Flummoxed at the way folk like Shawn Briley manage to get pitted at places like Pipe in spite of their ‘physique’? Well, it’s lead many a tube hunter to believe that mastering under-the-lip take-offs is all about technique. There is no wave too steep, only flawed lines of attack. Here former Pipeline semi-finalist turned surf coach Didier Piter offers a couple guidelines to bear in mind next time you’re throwing yourself over the ledge! Photo: Tim McKenna

Didier practicing what he preaches. Drops don’t come any steeper or more critical than Teahupoo.


- Before paddling out, your first concern should be to evaluate the day’s conditions and line-up. Work out which ones are the good ones, what way the currents are pushing, that kind of thing. Note it’s real easy to rush this part (especially if it looks good!). But to get a good feel for what the set waves are doing you need to look at for more than just a couple minutes.
- Get into the habit of intermittently sprint paddling your way back to the peak. Everyone knows the importance of paddle power but in this case what you really want to train for are short, intense bursts of energy.
- Also work on jumping to your feet as quickly as possible (think of it as coming out of the “starting blocks” on a 100m sprint as we’re talking a question of split seconds here.)


Once at the peak, as you see your wave approach, you have about 10 seconds to work out where the wave is going to break and position yourself respectfully. The success rate of take-offs is largely determined by this positioning phase.
-Don’t just sit there waiting for the wave to come to you! It’s all about anticipating what the wave is going to do so if the wave looks like it’s going to break a little deeper go meet it, or if it looks like it’s going to break wide head for the shoulder.


-By their very nature you can never be 100% sure of succeeding a late take-off, but if you’ve decided to go on a wave then there’s no point having second thoughts . In fact quite the opposite, you need to be ready to give everything you’ve got. Taking off under the lip means everything needs to happen that much faster but those final 3 or 4 strokes should aim to give you those extra split seconds that will allow you into the wave. Kick your feet like hell, do whatever it takes.
- When you think you’ve done enough, give one extra last stroke while jamming your chin down on the deck of your board to give you that added forward momentum over the edge and into the wave.