Turtle Rolling

Lesson 17 Chapter 2

Getting out the back is an absolute mission, especially when you don't feel completely in control of your big board. Its inevitable you will be confronted with some pretty big walls of white water.

So how do you negotiate these big walls of white water?  Luckily you have options, not many, but here are your one of your two choices:

  1. Turtle Roll sometimes called the Eskimo Roll

Longboards and foamboards offer a lot of floatation, which is great for learning but makes it almost impossible to sink your board to be able to get underneath the water. This is simply called the duck dive.

You’ll see more advanced surfers on shortboards with the luxury of diving underwater, allowing the rolling waves to pass over them.

Getting through the whitewater with a bigger board isn't easy work and will require higher levels of fitness and good old fashion grit and determination.

Although negotiating waves is fairly straightforward,  it will require some appropriate timing and reading of the waves to execute properly.

This is your first choice if you are a beginner or if you are surfing a bigger board. Its impossible to duck dive these boards so most surfers who have longboards or thicker boards commonly use this to negotiate through waves. 

The Turtle Roll is a great technique for you to stay in control of your board and not get pushed back too much by the whitewater.

How to Turtle Roll

 As the wave approaches grab onto the rails on either side of your board slightly above your shoulders and flip your board

√ Hold the board tight to your chest, tilt your head to the side and let the wave pass over you

 Hold on tight, as you do not want to lose your grip of the board. It’s okay to wax the rails to help maintain your grip

√ You need to be 100% perpendicular to the whitewater. If you’re at an angle, it’s likely you will get hurled from your board

 Once the wave passes, roll back onto your board, move back into your correct position and continue to paddle

√ Keep paddling until the next wave arrives and repeat the first step, or take a rest when you are finally behind the breaking point

Pro tip: Timing is key. Rolling roughly about 1 meter away (or 3 feet) from the wave.

Common Mistakes

If your arms are straight this leaves no room to absorb the shock when the whitewater washes over you, making it easier to lose your surfboard

Flipping too early and you will be left running out of breath wondering when the wave is coming. Currents will move you and it will be almost impossible to stay perpendicular to the whitewater

Flipping to late and you face full of whitewater. From here you will struggle to regain control of your board