevent TMEs to help beginners get in (and out) of their first wetsuit. Old dogs might learn a trick too.

Buying a wetsuit
“Tight is right,” suits loosen up a smidgen when wet. Don’t go too big or the suit will just fill with cold water like a torturous water balloon.

Go to a reputable surf shop and have a pro help you with sizing, ask what thickness of suits are normal to wear in your area. Shop around to get a feel for prices and advices before you buy. Remember that if the surf is pumping and the weather is freezing you’re going to want to stay out for a long time. Personally I’m willing to sacrifice some flexibility for warmth.

  • TIP #1 most surfers don’t wear anything under their suits. that doesn’t mean you should try wetsuits on this way. Wait until you own the thing.

Getting Into a Wetsuit

Newer, more flexible wetsuits have made getting in and out a-lot easier. Unfortunately top of the line wetsuits will cost top dollar, leaving most of us with less user friendly models. Be patient and practice at home if you don’t want to waste time exposed to the cold.

Try not to pull on weak parts of the suit; this might rip the neoprene. Getting in one foot at a time will save you grief, as will getting one arm in at a time!

  • Tip # 2 My cousin always leaves his socks on when he’s changing. For a while I thought he was just forgetful, but then I realized this was a calculated move. The socks make it easy for your feet to slide into the suit, you won’t have to hop around the parking lot half-naked trying to get your feet through the legs. Some people use plastic bags in place of socks for this technique, just be sure to take off the bags (or socks) before you head to the water.

Consider buying or making a changing mat! wetsuits are expensive! If you use a changing matt it will extend the life of your investment. A good mat will keep you from dragging your suit though the gravel, sand and dirt that you will usually be changing in. This will save you time rinsing your suit too.

  • Tip #4 WET WETSUITS WILL NEVER EVER BE FUN TO PUT ON, but it’s always worth it. (ok maybe not but give me credit for trying to inspire you)
  • Tip #5 Changing when you’re numb: Be pro-active when it is cold, pack a jug of hot water wrapped in a blanket to rinse with after your session. -OR- Take a leap of faith and sneak into the nearest hotel hot tub*…

*Nice Rack does not condone trespassing into hotel pools or hot-tubs…

Got any wetsuit tips or tricks? Have you ever filled a wetsuit up with a hose to become a human water balloon? Let us know on Facebook!

Michael Kew on his new book “Crossings”

Friday, March 30th, 2012

“Crossings” is not about surfing. But surfing is woven throughout and, hey, there’s a groovy dude with a board on the cover. So what’s this stout 480-page book saying, and why should you go to Surfbeat Galerie this Saturday eve? The fact that I’m both interviewer and subject here makes for a dubious and literally self-absorbed riff. And — upon today’s arrival of my third printing — shamelessly self-promoting. For this, I apologize. Profusely. Sort of.

MICHAEL: What birthed “Crossings?”

KEW: Three things. A 10-year (starting in 2001) chunk of world travel,, and New Year’s Day 2012. Self-publishing a book has become incredibly easy, and once 2011 died, I felt it was appropriate to cram a bunch of my travel stories together and boil them into one neat little package that you could set on your nightstand or stuff into the back pocket of your MC Hammer-style parachute pants. You still have a pair, right?

MC Hammer.

MICHAEL: I never wore those.

KEW: Liar. You’re a child of the ‘80s. You had MC Hammer tapes and you liked his videos on MTV.

MICHAEL: Did you just say I lied?

KEW: Did I? Anyway, moving on. When I was 25, I earned a stack of cash by writing for an online start-up (thanks to Evan Slater). I was homeless, and, aside from a few childhood trips to Baja, had never left the United States. This was because I had zero dollars growing up, zero dollars in college, and despite reading about the world in National Geographic and Surfer and worldly mags like that, it was easy to hang in California and breathe familiar air. It still feels that way, but eventually city limits end up being just that: limiting.

Carwyn Williams.

MICHAEL: Where did you go first?

KEW: France. Almost everyone in the plane clapped when we landed in Paris. That was cool. (The only other time I’ve since experienced such patriotic clapping joy upon landing was last summer in Kingston, Jamaica.) So, at the urging of Surfer’s Steve Barilotti, one of my mentors, I aimed to rendezvous with Carwyn Williams, a legendary Welsh surf star who had expatriated to Seignosse. I don’t recall why, but I wanted to write about surfing in Wales. Carwyn was supposed to take me there. From Paris I flew to Biarritz, where Carwyn and a hilarious carload of dudes collected me. We drove straight to a pub and got drunk off of Stella Artois lager. I spent most of my two weeks in Seignosse down with influenza, but I did get to share a room in Carwyn’s house with Ted Grambeau, another one of my mentors, and that led to a jaunt to Norway’s Arctic Circle, my first official trip for Surfer magazine. We found epic waves. But Carwyn never left Seignosse; I still don’t know why. After Norway, I ended up in his hometown of Mumbles and survived to pen a story about it for The Surfer’s Journal. I wrote nothing about France.

Ted Grambeau.

MICHAEL: In those 10 years, did you visit other countries and write nothing about them?

KEW: Yes, probably about 20. Greenland is one I really should have documented.

MICHAEL: Greenland must’ve been interesting.

KEW: You can say that again.

MICHAEL: Greenland must’ve been interesting.

KEW: Dude….

MICHAEL: Haha, okay…so why should anyone want to read “Crossings?” Why should anyone care?

KEW: Anyone with even a dusting of global curiosity will enjoy this book. It’s not about surfing, so a non-surfing reader won’t be alienated. It’s travel writing, not surf-writing. It’s world culture, world environment, world politics, and occasionally world-class waves. It’s an intimate, personal portal into some of Earth’s obscure regions, mostly small dots on the map. And much of the travel was done solo, exposing me to cultural experiences I would not have had if I was insulated behind a gaggle of jockish pro surfers.

MICHAEL: How can somebody get a copy of “Crossings?”

KEW: Easy…[visit Kew's site to order a copy]. Or, if you come see me at Surfbeat Galerie on Saturday, flip me a Jackson and I’ll hand you signed copy. A trip around the world for $20? MC Hammer would dig that.

BE HERE: Saturday, March 31, 8 p.m., Surfbeat Galerie, 22 Anacapa St., #5, Santa Barbara, Calif. Phone 805-450-6268. Live music by Brother Bird (who is Catherine Clark, Johnny McCann, Travers Adler). Beer and wine. Art by Ricky Brotini. “Crossings” readings and signing and sales. Yes. Good vibes. Yes.

  • To learn more about author and surf-scribe Michael Kew visit the Peathead Blog and check out this recent interview.