|LESSONS and TIPS|
| TD>Here is some information
and links to a few areas that offer information on learning and/or
improving on windsurfing skills. I cannot stress enough the benefits of
taking lessons if you want to learn to windsurf. Speaking from experience,
I struggled for a couple years trying to learn, whereas others have
improved at a much faster rate by taking lessons from a windsurfing instructor on proper equipment or spending time in Maui, Margarita, Hatteras, etc.
Mr. Joe's Boardsailing
Question and Answer session At Sailworld Hatteras with Andy Brandt
Note: No guarantees as to whether I understood and transcribed properly what was said!! Take with a large grain of salt!
Retro 9.5 Tuning session at Sailworld Hatteras with Roger Jackson and reps from Sailworks
Pull with two fingers until tight, and then outhaul a minimum of 1". No matter which downhaul setting you are using, further outhaul adjustment (preferably with on the fly outhaul system) will increase range of sail. Sail does not perform well with neutral outhaul, so don't bag the sail out with the outhaul.
I fixed up a Mistral Malibu and a Mistral Equipe by having a block of aluminum cut to fit the aluminum track with a little play and had it tapped with a thread that matches my chinook starbase. You lose the on-the-fly adjustability, but you gain a solid connection and compatibility with shortboard starbases.
I'm a world-class expert at jibes. Missing them, that is. I failed 10,392 carving jibe attempts (i.e., planing all the way from one beam reach to the next) before a friend gave me THE jibing tip that became crucial to my jibing and thus changed my life. I added another tip of my own that significantly helps my board carve and sail jibe timing. Both are in this jibe procedure that works for me in every type of carved (planing) jibe and even in many subplaning jibes. Done right, this sequence lets me exit a carved jibe going at least as fast as I entered it. It doesn't require memorizing a repertoire of handwork and footwork, because the same simple handwork and footwork works from mundane to monster winds.
1. Sail "faster than you've ever sailed", 'til your eyes bleed, you pee your pants, and your shadow is two seconds behind you. (If you don't at least feel like you're going that fast, you don't have time to bobble and recover before you coast to a halt. Recovering from bobbles to complete a jibe is a good sign that you're developing a feel for jibes, rather than just memorizing the steps.)
2. Bear off, still sheeted in, to gain even more speed and to steer from a beam reach into a very broad reach. (A jibe is a 90-degree turn; you SAIL through the first and last 45-degree segments of the total 180-degree turn.)
3. Move your
back hand about a foot farther back on the boom, switch your front grip to
palm-up to greatly aid the second THROW youíll see below, unhook without
disturbing the sail, and set your back foot on the rail behind the front
strap. You are still sheeted in, sailing in a broad reach with your sail
foot near the back of your board. (Some expert jibers bear
4. Now all
in the space of about one or two heartbeats -- virtually simultaneously
when possible -- point your knees and chest further downwind and into your
turn, curtsey (you never bow; you CURTSEY, dropping your butt towards your
toes until your knees are bent 90 degrees and you're looking forward from
BELOW the booms), aggressively move (or let the sail pull) your
If you were unable to oversheet because of too much backhand sail pressure, you (a) waited too late to oversheet and/or (b) did not thrust the front hand forward and into the turn. To correct this error, straighten that front elbow and tip the mast into the turn dramatically at the same time you oversheet. This shuts off the power in the sail like a kill switch and puts you back in control. The only time you don't want to oversheet is when you're not planing and need to use the sail to push your board through the turn.
So far this is all just normal, textbook, powered-up carved jibing. But here is where my friend's tip and my own addition helped my jibing in several ways.
FREEZE FRAME: Notice your arm'n'hand position; they're cocked as though to fire a bow and arrow at a target downwind of your present path (inside your turn). Your back hand is cocked near your downwind shoulder as though it were holding the bowstring and arrow feathers, your front hand is way out there holding your bow and supporting the arrow. Both arms are cocked to fire the arrow (spin the sail), but Ö WHEN should we jibe the sail?
