|Abbreviations Used In The Text|
|CE ||Center of Effort (of the sail)|
|CG ||Center of Gravity (yours)|
|CL ||Centerline (of the board)||
|CLR ||Center of Lateral Resistance|
|GT ||Greater Than|
|MF ||Mast Foot||
|MFP ||Mast Foot Pressure|
|SLR ||San Luis Reservoir|
|WRT ||With Respect To|
—— Click on underlined words to go to that section or web page. ——
ABK Format — A Typical Day At An ABK Clinic
You can learn more in a 1 week intensive ABK clinic than
in years struggling on your own. Just DO IT!
ABK clinics are held throughout the country at various windsurfing
locations such as Hatteras,
South Padre Island, Hood River and many
other sites on both the East and West Coasts. The clinics are
available in the US for 8 months of the year, April through November. The
ABK staff are in
Bonaire and Aruba for the winter months of
December through March.
The clinics are held for 3, 4 or 5 days. 5 day clinics, such as
Bonaire run from Monday through Friday but are
listed as 7 days in the ABK Schedule to allow for 1 or 2 days travel
time on each end (getting to Bonaire usually requires
a red eye flight). 3 day clinics are scheduled over the weekend -- Friday,
Saturday and Sunday. An added side benefit of the clinics is a supervised
introduction to new sailing sites if you haven't been there before.
standard ABK day begins at 9:30 and goes until 5:30. The format is:
lecture → land practice → water practice → lunch →
lecture → land practice → water practice
typical schedule for each day for all groups is:
- 9:30 Land Class - lecture and simulator practice
- 11:00 On The Water Class
- 12:30 Lunch
- 1:30 Land Class - lecture and simulator practice
- 3:00 On The Water Class
- 5:00 Instructors Off Water
- 5:30 Students Off Water
- 6:00 Video Analysis
The sailing day begins winding up about 5:00 when the
instructors come in for de-rigging and clean up; students can
free sail until 5:30. Video analysis is at 6:00 at the
non-camping clinics like Bonaire, and after dinner (8:30) at the
camping clinics like San Luis Reservoir (SLR).
The first day starts earlier, usually 9:00, to allow for
registration, signing the waiver form (bring a pen) and handing out
the tee shirts and note books. Registration is followed by an Introductions
Session which starts about 10:00 on that first day, where each
instructor and attendee introduces themselves and gives a short
summary of their windsurfing experience, skill level and goals.
Typically, half or more of the students have attended
several prior ABK clinics, many to 4 or 5, some to 8 or 10 or even more ABK clinics.
A short land class at about 11:00 follows the Introductions and
then a brief on the water session in which the instructors assess
and validate the students' on-the-water skills. During lunch, the
instructors compare notes and decide on the placement of the
students into appropriate groups. ABK tries to maintain a
ratio of no more than 5 students per instructor. There are
typically from 10 to 25 clinic attendees who are divided into 3 or 4
groups with 3 to 10 people assigned per group according to the following
|ABK Student Groupings|
Level 1 - Beginner. Never evers and people
with just a week or two or many years since they did
Level 2 - Low Intermediate. Broad category.
Working on fast tacks, jibes, waterstart, beachstart.
Level 3 - Hi Intermediate. Comfortable in
harness and beach/waterstart. Working on
Level 4 - Advanced and freestyle.
Comfortable planing in straps. Working on carve jibes
The middle (third) day of the 5 day clinics, such as Bonaire,
only has a morning session to allow an afternoon for rest and
shopping. On the last day, after lunch, a wrap up group session is
held; drawings are made and 3 or 4 gifts given out from the ABK
sponsors (t-shirts, uphauls, etc). Group pictures are taken
and each attendee fills out an assessment form (grade sheet) of their
rating of the clinic. The last day of the 3 day clinics, such as SLR,
wraps up an hour early at 4:00 and doesn't include a video analysis.
Clinics or not -- the pros and cons
ABK clinics are a truly, really super experience. But
they do go very fast and cover a lot of ground. So they
can be overwhelming. Take that back -- they ARE
overwhelming. To the passionate intermediate, working on
planing stance, footstraps and the carve jibe, those
windsurfers will welcome "overwhelming" and embrace it.
They'll go back to their home waters to practice what they
were taught but didn't achieve at the clinic, but took
diligent nightly (and daily) notes so they could remember
the hundreds of special tips and visual cues, and
instruction snippets that they received, both personally
on the water, and in the land classes.
For the advancing beginner, who has not yet gotten hooked
by the adrenaline rush from their first plane, not yet
been introduced to the harness, and not yet with the skill
to conquer "the 12 knot barrier", "overwhelming" can be just
that, a not so rewarding experience of already being in
over your head (pun intended) and then still being thrown
new technical material on top of that with each new
Most of the people in the clinics, usually, though not
always, are further along than the beginner stage. Andy
arranges to have on hand the number of instructors needed
so that there is a 5 or 6 to 1 instructor to student
ratio. They divide however many total students there are
into groups of five or so and gradate into that many
different student skill levels accordingly.
It can happen that someone, particularly at the beginner
level, might have to be assigned to a group where all the
rest in the group are a little more advanced, in
which case, sometimes the class can go a little too fast
for that person. In that case, you might not get the
proper attention, and could feel "left behind" which
could be frustrating. It really all depends on how many
people sign up and how their skill levels fall out.
But, this is a relatively rare event. The bottom line is
that the ABK clinics are an all around fabulous experience
both from the lessons and learning standpoint and also,
from the making new friends and camaraderie of sharing
the experience with other windsurfers.
Return to Table of Contents
Between the mast, sail and boom, the most important thing you
can invest in is the mast. There are three types depending
on the carbon content, 0-30% (cheapest), 50-70%, and GT 75% (most
expensive). Best value is to go for the middle level, 50-70% carbon
Sail Downhaul tips
Threading Downhaul Line So It Doesn't Cross
(Windsurfing Mag; May 2004 p79)
- The top batten should be pulled tightly away from the mast.
- Downhaul until the first batten above the boom is
pulled to directly underneath (in the center of) the mast
or slightly aft of center. If the batten tip is in front
of the center of the mast, it is too little downhaul; if
it is pulled away from the mast, it is too much downhaul.
- Good downhaul will make the leach loose and floppy.
The top two full panels in the sail (i.e., down to the
third batten) should be loose at the leach, from the leach
to the midpoint of the panels (50% of the way back).
- For cambered sails, check to see that where the camber meets
the battens is not knuckle shaped. If there is not enough downhaul
in a cambered sail, there will be a knuckle (a sharp angle) at this
Sail Outhaul tips
- Start knot on base extension should be
at farthest point from base extension cleat.
- Start by running downhaul line through the sail grommet
from underneath, then over the first pulley farthest from the
base extension cleat.
- Repeat for each pulley, positioning the line closer
to the mast with each return trip through the sail grommet
and closer to the cleat with each return trip through the
base extension pulleys.
- See "Downhaul Pulley Cleat Threading" Windsport, 2006 article.
Some Rigging tips
- Neutral outhaul DOES NOT mean no pressure on the outhaul.
- Watch the mast sleeve as you outhaul; when it just
starts to rotate a little, that is neutral outhaul.
- Put your eye along leach of sail at the clew of the
boom. Look up the sail to the first two batten ends.
Tighten outhaul until those three points are lined up in a
straight line; that is neutral outhaul.
Some equipment tips
Downhaul "knot" to use on a
bar or harness hook for downhauling sail: Take working end
of downhaul line and make an overhand loop; move the loop
over the standing part and pull the standing part through
to make another loop which is then put around the harness
hook for pulling.
- Downhaul "sail until the "V" of the leach wrinkle is
half way to the mast.
- To rig most cambered sails, push mast THROUGH the cambers
and rotate cambers to be up. You may have to 150% outhaul the sail
to help ease the mast all the way up the sail.
- Rigging too small a sail is a mistake. Many beginner intermediates tend to
rig fraidy cat (what DID those catapult falls in
Margarita do to them!). But you know what, overpowered
is easier to handle than underpowered! Underpowered does
not give you enough pull for good balance; it makes
everything harder, not easier.
- As a general rule, place the mast base further forward
for larger sails, further back for smaller sails.
- Choosing the right board has three variables:
ability, weight, and wind strength. A 150 liter board with
a 7.5 sail would work in winds of 15+ knots for a 190 pound
person. For a 120 liter board, you'd need more wind or a lighter
- Lighter winds require a wider (more volume) board.
There's not much point in using less than a 130 liter
board in 20 knots or less of wind. For 20 knots plus, 115
liters is about right.
- Fin Length. Dependent on sail size - larger fin area
for a larger sail size.
Return to Table of Contents
Rules of The Road
- Starboard tack has right of way (but
MUST maintain course, i.e., not swerve).
- On same reach, leeward has right of way. Windward must give way.
Overtaking vessels must steer around at a safe
distance (he can't see you).
- A capsized (downed) sailor has right of way over an upright sailor.
- Beginner rule. Don't assume beginners know the rules; stay out of their way.
- Don't jibe into another sailor; look well downwind where your jibe will take
you BEFORE you jibe.
Return to Table of Contents
The Three Worst Habits
- Moving arms together instead of independently — In trying
to save a fall, pulling in with both arms together does NOT change the power
in the sail; the sail set is the same WRT the wind. The way to get more power
is to pull in with the power hand leaving the mast hand stationary, or push out
with the mast hand leaving power hand stationary.
The back hand, the power hand, regulates the sail's
power. The front hand, the control/steering hand, directs
the rig forward or back to control steering. Practice
independent arm movement. Fight the instinct to move the
- Pulling hips in over board to save a fall — This inclines
your head and upper body outboard, away from the board, just the way
you DON'T want to step up on a high object. Instead, drop your body with hips
and butt out; push hips away from the board and push your head and upper
body in OVER the board. It's the same action as when you step up
on a high object with your head and upper body first.
- Taking back hand off sail and placing it on the mast
or uphaul to try to save a fall — This forces the
head down and butt out with upper body bent over, out of
balance, on the verge of a fall. It also makes you look
like a MAJOR bozo. Instead, do a tennis back hand or rodeo
wave with the back hand, i.e., swing the back hand way
outboard, upwind, away from the board. When you unwind
from this position, it gives you leverage to pull the rig
out of the water and across the board.
- Save your back when uphauling — keep your hips way in and shoulders
back, leaning back against the uphaul line. Drive with the legs to uphaul.
- DO NOT jump off of a board in shallow water; it's an
invitation to twist your ankle.
- To keep board and rig from drifting while
standing in shallow water, step your leg over the uphaul
line. Hey, when you're standing in shallow water talking
to a bud, and you look up and your board is floating off
to Cuba, you look kinda silly, no?
- In super shallow water, an easy way to walk the
board out to deeper, fin depth water is turn the board
upside down over the sail (thus, the fin is up out of the
water); then drag it out by the mast and sail. This avoids
having to lift the fin out of the shallows. You can "park"
the board in the shallows the same way (to avoid having to
bring it all the way in to shore); just drag it back the
same way and leave it where the boom drags (anchors) on
- In cold water, you need a full suit or
convertible; you need the legs because you spend so much
time with the legs in the shallow water, beachstarting.
With a convertible you can attach the legs, but leave the
arms off. Neil Pryde makes the best wet suit.
Return to Table of Contents
General Sailing Tips
- When sailing, most of us
intermediates) tend to oversheet. Having been taught
that our sheet hand is the "power" hand, we think
that to get more power, we simply put on more "gas",
i.e., pull in harder. It's true that we can get more
"pull" that way, say to avoid a fall, or help a
waterstart, but pulling in harder past optimum sail
trim when sailing makes the airfoil of the sail
more inefficient and may even stall the sail.
