Surfboard Fin First to Toeside 180
Technique / Intermediate
Apologies to those of you starved of strapless and surfboard technique, but at last something for some light wind fun. Here we’ve got a move that is a challenge on it’s own and once mastered can be added onto a few other more difficult tricks as a fancy ending!!! For the moment though let’s get our head around what is actually going on here, and then we’ll look out how to make it happen.
Best bet is to have a sneaky peak at the videos, then the sequence and finally come back to the key points.
The idea here is to sail along fin first, as we did in our fin first beach start, but you could just as well transition to fin first (a very slow slide turn), or even water start fin first. Once you’re moving with your kite high you’ll turn/carve off downwind until you can grip the fins again and spin the nose of the board down and off you go toeside. Board wise it should make sense, many of us have seen surfers throwing 180 hits of the lip, landing fin first only to then twizzle (not sure of the correct technical term) back to nose first. Hopefully most of us have witnessed the likes of Keahi, Mitu, Matt or Airton stomping the same move with kites. The kite of course makes it all the more tricky, but here on the flats we can practice the last part of their move, the slide of the board and the Ole of the bar so that we’re ready, in our dreams at least, to take on some punchy shore break.
So how do us mortals piece this together?
Fin First Riding
Riding comfortably and controlled is the base here, so it’s well worth practicing. Each board will have a slightly different feel so you’ll need to experiment with weight distribution and feet position. Your aim is to get the fins up and out of the water whilst “edging” enough that you can kite in a straight line. Keep in mind that once you’ve spun the board you will be riding toeside, so you can’t go in just riding on the nose as you’ll then bury it once you slide around. Chances are that you may need to stand with you back foot on an unwaxed part of the board in front of the pad. If this is the case wax it.
If however you can get away with at least half your foot on the pad, if you have one, it will be better as the foot will be in position to ride toeside later! To get the board to go straight you’ll need to favour the up wind side slightly and lean your weight back behind you back foot, so that most of your weight and the power from the kite goes through your back foot. Keep your front leg extended in front of you, so that you can push against it and the raised tail of the board when it tries to turn upwind. It’s a bit of a balancing act moving your weight forward and back to keep the board stable. Forward to turn the nose away from the wind, back to turn it into the wind.
Final point here is that Christian has his bar trimmed in close to him. This is necessary for the Ole part of the move later, so get used to sailing tail first with the power trimmed low.
Turning the Board Off the Wind
Once you’re happy riding with some speed and there’s not too much wiggling going on it’s time to hunt out a flat section of water and give it a go. Next step here is suddenly carving the board downwind, which shouldn’t prevent too much of a problem as by now you’ll have realised that it prefers to go one way or another, rather than straight. At this point you’ll still need to keep the fins up so turn off your back foot. Also before carving make sure that you have you kite positioned above 11 or 1 o’clock, as you’ll need it to be high in a moment.
In the photo Christian is carving his board downwind, and you can see that he’s released his back hand. This will help as effectively you are turning away from the kite, so with both hands on the bar it will be tricky to open your shoulders to the carve. Final point, Christian has sheeted the bar out, as he doesn’t want the kite to be pulling, so you need enough speed to get through the move.
Move Weight Forward, Slide and Bite
Once you’ve carved past downwind your aim is to flatten the board so that it slides around rather than actually carving back from where you came.
In the picture Christian has got the tail dead down wind so he now goes into slide mode, which is simply a matter of getting weight onto his front foot so that he’s balanced over both feet. You can see that Christian’s back leg, the left one is now straight and his right leg is bent, as he’s moved his hips and therefore his weight forward. This will momentarily turn your surfboard into a skimboard, tea tray or block of ice, whichever analogy you prefer, and the board will start to slide, continuing the way you instigated with the carve, and thus turning your back towards the kite. The beauty however is that the board won’t have to slide far before it realises that it is a directional, the fins will bite and the board will hopefully end up pointing across the wind in the direction of travel – nose first.
Ole Pt 1 - Bar Push & Balance
Once those fins bite your balance needs to be perfect so that you can stay on the board. You can see that Christian’s weight remains the same on his feet, but more importantly he’s upright with his centre of balance over the board. Weight downwind in you go, weight slightly upwind you’ll get away with.
Now if you’ve never performed an Ole before this is the time to get physical. The first step here is to get the bar and centreline out of your face, so push the bar upwind away from you. Christian still has his bar sheeted right out, so that combined with a high kite and the carve/slide off the wind should mean that there isn’t any tension on the lines and the bar will move easily.
Ole Pt 2 – Bar Across
Second part of the Ole is to push the bar across in front of your face, so that it’ll end up on the same side as the kite. You don’t want to hang around here so as soon as you pushed the bar up wind bring it across. Don’t however lean back to let it past, push it across and as it goes turn your head and shoulders to look towards the nose of the board so that you too are now facing the right way.
If all goes well this is where you’ll end up, toeside. No need to move your feet, except perhaps to get them a bit more onto the upwind side of the board or a fine adjustment. Christian now has both hands on the bar, has sheeted it in to get tension back on the lines and can therefore dive the kite down to power him out of the move and keep him moving. If you look back at Pic d and compare it to this one you can see that the Ole is not such a drastic move, it is just repositioning the bar from behind you to in front of you – back to where it belongs.
If anything it is worth getting your head around the Ole, so perhaps have a few run throughs on land without board and kite. It’s tempting to think of it as a 180 turn in, when really it’s the difference from looking over your right shoulder and looking over your left shoulder. If you have you weight over the board at all times the board slide should happen fairly automatically once you move your weight forward, so concentrate on that push and across.
Once you can happily come out toeside, you can add a quick foot change so you sail off heelside!
Now if your brain is still with us have another look at the Sequence and the Videos.
Your main concern will be falling in backwards as you try to Ole. If there is still tension on the lines and you can’t get the bar past your head it can be that your kite is too low, so lift it, or possibly you didn’t have enough speed or didn’t carve suddenly enough down towards the kite and therefore never released the tension from the lines.
- Fins up with speed
- Kite high
- Sudden Carve
- Weight forward and slide
- Push bar upwind and then across towards the nose of the board.
This technique article was in Issue 40 of IKSURFMAG.