My own modification helped me time the sail jibe. I began shoving my hips sideways into the turn HARD -- as though trying to bump the car door closed while standing beside it with my arms full. This carves a very tight, smooth turn and puts my body into an excellent position to exit the turn with full power on the new broad reach, maybe even automatically hooked and sheeted in if everything falls into place well. This hip swing weights the leeward rail to initiate and maintain the carve, and times the sail jibe (flip). Your body should be arced into a pronounced C, with your hips leading the convex side of the C into the turn.
front hand is as far in front of you as you can reach, yet youí re
thrusting your hips towards the new direction, you will feel like youíre
trying to surf your board in the opposite direction from where the sail is
going. The sailís still heading west but your board is starting to head
east, so to speak. The cure, of course, is to jibe the sail and take it
Try it, but
be forewarned; before you even have time to THINK about jibing the sail,
you will whip through the full 180 degrees in two heartbeats, get
backwinded, and crash. That's a big improvement, because at least now you
carved (jibed) the board all the way through the turn. Now all you have to
do is jibe (flip) your sail and jibe (switch) your feet within that same
Piece 'o cake:
5. Back to our sequence: at the same time you shove your hips into the turn, before you're pointing downwind, the pressure will leave your sail. NOW fire the arrow [i.e., jibe (flip) the sail]. Just as the step jibe technique calls for us to step forward at the same time we release the back hand, this technique works best if we jibe the sail as we thrust the hip.
Right here is where millions of carved jibe attempts fail. The magazines once told us to release the back hand, grasp the mast, let the wind blow the sail around the mast like a barn door blowing around its hinges as you coast to a slog, and when the sail wanders around far enough you take the new side of the boom and sail away.
That has a MAJOR, fatal, flaw: If you outrun the true wind throughout your jibe, as you should, there won't BE any tailwind to push the sail around. You feel tailwind only after you drop below the true wind speed, well on your way to dropping off a plane, at which point you're standing there at zero speed holding a fully powered-up sail. In the 15th century this position was known as a loaded catapult.
The sailor, not the wind, should jibe the sail. We should SPIN that sucker around its center of gravity like a top, not wait until we slow down so much the tailwind pushes the sail around the mast like a $1,500 barn door. A jibe is a very aggressive mindset and process which WE, not the wind, should control.
This is where Monte changed my life, when he said, "THROW, THROW, GRAB, and GO!"
sailor can spin the sail inside its boom length; the windís surely not
going to do it. At the hip thrust, just as you feel you and the sail are
heading in opposite directions, you THROW the back of the boom away like a
hot shot-putt. A millisecond later -- way before you complete that first
THROW -- you THROW the front of the boom way across your face and past
your downwind ear, right into the new broad reach. Your mast hand motion
is much like throwing a pass to a receiver running right along your new
broad reach (your jibe exit path). (This is why you inverted the
front-hand grip; this
As soon as or before I shove my hip into the turn, I stare at a spot on the horizon just past downwind. If I havenít spun the sail by then, Iím late and must stop the carve and spin the sail NOW, or Iím going to be on the new beam reach before Iíve jibed the sail, and grabbing a sail at full power on a beam reach before getting that back foot strapped in is asking for a catapult.
quickly like this doesnít give you TIME to lose speed, hit three rows of
swell, and lose your balance or crash. I don't think my sail flip, from
throwing the back hand away to sheeting in on the new tack, takes a full
second when I do it right. The whole Throw/Throw/Grab/Go business is just
one continuous, fluid two-handed sweep of my hands and forearms, as much
The first one of those I tried was the greatest revelation and revolution in my windsurfing life. No more barn doors eating up precious seconds, mph, and two boom-lengths of space while I fight for balance over three row of chop! This is partly why leading ABK instructors have begun teaching this boom-to-boom approach to jibing.