- Optimum sail trim is achieved by sheeting
the sail out until you feel the sail just begin to
luff (de-power), then you sheet back in a little
until the sail is powered again. Eventually you will
get to "feel" that your sail is trimmed correctly
and it will become natural. Feeling where your sail
is trimmed correctly is called "feathering" the
sail, i.e., feeling where the point between just
luffing and just powering point is. It's the same
concept as optimum sail trim for a sailboat.
- Raking the sail back to tack does NOT mean sheet
it in hard. To compensate for the tendency to sheet in as
you rake back, sheet out a just a little when beginning
your tack. Most beginners and intermediates tend to
oversheet when they tack. Thinking to sheet out when you
start the tack will help avoid this error.
- The wind is usually not clean for 8 times the height
of the shore obstacle that is disturbing it.
Okay, NOW PAY ATTENTION, windsurfing
breath -- here is the whole windsurfing thing in a
nutshell. It's two words "Finesse Sailing", or, for you
hippy types, "Windsurfing Zen":
The Stanford University windsurfing Club has a very
pertinent quote on their
website answering the question, "Is
windsurfing hard to learn?", that clarifies the
nature of this search for "balance and leverage",
Finesse Sailing = reliance on leverage, center of effort and balance,
instead of muscle strength.
Is Windsurfing Hard To Learn?
"No. Most people find that learning the basics of
windsurfing in the proper conditions and with the
proper equipment is relatively easy. On the other
hand, mastering the sport of windsurfing is very
difficult and becomes a lifelong venture for many."
Return to Table of Contents
Shortboard Tack (STEP-CROSS-PUSH)
- First, clear the area where you will be turning; look
around for traffic.
- Rake the sail back SLOWLY, GENTLY with
STRAIGHT, EXTENDED ARMS. It's not a fast throw
action. Be careful not to oversheet or the sail will
stall. You should feel that you are almost sheeting
OUT the sail, as you rake it back. For planing - go
"head to feet"; look, unhook, hang, then weight
heels until carve into wind.
- VERY IMPORTANT -> KEEP ARMS VERY STRAIGHT
(LOCKED); push rig aggressively AWAY from your body; push
it away from you hard. The weight of the rig is all you
have for balance at this point (there is no sail pull to
balance you). Keep your WEIGHT ON YOUR BACK FOOT, at the
same time, PUSHING HARD ACROSS THE BOARD, AGAINST THE FIN.
- Wait as the board comes head to wind, move back hand
farther back for leverage and move front hand on the mast
at WAIST HIGH. Grabbing the mast low, well below boom
height, gives better leverage over the mast, and it
reminds you to bend at the knees. Keep your CG low, with
body weight OVER THE CL to allow for the lessening sail
- In anticipation, move BOTH feet forward close to
the mast; move back foot up to front foot and front foot
up to mast. Initiate the step around at 1 hour BEFORE 12.
Wrap front foot around mast (toes around a skoshi extra to
plié easier), then go with a STEP-CROSS-
PUSH near simultaneous action.
- Shift weight onto THE TOE of the front foot, lifting
the heel as you go around the mast, to make room for the
back foot that is coming up quickly behind it. Bring back
foot up behind it in
plié position, while SIMULTANEOUSLY
putting new front hand on the mast (or new side of the
boom if you prefer a boom to boom transfer). In the same
instant, step back with new back foot, BRINGING WEIGHT
BACK WITH IT. But remember, feet and weight MUST BE ON
- PUSH THE SAIL OUT OF THE WAY (and back) with the
new front hand. This will backwind it for a short time,
helping you complete the tack. KEEP YOUR FRONT ARM
EXTENDED and the sail back and away from you as you go
around the front of the mast. This helps keep you from
being crowded by the rig as you go around the mast.
- Throw the rig forward into a bow and arrow
position (fully extend the front arm while sheeting in
hard with back hand, as if you were drawing back the
string on a bow and arrow) to present the other side of
the sail to the wind. PUSH HARD LATERALLY ACROSS THE DECK
WITH THE TOES OF THE FRONT FOOT while trying to PULL THE
BOARD UNDERNEATH YOUR BODY WITH THE BACK FOOT until the
board has fallen off sufficiently on the new tack.
- Mnemonic is STEP-CROSS-PUSH. Do all three
virtually at the same time. The idea is to PUSH the sail
out of the way, to make room for your body to stay on the
CL the whole time.
- When step-cross-push, be sure the front
arm is VERY STRAIGHT and locked.
- For a non-planing tack, go at 12. For a
planing tack, go
one hour BEFORE 12.
- You need to have your body (feet) forward, ready
to go, before you start the maneuver.
- Take a smaller sail if you're just practicing tacks and jibes,
and not planing.
- Don't make the mistake of visualizing that when you cross
to the new side, you'll have your weight hanging outboard balanced
against the sail (there still is no sail pull). Think about getting
the body BACK ON THE CL, PUSHING THE RIG AWAY FROM YOU.
- Stepping back on the new side from the plié, be ON THE
TOES of the new front foot. This helps keep weight centered and
not too far forward, which will sink the nose if you do it.
- It's not so much that you are going around the sail as
it is that you are pushing the sail out of the way and
putting your feet back where they were at the start.
- The position of the sail when it is pushed
away from you and back, is such that if the mast
line were projected onto the water it would be at
45° to the board. In light winds, if you are
throwing the sail forward instead of backwinding for
a few seconds, you throw it forward along this
45° line, i.e., well to windward, to show more
sail area to the wind on the bow and arrow.
- As you step around, turn your head to look
upwind over your back shoulder; this helps spin your body
around. Keep looking upwind; it helps tip the rig forward
for a faster more controlled exit.
Leeside save. If the sail falls to windward as you
make the transition, push lightly against the boom or foot
panel of the sail behind the balance point (aft of the
back harness line) to return the sail to the upright
Hey, have you seen Tom's new freestyle move, the "Tack
Yeppers, you guessed it, — he tacks, then he plops!
Return to Table of Contents
Very important with lesser volume boards, to have good CL control
on the beachstart. Put back foot on board slightly on the windward
side (rather than directly on CL) when mounting, to allow for your
foot rolling up onto the CL.
If Overpowered On Beachstart:
If Underpowered On Beachstart:
- Point higher at start; mount by moving body
forward and low under sail.
- Mount from further back on the board,
stepping up and forward.
- Drop butt into water, waterstart or butt
sailing style. Using the wind this way to pull you
up out of the water drains off the extra power.
In high winds, this is a better, less energy using
method than a stand up beach start.
- Use a "step up" beachstart – it's like
stepping up on a high step, keep your weight low and
thrusting forward. Pull the board under you with your back
foot (heel). Keep your head tucked down and allow it to
roll over your foot and onto the board.
- Get your weight more over the board as you step up --
keep the head and body low, back leg bent, with weight
hanging under the boom; head down; look down at board
as you mount, upper body bent and almost parallel with water.
- Thrust body and rig forward, carrying momentum
along the board's CL, as though you were going to step
over the board to the leeward side with your front foot.
- Keep your front arm VERY STRAIGHT AND UP. As
the mast becomes vertical, use pressure on third leg
to help pull you up (force directed down the mast,
axially, to the MF.
- The common errors are to pull the rig aft and
towards you as you step up, bending your front arm
towards you, not keeping it straight, mounting
sideways across the board rather than from the back
forward, not moving your body and weight forward,
not pulling the board towards you with your back
- If you're getting rounded up as you step up,
rake the rig more forward and sheet in as you mount.
Start with your hands further back on the boom to
help rake it more forward as you mount. Picture your
body moving forward towards the bow leeside
quadrant, not sideward across the board.
- The reason most beginners round up when learning to
beachstart is that they don't tilt the rig forward
(windward) enough when flying the sail. Tilting the rig
forward drives the nose of the board downwind and coaxes
the tail to come closer to your body.
- A slick way to mount, to start your body (and
board) momentum going forward is to take the first step
forward with your front foot on the ground (ocean floor)
up near the mast foot, driving the board forward with it,
then step up with the back foot all in one forward jumping
Return to Table of Contents
Non-planing Pivot Jibe (Look To The Exit)
Think of the pivot jibe as divided into
three parts: entry, transition, exit.
- LOOK. Look around behind you, over your shoulder,
downwind for 100 meters (that's where you'll be doing the
maneuver) to be sure it's all clear.
- Step back onto the tail and shift your weight back
with you. This shortens the waterline and allows the board
to pivot with less resistance. The farther back you step,
the more you raise the board, the less water line you
have, and the faster you'll jibe. Also you'll have more
leverage to resist the sail's pull. AND, you can help push
the stern around with your back foot as with a flare jibe.
- While you're stepping back, move BOTH HANDS BACK
ON THE BOOM toward the clew. Move back hand WAY BACK on
the boom. The farther your hands are back on the boom, the
more leverage you'll have to tilt the rig windward and
closer to the water.
- Position rig to windward and forward. You have 90
degrees of variability in this positioning. Favor more to
windward in high winds (less sail area showing to the
wind) and favor more forward and bow and arrow for low
- Move front foot behind back foot ON THE
CENTERLINE, in a plié position. Alternatively, you can
move your back foot back first and then bring front foot
back in a plié with the back foot (either in front of or
in back of back foot). In either case, weight should be
WELL BACK ON THE BACK FOOT. Note: for longboards (boards
with centerboards), depress the leeward rail (the rail
opposite to the turn); this lifts the centerboard and
helps pull the board through the turn. For shortboards
(and longboards with centerboard retracted) you can
depress the inside (windward) rail. Use your feet to help
you pull/push board through the turn.
- INCLINE UPPER BODY (and weight) way back. Rig
will become very powered; you must incline upper body and
head way back to counter the pull of the sail with hips in
and head up. Feel as if you're holding against a
wheelbarrow on a down hill incline. Inch both hands
further back on the boom to be able to better move it out
to the side to help continue the turn.
Once you're an hour or so past 6
o'clock, switch your feet; step forward with the new front
foot and step back with the new back foot. You'll now be
sailing clew first.
Sail clew first until 7:30 or 8:00
o'clock. LEVEL THE BOOM to bring the mast more vertical by
sheeting out (pulling in with front (clew) hand next to
your chest and to windward to bring the mast closer), and
slide the back hand (mast hand) closer to next to the
mast. Stand erect with attitude (lift your chin), LOOK TO
THE EXIT (this gets you in the proper position). Jibe the
sail by bringing the old clew hand under the front
(Italian gesture). Bring mast upright as you sheet in and
pop and drop.
Important points to remember for the pivot jibe
Practicing clew first beachstarts is a
good way to help the clew first sailing
part of jibes. Another good exercise is to make the clew
first part of your jibes as long or longer than the rest
of the jibe maneuver.
- The more back on the board you step, the more
rapid the turn. The trick is to shift your body weight
back, BEND LOW AT THE KNEES with WEIGHT BACK and shift
front hand back.
- VERY UPRIGHT but WEIGHT LEANED WAY BACK to
control the power in the sail.
- Keep the board rail to rail flat for entire maneuver (feet on CL).
- Control entry power by whether move sail only
windward (when overpowered) or partly/fully forward (lighter winds).
- Very critical to bring the mast completely VERTICAL
in preparation to jibing it.
- Think of rotating the sail NOT around the vertical mast, but rather
around a vertical line extending upwards through the CE of the sail (middle
of the harness lines). To make this happen you'll need to bring the mast
around VERY close to your face.
- Look to the exit. Your body follows where your head
points. LOOK UP TO THE SKY when you are starting the jibe.
- When there's a lot of power in the sail and you
feel on the verge of being catapulted, you need to bend at
the knees and push the board forward and under you, hard,
with your feet. It's like being on a swing, pumping your
legs forward while at the same time pulling on the boom,
using the power of the sail as do with the swing
Clew First Jibe
Beachstart or waterstart clew first and go right into
the jibe. Move the sail forward and out to the clew side.
