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2018 has been “The Year of the McNasty” for me. Technically, I’ve been working on this trick for longer than a year, okay, longer than I would like to admit… but getting to be consistent and adaptable on both sides has been a significant goal of mine for the last 12-18 months.

The McNasty, which moves from a back blast into an aerial loop to land in a front surf, is on my personal goal sheet for a lot of reasons. Partly because I wanted to have this trick in my repertoire for competitions, but mostly because I just really like it. There is a moment of pause before exploding with power that is dynamic, fun, and just feels good when you execute it properly.

To say the learning process has been frustrating would be an understatement. The hardest part for me has been figuring out the timing and how to use and access the explosive power necessary to make the trick work while still being patient. Figuring out how to hold my edge stable and pull on my blade, but wait for my boat edge to catch and pop until it feels like the trick happens practically on its own. I did the thing where I would think I was going to McNasty but then would take my paddle out of the water too early, and instead of having the boat come up and over my head in a graceful looping arc, it would violently corkscrew around my body so much that I nicknamed that particular fail the “McNope,” or the “McFlurry.”

In learning and trying- and failing- at this trick over and over, I’ve been forced to go back to basics and work on things from setting up in a hole to figuring out how to side surf, back blast, and improving my edge control and my posture.

I started filming myself more, trying to break down what the subtle differences were in the time I made things work vs. when they didn’t. I failed in myriad ways: too much edge, not enough edge, no kick out on my loops, going too fast and throwing the loop while still facing downstream, not putting enough pressure on my blade, not putting my edge on or putting pressure on my edge at the wrong time. Sometimes I couldn’t figure out which edge or which hand I was even supposed to be using.

From watching video I learned that I often fold my entire chest forward in an attempt to force or drive my edge down, rather than edging from my lower body. This collapsed body position actually makes it almost impossible to edge, and even harder to take an effective pull-stroke, which usually means no McNasty. So, I started trying to be more aware of my body position, focusing on lifting my chin and looking up, rather than down at my boat or paddle. I practiced paddling on edge while keeping a neutral upper body in flatwater.

I also learned that I have a tendency to finish my loops by pulling really aggressively on one blade-my right, corking my McNasty out to the side. So, I went back to basics and worked on adapting and changing up my loop, practicing small, no-air loops where both hands punch down in the water.

Everywhere I went this year with a freestyle feature, I tried to McNasty. I spent a lot of time window-shading and falling on my face, but occasionally, I would have that magical moment where it all came together. Honestly, I still spend a lot of time falling on my face, and I still mess up more McNasty attempts than the ones I get right, but slowly I am getting the hang of this trick and gaining confidence trying it. And, the more I try it, the more I find I can start accessing the magic. One of my big goals for this coming year is to get my McNasty consistent and adaptable enough to score one in a competition. So. Guess I will have to keep trying!