Surfing Montauk with Debra Rose

Spring Surfing in Montauk

Debra Rose

What if someone told you that by focusing on a few basic skills in the water such as turning, you could improve your surfing by 70%? A few Aussie surfer friends claim that with ‘heaps’ of practice and self-awareness, intermediate surfers can makes big changes on their boards. Spring is the perfect time to test the theory before the summer crowd steamrolls the line-up after Memorial Day.

Improving your turns will help every aspect of your surfing. If you are making a drop, working on your style, or popping out of a wave to return to the line-up, a solid turn is fundamental. Watch your favorite surfers in the water and you will see similarities when making their turns. Most are maintaining their speed without their arms flailing around, the board is tipped to one side while they keep their back knee more bent than their front knee, and the nose is high in the air. Effortless. Your turns can be, too.

A few rules: keep the weight on the back foot, ideally right over the fin depending on your board. A few people envision pressing on their back foot like they are stepping on the gas, which will sharpen your turn when you increase your weight in the back of the board. If you cycle and often switch the pressure on each leg, focus on taking the weight off the front foot and lift it a bit if you have to.

When you shift your center of gravity lower, your balance automatically improves. By keeping your knees bent, you can even reach the water with your hand as a quick reference for how much lower you are on your board. Once you are lower, lean into it.

Speaking of leaning into it, roll your ankle to shift your weight to your toes or heel, easily turning your board. The effortless effort is using your balance, not muscle to tilt the board onto its rail.

True in life and on your surfboard, always focus on where you want to go. Trust your body’s natural inclination to rotate your shoulders, then chest and hips in that order, towards the direction you are aiming for. Your board will easily follow.

Lastly a word about speed. When you are low enough to run your hand through the water, straightening your legs with a bit of force as you turn allows you to hit the gas. You want to create speed, and the wave is not pushing you. Also as in life, wouldn’t you want to create your own dynamic when you can, rather than being pushed along? Imagine getting 70% better at this both in life, and on your board.