As the board turns through downwind, bring the sail back
around you to a close reach. There is no sail flip; it may
feel like you are moving the sail to the opposite side.
Switch Foot Jibe
Start in regular position and switch the feet. Now FACE
TO THE UPWIND SIDE. Turn your head to face into the wind
and lean your body a little to windward. Look dead into
the wind, NOT the way you are heading. Come out clew
first with your feet already switched and go into
the next maneuver. Note: this one is a lot of fun.
ONLY hold on to the clew
end in a duck jibe or for a sail 180. That way you avoid
the tendency to oversheet with your mast hand.
4th Type of Jibe
Return to Table of Contents
Hook in with a forward movement of the hips, NOT by
pulling in the sail with your arms. In a quick, smoothe
action, and not moving any other parts of your body, bend
the pelvis up and forward to the harness lines and then
down. Keep shoulders way out over the water while
maintaining a STILL RIG and still rest of the body. Commit
your body weight fully to the harness; it should feel like
you're leaning your back against a wall.
To unhook, keep your shoulders way out over the water, lift
your hips UP and OUT, gently loading the pull of the
rig on to your arms. Al lthe action is done with the pelvis
and hips, without moving the rest of your body.
To avoid pulling in the sail with your arms when you hook
and unhook, use straight (cantilevered) arms and push DOWN
hard on the boom through to the mast foot to support your
body and take the weight off the harness. Then pinch your
stomach up to the harness lines (pinch your buttocks). To
unhook, bring your stomach up to simply let the line fall
out from the hook as it becomes unweighted. Pushing DOWN
on the boom through to the mast foot does two things, (1)
it allows you to take your weight off the harness, and (2)
it puts more weight on the mast foot to keep the board
Most important thing in hooking in is DON'T LOOK. Use your
thumb to flip the harness lines up and/or down if you need
Use one hand on top of the other to find the CE point on
the boom for the harness lines. Boom height should be
shoulder to neck high, or even a little higher. Don't spread
the harness lines too wide — lines should be no more
than about a fist apart.
As the wind increases, the draft of the sail moves back and the
harness lines will need to be readjusted back as the balance point
moves back. In lighter winds everything should be moved forward.
Hand positioning - Place your hands on the boom with the
thumbs up, claw like. This helps prevent death gripping
the boom, and helps you to hang down on the boom rather
than using arm muscles.
Hand positioning - Place your hands close together on the
boom, then relax them; whichever hand must grip the boom
first is where you need to move the harness line.
In light winds, sail with elbows down, body close to boom. In light
winds, you hang down on the boom more than out against the sail pull
(there isn't enough sail pull to hang out against).
- Placing the hands wide on the boom promotes muscling
the sail. Don't do it.
- Using your thumbs to guide the harness lines
towards the hook makes it easier to hook in.
- Harness line length should normally be elbow to wrist
- Thrust hips forward ALONG THE HARNESS
LINES VECTOR, as with an obscene sexual thrust. This makes for
a better figure 7 position by thrusting the shoulders back and
out over the water. Straighten legs and push on toes ACROSS
Return to Table of Contents
Getting On A Plane (Use all 3 of your feet)
What is it about planing that produces so much adrenaline,
You know the answer, don't you? The second one wins hands
down. Your first time on a plane beats bungy jumping for
sheer terror. A pint of adrenalin floods your system.
- The thrill of going fast?
- The fear of dying?
Your first time getting on a plane usually happens by
accident. A hurricane sized gust comes up and thrusts you
up on top of the water despite your doing everything
wrong. In an instant you're going 100 mph with your feet
just inches above the water, feeling on the edge of a catapult
about to slingshot you to the moon.
But have faith, there will come a point where it
becomes a natural act. There will be a gradual
accumulation of skill through repetition that will allow
YOU to be in control, instead of the board controlling you
and whipping you about like an out of balance sack of
It will probably happen first thanks to a
rare combination of bio-rhythms, Ibuprofen and an early
night. Everything you try will just seem to work out. And
you'll come back to the beach, chest puffed out like a
stuffed turkey, pretending not to notice all the admiring
ABK's "Shift through five gears" method to
get on a plane in the straps:
- 1st gear "Gather Speed". Face
front foot forward astride the mast base; front foot
forward helps prevent catapults. Keep the board
FLAT, weight on the CL. As the nose of the board
begins to come out of the water the CLR will move
back due to less board being in the water. Gradually
move your feet (and weight) back on the board in
concert with the CLR moving back. Rake the sail back
with you as you go back on the board.
- 2nd gear "Move Back On The Board". The
more speed you have, the further back on the board you can
move. As the CLR moves back, move the CE back with it, by
moving you and the rig back. As your speed increases, the
apparent wind increases; the result is like being headed,
so you will naturally be sheeting the sail in closer to the
- 3rd Gear "Hang Out On The Board".
Thrust butt WAY OUTBOARD more than downish (OUT not straight
down), almost in a waterstart position. Then, PUSH LEGS
STRAIGHT against and across board, and begin to stand UP
AND OUT. Hang out, away from board and rig; straighten
legs and PUSH HARD AND FORWARD ON TOES until you're
completely upright and WAY, WAY hiked out. BODY IS
STRAIGHT from feet to head. PUSH HARD ON TOES to maintain
board level. Be sure back foot is astride the CL. TRY TO
DEPRESS THE LEEWARD RAIL with toes. THEN HOOK IN. Hook in
by coming up from below the harness lines.
- 4th Gear "Front Foot In".
Put front foot in the strap. You do this by putting more
pressure (body weight) on the harness (lean out against it
hard, with your shoulders WAY outboard, at the same time
sliding hips over back leg. Put a downward pull on the
boom; pull toward your knees, not your chest.
Use your back foot and the "third foot" (mast foot
pressure through the harness) to support your body. Think
- PUSH YOUR BELLY BUTTON THROUGH TO YOUR BACK SIDE, even
to the point of rounding your shoulders a little. Push
with your toes to keep the board flat. NO WEIGHT ON HEELS.
- 5th Gear "Back Foot In". Keep moving
weight back on the board. Move back foot against the back
strap. Put the back foot in by getting in the "upwind
stance", i.e., push rig aft and body forward, bringing
hips (and weight) over front foot. You'll be almost
looking around front of mast. Weight the harness, LIFT
FRONT HEEL, and, with weight off of the back foot, slide
back foot into the strap.
Some More Good Ideas/Tips
- Keeping the board flat REALLY makes a BIG
difference in getting on a plane. It should feel like
you're pushing the board away from you with your toes,
like pumping a swing with your legs straight out.
- Push front hand more forward to go downwind a little
to help you get on the plane. Then turn back upwind after.
- Push hard with your back foot against the fin. Try to
PUSH THE BOARD OUT FROM UNDER YOU with your back leg. The
more you accelerate, the harder you push.
- Early planing is about good technique at pumping.
Pump as in pumping a swing or as in using an oar in the
- Don't allow yourself to point downwind
(unless you're underpowered). To point higher
upwind, push your body forward against the rig going
back, action-reaction style. Move hips forward so
weight is more on the front leg - this is the upwind
- For early planing, keep the ARMS ALWAYS
STRAIGHT and depress the leeward rail just a little.
This fin position puts an upward force on the board
and helps raise the stern a little. When the
windward rail is depressed, the fin position puts a
downward force on the stern, making it sink more -
not a good thing. Watch for gusts and use them to
get on a plane.
- Biggest thing for getting on a plane is to PUSH
WITH THE TOES, lock legs and push with the toes ACROSS THE
BOARD, depressing leeward rail a little.
- Push across the board, NOT DOWN ON IT. Push on
EDGE of board, ACROSS the board, NOT ON TOP of board. If
weight is on top of board, it's like trying to push a
beach ball under water, it keeps wanting to pop up, i.e.,
the board will chatter and bounce out of control.
Conversely, if the board is bouncing and chattering, you
probably need to hike your body out more and push ACROSS
with your feet, not down.
- Feel that you are lifting up your heels and
pulling up the footstraps with your ankles. Your
front foot pressure should be pushing through the
strap towards the lee side. Face your body, hips,
belly button, and shoulders directly into the CE of
the sail. Only your face is turned forward. DO NOT
rotate your shoulders forward facing in front as you
do when you're light wind sailing.
- Your WEIGHT IS EQUALLY ON THE MIDDLE OF YOUR BODY,
hanging on the harness lines. DO NOT put your weight on
the back foot. Your weight should be hanging on the sail and through the MF. You
should feel the harness line pull through your belly
button, and your arms should be loose on the boom, your
shoulders somewhat rounded to help hike your body out
- The farther out from the sail that you get, the
better your planing will be.
- After in straps, lean out away from the board.
Push feet AGAINST the board. Legs should be STRAIGHT,
straight at the knees, not bent. And STRAIGHT UPPER BODY
with SHOULDERS WAY BACK, and head back. Try to put your
front ear and front shoulder in the water.
- For early planing, get more mast foot pressure by
hanging down from the boom with your head between your
arms. Keep hands close together and bend at the knees and
put your butt low and out and hang all your weight on the boom.
- Note: When you rake the sail back the inclined mast
angle helps drive the board forward, so getting there
quickly helps. Similarly, toe pressure with a straight
body works the same. All forces, all thought processes are FORWARD.
- VERY IMPORTANT: To go upwind, you steer with the CLR,
i.e., you move the CLR forward by getting more board (more
resistance) in the water. Push the rig back, bend the
front leg forward, hike your body out and lean way
forward, pulling forward on the harness lines, and "look
around the mast." To go downwind, move the CLR back by
bending your back leg, leaning back on it and pulling aft
on the harness lines.
- If overpowered going downwind, sheet IN, not out,
because this will stall the sail and take power off it.
- To go downwind when planing, bend back leg and
straighten front leg; to go upwind, just the reverse,
push across board with straight back leg, bent front leg.
- If you get into chop, do NOT bend knees as in mogul
skiing. Instead, hike out more and extend body; push
harder on toes across the board.
- Hey Mon — not being in foot
straps is like driving the Autobahn in a Porsche without a
third, fourth, or fifth gear, okay? So just do it!
- The faster you go, the less chance of a catapult.
- If you're in both straps, you normally can't be catapulted.
- Locate a dead beam reach point on
the horizon and do NOT point below it.
- Push very hard with the toes. Feel
the ankles be almost CONVEX that you are pushing so hard on the toes.
- To adjust to gusts and lulls, you
use the pressure (or easing of it) on your toes.
- Unhook when you are still back on
the board. It's hard to unhook when you're standing up by
- As you start in 1st
gear, hips and shoulders are facing front. In 2nd and 3rd gear, they are more turned INTO
the sail, facing the CE. On the plane, your hips and
shoulders are parallel to the centerline of the board.
- On a plane, you can point as high
as positioning the sail so that the foot is trimmed directly
over the centerline of the board.
- When planing, it's often best to
sheet in by PUSHING WITH THE MAST HAND (as opposed to
pulling with the sheet arm). This helps in keeping the
arms straight and 100% weight in the harness. In other
words, push the sail away from you (and FORWARD) with your
front hand. Try to put as much space as possible between
you and the sail. Keep your front arm VERY STRAIGHT and
push your back shoulder away from the board. Try to keep
both arms straight.
- Biggest mistake to watch out for --
DO NOT HUG THE SAIL.
- Good exercise is to do the 5 gears
to get on a plane, then unhook and stabilize, then rehook
- To stop, or jibe, or tack, get out of the
harness, then push out over the board, butt way out in a quasi
- Emergency stop when planing --
dig in the heels, turn rapidly upwind. LOOK FIRST.
- Great trick to avoid the death grip
and too much pull with your arms and hands on the boom:
gently push the boom AWAY FROM YOU against the pull of
your body in the harness.
