This blog is for riders who have a bunch of tricks under their belt or maybe they’re looking to add a different look to their surfing. Is that you?
Or maybe you are wanting to add some tricks to the bag like a 180, body varial or walkaround.
Or you could even be riding with friends who are all regular and you are the lone goofy rider and the boat takes forever to change over.
All these situations lead to one thing – learning to ride with your heels to the wave, otherwise known as backside…or heelside…either word works!
Whether it is your correct foot forward (heelside/backside) or your wrong foot forward (switch heelside/backside) it’s all new and super weird. WE get it. It’s like learning to surf again! Remember when we got rid of all those bad habits in “how to get up and keep up with the boat”> ? Well, you can bring them all back.
When riding heelside/backside we want to have a little more weight on our heelside edge of the board. This is the edge that is close to the wave. Cheating your foot over is a great place to start. There are a few ways to do that but the easiest is to get up with your foot where you want it. If that fails, you wiggle those toes and slide that foot back while maintaining constant pressure on the foot you are moving. Nothing says wobble wobble splat more than an unweighted foot you are trying to move! Take your time. Small adjustment, pause, small adjustment, pause, repeat as necessary. Having your feet in the correct spot will help you more than any other tip we can give you.
Pro tip: When you pull outside that wave really exaggerate how far you pull out. You really need to keep a constant pull away from the boat until you get comfortable. Spend some time out there. Enjoy yourself. Think about all your friends that are stuck at work and how lucky you are or maybe that you’re going to be late for picking up your kids from school because you’re too busy having fun surfing! Ride around and get a feel for how things look.
When you have finally got all that out of your system and you’re feeling comfortable slowly start drifting in towards the bottom of that wave. We repeat. SLOWLY!!! WE REALLY CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH. SLOWLY.
Please avoid leaning. The boat will think it’s great… You, not so much.
This will put you out of the correct alignment and you will slip down the wave and fall backwards.
Another technique which can be combined with cheating your foot is dropping your bum. Think of it like sitting down in a chair. The more you sit down the more it weights your heels. This also exaggerates your knee bend which helps keep you in an athletic stable stance. Unlike toeside riding you can bend at the waist and drop your chest. Remember what I said about getting to bring back those bad habits!! A good rule of thumb is the more aggressive you want to ride or the more you want to lay into a turn, the more you can break and drop that chest. This keeps the majority of weight under the lip line and keeps you in the direction of travel you want to go to keep up to the boat. Downhill!!
One major difference about carving backside is you can really drive the turn with your back foot. When you learned to carve frontside you probably noticed how much weight you had to keep on the front foot. Now that your riding backside…. that common theme comes up again and it’s the opposite. For most people it feels like somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60/40 – 80/20 backfoot.
The most common mistake we see over and over is people apply to much pressure to the wave edge (heelside edge) of the board and go up and over the wave. Because you are riding with your heels to the wave your vision is a little limited and you can’t always see behind you over that leading shoulder. It’s a different look. Rather than having that wave right in front of you and being able to look up and down it you really only have 50-60% of what you would see riding toeside. Don’t panic. The good news is you can still see where you need to. Most of your vision loss is behind you and not where you need to look to anticipate, adjust and see where to go.
The easiest way to explain or get that feeling and direction of travel you are looking for is that you will feel like you are riding slightly off the wave into no mans land. If you look at the nose of your board it should point to the back corner of the side you are riding, or just outside the back of the boat. Sometimes it helps to check that the board is parallel to the direction of the boats travel.
To “speed up” or accele towards the boat you are going to want to weight that front foot heel and edge slightly into the wave. Too much edge and you go uphill and either lose your speed and/or go over the wave. Really concentrate on riding and staying in that channel at the bottom of the wave.
Now comes the slowing down part and we have few options. You can use one or a combination of them all.
1.Apply weight to that back foot.
2.Edge or roll off the wave into the flats.
3. Turn up the wave/go up hill. This one is problematic as you are now standing at the top of the wave/hill and you have to come down making that whole slowing down thing worse. This one works best if you pause at the top of the wave, lose a little bit of ground to the boat and roll off the wave closer to the back where the transition isn’t so step (less downhill) and gives you a bit of time to work yourself into the flats, make an edge change and roll back into the channel at the bottom of the wave.
And there you have it! The first steps to you mastering the darkside of the wave!! Whether you’re an aspiring pro or just want to switch it up, challenge yourself and try something fun we really can’t recommend it enough!!