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Step By Step: How to Pull a Floater

Floaters are sick; the perfect way to style your way past a breaking section with speed or end a closing wave on a good note. Want to know how to pull a floater? Take a peek at these tips and get out there to give it a go.

The Mechanics of a Floater

A floater is a maneuver generally used to piece together a wave that starts to break ahead of you, a way to use up some of your extra speed, or a rad turn to end things when your line closes out.

When riding down the line, the surfer will quite literally float their board above the lip and the whitewash of a closing wave to re-enter into the open face. As they ride atop the lip, they will use the forward momentum of the crashing wave to float across this breaking section and ahead of the whitewash. The surfer will feel a weightless, floating sensation when doing so, hence the name.

It's not an aggressive turn meant to throw buckets, and instead, it's really just a way to add flair to your line while making it past an otherwise wave-ending section. It looks cool, it feels cool, and most importantly, it's extremely functional.

How to Pull a Floater

A floater isn't the easiest of maneuvers, but it is absolutely one that you need in your arsenal of turns and tricks. The good news is that so many variations of wave conditions offer the chance to try a floater, so there's no reason you can't practice and master this critical aspect of surfing.

  1. Identify the Section and Timing

If you want to know how to pull a floater, the most important part is identifying the right section and time to do so. A floater is best executed on a wave that begins to break ahead of you or during a closeout section. The ideal sections are crumbly portions of the lip, and the steeper and more aggressive the wave, the more difficult the floater becomes.

If you notice the lip begins to curl too far ahead as you pump, indicating that the section in front is about to break, then instead of pumping below it, why not try to float past and on top of it? Or, if the wave is about to close out entirely, as indicated by breaking whitewash in front of you, then a floater is totally on the table.

To summarize, the best timing of a floater is to execute this on a wave just as the lip begins to break, riding on top of it simultaneously to it breaking downward.

  1. Gain Plenty of Speed

Speed is your friend, and you need plenty of it to learn how to pull a floater. The wave will be crashing in a direction perpendicular to where you are riding. With this, you have to make up for the opposite direction of this energy by ensuring you have ample amounts of momentum that you can use to glide atop the crashing lip. The choice of fins plays a crucial role here. Twin fins, thruster fins, quad fins, and five fins each offer unique attributes that can affect your board's speed and maneuverability, allowing you to fine-tune your performance as you ride the wave.

As you eyeball a possible closing section in front of you, make sure to get as many powerful pumps in as possible before you begin riding towards the top. If you need more info on how to generate speed on a surfboard, then take a peek at the linked article.

  1. Turn Towards the Lip

Once you have your speed, you need to time your floater to reach the upper portion of the wave as closely to the same time the lip begins to break as possible. When the lip starts to pitch forward, initiate a minor bottom turn that angles yourself towards the lip.

You don't want to dig your bottom turn too far down the trough, as you aren't looking for sharp, vertical angles as you would when doing another turn such as a snap or carve. Too sharp of an angle, and you won't keep that stylish forward momentum needed to glide on top of the whitewash.

Instead, just pump yourself straight into an upwards angle that is similar to trimming towards the top of the wave and aim to get yourself there right as it breaks. Bend your knees and stay low while you do so. If you aren't quite there yet with your abilities, then learn how to bottom turn first!

  1. Climb Towards the Top

As you climb towards the top of the lip, you want to place a touch of extra weight onto your back foot. This ensures that the nose of your surfboard is lifted upwards so it can climb over the breaking whitewash.

As you climb and place more weight on your back foot, keep your body loose and light by decompressing. Control your board with your core and your shoulders while you do so. This is when/how you will feel the weightless, free sensation of a floater that everyone enjoys and will help keep your board light on top of the lip to propel yourself ahead.

  1. Know When It's Over

The key to learning how to pull a floater is to also know when it is over. Try and get too much out of it, and you're all but guaranteed to get stuck behind or thrown off the board. As you feel your forward momentum slow, and as you reach back to where there is an open face, consider your floater over and prepare for your landing.

  1. Eye it and Land

When you know it's over, it's time to eyeball your landing. If you are floating on a total closeout, then your end section will be in the flats. Bend your knees, twist your shoulders and chest towards the beach, and work to compress your body with your landing to absorb some of the impact.

But if you are using a floater to piece together your wave and continue down the line, the landing becomes more critical. Eyeball the still-open piece of the shoulder, and direct your board towards it by aiming that front shoulder and using your back foot to control the board's direction. As you re-enter the line, bend your knees to stay balanced on your board, and immediately enter another bottom turn to utilize the speed and power of the pocket. Start pumping, and look for your next turn!

How to Pull a Floater: The Summary

A floater will take some practice, but that's half the fun of it anyway, right? Just remember that the more fluid and one-motioned your floater, the better it looks and the more functional it becomes. Really try and take your first bottom turn into your floater and exit it as one fluid motion.

Speed is your friend, so use it, and learn how to pull a floater on smaller, more crumbly waves before progressing into larger and steeper ones. Take it slow, and always surf within your limits.

As always, having the right surfboard will do nothing but enhance your ability to perform a floater, so if you are looking for that new stick, make sure to check out our Board Engine to ensure your dimensions are absolute perfection. New surfers can confidently attempt their first floater with Boardcave's selection of surfboards for beginners, specially designed to make learning and progressing in the waves a breeze.

Finally, feel free to get in touch with your friends at Boardcave if you have any questions- we're here to help you!