From Occy to A.I. to Parko, some of our sport’s most esteemed surfers have made the backside carve a pillar of their approach. By incorporating speed, power, and grace, this seemingly mundane turn can take on new life. Here, Owen Wright gives us a step-by-step breakdown of his patented backside carve.
Speed: I think this is true of just about every maneuver in surfing, but the more speed that you have going into a maneuver, the better. For the backside hack, it’s not only important that you have a lot of speed going into the actual turn, it’s critical. My favorite place to do a big backside gouge is if I’m coming out of the tube with heaps of speed and approaching a section of the wave that’s beginning to flatten out. Like I said, the beauty of this this turn is all about doing it with lots of speed. When I was younger, I would just watch Andy out at Cloudbreak doing the most amazing backside carves. He would do these massive carves with such speed. When I do them today, I still picture Andy’s approach and try to mimic that.
The Bottom Turn: I think the perfect place to begin your bottom turn for these types of carves is about ¾ of the way down the face. The actual bottom turn itself should see you draw a 45-degree line toward the flat section of the wave where you’ll be initiating your carve. So to recap, start your bottom turn about ¾ of the way down the wave’s face, and project yourself at a 45-degree angle toward the area of the wave where you want to begin your turn. If you start your bottom turn at the bottom of the wave and you project yourself too high, you’ll be doing a backside snap instead of a carve. That’s another topic altogether.
Foot Shift: Most of the time when I commit to any maneuver, I try and place my back foot at the very end of my tailpad. The backside carve is an exception. As I come out of my 45-degree bottom turn, I’ll bring my back foot farther up the board, somewhere between the two fins. It’s important that you try to keep a low center of gravity here as well. What this does is allow you to really draw out a nice, long swooping carve.
The Carve: So you’ve got the speed, you’ve done your bottom turn in the proper place of the wave, and you’ve drawn a 45-degree line toward the section you’ve been eyeing. Now comes the carve itself. The biggest thing to keep in mind here is that a solid backside carve is all about transitions. When I say transitions, I’m referring to being able to quickly and fluidly transition from your outside rail to the flat part of the board to your inside rail. And then to be able to do it all while going as fast as you possibly can. To draw out the turn, apply pressure on your front foot while guiding the board with your back foot. Your body will naturally uncoil a bit here as your legs draw out the carve and you switch from your outside rail to your inside rail. Understanding this is really crucial and just takes a bit of time to grasp. But once you do it right, you’ll instantly feel it and go, “Ahh, that’s it.”
The Rebound: As you finish out your carve, you’ll need to find a place to rebound so you can set up for your next maneuver. If you want to aim for the top of the wave’s white water, you’ll basically be doing a roundhouse. If you’re doing just a straight-up carve like we’re talking about today, aim for the bottom third of the wave. This will allow you to keep a lot of your speed so you can transition into another bottom turn and your next maneuver.