How to Surf- Top Turn
It’s time to start hit those lips and kicking out some spray! This is where we stamp our identity to the wave. Although I agree that a stylish bottom turn definitely looks the part and can really set us up for a decent top turn or cut back, the latter half of a linked manoeuvre is where the money’s at!
No matter what your nomenclature or variation: Reo, re-entry, lip smack, etc etc, the principals are all the same, it’s just up to you and the wave to come to an agreement over how you complete it.
To complete the top turn successfully, you need speed coming out of the bottom turn.
1- The angle from the bottom turn should be the first determinant of how you should finish your top turn. Are you coming up the wave at a gentle angle having gone around a section, or are you perfectly in the pocket allowing you to carry your speed vertically up the face of the wave? The steeper up the wave you are travelling and the steeper the face of the wave where you complete your turn will allow for more fin release, more spray, and a sharper turn.
2- Before performing any manoeuvre be sure to have planned your next turn as you want to allow for a smooth transition out of the one that you are about to perform.
3- Keep your eyes at where you want to go. As you’re driving out of your bottom turn you should be really back foot heavy allowing for release of the front foot up the face of the wave. Make sure that you’re low to your board.
4- Get your time right. Start turning too early and you won’t get any fin release, start turning too late and you’ll get caught in or over the lip of the wave
5- Torque in advance! I find it best to rotate your body to the outcome direction in advance of doing your turn. The more torque, the greater the ferocity of the turn. As you’re half way up the face of the wave, your weight should be balanced between both feet and you should begin to twist in preparation for an explosive (for a smoother turn, this explosion should be controlled) release.
6- As you approach the lip of the wave, switch weight back on to your back foot and begin the turn. Rather than just pivoting as in the bottom turn, try and push your back foot out whilst encouraging your board to stay underneath you by drawing your front foot in towards you. As you push, the lower half of your body should re-align with the pre-torqued upper half of your body.
7- If your fins release i.e. they come out of the water, your hard push will suddenly give way so be ready to re-adjust, or, if you’re progressing to the next stage, continue pushing and rotating your body in order to perform a reverse (only for the advanced surfers).
8- Temporarily put your weight on your front foot in order to encourage your board back don the face of the wave, but don’t nose dive.
9- Get ready for your next section.
Some people have more difficulty mastering their back-side (with their back to the wave) top turns rather than their forehand top turns as it feels less natural to be putting weight on your heels, and people tend to be less comfortable vertically approaching a critical section with less vision. A little tip towards a decent back-side top turn is to lift your back arm to help balance your body, and lower your front arm over the inside rail of your board as you come up the face. As you explode however, should you be close enough in the pocket, it’s much easier to complete the latter half of the turn with power.