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How to Make a Late drop


The late drop: It is by far the most unpredictable and challenging if not most exhilarating moment in big wave surfing. It takes a combination of physical coordination, wave knowledge, and guts 9and a fair bit of luck). Sometimes, you might not even make the wave, but if you just make that steep drop, those blood pumping few seconds are enough to fuel you with enough stoke for a whole session 9and maybe a good story for the bros later). So here goes the late drop:

Positioning and Paddling

Making the drop is all about positioning. You want to be at the high point of the wave where it is cresting but not pitching (see parts of a wave ). The wave should be standing but not throwing. Once you have targeted the spot from where you will enter the wave, now you have to paddle (see how to paddle ) hard and deep so to get moving at the same speed as the wave as it jacks up beneath you. That takes back and shoulder strength as well as proper weight distribution as you decide when to jump to your feet. Once you feel the wave taking over as the driving power source and there is a sense of weightlessness, it’s time to start your jump up to the standing position. There are two schools of thought at this point; some say to be sure to keep your hands on your deck while others say to grab the rails as your base. I find that I do both depending on the situation and even the board I am riding. The most important consideration is to put equal pressure on both sides of your board so that you don’t begin your descent with a wobble or rail dig.

Getting to your Feet

This is where coordination is required more than ever. You want to jump up to your feet on the board while still putting pressure on the board to move it smoothly down the face. On a late drop, too much weight on the tail (see parts of a surfboard ) of your board will slow your descent and give the wave a moment to steepen and pitch. In big surf, this is the worst place to be if the wave throws out before you start dropping. Literally. So instead, with your weight placed evenly on to the upper center of your board as you go from prone to erect, pop up to your feet and continue that same pressure on your front foot. Now you are dropping. Think “Charge it!” There is no other option here but to go all the way. Hesitation will end in disaster.

Pulling it Off

You really want to avoid catching air here since landing an air drop takes expertise and a whole lot of luck. Instead, try your best to stay connected to the wave. You will have to read the wave at this point. You can either angle your board to try and get some lateral distance away from the falling lip or you may want to get to the bottom straight below and bottom turn into the next section. This all depends on the type of wave you are riding.

The most important part of all this is that you will have a split-second of sheer weightlessness and your fins and board bottom will be simply skittering down the face. This is an easy time to lose all control and wipe out in the most dramatic and painful way (just in case, learn how to fall properly).

Once you reach the bottom of your drop, you need keep your legs and back flexible but firm to anticipate connecting your fins and getting full sticky friction moving under your board and pulling off this incredibly advanced maneuver.

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