Surf Tips

Small Nail, Big Hammer

How to do big guy power turns on small days with Peter Mendia.

AGE: 30

BORN: Spain , lives in West Palm Beach , Florida

HEIGHT: 1m 83

WEIGHT: 86 Kilos

SHORTBOARD: Natural Art 6’3” x 18 5/8” x 2 3/8”

Guess what? Not every radical surfer in the world is built like a 12-year-old ballerina. Peter Mendia is one such robustly built human who knows that good surfing can be as much about throwing down powerfully executed basics as lofty aeronautics. Perhaps it might not be overly presumptuous of us to suggest that you too might be somewhat more likely to be attempting a big clean face turn next session yourself than launching some kind of flip that hasn’t been named yet? Read on.

1. ‘I’m starting to turn in this shot, having spotted a nice steep, clean area on the wave face to plant it.’

2. ‘In the second shot I’m about to start to turn down the face of the wave. When you know you have plenty of speed it’s important to use it to turn hard, but to do it cleanly.’

3. ‘In the third shot I’m putting my hands behind me to turn harder in a steeper area, I’m trying to keep my rail in the face so I don’t slide out.’

4. ‘Apart from getting barrelled, you can’t really beat the feeling of pulling a nice power turn. You feel like you’re almost snowboarding when you do a real power turn, you push and it pushes you right back.’

Pete’s advice for putting more power in your surfing: ‘Use stiffer boards than normal so you can push harder and not slide out like you would on your looser shortboard, I always use pintails or rounded pins. Try going faster and focusing on pulling maybe two good turns in a wave instead of four turns – two big ones are better than four half-baked turns in my book. Do plenty of leg training to keep them strong and to stay physically sharp in general. And then the two pretty obvious ones are to surf good waves and of course, use your rail.’

Old-school power heroes: ‘Occy, Luke Egan, Richard Cram and Pancho are the guys I always looked to for their power surfing. Occy does the best power surfing in the world and I really like the way Richard Cram does his turns too – clean and hard.’

Try watching: ‘An 80’s Quiksilver video called Performers shows Richard Cram surfing better than everybody, with huge power turns. That’s a classic. Also the Occy movie, The Occumentary is a pretty sick one too.’

Also: ‘My sideburns have become part of my body. I grew them as a joke, and they’ve been on ever since. They don’t really help with power surfing, but don’t seem to hurt either. I want to be Elvis.’

Photo sequence by Seth Stafford


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