Chasing Your Tail
Following up on our previous Surf Tip of how to put more power in your big guy rail turns, in the interest of keeping your surfing in the renaissance-man-ripper, shredder-for-all-seasons mould, here are some tips for punting lofty alley-oops with flyweight French Basque Country regularfoot, Simon Marchand.
1. ‘I was flying down the line with as much speed as possible, looking for a section like this one - small and tight. I’m not thinking rotation, just trying to punt it and float with hardly any bottom turn in, just a shallow line across the face. You want to air out in front of the lip, otherwise you’ll fly out the back. I actually find it easier to do alley-oops and get higher than air-reverses.’ 2. ‘When I’m at my highest and I feel my feet stuck well in the wax, I start to rotate. Sometimes your back foot comes off, but it’s OK if you keep your front foot well placed, as all the weight is on the front foot. Your back foot kicks for height, the control is with your front foot.’ 3. ‘Continue to spin, anticipating the way you spin when you land. Keep pushing with your front foot, turning your head in the direction you’re spinning. I’m pretty much looking at the lip here though, I think, but I’m not sure. I’m not thinking about any of this stuff when I’m doing it really, it just happens.’ 4. ‘My nose lands on top of the lip, preferably landing with my front foot directly on the lip. You can see my back foot isn’t perfectly on, but that’s OK. Try to stay in control here, otherwise your board spins away and you’ve blown the landing. Land, stay light, spin.’ 5. ‘I’m landing a little bit late here, my board falls first, then the foam pushes and I fall, bending my knees to get close to the board. Sometimes the lip bounce is too strong and you wipe-out, sometimes it helps. Practice gives you a feel for that. I actually fell all the way on to my back here, you gotta use your abs and the momentum of the soup to claw yourself back up.’ 6. ‘RIDE IT OUT. I DIDN’T EXPECT TO MAKE THIS ONE, STOKED.’
Simon’s general tips for alley-oops: ‘Obviously speed is the important one, then timing your launch just the last second before the lip throws, pretty late. Look for a wedging wave, like one of these little inside sections, just before it closes out. Shorebreaks, like Californian-style beaches, softish semi-closeout beachies are ideal, still with a bit of shape and lip. I think it helps also if you’ve skateboarded a bit. The movement is kinda like an ollie to fakie on a ramp.’
What not to do: ‘Don’t freak out in the air and pull/tuck your legs too much, coz you won’t land it. Like any air, don’t bottom turn too much into this move, just come in with a parallel-to-the-lip speed line. Also, don’t think too much stage-by-stage, surfing’s about flow, so get an idea for the feeling and just do it.’