Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting Barreled on a Big Board by Len Barrow

One of the hardest things to do is to pull into the tube on any piece of equipment.  The problem gets exponentially harder as your board’s length and thickness increases.  Despite this, pulling in on a big board whether it be a SUP or longboard is possible.  Here are a few quick tips.

Firstly you need to understand what type of barrel you are pulling into.  I know this sounds a bit strange but there is a great variation in barrel types.  One type of barrel is a running tube.  Running tubes can be described as fast tubes where you sometimes have to weave in the barrel just to keep up.  The tube runs when you are in it and you must be fast to get out.  Another type of tube is what I call the bending or A frame short tube. Look for waves that are heavily peaked (that’s why they call them A-Frames) with a tapering shoulder that are next to a channel. These waves barrel and shoot you out into the safety of deeper water.  They are ideal for bigger boards as you can pull in an have an exit door within reach and you don’t have to weave in the barrel to get out. 

The Set UP

The Set-Up is everything.  Big boards such as stand ups and longboards require much more setup time in relation to shortboards.  When I mean set up, I am referring to the period of time maneuvering your board into position before pulling into the barrel.  Typical with a larger board, don’t get too ambitious.  Bonga Perkins and Duane Desoto get massive running barrels on SUPS and Longboards but that’s why they are world champions.  We mere mortals should look for A frames peaks described above to attain makeable barrels.  As you develop your barrel skills you can get more ambitious yet it is great to keep it simple at first.  Paddle hard into the wave and you have two options

A. If the wave is looking like it will barrel of the takeoff prepare to tuck under the lip.  Bend at you knees, not your back and compress your body to fit into the tube.  This is the most important aspect of the barrel position.  Have a go for it attitude mentally.

B. If the barrel looks like it is going to form down the line head for that area.  When you get to the barreling section in this case, you may need to put on the breaks.  For SUP and surfboards this means to stall.  A stall is accomplished by literally leaning back and pulling a little wheelie   Be patient.  Let the wave form up for you.  In other words let the wave do the set up work for you.  The more time you spend setting up, the more success you will have of getting out of the tube.

Entry into the Barrel

The lip will throw over you in both cases and here is where it gets tricky with a big board or sup. You need to understand that a SUP or longboard literally have 3 to 4 more feet of rail than a shortboard.  You must be able to control the extra rail.  How do you do this?  As the lip throws over you, the lip may contact your long rails and force your nose to point at the beach.  This is how people get axed by the lip.  With a big board it imperative to control this incorrect drift.  This is done by putting pressure on the inside rail (the rail in closest contact to the lip) and keep correcting your trajectory every time the wave wants to pull your nose toward the beach and a definite wipeout.  This pressure keeps the nose pointed towards the barrel exit.  In the meantime, enjoy the view!!!!!!

There is a mental aspect to this also.  If you think you are going to wipeout, I promise that you will!  You must have a go for it attitude and literally believe that you will make the barrel.  You can “will” your way out of some barrels.  This sounds strange but try it.

The Exit


There are two types of exits.  One is the clean exit where the wave just spits you out.  It’slovely!  This type of exit feels like being reborn.  The other type of exit can be a bit rough.  We call this a chandelier exit as it is as if a chandelier of water has just fallen on your head.  In this type of exit you must again hold your line with pressure on the inside rail or the wave will push your boards nose towards the shore and you will wipe out.  Don’t be afraid of having a wide stance as it provides stability as the lip is crashing into you.  Bend at your knees and use them as shock absorbers and will your way out of the barrel with your mind!


Keep practicing! Barrel riding is both the most difficult thing to do as well as the most thrilling aspect of our sport.

About the Pictures:

It is said that a picture can communicate a thousand words.  Here are a number of pictures of myself 1.setting up for the barrel, 2. engaging in the barrel and 3. exiting.  Compare the pictures with the article and things will start making sense.  It just takes a bit of Zen attention!

Hope to see you in the tube soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for posting a comment on Zen Waterman, your comment will show as soon as we have a chance to screen it for spam. Mahalo, we hope to see you on the water!