- When planing, adopt the upwind
sailing stance, to turn slightly and to maintain upwind
pointing. Push rig to the back and thrust body forward
against it; peek around front of mast, at same time push
rig back and sheet in hard.
- A good exercise: practice lifting
your foot off the deck and sailing one footed for a few
seconds. It helps overcome the fear of lifting the foot.
- Body positioning is forward for
upwind, back when going more downwind (you'll naturally
want to do this for fear of the dreaded catapult), and in
the middle for beam reach.
- The front foot DOES NOT PRESS
FORWARD. It presses sideways against the board, against
The Tips Keep Coming
- As you are first getting on a plane, your weight
and butt will be back, shoulders somewhat facing forward.
As you gain speed, you swing your body more around to the
front of the board with your hips and shoulders parallel to
the board CL. You are HANGING OUT, away from the board (not
back along it's CL).
- The upwind stance has the straight front arm
pushing ahead of you, the back hand pulling sail in tight,
body way out. Swing body weight forward; look around the
mast. Almost do a head dip, with shoulders out, pushing on
toes ACROSS THE BOARD. The upwind stance has the back leg
straight and the front leg bent, body weight over it.
- The ideal planing stance has you thrusting your
hips/ pelvis WAY forward, squeezing your buttocks. Push
your torso WAY BACK and lead HEAD WAY OUT over water. Put
head out over the water, front ear leaning down towards the
water. Now gradually rotate the shoulders to sheet in the
sail, push with your front hand, pull in with the back
hand until you are eventually out over the water, PARALLEL
TO THE CL. PUSH HARD WITH YOUR BACK FOOT ACROSS THE BOARD,
AGAINST THE FIN.
- The ideal body position is to NOT be upright over
the board; rather, to be WAY OUT away from the board
in an exaggerated figure 7, PUSHING ACROSS THE BOARD
with your feet, NOT DOWN ON TOP OF IT. Try to make the
fin spin out if you can.
- When you put your foot in the strap, try to point
upwind a little first (DO NOT BE DOWNWIND). This is an
easier position to be able to unweight the foot and lift
it. Going downwind, it's hard to raise the foot and put it
- If your back leg is bent, you are going downwind.
To go upwind, straighten back leg, bend front leg.
To go downwind, it is the opposite.
- When you unhook and hang (prior to a planing tack
or a carve jibe), put your back hand further back on the
boom for leverage, STRAIGHTEN YOUR LEGS and lock knees,
PUSHING THE BOARD FORWARD. You will actually GAIN speed.
- When you are hanging (unhooked), DO NOT bend your
knees. Keep your LEGS STRAIGHT, pushing across the board
with your toes.
Note to self. Self, you need to work on:
- HIKE OUT MORE, push SHOULDERS BACK. Lean head way back.
Put upwind ear down towards the water. STRAIGHTEN back leg.
- Work on sailing more upwind, or more accurately,
to not point so much downwind. Use upwind sailing stance.
- Face the sail in order to sheet it in more.
- KEEP ARMS STRAIGHT. Concentrate on PUSHING BOARD
AWAY WITH FEET and gradually BECOMING MORE UPRIGHT and
OUTBOARD WITH BODY. Push against boom with the flat of the
hands, and sheet in by pushing with mast hand.
Return to Table of Contents
Getting In The Straps
The trick to getting in the front strap,
4th gear, is to put ALL your weight on the harness.
To get the back foot in, 5th gear, you
have to have your weight on the front foot. To best do
that safely, push the rig back against the body forward in
an action/reaction stance.
Move your feet against both straps to feel them, to
know where they are before you step in them.
In the learning stages, hook in before backing up on
the board and getting into the footstraps.
Return to Table of Contents
Place your hands shoulder width apart and your front foot
and front knee turned forward and just behind the mast
foot ON THE CENTER LINE.
Bend your knees and hang your rear end toward the back
of the board and to windward. With the mast tilted forward
and the sail sheeted out, start to rake the mast back and
sheet in the sail with your back shoulder.
Next, straighten your knees and drive your hips
inward, pushing the board forward. Drive mostly on the
front knee, so you don't put too much pressure on the fin
to spin it out. As you recoil your body to the start
position, hop your feet backward each time down the
centerline toward the straps. Once you are at the straps,
get in the straps and hook in and go.
Note: After each pump your board speed will increase
and therefore, you can't sheet out the sail as far as on
the previous pump or the apparent wind will backwind the
STEERING ON A PLANE
You steer on a plane moving your body weight (CLR) forward
and aft. Later, when you're good at it, you can use rail
steering, but first master body weight steering.
- Steer upwind by bending front leg (back leg straight)
and moving body weight CLR forward, head so far forward
that it's ahead of the mast. Look upwind to where you
want to go. This is putting the CLR forward of the CE, or equivalently
the CE aft of the CLR just as when you sail steer by putting the sail back.
- Steer downwind by bending the back leg (straighten the front
leg), thereby moving the CLR further aft.
Return to Table of Contents
Butt Sailing is a good "self rescue" technique to get you
home when you're overpowered. It also allows you to rest
a little as you're doing it. It's a great drill for sail
control and waterstart practice. Or if you need to get to
the windline, butt-sail to it until you have enough wind
to waterstart. It's much easier than swimming the board there.
- Keep hands HIGH; fly the sail; feather it.
- Lower your body into the water so you float. Allow
the sail to pull your feet to the board. Bend knees to
move butt up to the board, body in a ball, head down.
- Keep your head and chin DOWN and in close to body,
not back, up and out.
- BOTH feet on the SIDE of the board (not on it). For
high winds, you will be pulled up onto board, feet
will slide up and over to the CL.
BUTT SAILING JIBE
Get in the butt sailing position, both feet on the
board. Now pull in with the back foot, under your body, to
turn the board downwind. Turn the board as far downwind as
you can, even past 6. Your butt should be aft, even with
the stern or aft of it to allow room for the stern to
cross. Now CROSSOVER the front foot to the far side of the
back foot and almost behind it and use it to continue
pushing the board around in the same direction. Now take
the old back foot and put it on the new side as the front
foot. You will now be butt sailing clew first.
An added trick is to continue into a clew first
waterstart from the new jibed position.
Return to Table of Contents
Your first waterstart will probably be a surprise. Okay, I
know, you ARE practicing it, trying to do one, but, in
truth, you really don't believe it will happen. It may
even happen by "mistake" when you are practicing butt
sailing and sheet in a little too hard, or roll your feet
up and onto the board from the rails by mistake.
The first time is a crude thing. It happens more by an act
of God than from anything clever that you do. A hurricane
sized gust comes up and heaves you up on top of the water
with all the efficient elegance of a drugged elephant
being hoisted onto a pickup truck. You're so excited (and
surprised) that you immediately dump the sail, turn around
and rush back to the beach to ask everyone if they
witnessed your "beautiful" waterstart.
Then it's back out on the water to try your "magic move"
again. At this point, in your waterstart career, it's more
of a passive move. You lie there and wait for the next
cyclone to do it's stuff. If it doesn't turn up, you wait,
back foot on the board, sail held high, helplessly being
blown downwind. You don't control the situation, it
controls you. And, guess what, in all sports that's where
the enjoyment stops.
But there eventually comes a point in your waterstart
career where it will become a natural act, something you
don't even think about – like driving a car. There's
a gradual accumulation of skill through repetition that
allows YOU to
control the waterstart, instead of IT
controlling you. Trust me, it will happen for you, too.
After a squillion hours of thrashing about like that,
everything will slip into place and you can be
waterstarting like Robby, Bjorn, and Matt, and maybe
even . . . the
There Are Four Parts To The Waterstart:
The first two parts, positioning the board and rig and
clearing the sail, are, BY FAR, the hardest, most
complicated, most exhausting, part. The best advice I can
give you is to treat the "mast perpendicular to the wind"
position with precision; i.e., even just 10° off the
ideal can make clearing the sail harder.
|The Four Parts Of The Waterstart|
1. Positioning The Board And Rig ("solving the
2. Clearing The Sail.
3. Flying The Sail.
4. Mounting The Board (This is the easiest part).
To lever the sail around to perpendicular using the
mast, stay in place treading water and place your two
hands about 3 feet apart, with the mast hand 2 to 3 feet
above the boom clamp, then push with one hand, pull with
To lever the sail around using the board, swim the
board by it's stern end or bow end around until it is next
to the mast and moves the sail with it as it swings
around. Then stay in place and push/pull/kick the board
where you want it.
There are two methods to use to clear the sail,
corresponding to whether the sail is floating free of the
board (the "off the water" method), or whether you are
using the buoyancy of the stern (or bow) to help lift the
sail clear of the water (the "off the board" method).
The Off The Board Method
The off the board method is the easiest way to clear the
sail because it uses the buoyancy of the board to help
clear the sail. This method is the one shown in the
excellent 2004 video by Dasher, "The ABC's of
Waterstarting". Dasher calls this, "The
For the off the board method, first position the mast
perpendicular to the wind, then scissors the board to
where the mast is (rotate the bow around and over the top
of the sail if the bow is next to the mast). The board is
then at 3/9 o'clock and the mast beside it on the leeward
side. We can now rake the boom up and across tail of
board, using the boom as leverage to raise the sail out of
the water. Remember -- position the sail FIRST, then
rotate the board to the sail.
As you clear the sail and start to fly it, place your
upwind hand on the mast and your other hand on a back foot
strap. Then scissor your arms apart super- wide, sweeping
the sail far away from the back of the board to the side
as you push the board away from the sail.
The Off The Water Method
The off the water method is a little harder to clear
the sail, however, it requires less swimming of the
board and the sail. With this method, you swim to the
mast and lever it until it is perpendicular to the
wind and clear it directly from the water without
the aid of the board underneath it.
PART 1 — Positioning the board and rig.
The good news is that there are only 4 ways the
sail can fall.
The bad news is that, to you, it will always seem
that your sail has fallen in a yet undiscovered way,
due perhaps to some punishment you still deserve from
a childhood prank.
Dude, don't panic. Rest assured there are only 4
different ways, one of which is the way you wanted
it in the first place (to be sure that we all pay
our proper dues, the windsurfing Gods see to it this
almost never happens for beginners). The four ways
are divided into two groups according to:
(1) RIG ON WINDWARD SIDE, clew towards the stern.
(2) Rig on windward side, mast towards stern.
(3) RIG ON LEEWARD SIDE, clew towards the stern.
(4) Rig on leeward side, mast towards stern.
The easiest group is the sail on the leeward side of
the board. Number 4, rig on leeward side, mast at
the stern is the one we want, the one that makes the
next step, Clearing The Sail, easy. So that leaves
only 3 positions that we have to "solve".
Left on it's own, the rig will usually sea
anchor itself to the windward side (filled with
water, the rig is considerably heavier than the
board so it tends to drag on the upwind side as the
lighter board floats downwind). As luck would have
it, this is the very side of the board you would prefer NOT to
have the sail on. You'll have from 30 seconds to a minute before
the rig sea anchors itself, so if the rig falls on
the leeward side, you'll need to scramble about very
quickly to take advantage of that positioning.
If the rig is on the windward (upwind) side of the
board, swim the board around until the rig is on the
leeward side. Then with the rig on the leeward side, that
leaves only two possibilities, either clew towards the stern
or mast towards the stern. But mast towards the stern
is what we want, so sail puzzle, Number 2 (sail on the windward
side, mast to the stern) has been
solved by swimming the board around upwind of the sail.
That leaves two clew to the stern positions to solve, Number 3
(rig on leeward side, clew at the stern), and Number 1 where the rig was on
the windward side but we swam the board around upwind of the rig
so that the Number 1 sail puzzle became the same as Number 3.
For the clew to the stern puzzle, push the nose of
the board towards the mast, and then use your body
weight to push the board under the rig. Then rotate
the nose around until the stern comes close to the
mast, so that you can scissor them together.
