By Zach Keenan
Getting barreled is without a doubt the pinnacle of the surfing experience. While it may look like you are just standing there going straight down the line, a ton of wave knowledge and experience comes into play in order to get you in-and out-of a barrel.
Ideally, you should get into the wave early and set up your bottom turn while eyeing the section ahead that’s starting to pitch out and bowl.
The goal is to “backdoor” the barrel section, by pulling in behind the lip that has already begun to pitch out ahead of you.
Oftentimes the wave will not be freight-training down the line, but instead will require you to slow your speed to wait for the barrel section. This is best negotiated by a quick and subtle direction change at the bottom of the wave.
Lean on the toe edge for the bottom turn, and transfer your weight to the heel edge in order to reset your line and set up the angle for the tube.
Once the wave has begun to pitch out and barrel, apply pressure once again to your toe edge to pick a line on the face that will thread the needle through the tube.
As you pull in, keep focused on the exit path and watch what the lip is doing so you can make small adjustments for a successful exit. You may need to pump faster, duck a section, or throw your hand in the face to stall and stay in there longer, depending on how the wave peels. It takes a while to be able to react to this stuff at speed, but the more you pull in, the more you’ll start to pull out.
(Note to John or Marc, use these hints as little sidebars)
Hint: You want to have enough speed to get past the section and through the tube, but you definitely don’t want to outrun the wave and have a perfect barrel peel off right behind you. Gauging your speed to match that of the wave is crucial.
Hint: Incorrectly timing the pitching lip will result in a serious pummeling. If you get hit by the lip, you’ll get detonated right in the impact zone-but this part of the learning curve of getting to know how to read barreling waves correctly and is knowledge gained only through experience.
By Zach Keenan