Oh, yeah -- the feet. My feet are too far from my brain to access all them complicated textbook footwork options, let alone select a method in mid-jibe. The step jibe, for example, requires we pull the front foot out of its strap until its heel crosses the board centerline, maintain inside rail pressure with that front heel, and step forward with the back foot while we do several OTHER things with our hands. That footwork was too demanding for me. Besides, the step jibe's purpose is to get our weight forward to avoid sinking the tail after we slow down, and we want to accelerate, not slow down, in our jibes
6. I find it
simpler to just take my weight off both feet and switch 'em simultaneously
during any old half-second I'm not steering with them. That works at any
speed, in any chop or swell, overpowered or underpowered, planing or
slogging, Sunday or Wednesday, before or after the sail jibe, in any
instant I'm not footsteering. If I'm barely planing, I slip my new front
foot further forward into the step jibe position before reapplying weight
to it. Unweighing my feet and jibing them simultaneously sent my jibe
success rate way up. It ranges from merely sliding both feet across the
deck on smoother water to hopping a foot off the deck in huge chop. I'll
jibe my feet before, during or (usually) immediately after jibing the sail
On my bad days I might still miss half my jibes. Here are my more common errors:
footwork and all that boom-to-mast-to-boom handwork works for millions of
people. But 1) I couldn't make them work; 2) they leave other millions
losing their plane before completing their jibe; and 3) they are not as
inherently fast and tight because they involve more steps, they swing the
sail through twice the space, and they require greater coasting
The boom-to-boom sail jibe helps cure the following aborted carved jibe that I see every five seconds at the amateur end of the Gorgeís Hatchery: They enter the jibe fast, DELIBERATELY sail off the wind until the board stops planing and the sail yanks their back hand, release the back hand, let the sail take its own sweet time blowing around the mast as the board coasts to a standstill, then grab the new side of the boom and try to get planing again. While that is a jibe, it is NOT a carved, or planing, jibe, by definition. And itís tough to do in big chop.
Aggression and commitment are virtually required to carve planing jibes. The wind has already done its job in getting us up to speed; the actual jibe is OUR responsibility, AFTER which the wind comes back into play.
Try this. It sure made my decade.
People keep writing about "swimming" one's gear into position for a waterstart. I swim for only three reasons: 1) my gear is out of reach, 2) there's NO wind, not even a breeze, between neck-deep water and the windline (if there's a breeze, I butt-sail to the windline .... none of that schlogging crap, y'know), or 3) the wind dropped below the planing threshold and caught me on a sinker abeam or downwind of my dawg. I usually sail upwind of my launch if I don't trust the wind, just so I can also butt-sail back to my dawg. You can butt-sail for miles, effortlessly, if need be. Saves lots of calories for the next session after you rig up, or if the wind resumes.
Speaking of saving calories ... what's this "swim into waterstart position" stuff? Now there's a waste of perfectly good calories if I ever saw one ... important if most people aren't even out of bed yet and there's still 360 miles of wind coming today (30 mph times 12hours).
So turn your gear around the same way you puked into your inner tube as a kid. Remember? You jumped in the tube, lay your arms and chin on it, and swept your entire torso and legs in a four-foot-radius circle just below the water's surface around the tube as fast as you could, with only your shoulders stationary. You could pull probably 60-70 RPM doing this, guaranteed to make any non-ice-skater lose his cookies. At 60-70 RPM, your barf radius was pretty astounding ... and disgusting. And isn't being disgusting a big part of being a prepubescent boy?
OK, we smarter bears stopped short of upchucking, but it was CLOSE way too often, and you get the idea. The world spun for a full minute or two after that.
Now apply that idea to turning your sailing gear around. When it's not lined up right, rather than swimming it around using the same tired small arm and leg muscles you use all day to sail, use your rested and larger torso muscles to turn that stuff around. Just grab yer kit and start rotating your legs and torso in as big an arc as you can reach with your extended legs. Three things: you ain't gonna hit 70 RPM, you better watch that fin, and you're gonna use some much bigger, fresher muscles to turn it all around relatively effortlessly. In two or three turns of your torso and legs your gear should turn 180 degrees .... maybe 4-5-6 turns if on giant sails but still much less effort than swimming. It also defeats opposing winds very effectively if on your 3.0.
WATCH OUT FOR THE FIN!
up, track back, planing: Use an exaggerated sail movement. Keep
power in the sail until you have come out
Cold Weather WindsurfingWhen I think about Cold weather windsurfing, I am referring to water temperatures less than 8 degrees celcius (48F), and/or air temperatures less than 8 degrees celcius (48F). I don't know about the rest of you, but I am not too thrilled sailing by myself when the air/water is very cold. I thought about creating a list of people who (sadistically) enjoy sailing in 2 degree air/water so that if you feel the urge you can call someone on the list and find someone to go windsurfing with. Email me at email@example.com to add your name to this list.