Alternate method for position number 3 — swim the bow
around in a big wide circle until the mast is
perpendicular to the wind. Raise the mast as you begin
swimming backward into the wind, two hands on the mast
about halfway up from the boom. Half of your body will be
just under the sail and parallel to it. Swim upwind using
the frog kick. Keep raising the sail over your head until
it clears, then swim a little more to be sure. Now, pull
the boom and board close to you until you can put your
back hand on the boom.
Alternate method for position number 4 — Swim the
board downwind until the clew tip is pointing into the
wind. Then, swim out to it and flip the sail to leeward
side. To flip the clew, reach under the sail at the boom,
and with both hands vertically on the boom, lift it up and
pull it out of the water. Keep climbing your hands down
the boom and lifting and raising it higher and higher and
pulling it towards you as you do until the wind catches it
and flips it.
Alternate method for position number 1 — Same as for
alternate method number 3; swim the board until the
sail is perpendicular to the wind.
Tips For Positioning The Board And Rig
Flipping The Sail In The Water:
PART 2 — Clearing The Sail.
- Pull the clew of the sail towards you so that it is
perpendicular to the wind.
- Lift the clew out of the water. Use the stern of the board
to help you lever the clew up out of the water (move the stern
of the board to the clew to get in position to use it).
- Pull the clew up and into the wind much as you do with the mast
in a regular waterstart. Get as much of the sail out of the water
as possible before you let if fly.
- As the sail flips over, grab the mast or boom on the other
side to help keep the sail up and out of the water.
For the "off the board" method, place back hand on
tail of board, front hand on mast. Draw sail onto tail of
board. Push the tail under with back hand will help. Use
front hand to draw the sail across your head to windward
and slightly upward (very slightly upward - don't sink the
For the "off the water" method, to clear the sail, put
your mast hand about two hand widths above the boom (12
inches) and your other hand, shoulder width, farther up
the mast. The board can be positioned into the wind or
anywhere; don't worry where the board is, fly the sail
high and it will come to you (really, you to it).
To get the sail out of the water, swim the mast so that
it is just coming up to perpendicular to the wind (just
before to allow for moving it towards the wind as you swim
it more). Then start "pulling the table cloth from
underneath the dishes" a little at a time as you do frog
kicks swimming up wind. Raise the mast slightly out of the
water so the water runs off the leach end. Pull the sail
out of the water AT THE SAME ANGLE that it is laying in
Don't lift the mast too high as your are "pulling the
table cloth"; pull it more across your body and back.
Lifting the mast too high too soon is the cause of sinking
the clew. Find the happy medium, where you have enough
wind under the sail to lift the clew out of the water but
not so much that it sinks the clew. Resist the urge to
fly the sail too early; WAIT until the clew has popped out of the water.
When you are pulling the sail out of the water, pull
the sail out of the water AT THE SAME ANGLE that it is
laying in the water. Think of trying to pull a board out
of the ground. You pull PARALLEL, IN THE SAME
ANGLE/DIRECTION as the board is stuck in the ground.
Do NOT try to fly the sail, until the clew is
COMPLETELY out of the water.
When you are flying the sail, crossing it over your
head, place your mast hand ON THE MAST above the boom, NOT
on the boom. If it's on the boom coming across your head,
it makes forces in all the wrong directions.
PART 3 — Flying The Sail.
Find neutral BEFORE you put your hands on the boom,
i.e., you find neutral with the hands on the mast and the
back of the board.
As you start to fly the sail, place your backhand on
boom, farther back for more leverage and the front hand
just in front of the harness lines. Having the hands too
far forward is a common mistake. Sheet in lightly,
while feathering the sail, and place front hand on boom normal
The best practice for learning to fly the sail is to
do it on the beach in a seated position by the side of the
PART 4 — Mounting The Board.
Mounting the board is the easiest part of the waterstart;
it's all about reducing your arc of movement and getting
your center of gravity over your feet as early as
VERY IMPORTANT → At the moment of raising the
sail, the tip of the mast should be pointed at 11:30 so as to show the
maximum amount of sail area to the wind when you mount. If
it gets to 12, you will be thrown forward, but you'll need
11:30 in order to get up in lighter winds. Your body
should be out away from the board, angled closer to right
angles to the board rather than angled towards the back.
This position will expose the maximum sail area to the
wind as you rise.
VERY IMPORTANT → When mounting the board, PULL IT
UNDER YOU with your back foot. Drive the rear knee towards
the mast; this will help shift your body weight toward the
middle of the board.
Biggest thing for getting up on waterstart is to BEND
THE BACK LEG AT THE KNEE and pull the board under you with
the heel of the back foot.
Do not be over anxious to get your front leg up on the
board. Drag it in the water alongside until your weight is
ENTIRELY over the top of the board, then pick it up onto
Don't lift your front leg on to the board until your
weight is totally over the board and the mast is almost
vertical so you can hang your weight down the mast into
the mast foot. Get the sail forward and over the board
before you bring your front foot on the board. In strong
winds go ahead and use both feet to bleed off the power.
Standard Waterstart Sequence (position SAIL FIRST, THEN THE BOARD)
- Swim the board upwind of the sail (just the opposite of the
way the sail ends up if left on its own, sea anchoring itself
- Position the board at 3-9 o'clock; higher if overpowered, lower
- With backhand on the tail of the board and front hand
on the mast, scissor the sail onto the tail of the board.
Push the tail under the sail with your back hand, using
the front hand at the same time to draw the sail windward and up.
- Place back hand on boom, aft of the normal position (to have
more sheeting power), sheet in lightly, feathering the
sail, and place front hand on boom near the front harness strap.
- Place back foot on board with arch of foot FACING FORWARD
and knee POINTING BACK. Keep front leg extended down in the
water to prevent drifting downwind and de-powering the sail.
- Tuck front leg out and behind you; bend it and
point its knee down to the bottom to help you get it back.
- Bend your back leg, trying to bring the board under your
butt; bend forward rather than standing up straight. Rise on the
board with the FRONT ARM STRAIGHT and both arms held high above
your head. As you mount, sheet in; it WILL FEEL LIKE A BOW AND
ARROW maneuver or a pumping action.
- Stay low and don't try to bring up the front leg until your
body weight is directly and completely over the board. Think of
stepping up on a high stair with your head going first. DO NOT
try to stand upright too quickly; wait until your body is over
the board hanging down on the boom.
- In lighter winds, start with hands further aft on
the boom, so that you can thrust the rig more forward,
with the mast more vertical so you can hang your body more
easily on it.
With the board overturned on top of the mast, position
the board at 2 o'clock. Put your body into a tight ball,
head down, knees way up into chest. Hold hands WAY high
and sheet the sail, to move body towards the board. Wait
to put both feet on until you get to the board and keep
sail forward, towards the bow.
Light Wind Waterstart Techniques
- The trick is to
increase the leverage that the rig has over
you by positioning your front hand on the mast below the boom
instead of on the boom. This places your weight and focal point
lower down the mast, giving the sail more leverage to pull
- Note: To do the board upside down on top of the
mast version, you need a smaller board (not so wide).
- Make sure your body (and weight) is as close to the
board as possible.
- Steer the board upwind, almost to a close reach, and get
in the butt sailing position with hands on the foot of the sail
and the mast well below the boom. Now, thrust the sail forward
to turn downwind for more power, and move feet onto the board
for the mount.
- Place your back foot on the board more forward than
on a normal waterstart. Your weight needs to rise/be on the
part of the board with the greatest flotation (widest part).
- Push the sail vertical and grab the sail foot.
Grab lower on the mast as the sail starts to lean
downwind. As the sail leans away from you, pull down along
the mast INTO the mastfoot and use your legs to stand up.
Use the sail as a counter balance to pull your weight down
into the board.
- Pull up onto the board with a quick pull up
motion. Be sure that weight is over the centerline and the
part of the board with the most flotation. As you rise on
the board, inch your mast hand higher up the mast until you're at the boom.
- Use the weight of the rig combined with the pull of
the wind to help pull you up.
- Then say, "My God! This is the most fun thing
to do in the entire world!"
To practice waterstarts, use the crash tack. Turn up to 12, then
way oversheet (like you do for a carve jibe) to continue turning
past 12, then push (lay) the mast down at the back of the board
and jump off OVER the mast. Turn around in the water and raise
sail and you're in the position for a waterstart. For the jump
over the mast, make it aggressive or you won't make it over; you
might punch a hole in the sail with your harness hook.
- The best tip I can give you (and the one that the
"big guys" use, is to throw/bring the mast into the
correct mast-to-tail position leeward side as you fall,
think "crash tack".
- Keep hands as high as possible. Feel as though the
hands are curved around the boom LIFTING it up, not
pushing it up.
- Look upwind, instead of at your board. It
will help keep your body in the right geometry and prevent
the tip of the mast from going through the eye of the
- Grip the boom with the front hand back, close to
the harness lines and the back hand well aft of the
harness lines. This allows you to position the sail higher
when you raise it. This is especially important and
necessary in light winds when it is difficult to keep the
sail up and out of the water. It also allows you to mount
the board easier because you can position the sail higher
for more power.
- To keep the board from rounding up when you are in
the water beside it, push down on the mast base, i.e.,
keep the mast tip upwind of the base.
- If you are near the tip of the mast, try
swimming the mast until it is perpendicular to the wind,
then shake the mast head vigorously until the boom and
clew clear. Then "hand walk" down the mast to the freed boom.
Keep your front hand above the boom until you are well
situated and ready to start.
- Try kicking with one foot if you find it difficult
to get out of the water onto the board.
- For 7.5 sq meter sails and above, it is almost
ALWAYS easier to uphaul than to waterstart, unless you
fall with the sail already IN waterstart position and it
is already flying.
- If the sail falls in the uphaul position, i.e.,
board more or less at 9-3 and sail on the leeward side,
it's easier to uphaul than to swim the gear all around
in the proper start position.
- PATIENCE! Do it (swim the board and clear the
sail) SLOW. In other words, raise the sail a little,
then WAIT for the wind to start helping.
- To get your body close to the board if you are
away from it, raise the sail higher. If there is too much
power to raise it higher, then point the board more upwind
enough to bleed off some of the power.
- Do NOT put the back foot on too early. WAIT until
you're almost ready to go. Just wait, flying the sail and
steering the board until you get things in the right
position, THEN put your back foot on.
- A great waterstart exercise is to fall backwards
(windward) and keep the sail still up and flying, then
maneuver from there (you don't have to get the board and
rig in position then).
- Another good waterstart exercise is, in shallow
water. to bring legs up underneath you, cross legged
style, and waterstart from that position; i.e., without
feet touching the bottom.
- When practicing waterstarts in shallow water,
start with butt sailing position, both feet on
the side of the board. When ready to go, move
both feet onto the board. The reason you do this
is to have a better simulation where neither foot
is touching the ground.
- Short-boards with less flotation are easier to
waterstart than long-boards with more flotation, since
they're easier to sink underwater and under your butt.
Use the same procedure for both, it's just a little less
effort with the sinkier ones.
- To practice in shallow water, start with butt
sailing position, back hand back on the boom for leverage,
both feet against the rails. When ready to go, move both
feet up and over the board with sail forward and up. This will
avoid the problem of your back foot being on the bottom.
- From Dasher video — Use the "crash tack"
technique to practice repeated waterstarts. Intentionally
fall with the board and sail in the ideal waterstart
position. Head up into the wind on a regular tack, sheet
out (let go) and pull the mast down over the stern with
the clew pointing leeward. Jump off the board into the
water, then point board and sail in the direction you just
- The mast ends up near the nose, not the tail of the board
—Lift it out of the water, as if the nose were the tail
and you were waterstarting, and flip it over towards the
- The board sails away from me before I can get on—Kick
harder in the water and don't sheet in so hard on the
- The sail flops over towards the board's nose—You've
pushed the mast base too far downwind, forced the mast tip
too far upwind
- I can't get up onto the board—Duh! More wind and/or
bigger sail. Crunch yourself in closer to the board while
extending your arms to lift the sail higher.
