Top turns are so last year!
With modern surfing hitting the stratosphere with pros like Holy Toledo throwing down two giant double ally’s on one wave, whilst wearing a jersey, it’s no wonder the air reverse has kinda become the new fins out top turn of modern day high-performance wave shredding.
So if you haven’t got one of these in your arsenal of wave slaying tricks listen up. Here’s my How To Guide with a few sneaky insider tricks to get you ‘revving harder’.
Step one – Speed
What goes up must come down, right! But in order to go up, first you gotta be going really quick, like Road Runner quick.
So it’s back to basics and just like in all of my other How To Guides, wave selection is your friend. I see it all the time down the beach, surfers trying to do airs and wondering why all their managing is to jump off their board in a dramatic fashion, followed by a wonderful belly-flop – always ten points in my book, but it ain’t no air. So you have to start hunting for those nice little double-ups that have way more energy in them.
Find these little gems and you will be going mack ten at that end section in no time
Usually it’s not going to be a set wave, it’s going to be a little inside wedge that’s bounced off the cliff and doubled up with the wave in front. Find these little gems and you will be going mack ten at that end section in no time.
Once you have found one of these little wave rockets, you want to be up quick and pumping and driving down the line. Really go for it, if you’re new to trying airs, your going to need a shit ton more speed than you even know, especially in the UK, believe me.
Step two – Timing is key
It’s all about that pop! Meaning that one split second where all your effort comes together, your board clips the oncoming lip at precisely the right moment and POP! The lip sends you skywards. But to get yourself to that all important pop moment, timing is key.
Whilst you’re hunting down that little inside rocket wave double up, you also need to be analysing how that wave is going to break, will there be a nice little section somewhere along it to boost off of?
Maybe it’s halfway down the line or maybe it’s a little end section, the wave you choose has to have something to launch off of, so a little forward thinking is needed right at the early stages of wave selection.
The shallower your bottom turn, the more rotation you will gain in the air
Once you are on your feet and driving down the line, keep your eye on the forming section that you want to do the air off. Aim to meet the oncoming section just as the lip starts to pitch.
Start to bottom turn, mid face, keeping it shallow but driving as you do, so as to be able to adjust your timing. This mid face shallow driving bottom turn is a key component, not only allowing you to create or shed speed if needed, but also to make sure you meet the oncoming lip at exactly the correct moment. It’s also fundamental in how you set up your trajectory out of the wave.
Too deep a bottom turn and you’ll shed off too much speed and your trajectory will send you off and over the back of the wave. It’s also worth noting at this point that the shallower your bottom turn, the more rotation you will gain in the air.
Step three – Technique
Practice makes perfect. It took me years to figure out how to get even the smallest pop out of a wave, so there’s no quick over night success with this one. But here’s a sneaky trick I learnt after trying so many times.
Grab a skateboard and go find a nice smooth pavement with some curb stones to practice on. Wear a helmet and pads if your not too hot on wheels. Now you want to find one of those curb stones that lower, usually to mark the entrance of a driveway . Starting on the road head toward the curb gaining speed as you go.
Now practice that shallow driving bottom turn and at the same time you want to mount the pavement as you head towards and keep your eyes fixed on the highest part of the curb, that’s your air section. Whilst doing this, rotate your upper body to coil into a spring to counter the movement of the board beneath your feet.
At this point you should be just about to fly off the highest part of the kerbstone. Allow your upper body to uncoil and kick down with your back foot to ollie the skateboard off of the curb.
Your shallow trajectory and the natural uncoiling of your upper body will send the board into a 180 rotation as you move away from the pavement. Using very subtle rolling movements with each foot to guide the board on its way, lift the front foot to gain height and hook and drop your back knee at the same time to add tail lift.
This is a 180 ollie off of a pavement curb, it completely mimics the feeling and body movement mechanics of an air reverse on a wave. Practicing a movement like this over and over again is a great way to prepare the brain for those split second moments and one off chances we get in the surf.
Step four – Wind
Any good aerialist will tell you that wind and the direction it is blowing is your biggest ally. It is also the safest way to punt. Knowing where your board is going to go before your airborne is half the battle, especially when trying to control lofty airs. For me living here in Cornwall and being a natural footed surfer, south west winds are best for airs going frontside.
Likewise north west are best for backside airs. Cross onshore winds are what you’re looking for, ideally not too strong but enough so that once you pop the wind will hold the board to you feet and if positioned right, will create even more lift under your board. It is still possible to air in offshore winds if you approach the oncoming section with a super shallow bottom turn, but this takes a little more practice, with almost all landings out in the flats and rotations happening very quickly.
Step five – Stomping it
Landing an air reverse, or any air for that matter, is a tricky combination of body positioning, balance and fast reactions. Adjusting to the unpredictability of all the white water as your board figures out which way it wants to spin. After a lot of practice, immediately after hunting down your launch pad, you should be spotting your landing. This is all analysed and calculated before lift off.
You’re basically building a road map in your brain, letting it know, this is how it’s going to go down. Doing this will enable you to relax in the moment and let the natural flow and rotation take over. More importantly it will allow your body to relax on impact preventing any nasty knee injuries.
The hooked, dropped knee that has given your board tail lift through the air, has also dropped the nose of your board. Look at this like a new fin on the front of your board. As you drop towards your landing spot you want to shift your weight even more over your front foot, nose picking the front of your surfboard into the wave face or white water as you land. Stay as low as possible, keeping that back knee hooked in and dropped.
Things are going to get really wobbly at this point, so to prevent injuries and increase your chance of making the trick, it’s really important to stay relaxed balanced and calm. Keep your weight on your front foot, keeping your back fins out of the water as much as possible. Let the wave dictate how the board wants to react. Naturally it will want to start rotating back around, at this point start to shift your weight and engage the fins again as you spin towards shore. Boom! air rev landed, no one saw it, stand up and take a bow like Big Z anyway’s cause you’ve earn’t it!