Trimming Your Surfboard & How to Carve Waves On A Surfboard

Now you are catching waves you are ready to learn to trim your surfboard to ride across the face of the wave after you pop up. Then the next progression will be learning how to carve on your surfboard so that you can turn sharply as you are riding the wave.

Surfer Trimming the Surfboard

Trimming the Surfboard

Take a look at the photo above.  The surfer in the image is a regular stance or normal stance surfer.  This means that her right foot is the rear foot on her surfboard.  A goofy foot surfer is a surfer who surfs with their left foot at the rear of the surfboard. This surfer is surfing near the curl of the wave, which is the area where the wave is starting to break (see the whitewater just near the tail of her surfboard).  The goal in surfing is to always be near the curl of the wave.

She is wanting to continue moving to her right by trimming the surfboard so that it will move to her right. This will keep her just ahead of the curl.  As a regular stance surfer she will accomplish this by putting the weight onto her toes to have the right rail of the surfboard dig into the water.  This causes the surfboard to gently turn to her right. If the wave were breaking to her left she would want to put the weight onto her heels.

Angling Your Takeoff

Angle your takeoffs so you don't just go down the face of the wave into the whitewater.

Now that we've gone over just what trimming is, the next step is to apply trimming to your takeoff so that you don't simply pop up and then go straight down the wave and get caught by the whitewater.  That is alright when you are just starting to learn how to surf, but once you've got the take off under your belt, it's time to start really riding the wave.

So far when you have been paddling to catch the wave, you have probably had your surfboard heading directly towards shore.  Now it's time to try to position yourself so that when the face of the wave is approaching you will be attempting your takeoff near the shoulder or the curl of the wave.

As you are paddling to catch the wave you need to be looking over your shoulder to see what direction the wave is breaking and how close you are to the breaking portion of the wave.  Now if you determine that you are going to go for this wave, you want to paddle so that your surfboard turns at a slight angle in the direction that the wave is breaking. If the wave is breaking to your right, you want to angle your surfboard to the right as you are paddling to catch it.  You don't need to do this too soon, just the last three hard paddles before you plan to pop up.  Getting the angle right will take some practice, too little and you'll just be going straight down the face of the wave, too much and you'll go over the back of the wave and lose your shot at the ride.

Adjusting Your Speed On The Surfboard

Once you get it right and are on your feet you will want to trim the surfboard to try to stay near the curl.  If you want more speed you need to trim the surfboard to stay high on the wave, if you want to slow down, move further down the face of the wave.  The higher up on the face of the wave, the faster your surfboard will go across the wave face.

Trimming is great for these small adjustments which will create gentle turns in one direction, but what about powering down the wave, doing a bottom turn and heading back up the face of the wave to try the oh so cool top turn.  Well now we're ready to talk about carving.

Carving the Wave on Your Surfboard

To perform bottom turns, cutbacks, the kickout and top turns (re-entries) you need to learn how to carve on your surfboard.  The word carve is a surfing term to describe turning sharply.

In order to perform the fast turns necessary for these maneuvers, here is what you need to do.

Getting the surfboard to turn sharply requires that you get the nose of the surfboard up in the air so that it will pivot on the tail and turn quickly.  To do that you are going to shift you weight back quickly onto your rear foot.  This slows the surfboard and lifts the nose of the surfboard. At the same time or more accurately, just a fraction of a second prior to shifting your weight onto your rear foot you will be rotating your body in the direction you want to turn.  Do this right and your surfboard is going to turn sharply in the direction you rotated your body.

Now it is very important to quickly get your weight back onto your front foot to get the surfboard moving rapidly again.  If you are too slow moving your weight onto the front foot, your surfboard will stall and the wave will catch up to you.

That's it. Sounds easy, but learning to distribute your weight back and forth fluidly takes a lot of time. Good luck.

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