A few years back, I remember being speechless after watching a video of Ian Alldredge landing strapless front rolls. It didn’t look real or even possible, but sure enough it was. I think those few front rolls in that short video clip is where the potential of strapless freestyle began and nowadays, it’s cool to see just how many other people can now do them. I remember nailing my first strapless front roll. It was a big milestone for me, and it’s one of those tricks that seems so difficult, but all of a sudden it just clicks and becomes almost effortless. Despite how much the sport has progressed, stomping a big front roll still feels amazing.
“…. it’s one of those tricks that seems so difficult, but all of a sudden it just clicks and becomes almost effortless.”
STEP 1. Look for the right take off. You are going to need a nice solid takeoff. Although it can be done off of flat water, it is much easier off a piece of chop or off a wave. Personally, I like to do them off solid chop, but for a lot of people it will probably be the easiest off of a small wave. I’d recommend mixing it up and seeing what works best for you.
STEP 2. Take off. Approach the ramp with speed and your kite placed less than halfway up the side of the window. Put both hands in the middle of the bar because your front hand stays on the bar throughout the entire move. When I load and pop the board out of the water I try to slightly send the kite, but you don’t want the kite to cross the top of the window because you will get pulled away from your board or sink on the landing.
STEP 3. Start the rotation. As soon as you take off, shift your weight forward, take your back hand off of the bar and look over your back shoulder while throwing your front shoulder towards the wind to start the rotation. Try pushing the bar away once you’re in the air and pull your knees to your chest to speed up the rotation. You will also want to adjust your toe pressure to keep the wind pushing the board against your feet.
STEP 4. Finishing the rotation. The next step is all about commitment. Wherever your head goes, your body will follow — so be sure to throw your head over your shoulder and look for your landing. As you come around, bring your front leg up and slightly extend your back leg out. This will cause your board to rotate more on a vertical axis and help keep it stuck to your feet, especially if it’s super windy.
STEP 5. Landing. As you come around, look for your landing and try keep your knees bent until you get close to the water. Just before you land, extend your legs out to keep the board glued to your feet. As you land, bend your knees again to absorb the impact and ride away.
TRICK TIP: Try to keep the bottom of the board constantly facing the wind to keep the board in contact with your feet. This is a trick where strong wind is better. If you look at front rolls from different riders, you’ll notice that everyone does them slightly different, so don’t be afraid to try what works for you.
Rider: Keahi de Aboitiz // Photo: James Boulding