Deconstructing The Purpose Of Surfboard Rails
Surfing requires us to have a good rail game, but has anyone ever told you what that actually is? Whenever your board is flat the bottom rocker will push water and friction will slow you down. If your weight is on top of the board then this will further slow you down. By surfing on rail your board can cut through the water without being held back by friction or weighed down.
Boards are mostly symmetrical in shape but when on rail we need it to have 2 totally different responses:
- It has to hold off the bottom; and
- It has to release off the top.
These are polar opposites and should be impossible to do.
However if you lean off the bottom the rail will roll and bury itself in the water applying hold. Leaning will also take the bulk of your weight off the board making it easier to project up the wave face.
Twisting of the top will help the board will pivot off the wide point and the tail will release when the hard bottom edge of the tail slices the water apart.
Surfing With Good Rail Technique
Lets compare riding a bike and surfing for a minute. They have more in common than you think!
At speed you have to lean to turn and you need to twist the handle bars to turn the bike went riding slowly.
Likewise at the bottom of the wave you would have dropped in with speed from gravity and the waves push. By simply leaning your weight in the direction you want to go your board will follow.
Surfboards rails are round under the front foot to facilitate the lean which means it is more of an action done off the toes than a heavy back footed push.
Adding Extra Power Into Your Turns
When you want to perform a turn, all your power and torque comes from your twist. The longer you hold your twist the greater the power and spray you are going to throw. When you twist it is crucial that you look to where you are going and hold that twist until you reach that destination.
If you cut it short you are going to lose speed, but if you hold that coiled position until you connect with the lip or the foam it is going propel you back out of that twist. A lot of poor technique is done where people are looking down the line and trying to force a move and end up doing a quarter or half a twist, end up mid face and lose speed. A prime example of a surfer with textbook twisting technique is Mick Fanning, who does such a lightning quick twist and looks all the way back at the foam, reconnects with the foam and comes out of that turn with a lot more speed.
So in turning/twisting, if you are always looking down the line at the next section you will cut your turns short.
Twist back, commit, look to the pocket and you will find that you come out of the turn with more speed.
Rotating your hips will enable you to see more on your way and respond timorously.
The best technique for the twist is both hands forward with an open palm on your lead hand.