Maui Surf

It All Starts with the Bottom Turn

August 31, 2012, 12:05 AM HST
* Updated August 31, 2:36 PM
Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Surf reporter Carlos Rock also teaches surfing and has spent his lifetime riding Maui’s waves.

By Carlos Rock

The bottom turn is quite possibly the most important maneuver to modern surfing. It all starts with the bottom turn.

One of the pioneers of powerful surfing. Dane Kealoha demonstrating how to make a bottom turn into a backdoor bomb. Photo: Bielman

This maneuver basically consists of using all of the speed from the drop in to project you back up the face of the wave towards the lip to do a turn, and eventually to surf the rest of the wave.

It is the foundation of every move — period. You can’t ride a wave without incorporating a bottom turn. It is often overlooked and disregarded because it doesn’t look that exciting as opposed to what comes after performing the bottom turn, which is the big move, the big turn, air, floater, barrel, you name it, it all stems from the bottom turn.


Once you realize how important the bottom turn is, you spot it more frequently when watching others or professionals surf. It provides a sense of excitement because you never know what is going to happen after the bottom turn.


If you watch Andy Irons surf, he found a way to blend the bottom turn so seamlessly into his surfing that it all looks like it was meant to happen like that. His bottom turn is so dialed in that his top turns are usually just extensions of the bottom turn.

And his top turns were the best in the business. But its not just Andy, every pro does it.

Generating speed off of a bottom turn will translate to better surfing because you will have more speed to use on the wave. Think about being able to go faster than you have ever surfed before.


It all starts with the bottom turn. A lot of people are too caught up with the flashy moves like snaps, throwtails and airs that they don’t even see what it takes to get to that spot on the wave.

Enter the bottom turn.

To perform a decent and functional bottom turn, foot placement is key. Make sure your feet are where they need to be. Your back foot should be over the fins on the tail, and your front foot should be where it feels most comfortable.

Bottom Turn-to-Top Turn 101 with one of the best to ever do it, Andy Irons. Photo: Carlos Rock

Your body needs to be in a semi crouch to get the power and drive through your legs, through the board, and into the turn.

First off when you are dropping in, spot your area that you want to perform the bottom turn. Then look ahead on the wave to see where the bottom turn is going to take you.

You do the turn almost in a squat, but you extend your legs to give you that drive and upward projection.

If you do it right, you will get a burst of speed that will shoot you up to the lip depending on where you point your board.

The rest is up to you.

If you feel like you have reached a plateau in your surfing, work on your bottom turn.

Check out this tutorial:

[flashvideo file= /]




Make the most of your Maui vacation with these top-rated activities: Maui Top 20: Maui Visitor & Tourism Information
E-Mail Newsletters Receive daily or weekly updates via e-mail. Subscribe Now
News Alerts Breaking news alerts on your mobile device. Get the App


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments