How to do a backside tailslide in surfing

Backside tail slide: the fin drift trick | Photo: Quiksilver/Chauche

Tail slides love steep waves. The maneuver changed competitive surfing and also the way shapers designed surfboards. Let's drift into the mechanics of a classic backside tailslide.

Showing the fins while attacking the wave lip. It's quite impossible not to love the move, whether you're watching it from the beach or the line-up.

Tail slides are the salt and pepper of intermediate-to-advanced surfing.

Backside Tailslide 101

If you never tried it, here's how to do it for the first time:

  1. Wait for a traditional three-to-five foot wave with enough power and face to make you slide off the lip;
  2. The key moment is definitely the bottom turn. An intense and edgy bottom turn will vertically project the surfboard towards the top of the wave with enough speed to get those fins out of the water;
  3. When you're on the bottom of the wave, eye your backside tailslide target;
  4. Keep a vertical attack straight up;
  5. As you touch the lip zone, prepare to rotate fast and furious;
  6. When you feel that more than half of the board is off the wave - yes, exaggerate it - turn quickly using your shoulders and get the nose pointed at 6 o'clock;
  7. That's when the fins release out the back of the lip. But the work is not yet done;
  8. You need to complete the fin rotation, so keep a low center of gravity and avoid over-rotating into a reverse. Otherwise, you'll catch rail;
  9. Let the board turn smoothly;
  10. Resume the ride;