- The board always rounds up when I try to put my
foot on it—1) at the instant you put your foot up,
move the sail WAY forward with a big and quick movement to
keep the board from rounding up. Once you are off the wind
again, move the sail back to the neutral-flying position,
2) start with the board pointing more downwind.
- I got catapulted over the board—1) Don't sheet in so
hard, 2) stay squatted down as you rise onto the board,
and 3) sheet out as you get up.
Return to Table of Contents
The jibe is the elemental maneuver in windsurfing; it
compares to a golf swing in elegance, importance and complexity.
It is a momemtum based maneuver with most of the success stemming
from the speed and smoothness of the entry. The better the entry,
the more speed you carry into the turn to help your board maintain
a plane all the way through.
BEFORE you begin any jibe, look to your jibe finish
point to be sure you're safe for the turn, and that no one
is behind you. Think start at the head, go to the feet —
go head, gut, feet. Eyes = look around; gut = unhook, feet
= take back foot out and slide it across to the other
Steps for the carve jibe:
- Look around and downwind. Clear the area.
- Reach back on the boom, about half way
back. Move it at least a foot back; this helps in
unhooking and the oversheeting phase; it gives you
more leverage over the sail and more power in the sail.
- Unhook smoothly (don't change sail set). Use hips only,
not elbows. Do NOT disrupt the sail trim while unhooking.
- Allow the board to settle — arms straight,
legs straight, body low as when beginning to plane. IMPORTANT:
Keep your speed up; don't start the jibe if you have lost speed
before you start.
- Slide, not step, back foot out of strap and across board to
the leeward side, facing 45 ° forward, halfway between front and back straps.
- Allow the sail to pull you up and over to the
leeward side. Decrease the pressure on the toes to get
more upright and over the board. Roll ankles softer to
come up over board. Carve around to 6 o'clock.
- Move sail back and sheet in hard by pushing
forward with the front hand and BENDING back hand behind
you. Overhseet the sail; move sail back and BEHIND you,
across the center line.
- Leave front foot in it's strap for the initiation
phase. Just before 6 o'clock, open the sail and switch the
- A planing jibe has FOUR DISTINCT PARTS:
(2) Unhook and MAINTAIN SPEED,
(4) Sail Flip.
There is NO POINT in continuing with (3) and (4) if you
don't have (1) and (2) perfect. The sail flip you should
learn by doing clew first beachstarts and waterstarts and
by non-planing pivot jibes. You should own it in those
exercises before trying to add it as (4) in the carve jibe.
For (1) Setup, use the Head To Toe method:
Head - Think that you're now going to do a jibe.
Eyes - Look back and downwind to see if anyone is there.
Arms - Switch front hand to overhand grip and put clew
hand WAY back, WAY back.
Hips - Unhook (using upward thrust of HIPS ONLY); don't disrupt the sail trim
Legs - Legs straight, arms straight, body low like when
you begin a plane; ALLOW THE BOARD TO SETTLE
Feet - Slide back foot out of strap and over to the lee
side of the board in front of back strap, facing forward
45° (parallel to front strap).
For (2) Unhook, PUSH DOWN on the boom with the extended,
cantilevered arms. Bring the stomach up to let the line
fall out. Keep up the speed; don't continue if the speed
For (3) Carve, sheet in the sail by pushing forward
with the front hand and bending the back hand pulling it
into your body. Allow the sail to pull you up and over to
the leeward side. Carve all the way around to 6 o'clock.
For (4) Sail flip, just before you 6 o'clock, open
the sail and switch the feet, getting ready for the sail flip.
- Remeber that at planing speed the apparent wind has
clocked around almost dead in front of you, so you need to
sheet the sail in hard, at least to parallel to the CL, as
you initiate and go through the turn, so as to avoid being
back winded from the apparent wind in front of you.
- A step jibe is simply a jibe where
you change your feet BEFORE flipping the sail.
- A good practise exercise is to put head back, unhook,
hang, point toes, straighten legs and STAY ON A PLANE.
Take back foot out and slide across board. Stay on a plane,
and then reverse the steps and rehook in.
Return to Table of Contents
Miscellaneous Golden Nuggets
- Uphauling A Short Board — very different
than a longboard. Don't set the feet on either side of the
mast equal distance. Instead put the front foot next to
the mast and the back foot back farther to take advantage
of the widest part of the board, the point with the most
flotation. Don't start the board pointed in the 9 or 3
o'clock beam reach position. Instead point the board and
start the uphaul on a close reach so that as soon as you
uphaul, you are already in a close reach, not across the
wind with your clew hand having to reach out so far.
Uphaul quickly with a rodeo swing; honk the sail over
quickly, and power it up quickly.
- Nifty Beachstart — Put back hand back on
boom for leverage. From normal beachstart position, and
aft of the board, all at one time, step forward in water
with front foot towards the front strap and mount with
back foot, then the front foot, as with a 1-2-3 dance
step. After mounting, bring the back foot up close to the
- Recovery Or
Maneuver To A Clew First Position — A common sub-
maneuver, for example, the last part of a helicopter tack,
or recovery from backwinding, or a sail 180. The mnemonic
is REACH BACK, STEP BACK AND ARCH THE BACK. For the
helicopter tack, backwind all the way to a broad reach on
the other side, then put clew hand WAY UP the clew, Thrust
the mast/rig forward as far as you can, and LET GO
THE MAST HAND (put it behind your back), so when the sail
flips to clew first, it is COMPLETELY LUFFED. When you put
your mast hand on, you can put it up near the clew at
first to keep the sail luffed until you gain control. This
takes all the pull off the sail as it rotates to the new
side. The IMPORTANT THING to know is that in the clew
first position, the power hand (now the mast hand) has
much more sensitive power control; i.e., a small movement
in or out translates into a BIG SHEETING CHANGE. At "Arch
The Back" part of the mnemonic, put your mast hand behind
Return to Table of Contents
Some Great Exercises
How to Plane -- A Million Dollar Exercise
It probably will first happen by mistake. You will be
sailing out, woos wise, with an underpowered sail, but the
wind will increase and a gust will come and magically
whisk you up on a plane. Or better yet, your skill level
tells you that you are ready for it and you want to try
it. Get ready for the thrill of a lifetime -- "And we are never, ever the same".
Here is a really GREAT exercise for you to prepare
yourself for the experience, and the key to making it
Get a friend or relative to help you with this.
Explain to them in advance, how it is going to work, Now,
grab their two hands, both of you with your arms
outstretched. Now do a "lean of faith" all the way back
and tell them to balance your weight as though they were
the wind. Do not push on your feet and toes yet, simply
relax your weight backwards.
Now do Case I and Case II below.
Case I - Tell them to gradually increase the pressure
against you as much as they can. Tell them to plant their
feet well and push against their feet to hold you. As the
pressure increases, oppose it by pushing on your feet.
Don't push so much as to cause them to fall over into you,
only enough to just stay in balance.
As they increase the pressure, you are simulating higher
and higher winds. Have them keep increasing the push and
pressure through their feet while you continue to lean
back more and more and at the same time pressing harder
and harder with your toes. All the time, your arms and
body straight forming a figure "7".
Practice this each day until you can lean back further and
further each time. The key will be to thrust your
shoulders AND your head way, way far back, and to push
VERY hard on your toes. This is the way to plane, to go
Case II - Do the same thing, but now don't push on
your feet. Simply try to lean back. You will find that as
soon as your friend increases the pressure, you will be
pulled over into them, i.e., pulled over to windward. This
is NOT the way to plane, this will get you pulled over to
windward and the sail yanked out of your hands.
If you can't of don't want to get a friend to help you
with this, do a "mind experiment (Einstein style). Do it
as you're falling to sleep each night.
Return to Table of Contents
Sailing Backwinded (Leeside Sailing)
To get into the
leeside sailing position begin a regular tack, i.e., step-cross-push. Well
before 12 o'clock, step around and cross to the other side
to place yourself on the lee side. Sail RELAXED AND ERECT
(stand up straight, hips in); extend your arms -- a STRAIGHT front
arm with back hand OFF the boom or just LIGHTLY resting on
it with your palm open or with just two fingers. Bring the
mast forward as you come around to be sure that you don't
tack up into the wind. The foot of the sail should be resting
against your back shin.
Sweep the sail out of your way to the windward side of
the board with your new front hand. Envision yourself
sailing on the original side of the sail. Keep both hands
positioned well forward on the boom.
Leave your front arm STRAIGHT and as close to the mast
as possible on the boom. Keep the back hand just behind
the balance point. Make sure that the clew of the sail
is on the leeward side of the board sharing space with
your body. The foot of the sail will be leaning against
your shin and your hips should be forward of your
To escape from leeside sailing, simply reverse the
plié back around the front of the mast where you came
from, or, "complete" the tack by tilting the sail back
until the board turns through the eye of the wind, then
throw it forward, bow and arrow style, and pop and drop to
fall off the wind.
A more elegant exit is to
recover to clew first
position. REACH BACK, STEP BACK AND ARCH THE BACK. Allow
the sail to swing around it's balance point by reaching
back with your back hand; throw the mast/rig forward, push the
mast as far forward as you can, then let go of your mast
hand (put it behind your back), and, at the same time,
push the back hand through. Step back and catch the sail
in the clew first position. Think of a string tied
between your front hand and your back foot; when you lift
your front hand off the boom, at the same time lift your
back foot up and back. Try to keep the mast into the
Alternative entry is with a helicopter tack. Steer
through the wind, throw sail forward, backwind to a reach
and sail off backwinded. Another entry is "follow the
clew". Sail clew first, come upwind, flip the sail (level
the boom first) and step around plié tack style, as you
catch sail on the other side. Yet another way is a duck
tack, by releasing the back hand, stepping back and under
the sail as the clew rotates leeward, and grabbing the
boom on the other side. Throw the mast forward as you
release your back hand.
4 Ways To Get Into Backwind Sailing Position
- Come up to 12 o'clock, continue oversheeting well
past 12, then backwind the sail.
- Come up to an hour or two before 12 o'clock,
and do the tack footwork to the other side.
- Duck tack entry -- start with switch foot stance,
then do duck tack to other side and backwind it.
- Clew first entry -- starting from clew first,
FOLLOW THE CLEW. Do fast tack plié footwork around
the mast to the backwind side. It will feel a lot like the
Sail and Body 360 move.
- When step-cross-push, be sure the front
arm is VERY STRAIGHT and locked.
- Front hand needs to be very close to the mast; back hand off.
- It's surprising how far to windward you must lean the
rig to find the balance point, even in light wind.
- If you allow the rig to inch back on the board, it will bring
you up too much into the wind; keep the rig a little forward in
order to stay off the wind.
- Keep your ELBOW UP on your front arm. This position gives you
better leverage over a backwinding sail, while, at the same time,
keeping the sail at a comfortable distance away from your body.
- If rig has fallen too low to the water, to get the mast higher,
push on the middle of sail's foot panel lightly, with one finger.
- Good exercise to get the feel of leeside sailing is to practice
An alternate method to get into backwinded sailing
position is to come up into wind as a regular tack, but
keep turning PAST 12 o'clock, oversheet and keep going
until sail is at your shin, then step in front of the mast
and anchor the front foot (this will be your pivot point
for the backwinding). EASE the rig forward (without
crossing over to the over side) and step hard onto the
front foot. Slide the front hand back on the boom just a
little. This will provide you with more leverage. This
method is like the first half of a helicopter
tack, but staying on the lee side instead of helicoptering
Return to Table of Contents
Clew First Sailing
To get into the clew first sailing position do a pivot
jibe, or do half of a sail 360 (the sail
duck part), or do half of a helicopter tack, or do a
clew first beachstart.
