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Matt Scorringe calls it “speed off the mark” — the point immediately following getting to your feet and propelling yourself through the first section of a wave. This is, of course, a critical moment on every wave even if it may not appear to be the most exciting. But the consequences (or advantages) are remarkable: come out of the gates with little or no speed and you will forever be surfing behind that first section. Doomed. Come out of this moment with speed and momentum and you’ll propel yourself into an open wave face where you can really make some magic happen.
No matter which result is typical for your surfing, the amount of speed you create in this moment is consistent with how much speed you will (or won’t) take with you throughout most of the wave. Corringe outlines the six movements that can be used to create speed off the takeoff in The Art of Surfing Academy.
1. Let Go of Both Rails at the Same Time
This keeps the board “nice and even” under your feet. “If we do let go with one hand before the other, the board will become uneven, creating an unstable platform for us to launch off,” Scorringe says.
2. Extend Your Legs and Torso Upwards
This lifts your board up the wave face as opposed to anchoring it or submerging a greater portion of the board in the water.
3. Lift and Throw Your Arms Forward
The “lift and throw” movement of the upper body here not only relieves weight from the board but also pushes momentum forward, along the wave face. “I often say that if we do a correct extension off takeoff combined with a quality lift and throw with our arms we will gain a half a board length along the wave,” Scorringe says.
4. Lift Your Arms to Shoulder Height
Using your full range of motion maximizes the speed you are looking to create.
5. Compress Your Chest to Your Front Knee
Once you’ve extended your torso upwards and de-weighted the board, compressing through the knees will drive all that momentum back down the wave face.
6. Extend Upwards and Compress Downwards
Keeping your body moving in an upward and downward motion stays consistent with the momentum you are working to create, as opposed to a side-to-side movement through the upper body, which cancels out all of that speed.