This weeks UCB and the first of the quarter makes a victor of Kooky Kyle, who by the way has already accrued one bonus point in the surflog. With this win he is already starting out strong with 2.5pts. He asked I write about how to successfully bring tail free reos back into the wave face. Well Kooky the answer is quite simple: Don’t suck so bad a surfing. Either that or “Kill Yourself” (what song and by what artist is that from for 1.5 UCB points, answer in the comments and link the you tube video and I am looking for one distinct song. It should be obvious if you know it).
In all seriousness tail free surfing is one of the hardest maneuver inversions in surfing to control and successfully complete. At the same time if you can pull one off it both looks and feels sick. The old school guys like to call it “flicky surfing” and in a way that is true. I mean when you blow the tail out in most instances you are burning a lot of speed and taking away from the energy that say a full rail hit might incur . For me personally I would rather blow my tail then do a huge gaff any day. If you can get them down eventually you can add power and finesse on top of radicalness to them. Just look at the tour guys like Slater or Wilko. Dane Reynolds’ tail free hits are power and insanity. I am constantly overwhelmed on how far he can take a tail free turn and come back in.
The first step to a good tail free maneuver is just the same as any lip related move, a good bottom turn. Drop into a wave and make sure it has a steep section with a lip that is going to throw out. It is near impossible to do a tail free hit on a mushy or flat section. As your bottom turning, pivot off your toes and lean into your inside rail. On larger waves it helps if you even touch the water with your back hand almost pulling yourself back up into the face. Watch any clip of Mick Fanning for a perfect example.
The pivot will allow you and your board to begin to climb back up the face of the wave. As your approaching the lip wait until your nose is beginning to come over the lip before counter acting the turn as shown in the above frame. At this point counter your weight over the outside rail by leaning on your heels. If you over exaggerate at this point you will be forced to come back in lay back and in most cases losing the wave in the process. Be sure also not to over throw the hit or you will just be pushed off the back of the wave. By overthrowing I mean waiting too long to counter act the turn. Also when finally approaching the lip as shown above you must kick the rest of your weight and board forward by pushing up toward the lip with your legs while keeping your upper body straight. The below sequence demonstrates this.
At this point you are completely weightless and it is a rather awesome feeling and sight if you have done it correctly. By that I mean your posture should be in tact even though the only thing left inside the wave is your inside rail sort of as demonstrated in the above second frame or the very first photo in the beginning of the fronside tutorial. Now you just need to wait for the rest of your board to catch back into the lip. This is where the hard part comes in, keeping your body over your board. This is the one of the most important things in all facets of good surfing. At this point you want all your weight centered in the middle of the board and on your toe tail. All your weight on the re-entry should be on your back foot or you are going to dig your nose and pearl or dig your outside rail and fall over it. Try not to recover in a lay back or in most cases it will be the end of your ride unless you are on a perfect wave such as Lowers.
Once your weight has been center back over your board free fall back down with the lip if your are still in it. In the case of many inversions you may have actually destroyed the lip in the process and are now in the flats. Either way it is no problem. Stabilize yourself for impact. Once you hit regroup and gather your balance, put your weight back over your toes and go into your next bottom turn. Or if you did one so gnarly that the wave is done or it was a close out hit claim it.
Backside Tail Free Reos
Backside is very similar to frontside with the only real variation being that every thing is opposite. Once again start with a good bottom turn except all your weight should be on your heels. Maybe it is because I am goofy foot but I find backside tail free maneuvers way easier to pull off.
For the rest of this I am going to refer to the following sequence.
Here is a perfect example of the rest of a clean back side tail free reo. In the the first frame my weight is all on my heels and I am climbing back up the face. My nose is pointed 12 o’clock and is above the lip. The second frame is the larger one in the seq. and is the shifting of my weight from my heels to my toes and am about to do the kick up motion we discussed in the front side tutorial. Frame three is the actual kick up motion. I am pushing my entire board and body over the lip with the force of my legs. Notice my body is stabilizing the motion, not going with it. Frame 4 my tail is free and I am just going along for the ride. Frame 5 I am beginning to shift my weight back over my board as my rail and tail catch back with the lip.
Frame 6 is where backside and frontside differ. On a frontside hit you actually open your body up on the recovery. Backside is the opposite, you want to crunch up into a ball for the free fall keeping the majority of your weight over your toes. Once you begin to fall with the lip open your body up and put your weight back over your heels. Stabilize your landing and go into your next bottom turn.