The clew hand is now your front hand and should be
stationary and as CLOSE TO THE CLEW AS POSSIBLE. The mast
will be way outboard to leeward and will be quite heavy,
so lean your head to windward against that weight and keep
your rear end tucked in. You sheet in and out with your
mast hand; let go of mast hand to luff.
To steer, think of raising or lowering the clew. The
clew should be pointing skyward during clew first sailing.
While keeping the sail powered, raise the clew higher to
steer more upwind, and lower the clew to sail more
downwind. The more you steer upwind, the more difficult it
will be to control the sail. When in doubt, sail downwind
to gain control.
Return to Table of Contents
Clew First Beachstart
- Start with a regular beachstart set up for going in the OPPOSITE
reach from the one you want for your clew first beachstart. Power up
the sail with hands further down the boom; front hand at harness
lines and clew hand about a foot more aft than normal.
- Gradually turn the board towards and past downwind,
moving your body to the other side, the new windward side,
as you do. When past 6 o'clock about an hour, and clew
first powered, mount the board. Be sure you are starting
with the clew hand (now the forward hand) half WAY DOWN
THE BOOM, and mast hand (the new power hand) at the front
- To sheet in and get power for the step up, pull in
the mast hand. Feather the mast hand and push with the
front (clew) hand, i.e., keep front arm very straight to
get up. As you mount, MOVE THE MAST OUTBOARD across the
board so you steer upwind instead of downwind (board turns
in opposite direction from the side the sail CE is on).
- After mounting, LET GO the mast hand to de-power the sail,
balance it and get the feel of where the sail set should be. Then,
replace mast hand on boom
with LIGHT PRESSURE. Avoid pointing too high; the sail becomes too
unstable in this position and too difficult to handle and flip.
If overpowered, INCLINE upper body and head way back to counter
the pull of the sail - HIPS IN AND HEAD UP.
- Exit with the same sail flip as with exit from
pivot jibe. Hey, bring the mast upright as
you do this, or you'll lose the rig to the leeward. And for God's
sake, head up, chin up --> attitude.
- The key is leaning the sail to the front and driving
your torso forward. Exaggerate the forward lean of the
sail so that the clew can pull you out of the water.
Aggressively lean the sail forward, exposing it to as much
wind as possible. Your clew hand should be well down the
boom and pull in with your mast hand and extend your clew
hand as you rise. As you mount the board continue sheeting
in with the mast hand.
- The trick is to slide the clew hand (the old back
hand, new front hand) back towards the mast so that you
can extend the clew even more.
Return to Table of Contents
- Sail to 1/2 hour past 12 in the tack position,
both feet near the mast. Put your clew hand way back for
more leverage and step the front foot in front of the mast
and rake the sail forward backwinded. Stay in the backwind
phase for longer than you think.
- During the backwind phase, you can hold it there
for a while and practice backwinding. When ready, fall off
the wind (backwinded) to a new side broad reach.
Now when you're ready to go, SHEET WAY IN (take the power
off the sail) by pulling the sheet arm to your face, very
bow and arrow style. Now rotate the clew through the wind, clew hand
still way back on the boom, and with no pressure on the
mast hand (the new power hand),
let off the mast hand and
put it behind you, let the mast fall to leeward, arch your
back and regrip lightly with your mast hand in the now
clew first position. You had your front foot in front of
the mast, a little offset to protect against the mast
crushing it. As you rotate, change your feet and as you
do, move your arm and shoulders in concert together (off
- Trick to stop at clew first position is to not put
much/any mast hand on (the new power hand); let the sail
fly free with only the new front hand on (the clew hand).
Then gradually sheet in to get control.
- Keep your front arm very extended during the
backwind phase and hold this position until headed
push the clew through the wind for the clew
first phase. Heading downwind more during the backwind
phase, makes it easier for the transition to clew first.
Return to Table of Contents
- Same idea as the non planing duck jibe. Key is to put
the new front hand WAY FORWARD on the new boom side. Keep
the mast vertical at the end phase of the maneuver; think
bring the mast across your body.
- Under Construction
Return to Table of Contents
Sail And Body 360
Whether tacking, freestyling, or jibing; look where you
want to go and your body will follow, and this is
particularly true for the
Sail and Body 360. Generally speaking, when
freestyling, it's your front foot that moves first, as
your back foot is already over the center line. The
Sail and Body 360 is no exception.
Start with the board sailing at right angles to the wind, beam
reach to broad reach.
Sheet out, MOVE YOUR MAST HAND UP NEXT TO THE MAST,
and lean the mast windward using only the front hand. Then
step or turn your front foot away from the sail (to
windward) perpendicular to the CL facing in the way you
are going to turn. With the next step, step in front of,
and a little around, the mast foot, with your front foot,
shifting your weight to it. Your feet will be straddling
the mast foot with your toes pointed to the windward side.
- Now bring your back foot up into a plié
position behind the front foot (similar to the footwork
for a fast tack). Continue to control the sail with your
front hand; sheet OUT the clew, do not push it yet with
the back hand even though your impulse is to do that.
- Next pull the mast aft, up and along the center
line as you push on the clew with an open palm (backwind
the sail) and the mast will rotate around the universal.
- KEEP VERTICAL OVER THE MAST BASE with your arms
extended. STAND ERECT and over the CL; keep your back
straight. Do not bend at the waist or lean into the sail.
Keep your HEAD UP and looking ahead to the exit points.
Continue to move your feet throughout the entire maneuver.
- plié around quickly and push the clew
aggressively through wind; as the sail powers up; pop and
drop. Let out the power hand as the sail flies to the
other side. KEEP THE MAST NEAR YOUR BODY.
- As the rig swings around, BRING THE MAST UPRIGHT
AND ACROSS YOU towards the nose of the board so you don't
lose it. I.e., think and visualize bringing the sail 15-
30° BEYOND 360° so as to not lose the rig to
leeward. Think of honking the mast across the board to
windward as the last final move as you sheet in and drop
at the same time (pop and drop). Don't place your foot
too far back on the stern as you come around. Keep BOTH FEET
NEAR THE MAST.
Note: The reason you lean the mast towards the wind,
is so that when you backwind it, it's already leaning over
(less power in it). The windier it is, the further you'll
need to lean the mast windward. Better to lean it over too
much, than to lean it over too little. After the backwind
phase, bring the mast back to, or past, vertical (same
idea as when coming out of the backwinding part of a
- After you have backwinded the sail and are in the recovery
phase, pull the mast towards the front of the board, not way
out to the leeward side. Try to keep the mast near your body
and your body centered over the board.
- In light winds, you can do the maneuver more
across the wind. In heavier winds, you need to start the
maneuver more downwind so that there is no such wind
hitting you in the backwind part.
- Push the sail hard and fast with arms straight. Lean
against it in the backwind part as necessary. Stand erect and
don't move foot too far back on stern as you come around.
- The trick is: first the mast hand pushes (without the clew hand),
then the clew hand pushes (without the mast hand), then the
mast hand pulls (without the clew hand).
- IMPORTANT: Keep your back straight and head up. Don't
bend at the waist. Continue to move your feet throughout
the entire maneuver.
- MOST IMPORTANT: Concentrate on pushing your arms one at
a time to eliminate the sail from becoming too powerful
- Don't try to cheat and move your front foot
sideways in advance. It wrecks the timing by deleting a
step. Instead, step your front foot sideways into the wind
AS you bring the most down into the wind. If you face your
front foot in advance, you will be stepping around the
mast as you bring the mast down and your timing is off by
one step then.
Return to Table of Contents
Low Wind Duck Jibe
- SLIDE-THROW-CROSS-GO. SLIDE the back hand back on the
boom. Let go with front hand and throw the sail (the boom)
forward and DOWN, over your head, with the back hand.
CROSS the front hand back to the clew and look to the new
side of the boom. When the boom crosses over your head,
pull it hard back over your shoulder to the stern on the
other side of you and let go. Then GO for your new front
hand as far forward as possible, well IN FRONT OF THE
HARNESS LINES (this is the key make or break part of the
- VERY IMPORTANT → In light winds, start the flip at 6:00 or 6:10, so that
when you pull the sail back, it SLICES directly into the eye of the wind behind
you. SHEET OUT as you grab on the new side.
- DOUBLE VERY IMPORTANT → The new front hand
must grab the boom FORWARD OF THE HARNESS LINES. With that
position, you'll be able to make up for any errors or
sloppiness in the rest of the maneuver.
Return to Table of Contents
Switch the feet first, then steer upwind, followed by
throwing the sail forward to grab the clew end with the
front hand to throw it aside and catch it on the other
side. See video at
Return to Table of Contents
Fin First Sailing
Starting From Beach Method
Starting From In Irons
- Start out with the board set up in fin first position
just as in a beachstart except with fin first. You can do
this either by flying the sail and steering the board
around 180°, or, alternatively, pulling the boom up
onto the nose of the board to clear the sail.
- Turn the board downwind an hour or two past 6
o'clock. In light winds, favor starting more downwind,
closer to 7 o'clock, but with fin first. Place back foot
on the nose far enough back that the fin rises partially
from the water (this is farther back towards the nose than
you think). If too close to the mast foot, the board will
always round up wind on you. Beachstart and allow hips to
come up over back foot with leg bent to keep the weight on
it. Pull the board under you with your back foot. Bow and
arrow rig forward and windward so board doesn't
immediately round upwind.
- If it is an offshore wind, start downwind with
both feet back on the board just as you would sailing
downwind bow first. If you are starting on a reach, the
trick is to keep your front foot next to, or in front of,
the mast and push hard with it to keep the board from rounding
Starting From Other Positions
- Start out
by turning dead upwind. Move front foot out to the
nose and back foot just behind mast track. Transfer your
weight to the foot on the nose. Get low and sheet hard as
you scissor legs pushing the sail hard away from you with
fin out of the water. As the tail passes downwind, change
your feet and stand more upright. The sail is across the
board now almost in a clew first position.
- Position your front foot close to the mast base
and start sailing fin first. Guide the board with your
front foot and the sail. Move the mast/rig forward and
backward to turn the tail of the board in the direction
Do a helicopter tack and stop at clew first.
Rotate sail across board as you step back on
the nose lifting the fin out of the water.
Steering and Recovery
- Come up dead into the wind. As you do, come
forward on the board so you can take a big step
forward on the board to depress the bow and turn
around powering the sail in fin first.
- Do 1/2 of a sail 360 to clew first, then
do the rest as above.
- Steer with the sail. To turn downwind, lean the sail
slowly forward and shift your weight to your back foot. To
turn upwind, shift your weight to your front foot and lean
the sail to the back of the board.
- To recover, exit with a board 180. Sail steer the
tail of the board downwind as in a pivot jibe. Balance the
rig over the CL while de-powering the sail (sheet out),
and plié around the mast. Sheet in from the new side and
pop and drop to stop the board rotation.
- Alternate recovery, steer tail of the board upwind by
leaning mast to windward, step around windward side as tail
steers through beam reach position and catch sail in
new sailing position and power up.
- Because the fin is in the air, the board has
little to no lateral resistance, which makes it impossible
to sheet in the sail aggressively, or lean your body out
over the water. Your body weight must be directly over
your feet. And since you can't have much power in the
sail, the rig must be balanced in front and to windward on
- If you're having trouble turning downwind, it is
probably because your weight is not far enough back.
- To get into fin first sailing position, do a
helicopter tack (or get into clew first sailing position),
then instead of doing the sail flip with the NY salute,
add another half turn and step towards the bow (it feels
like you're stepping "back", but you say stepping forward
because it is towards the nose). Start the heli-tack a
little early if you're going into fin first.