Dressing for the ConditionsThe biggest problem people face is having their extremities get very cold. The best approach to avoid this problem is to look after your core body temperature.
I have used two different setups; a steamer as well as a dry suit. Of course the dry suit is much better, but you can get away with the steamer with the appropriate accessories.
Dry SuitI currently use a Kokatat Goretex Drysuit, which I find is better over the traditional neoprene drysuit. I have used this suit in the following conditions for an hour without getting cold (ice formation on the equipment terminated the session): Air temp: -3 celcius; water temp -1 celcius, windchill -12 celcius.
In the past I have used a Bare Polar which is a hybrid; like a standard thick drysuit on the bottom half, and a baggy material on the top. Others use traditional drysuits, which I feel put undue strain on your arms due to their thickness and tight fit, while others use full baggy suits, which promote great mobility (some people have concerns about the suit breaking and filling with water, but I feel this a small risk, and can be avoided by wearing a snug lifejacket; if the suit ruptures you can always rip out the seals to let the water out).
Depending on how cold it is, I add various layers underneath; polypropolene underwear, thin fleece, thick fleece. Unless the suit is made of gortex, you *will* sweat in the suit, so you want to keep the perspiration away from your skin
The next biggest area of heat loss is the head. I use a neoprene hood; some people complain about its interference with your hearing, but I found minimal problems and gained the added benefit of protecting you against ruptured eardrums in a catapult.
For hands, I use full neoprene gloves. Lots of people whine about lack of feeling and their forarms cramping up. I found that concentrating on keeping your weight in the harness and not having a "death-grip" on the boom prevents this from happening.
I start a session off with a 10 minute ride until I feel my forearms tensing up. I go back to shore and stretch them, and I am good for the rest of the session (has been as long as 5 hours). I really have to get a picture of some of the locals who don't wear gloves or boots who come crying back to shore after a 5 minute run with their hands/feet purple from the cold complaining that they can't sail!
For the feet, I use neoprene boots. Depending on the temperature, I add fleece lined neoprene hunters' socks in the boots. I have yet to try any of the "dry boots" that are on the market; maybe next year...
Another alternative I recently found is latex socks. These socks are loose on the feet but tight around the ankles so that water doesn't touch your skin. These socks are perfect for use with a drysuit that has latex seals at the ankles; put the drysuit on and then put the latex socks on top of the drysuit seals. Absolutely no skin will touch the water with this setup!
Finally, I wear my neoprene lifejacket. On top of adding additional impact protection, it adds yet another layer of warmth to your core.
My last session in 1999 was December 11; air temp around -1 degrees celcuis (30 F); water temp around 1 degree (32 F) and snow on the gound. I was in the drysuit with two layers of fleece on, and I was sweating after an hour long session. The only problem I encountered was that the water was freezing on my boom, making it very difficult to hang on in transitions. Find it hard to believe ? Check out the my session pictures.
personal rule is to go out only if the air is above zero (32 F) since
having water freeze on the equipment is a significant problem.
The best accessory to prevent this is adding a hooded neoprene vest.
I also wear my polypropolene undershit and possibly a thick rash guard (with or without the vest depending on the temperature).
As far as the extremities go, same equipment as listed above goes.
My last session in 1998 was December 1; air temp around 3 degrees celcius (38 F); water temp around 2 degrees (36 F). I was only in a steamer, but with all the other items mentioned above and I was good for a 2 hour session.
Mobility is greatly reduced; I much prefer the full or part baggy drysuit for its comfort and warmth.
- Don't eat lots of food during your session; blood flow will be diverted to your stomach to process the food, which will reduce the flow to your extremities
- Pouring hot water into your boots will prevent the initial shock
- If you are wearing a steamer, pour hot water in from the top of your steamer will prevent the initial shock of the first immersion. I feel that it also extends the length of your session before you start to get cold
- As soon as you feel you are starting to get a little cold, immediately go back to shore and pack it in.
- ALWAYS sail with a buddy whenever possible. If something happens to you, extended immersion in the cold water could increase your risk of further injury (death?) due to hypothermia. Without a buddy to get help, you could be in the water for a long time...
Peterson suggested the following:
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