With the recent run of giant and unusually clean swell hitting the UK this week, we’re pleased to see an edit of one of Cornwall’s arguably hollowest and best known reef breaks, under the clock tower, nicely holding the bigger stuff. It features a strong crew of local surfers getting some solid tubes, and Osprey team rider Tom Butler demonstrating his Hellman status, as he picks off some of the larger waves of the day, and makes surfing back hand deep in the barrel look easy.
Photo: Tom Butler demonstrating surfing deep in the barrel.
Tom’s Top Tips
1. Make sure the wave is barreling. Even if it's close out barrels, get out there and pull in - practice makes perfect.
2. After popping up, simultaneously grab your rail with back hand /arm and start to feel the wave face with your front hand / arm. Pulling on the rail will set your heel edge rail into the wave face. This will engage the fins. With your front arm feel the wave face, this will keep you inside the curl. To slow down, jam your arm inside the face to create drag. Note, in this pic I'm only feeling the face and keeping my speed natural to the pace of the wave. Also a reason to put your arm in the face and behind you is to square up your upper body, this posture and positioning over your board will give you a lot more strength and balance.
3. On exit when you’re learning, you normally go either too high or too low. Both of these will make you get clipped by the lip or tossed out by the lip - both an epic fail! If you find yourself going too high then you are putting too much pressure on the rail, pulling the trajectory of your board towards the lip on exit. Ease off the pressure on the rail, just maintain your line you did so well setting up! Going too low? Then you need to do a mini pump toward the mid face opening. Even the smallest adjustment and lift in body weight will give your board a good chance of picking up a tad more speed and finding the space to exit.
I hope these tips help make backhand barrel riding a tad easier to get your head around!
Photo: Tom Butler back hand surfing at Nazare