When it came to choosing someone to pass on some priceless knowledge about that most elusive and definitive of surfing manoeuvres —the barrel— we were at a loss as to who to ask. Who would be willing to share their secrets? Thankfully one of the few guys in the country with an access all areas pass to the green room made himself available: Mr Alan Stokes tell


You’re basically just looking for the biggest heaviest hollowest wave you can find. But, that said, a small closeout beach break is the best place to learn— don’t go paddling out at some gnarly reef and try and pull in cos you’re just gonna get drilled ha ha!

Rhythm and timing are everything in surfing, and the secret to a good barrel is definitely in the timing. You want to be able to read what the wave is going to do — you should know if the wave is going to barrel down the line or from the take-off, and this’ll dictate how and where you paddle into it. Once you’re on your feet then, if the wave is going to tube down the line, your bottom turn is going to set you up so you need to be quick, using the speed from the drop to accelerate. If the wave is going to tube from the take-off then try bottom turning with straight legs, using your trailing shoulder and arm to get you under the lip and as deep as possible. Whichever way it goes down, as you pull into the tube try and square your shoulders off to the wave, so that you can use your trailing arm to stall and slow yourself down and, as you do this, start to lean forward on your board and put more weight on your front foot. This will free the tail and fins a little and help your board to float a bit on the foam ball. Watch out though — too much weight on your back foot and the foam ball will grab the back off your board and it’s good night and bon voyage!

If you’ve timed it right you should be ducking just as the lip is trying to take your head off. Now it’s time to stay calm and enjoy the ride! Keep that weight on your front foot (stalling if you need to with your back arm), and guide your way with your front arm. Your back foot should be slightly further forward than usual, and your toes should be nearly coming off the rail and pushing down on that rail edge above the inside fin to stop you sliding too far onto the flats and losing momentum…

Every tube is different, so once you get yourself in there you need to keep reading the wave and, within a split second, adjust your line or pump to gain speed. Pumping in the tube is essentially the same as pumping out on open face — you just need to condense it into smaller movements and speed it up. The trick is to just pump with your legs, keeping the upper half off your body as still as possible — so you don’t get clipped by the lip.

As you approach the end of your tube, make sure your stance is solid and strong. There’s nothing worse than weaving your way through a long barrel and then getting blasted off by the lip at the end, so keep your eyes on the exit and be prepared for a little slip sliding of the fins as the foam ball rushes up behind you. If the wave spits before you come out then your mates will now have to call you “the tube master” and buy you multiple beverages.
Always try to top off a great tube with a massive man hack, or a stylish Curren carve, it’s like the icing on the cake and the chicks will love you more for it.

The last shot in this sequence is all time! The truth is that Bearman had caught the wave before me and got a sick tube too — you can’t see him in this shot, but we are just having a little personal celebration! Honest ha ha!



STRaNGe Beautiful LIFE – Episode 1: Take me to the sun from StRaNGe Beautiful LIFE on Vimeo.