Wave Sport


How to Sillyflip from Airborn Athletics on Vimeo.

The "Sillyflip" is a pretty controversial trick on how to do it properly because there are a few tricks that look somewhat similar. (airscrew off axis or Panam) It does not have a name in the competition scoring sheet but this is the trick that gives you mad street cred when done properly.

Kayak: Wavesport Project X56
Paddler: Devyn Scott
1)    Get yourself to the top of the wave
There are a few different ways you can do this, but essentially you are trying to slow your boat down in some way so that it drags you downstream (or higher up on the wave).  You can lean downstream in a front or side surf digging your edge in or stopping your boat from planning on the entire hull.  You can plant your paddle in the water to cause drag, or what I commonly do is carve to the flatter side of the wave (if the wave has a shoulder) and when you feel like your falling off, lean forward and cut back into the middle.
2)    Initiate your downward speed
It’s very important that you get speed as fast as possible; unless the wave surges and kicks you upstream you have to do it yourself.  You can do this by leaning hard forward and throwing as much of your weight as possible over the front of your deck.
3)    Bounce technique high on the wave
When you bounce, your goal is to be as high on the top of the feature as possible.  You cannot really get an efficient bounce without speed, so practicing step 2 first is mandatory.  When bouncing, it is very similar to ollieing in a skateboard or a snowboard.  You must first drive the front of your kayak into the water leaning forward, then rock to the back of the boat to initiate your boats kick rocker.  The harder you slam your feet into the water, the harder it’s going to push back at you.
4)    Edge to edge transfer and power stroke
You see a lot of old school videos where people are “flat bouncing” and throwing tricks, and even sadly a lot of new school ones too.  The way boats are designed now, you must take advantage of the rails, and use them for taking off on every wave trick.  As an example, if you are throwing a right sillyflip, you must first bounce off of your left edge, and vice versa.  Remember that you must keep your bouncing technique that you learned in step 3 at the same time as doing this edge transfer.  The “Power Stroke” is not mandatory for freestyle tricks, but especially usefully when on smaller features to give yourself a little more speed as you’re taking off on your trick.  This is simply a strong forward stroke on the side that you are bouncing off of.  (Ex., right power stroke for left blunts)
5)    Body positioning
When you’re taking off for your epic trick it is key to remember what your body is doing.  For the sillyflip, (unlike a lot of tricks) I find sitting upright gives you good leverage on your rotation.  Instead of stretching your back to the back deck of your boat to look at the water, (as you will learn in step 6) tilt your neck back, keeping your back in a slightly off right angle position. (About maybe 100degrees) You will have to make sure the bow of your boat does not touch the water to ensure that you are doing a sillyflip and not a Panam.  The way you can do this is by really kicking your feet through the front of your boat (a donkey kick type motion) and trying to crush your foot foam into the bow of your kayak.
6)    Paddle stroke
When placing your paddle into the water to initiate your rotation you must be very aware of where you are putting it.  If you place it far out from your kayak, your rotation will be crazy off axis, or you will not be able to pull your bow out of the water and you will do an epic poo turn.  You will use your non power face for this step (the back of your paddle blade) and try to place it into the water in-between your knees and your hips.  Push straight down off the water so that you can give yourself even more separation from the wave.  A common problem is people put their paddle in the water between 0-70 degrees making it hard to get your body over your paddle which is now in your way.  It is very important to put the paddle into the water first at 90degrees, and then as the boat starts to come over your head, let it parallel the face of the wave. (At this point you should be completely inverted)
7)    Recovery stroke
This is another crucial step to the sillyflip.  Your “recovery stroke” for the sillyflip is actually part of the trick.  This stroke will take you from totally inverted and rotating towards an airscrew, to upright in a perfect back surf.  You will need to use the opposite blade that you used for your power stroke and take off stroke. (Ex. Left sillyflip would be right blade for recovery)  Your paddle will start parallel to the wave (end of step 6) and you will quickly place a hard back sweep stroke, keeping your body at 90 degrees or even a little bit forward.
8)    Landing body positioning
When landing you have to brace yourself and your back for a big THUD!  At this point you can make your decision how you plan on staying on the wave.  You can do a few different things.  You can stay in a backsurf and wait till you boat planes again so you’re surfing. (You may find leaning a bit backwards may help to stay on the wave and not flush off the back)  You can combo it into any one of a number of backwards tricks including backstab or pistol flip.  Or you can simple throw in a forward sweep stroke and do a 180 degree flat spin bringing you back into a frontsurf.
More to come!
Devyn Scott


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Comment by Tyler Curtis on January 27, 2012 at 2:15pm

Nice work boys...

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