Speed lines

frog's picture
frog started the topic in Saturday, 25 Jun 2022 at 7:37am

Out at the superbank the other day in 4 to 5 ft excellent conditions. Hanging in a bit grabbing occasional wide ones and the all to rare waves people wiped out on, I had a front row seat to watch some amazing speed lines making seemingly unmakable sections. I sort of admired the skill level but suffered the frustration of swinging around thinking no way only to look left and pull back as they swept past.

It is a skill set that is never so dramatically on display as at the Qld point breaks. Elsewhere it is useful occasionally. Out there is is bread and butter for the locals.

There was so much variety in how it was done.
- some used volume and longer boards straight line trimming - sort of lazy but still a skill to get the line right.
- short wide low rocker worked as well.
- many did high energy subtle little pumps on shorter boards
- one guy with long thick hair just aggressively non stop pumped top to bottom from the moment he took off and made amazing sections
- the really high performance surfers used top to bottom ripping and even cutting back caring little about looming sections knowing that at any time with a well timed swoop off the bottom they could come around sections at will.

The most amazing of all to me was the most subtle. A skinny goofy on a few waves trimmed for 200 metres plus on waves of almost closeout rate of peel with barely a move of a single muscle. He knifed across the lip at incredible speed by sitting way up high just below the lip line in a zone in the wave most people visit briefly coming off the top or not at all.

Occasionally he adjusted slightly to dodge traffic but returned to his high line (i saw spray from slashes down the line so he could rip). He knew exactly where it was and what it could do.

His board looked small like a surgeons knife

An inch higher and he would have gone over the falls. A few inches lower and he probably would have lost his secret power source. Up there the throwing lip cannot be ducked or dodged, the bulls horns are threatening to slice you in two or toss you way out into space the whole time. The correct line and confidence to hold it is everything.

Years ago on a perfect left I rode that same line sitting way up high at amazing speed perfectly still the entire ride. Did it once at Lance's Left on a rarer super walled horseshoe bowl at eye watering speed. Rarely done it since. It feels amazing but requires such a lined up wave and total accuracy to get right. And, the natural instinct is to hit that line briefly before swooping down for speed rather than staying up there.

Speed lines are one of surfing's most amazing yet underrated skills It is a part of surfing totally alien to the WSL scoring system.

The skinny goofy may have got a 3 or 4 out of ten in a heat for those rides. Too straight line. From the beach the subtle radical position, high in the concave wave face, is flattened out in perspective into a one dimensional trim of no consequence. Only the side on water view really shows it well.

No one else took quite that line all day.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Saturday, 25 Jun 2022 at 9:36am

bump

Andrew P's picture
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Andrew P Saturday, 25 Jun 2022 at 11:11am

Sick analysis Frog

spidermonkey's picture
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spidermonkey Saturday, 25 Jun 2022 at 1:35pm

Since I've started riding an asymmetric fish I have a much better appreciation and feel for the effortless speed line. Such a pure way to surf if the waves allow.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Saturday, 25 Jun 2022 at 1:46pm

Well written Frog. I can picture the whole scenario.

Personally, I'm a massive fan of the high line trim. If you break surfing down to pure feel- not much comes close.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Saturday, 25 Jun 2022 at 2:19pm

Good topic, Frog. And some sharp observations.

Going fast as fuck on a sizey wave has to be the best thing. It's what I've been trying to do all summer on my latest obsession.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 10:00am

Gabriel Medina speed line and mini pump technique at G land - making the almost unmakeable, with spring loaded bottom turn around the last section and scoring .... 4.67.

First wave of heat:

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 10:22am

Taking high lines are a thing of joy. Placing the rail up into the upper curve near the top - you'll make any section. I'm an anachronism and ride with the older style and flow of the single style boards, but it works - agree frog on the longer rail for this style (match rail lengths to wave size/shape). This way, you don't have to pump at all, just read and position. Can be complete joy with the subtle shift of the hips getting the board up there, and then mowing down distance at speed. Can be done on a 1 1/2ft wave on a log with equally good feeling, like a 6ft wave is happening in minature!

High lining seems to work well down this way.

Edit: any video of Terry Fitz shows this approach.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 10:40am

Great topic, I feel getting onto a single-fin or twinny where you need to use the power source of the wave helps you really find that sweet spot re high-lining.

The feeling of absolutely flying and holding your line through that top bit of the wave to then fade down to the beach once the wave backs off is incredible.

I find the tricky bit sometimes is taking off right up in that high-line pocket from the get go, I always like to drop down and bottom turn but doing that in some circumstances sees you not making it around the section. Just have to mentally remind yourself sometimes on those faster, hollower days.

Here's an image of me at North Steyne in that beautiful power source of the wave..

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 10:53am

Great colours in that pic too Craig :)

Nice wave for the spot! I've seen the Lynch vs Blair footage, it must have it's day.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 10:56am

Just out of interest, when I did an advanced riding course some years ago it was taught that the middle part of the wave is the power zone. I've never intellectually come to terms with the fact the hi-line is where flight begins. I'll go with the feeling and go that bit higher.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 1:23pm

Overall, there are many ways to skin the cat - generate above average speed. The surfboard board is only part of it. Techniques can vary.

There is:
- Big pump
- Wriggle pump
- Speed weave
- Pure surgical straight lines on the middle power line and, less often, on the high line trim.
- Top to bottom swoops to gain from gravity
- Slingshot bottom turns timed just right

The secret sauce is the rider - their skill, feel for the wave, choice of technique for the wave in question and feet position on the board of choice. It is very obvious when it not there. And, pretty amazing when done just right.

The spring of youth helps but some grizzled old leather-skinned surfers still know how to do it THEIR way instinctively.

The goofy at 1:16 in the foreground may the same guy I talked about in the first post. Similar build and use of the top 3rd of the wave more than most. Obviously on that wave he is weaving on a smaller slower wave but is still drawn to the high line zone.

Surprised that Surfonmars edited out my waves ..... ; )

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 1:48pm

One of my favourite waves (and a very unfashionable one - not exactly the hell barrel) is Impossibles, exactly because you can do the most incredible speed runs on good day.

At 6ft+ it's sublime pelican-like swooping with limited input.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 2:43pm

Nice trim Craig. Eyes on the prize down the line for the goodness yet to come.

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 3:35pm
Island Bay wrote:

One of my favourite waves (and a very unfashionable one - not exactly the hell barrel) is Impossibles, exactly because you can do the most incredible speed runs on good day.

At 6ft+ it's sublime pelican-like swooping with limited input.

Can imagine. There is the hard work pump to get the job done type of speed and then there is the rarer minimal effort weightless bird of flight mode, with highlines and swoops, that feels amazing.

Not something your average beachbreak can offer very often and is a peak surfing experience many people never even have an opportunity on due to ability and to lack of access to waves of quality and length ... and crowds. I have tasted it but not often.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 4:42pm

Come and visit once the sand has sorted itself out again here.

channel-bottom's picture
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channel-bottom Monday, 27 Jun 2022 at 4:47pm

I have found that it's way easier (for me anyway) on a quad to access that top part of the wave, and I think that's why quads are faster because you drop from a higher part of the wave. Just don't like quads for the rest of the wave.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Tuesday, 28 Jun 2022 at 8:44am

Perhaps if there was a button on the deck you could press with your toes that would jettison one of the rear quad fins, you could surf the rest of the wave as a 'thruster'

sort of