How To: Stick An Air Drop With Fred Patacchia

Freddy P knows that to get the best barrels, you have to take off late. Photo: Bielmann/SPL

The ability to make steep drops is perhaps the most underrated skill in surfing. When you get good at it, you drastically increase the range of waves you can catch. And unless you’re pro level, chances are you could be taking off way later than you think.

Keys To Success
-Whether you’re paddling back out, or scratching out for a set, you’re going to be paddling out hard, and then have to do an ultra fast momentum change the other direction. Sometimes guys will sit on their boards, tilt it vertical and underwater, spin around, and let the board shoot back up flat, which will give you a little squirt of speed. This all happens in a split second.

-It sounds obvious, but the key is to do a short burst of intense paddling, reach those arms out far and pull hard! Look for the edge or seam of the lip, and do your paddle burst just underneath it. You’re trying to get in under that edge, so you’ll be leaning forward harder and trying to push down the face.

-When you stand up, chances are your board is going to be dropping out from under you, so instead of getting to your feet and pushing your body up, you need to extend your legs down to keep your feet attached to (and in control of) your board.

-The lip is going be hovering over your head—you need to get out of its path. If it’s a smaller wave (head high) you might be able to side-slip mid-face straight into the barrel. If it’s bigger than that (like in the sequence), you’ll want to get to the bottom, do a quick bottom turn to set your line, and pull in.

-You’ve got to commit and believe you’re going to make it. If you hesitate for a split second you’ll get pitched.
-Even if it’s not a down-the-line barrel, you don’t want to go straight down to the bottom, the lip will beat you there every time. Turn laterally as soon as you can to avoid taking the lip on the head and getting eviscerated.

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