In order to do this the best place to start is by positioning yourself at the top of the wave/swell. Once in this position, I let the wave push me and only use the power in my sail to hold myself in this position until the wave begins to steepen. As the wave begins to peak, I power up through my sail and drop down the face as quickly and vertical as possible to the base of the wave or even further in front to assist a more vertical approach on the top turn. Dropping in quickly and vertically ensures you suckle every ounce of power out of the wave you’re riding. Once at the base of the wave and as I begin the transition into my bottom turn I normally drop my sail back to see clearly where I want to go, what the lip is doing and what type of top turn the wave will allow me to do. From this position with my sail back I commit to my bottom turn. As quickly as possible I simultaneously move my sail and body forward, sliding my back hand as far back towards the clew as I can generating power from the sail. At the same time I bend my knees and crouch down as low as possible to push through my legs, generating speed through my board and body. Typically my bottom turn isn’t a “big lay-down” bottom turn even in side-off conditions. Keeping my sail at a higher angle I feel I can turn quicker and sharper, fitting more in, particularly in smaller conditions. Now that your rig is forward and you’re compressed like a spaghetti jaffle, your next aim is transitioning into a vertical top turn. Easier said than done in cross-on winds.
What determines how vertical you get is how hard you push through your legs and where you point your eyes so your board will follow. This step is usually ok and you think you’re going to be smacking 12 o’clock no problem before copping a boom in the face as you get back-winded and do a wheelie out the back of the wave. The key here again is the timing, speed and movement of your hands on the boom to allow the clew of your sail to open and to prevent getting a smack to the chops.
So as I’m approaching the end of my bottom turn I open up my body and hips as I begin to transition and set-up my top turn. Keeping my back hand down the end of the boom, my legs begin to extend as I transition into the top turn. Now what happens in the blink of an eye is as my weight transfers from toe side (bottom turn) to neutral (transition) my hand should stay back and then as I load up for my top turn and transfer my weight heel-side, I bend my knees rapidly and slide my back hand forward as fast as a sh*t off a shovel. Normally my hand will come as far forward as the harness lines. What this quick movement of your hands does is that it allows your clew to open up, decreasing the power in your sail and allowing you to extend your knees and blow the top off it. This is where sliding your hands with speed and the correct timing is important because if you’re a second late you’ll kill your speed, do a funky wiggle and get back-winded or bog.
Depending on the type of top turn you want to do and what the wave allows will determine how much you extend your legs and move your head, but again use your eyes to get to where you want to go. As tempting as it is, try not to look back mid-turn to see how big your spray is. Doing this more often than not you wouldn’t be able to knock the top off a cappuccino and committing to the turn 100% will produce a far better result.