Frontside bottom and top turn
Pro Rider Rob Kidnie on learning frontside turns
Surfing waves is the sequence of a well-timed bottom turn followed by a controlled top turn. Pro level surfers add all sorts of stylish variations to this two-part pattern, but the basics of riding waves are founded in the confident repetition of the basic bottom and top-turn equation.
Sure this simple combo is complicated by the strength and direction of the wind, the diverse timing, shape, and speed of the waves you are riding, but mastering these elements is just a matter of practice.
Frontside wave riding is when your chosen stance allows you to face the wave as you’re surfing down the breaking line of the wave. The first step is to be able to carve repeated toeside and heelside turns confidently outside of the waves. Practice throwing your kite across the wind as you initiate your turns, shifting your weight and controlling your line tension while learning to turn with precision. Use a piece of approaching chop to time your bottom and top turns; this will force you to gain more control over your kite and carving turns. After you are confident in your turns on flat water, begin attempting them on small waves.
During your turns your goal is to put the kite one step ahead of each turn, so you are following your kite towards the part of the wave you intend to ride. To initiate the bottom turn towards the wave, steer your kite towards the wave, hesitate for a moment, and then start your toeside carve to follow it. If done correctly, the kite will drift right in front of you while you are making your turn. The timing for throwing the kite and the angle at which you ride towards the face of the wave changes depending on the shape of the wave, the wind strength and direction. Repetition will give you control and confidence through trial and error.
From the moment you are in your bottom turn you will begin looking for the section of the wave’s lip that you will want to hit. As you approach the wave, you will want to redirect your kite back towards the beach, so that the kite is already pulling you back into the flats as you top turn. Going into the lip it’s important to have good weight distribution. Too much weight on your back foot and the board will stall. Too much weight on your front foot and you won’t be able to turn your board. Bend your knees and drive your turn from your back foot. Once you are at the top of the wave, lean backwards slightly and push your back foot to pivot the board around by pushing your back foot through the lip of the wave. As your board pivots back underneath you, look down the face of the wave to where you want to go and regain your line tension and your board’s edge while preparing for the next bottom turn sequence.