I invented this move when I was 14 years old, full of the fearless stupidity of youth. After a series of painful crashes—landing upside down and on top of the gear—I stopped going for no-hand pushloops. Recently, I forced myself through the fear. Windsurfing is full of moves that are scary: forward loops, shove-its, double forwards, no-hand pushloops. For some of these moves, I conquered the fear by isolating the main movement of the manoeuvre and practicing it over and over. Forwards can be learned by catapulting yourself while out of the footstraps on a light wind day. And you can learn shove-its in a similar way by balancing on your board and falling forward onto the sail until that motion feels natural. Unfortunately, with the no-hand push-loop, the scary part is inimitable. So other mental tricks are needed.
Words Graham Ezzy // Photos John Carter
Originally published within the September ’16 edition.
When learning any new move, you should be neither over nor underpowered. I think the easiest sail sizes for learning new moves are the ones between 4.2 and 5.0. The smaller the sail, the faster it wants to rotate; and the bigger, the slower. Control is key.
Be smart with the ramp that you pick. Don’t fly so high that you’re scared. But don’t go too low or you will risk not having enough room to rotate. Hunting for that right ramp – a wave on the smaller side of medium sized – gives your brain something to think about other than how scared you are. Use this trick anytime you’re scared; for example, if you’re scared of the waves, just focus on doing a good bottom turn.
Hit the ramp heading as upwind as possible without losing speed. By steering into the wind on take off, not only have you completed the first 20% of the rotation, but you also better position yourself to rotate without hands.
Soon after launching into the air, take your front hand off the boom and then the back hand. Twist your torso upwind and downward, leading the rotation with your front shoulder. Think about trying to reach back and touch the water with your front hand. The aerodynamics take over, and the whole kit will spin automatically once the leading edge of the sail (the mast) goes through the eye of the wind. The rotation will start quickly once your throw your body, so be ready.
Don’t hit the ramp going downwind, on a broad reach, or any direction other than into the wind. Taking off into the wind makes it almost impossible to under rotate, which is the worst kind of crash for a no-hand pushloop. Don’t throw your head back if you don’t feel comfortable. Pushloop rotations don’t require the head throw—but it does add style points.
Keep your hands off the boom as long as is comfortable. If you feel out of control, get your hands back on the boom as fast as possible. I try to get both my hands back on the boom at the same time, but often the front hand finds the boom first. The order does not matter. If your hands miss the boom, don’t panic; just try again. Keep your body leaning back, into the direction of rotation.
Don’t curl forward with your torso when you try to grab the boom; this will stall the rotation.
Once your hands are back on the boom, push with your back hand against the sail to sheet-out and backwind the sail, which will throw you and the rig upright. Keep your body weight forward and over the sail.
Don’t lean back or you risk over-rotating.
Once upright, pull the boom towards your body and sheet-in to finish the rotation and regain control of the sail. Look down to spot your landing, and extend your back leg to softly land on the tail of the board.
Go for the one-handed pushloop instead of the no-handed. The technique is exactly the same except only the front hand comes off the boom. You can use your fear of no-hand pushloops to conquer the one-handed ones, which, in comparison, are much less scary.