How To: A Proper Frontside Cutback
Learning a cutback from a soon-to-be 48-year-old might seem counterintuitive, but Tom Curren is the king of the modern cutback. From Slater to Dane to Conner Coffin, their cutback lines and styles are heavily influenced by TC. All photos by William Sharp.—Casey Koteen
1. As you're coming down the line and getting ready to set up the turn, look for the little seams or wedges in the face of the wave. You want to use those like a transition on a skate ramp and fit the pivot point of the cutback inside them. They give you a tiny burst of momentum. Sometimes there'll be an obvious one, other times not. When you're coming off the bottom, look for one on the shoulder, and if you spot one, set your line so that you'll run right through it.
2. You want to approach the maneuver with a lateral line. Notice how his wake has only a slight angle in it from the bottom turn. This maintains as much speed as possible and positions you near the top of the lip.
3. Your weight goes hard to the back foot to initiate the turn and heavy pivoting of the direction change, and your front hand should drop down to your waist. If you're a legend and can make it look this easy, it should appear to casually hang there as if you were resting it on a bar stool.
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4. Your shoulders rotate forward and your back arm follows suit, swinging around and helping the momentum of the turn. As you twist your upper body, your weight will naturally start to shift to evenly between both feet. This helps drive the turn and allows you to control the inside rail better.
5. In this example, Curren doesn't attempt to rebound off the whitewash, but he instead flattens the turn out as soon as the board is pointing back toward the foam. It kicks up a lot of spray, and is an easier turn to ride out of. The caveat is that when you do this, you burn up nearly all your speed since you're now going against the flow of the wave and aren't going to get a boost of speed from rebounding off the whitewater. However, if you've done it right, you'll end up in the pocket of the wave, which is where the face is steeper. A well-placed bottom turn will get you going again.
If you've got an intermediate- or even expert-level cutback in your repertoire, there are still style lessons to be learned here. Keeping the arms low and relaxed makes a very critical turn seem mellow.
If you wanted to rebound off the whitewash, you'd want to look at it at the apex of the turn, twisting your torso farther around. For a no-rebound one like this, the head never looks all the way around, and instead it just shifts to looking down through the brunt of the turn, which helps focus your power to the end flare of the maneuver.
-Do a Google image search for "Tom Curren cutback backdoor" and you will find the gold standard. It's perhaps the finest cutback ever caught on film.
-There are awe-inspiring wraps in the "Taylor Knox Hits Lowers" vid on the net. See below…