Return to Table of Contents
- Preparation: Stand upright; after you let go of the
rig, you won't have it for balance. Stand over the middle
of the board, either side of the mast foot, front foot
forward of the mast foot. Move your back hand back on the
boom (this helps to be able to throw the rig further
forwards with the back hand when you let go with the front
Start with the rig close to you by bending your
arms, so you can more powerfully push it away from you.
Sail on a beam reach and turn slightly upwind to help
backwind the sail during the boomeranging part of the
Sheet in slightly with the back hand, slicing the
rig forwards. Let the front hand go and throw rig down and
forward WITH THE BACK HAND, the mast heading just downwind
of the nose of your board while you're pulling on your
back hand to power up the sail at the same time. Just as
you let go of the boom push hard with your back hand,
sheeting out hard, to provide the backwinding that will
boomerang the sail back to you.
- To get more thrust with the throw, before you
start, first, swing the rig back with your arms bent so
it's cocked and ready to be thrown forwards aggressively.
- The faster the rig is moving or thrown forwards,
the more the apparent wind will be blowing it back up. So
throw it aggressively. A common error is, in light winds,
not throwing the rig far enough forwards and not
aggressively enough. So RAKE IT FURTHER BACK BEFORE
THROWING IT FORWARDS.
- It helps if you can be turning
a little upwind as you are doing the maneuver.
- MOST IMPORTANT: Push the boom away from you
aggressively with your back hand just as you let go so
that the wind fills the sail from the opposite side.
Return to Table of Contents
Begin as with any tack, or, much like the entry into
backwind sailing. Start the transition well before
turning fully into the wind.
- After the plié, you'll be leeside sailing for a short time. Resist
the backwind pressure of the sail and keep it raked back to
continue turning through the eye of the wind.
- As the backwind pressure decreases, slowly bring the sail
upright and your upper body forward to counter the pull of the
sail in it's new position. Don't pop the sail too early. As
the sail rotates and loads with power, hang from the boom
to counter the pull.
Return to Table of Contents
- Start by getting into the leeside sailing
position. Put BOTH feet aft of the mast, with the back foot WAY
back; separate them a lot. Place the back hand WAY back on the
boom; separate the two hands a lot.
- As you begin the initial turn downwind. move the
rig forward and out to the windward side to get the CE
outboard and help the turning moment.
- Realize that as you're turning downwind, the
apparent wind drops and it will be necessary to move the
sail and rig higher (more vertical) in order to catch the
available wind (in the standard leeside sailing position,
it is held in an extreme windward (low) position). Adjust
the height of the mast and rig to match the wind strength.
Push the sheet arm a little to power up.
- Sail PAST 6 o'clock before you
push the clew through the wind. Concentrate on bringing
the mast back to vertical position on recovery.
Return to Table of Contents
- The board needs to be moving relatively fast. A Force 2
wind (4-6 knots) is ideal.
- Start the maneuver on a very broad reach (so that when
you turn, you're not bumping into the sail).
- For a
regular pirouette, twist (torque) the upper body
(torso) into the direction of the sail; lift the front
foot and spin it all the way around the back foot,
spinning the back foot on it's toes, to bring the front
foot back to being in front (i.e., jump it around the back
foot to be in front again. For example, on a port broad
reach, you would spin to the right, into the sail.
- For a
pirouette from clew first. Just begin the sail flip,
then, turning AWAY from the sail, take the clew hand off
at same time as turning front foot 180 to face out away
from sail. Keep front hand on boom at the mast while now
turning upper body away from the sail and bringing back
foot around towards the sail and in front facing out like
the original front foot was. Take back hand and put it on
the boom at the mast to catch the sail that was turning
into to you. Now take front foot (old back foot) and
pirouette around back foot to catch the sail.
Return to Table of Contents
- Start the
maneuver on a broad reach, turn upwind a
little so that when you turn downwind later you'll develop
the power to bring you back up on the board. Step
backward off the side of the board, back leg first,
followed immediately by your front leg. Step off lightly;
it's not a jump. Drag only your legs, not your body, and
stay directly alongside your board.
- Drag and plane on only the bottom half of your
legs; try to skim them along the surface of the water.
When you step off the board and drag your body over the
water, try to hang almost all your weight down on the mast
before stepping off. This keeps the body from sinking in
the water and allows you to maintain board speed and power
in your sail.
- Keep rig upright and arms bent to maintain body out of
water. Drag the least amount of body as possible
- Point downwind to give you enough power to mount
the board again. Pull your legs back up onto the board
before you lose too much speed. Raise your rig to aid in
- Place your attention (your nose) and pressure on
mast foot as in the waterstart.
- The wind must be at least strong enough to water
start for a successful body drag. Water conditions should be fairly
flat or you will lose your momentum too quickly.
- Start by dragging just one foot, the front foot,
to gain the skill of stepping off the board. After
mastering dragging one foot, practicing stepping off
slowly with the other foot (the back foot) and dragging to
a complete stop. Do this until you have the actual
dragging part mastered. Now you just add the step of how
to get back on the board.
- Sheet out sail, balance rig over mast foot
- Turn AWAY from the sail (to windward). Lift
front foot and plié it behind back foot. At
same time take hands off the boom, rotate upper
body around backward.
- As turning, place back hand on the crotch of
the boom, rotate front foot on ball of foot. Reach
around behind you with front hand up the boom
as far as possible (near crotch of boom).
- Rotate front foot another plié around
back foot (but this time in front of back foot).
- Grab rig with sheet hand.
Return to Table of Contents
Planing Duck Jibe [Tom Notes and p40 Windsport #99]
- This maneuver is easiest to learn with a smaller size sail (5.0-6.0),
hence, a more manageable boom length to handle ("duck"). This will mean
winds in the 15-20 knot range.
- The most important factor is to duck the sail WELL BEFORE you get straight
downwind. If you attempt it too late, you can't reach the new side of the
boom without the sail ripping forward out of your hands. It wants to be only
1or 2 hours past beam reach when your board speed is approximately equal to
the wind speed. There is no problem because there is no wind in the sail.
- VERY IMPORTANT to keep body still and head very tall. Stand
tall and back. Put clew hand back and reach front hand over back
to the clew, pushing the sail forward, allowing the rig to fall
to leeward (to the inside of the turn). Keep weight on rail by
thinking/visualizing that that you are doing a hand drag. Then bring
sail back and catch with new front hand on the new side in front
of the harness lines. Get the mast back past your back shoulder
and keep the sail sheeted out. Keep the sail sheeted out and let
the board carve past downwind, then switch feet.
- YOU CAN NEVER DUCK THE SAIL TOO EARLY.
- The handwork during the "duck" should happen IN FRONT OF YOU.
- Move the sail across your body. Be sure when you duck the sail
that it moves forward, then back, while keeping your body still and balanced
over the board. You push the sail forward with your back hand while your front
hand crosses over reaching back on the boom. Then throw the clew back across
your body hared, so you can CATCH THE NEW SIDE IN FRONT OF THE BALANCE POINT.
- The mast moves forward and down toward the water on the first part
of the maneuver, then is thrown back up and balanced over the board for
- If you feel your weight falling back towards the stern, you're trying
to move your body back around the clew instead of guiding the sail forward and back
around your body.
- Keep your body balanced and still.
Return to Table of Contents
Important Points And Aphorisms
- "My God! This is the most fun thing to do in the entire world!"
- Windsurfing – a divine dance with mother nature
- "It is never too late to become what you might have been."
- And we are never, ever the same.
- Windsurfing is life, the rest is just details
- "Every day sailing is a great day sailing."
- If you can ride a bike and throw a ball, you can windsurf.
- Windsurfing is a matter of assembling skills and building confidence incrementally.
- You need only two traits to learn and advance in windsurfing -- determination and perseverance.
- If you think you can, or if you think you can't, you're probably right.
- With each step what seemed insurmountable can become routine.
- "Once you figure things out, you wonder why you ever struggled at all".
- Numbers are our friends.
- If you aren't falling, you probably aren't pushing hard enough.
- Now that you mastered that one, go out there and try
something new for two weeks and get slammed until you
finally get it.
- Discoveries are made by NOT following instructions.
- Windsurfing is king and we are its tiny pawns.
- You gotta pay your dues.
- Fear is the great unhook motivator.
- Old Chinese proverb -- "Fall seven times, stand up eight."
- Courage is doing it afraid.
- Pain is weakness leaving the body!
- When we suffer, we get tougher.
- Adversity doesn't create character, it reveals it.
- Windsurfing: if it was easy they'd call it kite boarding.
- Windsurfing is like love — it requires balance, trust and a
willingness to get hammered by the forces of nature.
- I'm an aficionado of two-star digs.
- Cha-ching, Bada-bing. . .. It's all good!
- Well, isn't that spaaacial!
- Did he say, "half-fast" windsurfer?
- It is easier to MAKE a sailing girlfriend than to FIND a sailing girlfriend.
- The couple that sails together stays together!
- Where your head goes, your body follows.
- Regardless of the maneuver, looking ahead is the simple, yet
extremely effective solution.
- If you can't hang, you can't plane.
- High booms help early planing.
- Go big or go home.
- The jibe is the elemental maneuver in windsurfing; it
compares to the golf swing in importance and complexity.
- The waterstart did for windsurfing, what the printing press
did for publishing. Both enabled major expansion, initiated
dramatic new techniques, and generally got things out of the
- Not being in footstraps is like driving the Autobahn in a
Porsche without a third, fourth, or fifth gear.
- High-wind sailing without footstraps is like snow skiing without bindings.
- The board is just a device to ride the fin.
- Once you have enough downhaul add some more.
- Damn this hobby is expensive! Go NASDAQ, go!
- Why is bra singular and panties plural?
- She didn't know who sail number US1111 belonged to, so I told
her to get a new boyfriend.
- Sailing scary fast -> (1) To sail your shorts off. (2) To sail
faster than you've ever sailed, 'til your eyes bleed, you pee your
pants, and your shadow is two seconds behind you.
- The strongest and most efficient position for windsurfing
is hips up and in.
- He looks like he'd be more comfortable sitting on a John Deere.
- A sun tan is a harmful side effect of having fun, NOT an endeavor.
- He seems to be in the later stages of entropy.
- There are 10 kinds of people. Those who understand binary, and those who don't.
- You notice you can think about windsurfing during sex,
but you rarely think about sex during windsurfing
- You buttered your bread, now you gotta sleep in it.
- Perhaps she inhaled too much Coppertone over these
last years to see this fact.
- Sail Fast, Live Slow!
Return to Table of Contents
Links (Under Construction)
- Royn Barthold US-221 http://www.roynbartholdi.com
- Christopher Thames http://clewfirst.com/cf_moves.html
- Continent Seven http://www.continentseven.de/museum.php
- The Moves Collection (Denmark) http://www.vmoves.net
- Guy Cribb's Windsurf Magazine INtuition course (UK)
- American Windsurfer http://americanwindsurfer.com
- Windsurfing Magazine http://www.windsurfingmag.com
- Boards Magazine (UK) http://www.boards.co.uk
- Fuerza 7 (Spanish) http://windandfly.com/fuerza7
- Beginner Lesson Plans
- Windsurfing Certification Page
- Tom's Bonaire Writeup
- Tom's South Padre Writeup
- Tom's Weather Page
- Tom's Business Page http://home.pacbell.net/tsnooks
- Tom - What He Does Now http://home.pacbell.net/tsnooks/work.htm
- Tom's Bio http://home.pacbell.net/tsnooks/toms_bio.htm
- Tom's Resume http://home.pacbell.net/tsnooks/bankresu.htm
Other Neat Pages
- Enter the room, you see a window.... http://www.jamesgang.com/jamesgang/room/room1.html
- I dreamed I had an interview with God. http://www.momentswithgod.com/interview.html
- Restful and Peaceful http://dailymotivator.com/memberflash/rightnow.html
- Gipsy Kings Page http://www.nonesuch.com/Hi_Band/gipsy_frame.html
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