The Shaka

There really are a bunch of different techniques to learn the move but I’m pretty sure what I’m about to explain is slightly away from the norm (well the ‘Going higher, further and sliding’ bit anyway). To me it makes a lot of sense and I think it helps give some pretty decent style points when it comes to doing the move. It’s also the right method for learning how to do backside 360’s (wave shakas). However, if you are at the real beginning then you will first need to learn the rotation, read on…

The Basics
The real basics of the move are to rotate a full 180 degrees and spin the last 180 to complete the full rotation. So when it is broken down the most important bit is to rotate in the air with the sail parallel to the water. The way you rotate more in a shaka is by pulling up with the back hand and pressing down on the front hand more, keep that in mind.

So the take-off (Basics)
Ideally spot a small ramp, which can be bit of chop slightly upwind or a head on wave up to a foot or so high. Then make sure you are carrying speed and you have plenty of power in the sail, it’s easiest to take off when you have more power, so load it up. Just before you hit the ramp carve into the wind by opening the sail (this allows you to drop your hips and weight onto the upwind rail) and then sheet it straight back in and press the tack (bottom part of the sail) hard against your shin, at the same time you should push down on the back leg and lean on the front arm. Make sure you are fully committed at this point and even more importantly do all of the above at the same time!

In the air (Basics)
As soon as you are in the air, continue to pull up on your back hand and put your weight on your front arm, try and dive your body into the gap where the mast and the front of the board are, basically try and dive into the true wind. Any problems with rotating then just keep pulling up with the back hand and aim to land as if you have just done the first 180 of a flaka – back hand in close to your body and front hand forwards and into the wind.

The ending (Basics)
The first times you do this move, forget about trying to land sliding backwards and just get the rotation, you can work on slide a bit later. Make sure you do the above and don’t worry if you are landing heavy and finishing with a slightly slow upwind 360, so long as you are landing backwards on the tail of the board and leaning forwards then you are doing the right thing. Yes it looks pretty gay but you’ll be ripping through awesome shakas much quicker than your mates who might be doing dodgy shuv-it into upwind 360’s (which look even more pants) for 6 months and wondering why they aren’t rotating that last bit.

To wrap it up just finish as if you were finishing an upwind 360 – I’m not going to get into that move, just make sure you learn it before the shaka.

Going higher, further and sliding
Having learnt the above this is where the technique changes and will perhaps be a little different to what you may have heard before. If not then feel free to correct me or check out some of my other moves.

It’s all in the take-off for this move, if you can learn to get height off glassy flat water then your technique is just about at its best. The way I have found this to work is to use a move from wake-boarding as a target in my head. Most people know what a raley is, even if you don’t know the name you will probably know it by picture, so here is a picture of a raley below. Ah and I’m not saying swing the board over your head (although I wonder if that has been tried or if it is even possible to show the underside of a board during a shaka…), more suggesting the very first stage of this sequence image below, try comparing it to my shaka image from PWA Austria last year…

Wake-boarding raley
Wake-boarding raley
Raley style take-off, just the twist of the body into the wind is different
Raley style take-off, just the twist of the body into the wind is different.

Even if you’ve never tried the move before, the theory is the same, the power/energy is driving you forwards (for the wakeboarder this is the cable, for us it is the sail and the direction we generally travel is across the wind). So a wakeboarder builds up the power by carving hard (dropping hips and getting small) on the rail away from the direction of travel and then releasing and extending forwards, leaving the board behind and stretching out completely.

For the shaka the principles are the same, the sail drives you forwards (across the wind), you spot your ramp, you build the pressure by dropping your hips and carving hard into the wind but let the sail continue you pull you in the direction of travel. The pressure then builds up and you release the rail of the board and extend forwards onto the sail leaving the board behind as you try to dive through the gap (between the front of the board and the mast). So effectively the take-off of a shaka is a raley, then you control your rotation in the air by how much you pull up on your back hand and push down on your front hand.

If you do the above right with enough speed, commitment and pressure build up then you will glide across the first part of the move and land with speed as you swing the board back in and under your body for the landing.

For wave-shakas it is almost the same, except the wave gives you the energy and you require less carve, you just need to commit to leaning over the kit a lot so that you float along the wave and not off the back. There is also an element of timing, you hit the lip at the point it is about to break and that also projects you forwards. This truly is my favourite move of them all, when you get the timing right you just fly so far and high then land full speed down the wave face, sometime almost completing the full move in the air as you aim for a nose first landing. I’ve even managed to do sort of reverse floaters before dropping off the lip and carrying on.

Nose first landings
These really are the definition of cool moves. I’ve never been more impressed then when I’ve seen Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers do massive nose first shakas off small bits of chop on a lake or in Vass. From trying them it’s all about getting the height then simply leaning forwards more and more and at the same time pressing down completely on the front arm and pulling up with the back. Also bending the back knee and straightening the front leg. But this is really at the final moment before you start falling from the shaka and it is the only way you can possibly ever air shaka.

In Short
– First learn the basic shaka by aiming for a bit of chop, carving hard into the wind and pushing down on your back leg, leave the sail behind you as you rotate through the move, make sure you pull up with the back hand lots to rotate and dive through the gap between your board and mast.
– To step it up, try the raley technique, build the pressure on the rail and let the sail power up and pull you over the board as the board still carves into the wind. Transfer all weight onto the sail and extend forwards over it, leave the board behind you for a brief moment then swing it in back under you as you come in for landing.
– To land nose first, make sure you go high enough and exaggerate everything more, sheet in harder with the back hand and push down harder on the front hand, pull up with the back leg and learn even more forwards through the gap.

Common errorsWhen learning the earlier moves drastic changes are the things that will help you progress the quickest.
– Back leg goes up into a shuv-it vulcan – Simply carve more into wind on the take-off and pull up (A LOT) more with the back hand as you transfer your weight onto the sail…
– The sail stays high and it looks really sh** – Yep well that’s probably true but it’s easily resolved, just pull the sail back more as you take off, get the tack/foot of the sail hard into your shin, pull up with the back hand and really aim to dive into the wind (the gap between the nose of the board and the mast). Just really aim to leave the sail behind you.
– I get powered up in mid-air then have the wipe-out of my life onto my back and the mast hits the water super hard right by me – Don’t worry this is common and not too bad, just hold on and you’ll always fall in the water and keep the mast far enough away from you, it’s when you let go that it sucks… To avoid it altogether however, just make sure you leave the sail behind you more (pull it back and up even more) and get more of ‘snappy carve’ as you take off, build the pressure up on the rail of the board and release it much quicker.
– I do those really gay shuv-it upwind 360’s you mentioned – We’ve all been there at some point, just forget about landing with a bit of slide and try and land more with a splash and finish the move by pulling up with the back hand A LOT more! You’ll then learn how to progress to proper shakas much quicker if you do this.

Making of
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Got a question? Leave it in the comments below and I’ll answer when I’m off the water.

Disclaimer: See the other moves for this, getting a bit tired of it.

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