How to do an aerial in surfing
Aerial surfing has been gaining momentum in modern incarnations of the sport. How does a surfer pull an aerial? Learn the winning formula of airborne surfing in 10 easy steps.
Taking a surfboard into the air, well above the lip, requires technique, experimentation, and a good wave ramp. Frontside punts are accessible to the average surfer.
Old-school surfers were not trained for aerial surfing, so they had to learn with the younger surf generation. Today, surf magazines love to show aerials on their covers.
The first aerial featured on the cover of a surf magazine was scored by Kevin Reed in December 1975.
Inspired by the "ollies" of the skateboard world, the door to new-school surfing had just been opened.
Here at the beginning of the 21st century, aerial tricks and moves are part of competitive surf judging criteria, at least in small-to-medium height waves.
You may not fly up to the skies, but it is important to learn how to take off from the lip of the wave.
To learn how to do an aerial in surfing, you need a shortboard, a light on-shore breeze over the lip of the selected wave, and speed.
Aerial Surfing 101
The winning formula for aerial maneuvers is as follows:
- Take off in a steep two-to-three foot wave;
- Pump for speed and target a closing section or a breaking wave lip;
- Maintain a straight oblique surf line towards the selected launch pad;
- Widen your stance, kick the tail with your feet and about 66% of your weight, let the surfboard leave the lip, and raise your knees so that your feet are level with your chest;
- Control the excessive weight of your back foot with a slight push of the front foot over the board;
- As your surfboard takes to the air, smoothly drive it to the landing site;
- Grab a rail to correct the trajectory, if needed;
- Turn your eyes, head, and body to the flats;
- Stay low, and bend your knees and torso to prepare for landing impact;
- Distribute your weight over both feet and finish the move;
Flight technique is the most important skill when it comes to aerials in surfing. The decisive moment arrives when your surfboard is about to leave the wave face.
When you pop up off of the lip, your front foot should be in the center of the board, and your rear foot should be on the traction pad.
As you strike the tail, let your body fly as high as possible in the air. The front foot will control the surfboard flight towards the landing site, be it flats or white water.
Speed is critical in aerial surf maneuvers. The higher the speed you build down the line, the higher the aerial you'll pull.
Try to get airborne off the wave ramp as many times as possible until you complete it.
Practice will make you pull the first-ever aerial of your surfing life.