How to: Pull in from take-off

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Dion Agius, Macaronis. Photo: DJ Struntz

SOME PEOPLE THINK SURFING IS ABOUT ‘SELF EXPRESSION’. SOME PEOPLE THINK SELF EXPRESSION IS ANOTHER WAY OF SAYING ‘SHOWING OFF’. OTHER PEOPLE THINK MANOEUVRES SHOULD BE ‘FUNCTIONAL’ AND THAT ‘TRICKS ARE FOR KIDS’. OTHERS DON’T REALLY CARE. WHATEVER YOUR SURF POLITICS, BE YOU STIFF PURIST, OR WIGGLEY ENTHUSIAST, NOBODY IS ARGUING ABOUT PULLING INTO THE TUBE FROM TAKE OFF. PULLING IN TO THE TUBE FROM TAKE-OFF IS THE ART IN ITS VERY, VERY HIGHEST FORM, AND THUS IF YOU HONE JUST THIS ONE SKILL DURING ALL YOUR SURFING YEARS, IT WILL HAVE BEEN TIME VERY WELL SPENT. GET IT RIGHT, AND YOU’LL HAVE APPEARED TO HAVE DONE NOTHING EXCEPT PADDLED, STOOD UP, AND GONE ALONG. SO BEAUTIFUL, I THINK I’M GOING TO CRY.

1. Perhaps more than any other manoeuvre, what you do before the wave gets to you is key. You want to try and position yourself behind the peak. Taking off behind the peak not only gets your more barrelled, but also provides an easier entry than on the peak itself. Taking off on the shoulder side of the peak is of course, shoulder hopping, and often condemns your ride to an unsightly display of futile out-in- front stalling.

2. Once you’ve caught the wave behind the peak you want to swing onto your inside rail as early as possible to set your line. Depending on the speed of the wave, you want to swoop in immediately, rather than drop down onto the flats into an outrageous soul arch. Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, but the object of this exercise is pulling straight in.

3. One slight variation is to sideslip the take off, which is probably more suited to less down-the-line waves than Macaronis. Slide slipping done right looks fucking cool. Slide slipping done wrong might mean going over the falls upside down and backwards, very possibly with your board fins up between your knackers. Never pretty.

4. Dion has stuck his hand in face from the moment he’s roughly half way down, and used that feel the wave and guide his line. One other thing you might notice from watching rippers do this is how their heads hardly move. From the moment they take off, the head kinda stays in the same place while the body and body swing around and under it. Keep your head.

5. Dion stands tall and rides the lightning through this Macaronis pit. Coral whizzes underneath him, perhaps a mere couple of feet from the landing lip. He is wearing a collared shirt, which is unbuttoned, and flaps and billows spectacularly in the vortex. He feels great. He is in the Mentawais, he is in the movie (Globe’s Strange Rumblings). This afternoon’s beer would have tasted good anyway, but now, having pulled in from take off, will taste even better.

Note: Sadly, these step-by-step guides are more or less completely useless. You’ll only really learn by feel, by trial and error. Error will often mean getting bounced off coral reef or sharp, hard rock, wincing, bleeding – cherish these moments. Like I said at the start, time well spent.

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