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One of windsurfing’s greatest sensations is feeling the freedom and excitement of flight. In this month’s technique piece I will look at the various aspects of jumping, with tips and strategies for different conditions, fault analysis and the motivating factors for making your first flights.

Jem Hall  //  Photos  Noah Garrett


(This feature originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Windsurf Magazine. To read more features like this first, Print and Digital subscriptions are available.
Prices include delivery globally for 10 x issues a year!)

Why fly?
Why should I jump? Because it’s fun! As we advance in our sport I feel we jump too late in our progression. I could jump way before I could carve gybe, so if you are already sailing at speed in the straps on medium to small boards then look to get some ‘airtime’ and as I say to my students – “Learn to release the handbrake.” Safety is another reason to learn to jump, we will inevitably take off from the water whether we like it or not, so we should be competent at it so we can deal with the flight and the ensuing landing.

“ If you are already sailing at speed in the straps on medium to small boards then look to get some ‘airtime’.  

Here is a reminder of the main tips highlighted by this sequence. I am on a 5.0 and a 90 litre FSW, and the wind is cross-off, so I want to get some height and length in this jump.

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1. Prior to take off I will have picked a sailing line to give me top speed in the take off and from a punchier part of the wave. Tips here are to get over the board and sheet out slightly so you can push the tail down to send the nose up. Note the back leg extension.

2. As this is a soft wave, but I have plenty of wind, my target is to lift the board off the wave so as not to push through it. Tips here are lift up on both the front arm and front leg to help the nose go higher, whilst pushing off from your toeside.

3. As I climb I will be moving the rig back, pulling front arm in, to keep the nose lifting and give me a ‘wing’ to lift / glide from. My tail will be lifting as I look to bring up my landing gear. Tips are drop body outboard to help you get tail up and get knuckles in towards your face.

4. I have reached the apex of the jump now and my target here is to ensure the rig is back (over my head) and both my rail and tail are up in order to use the wind to give me glide and speed through the air. Tips here are rear heel to your bum, front leg straightening to help push nose off the wind, front arm pulls boom towards head and all whilst spotting your landing!

5. Due to the wind being cross-off and spotting a bump I might land on, I will ensure I have steered the board off the wind to give me flight for as long as the wave and wind will allow. This is good practice for the majority of jumps. Check the compact stance with the boom pulled in tight, tail up and rail up. Tips are HOLD the tuck and spot your landing!

6. It is now to time come out of flight and prepare to land. Tips are open the sail, begin to push rig forward and come out of the tuck.

7. My landing here has been unavoidably on another uphill bump, so I have to come out of the tuck earlier and get the tail down earlier to ensure I don’t land flat. Tips are read the water state you are about to land on and get your landing gear down whilst being ready to throw the rig forward. Landing flat and uphill on a wave / bump is bad for both you and your board.

8. Recovery mode! I want to get the wind back in the sail fast and the board moving quickly. Tips are to throw rig forward and open the sail as you scissor your legs to steer the board downwind. Pull down on the boom to flatten the board and get back upright!


Different conditions
Jumping takes place in a huge variety of conditions, here are some tips for the various scenarios.

Jumping underpowered or from soft waves
Firstly, you must want to jump in these conditions and ensure you do not see them as a limitation, in fact they offer an opportunity to improve your jumping. The main tip here is to lift the board off the wave, so do not push the tail down as hard and lift the gear off the wave more with the front arm and front leg. Ensure you have absorbed all bumps prior to your chosen ramp so you keep that precious speed up.

Jumping overpowered
Again you have to want to fly here and not ‘limit’ yourself. The main tip is making the sail light by bearing away to get speed before you jump, and to not take off into the wind. It is also crucial to get the wind under the board so that the wind lifts the board, as opposed to dropping the nose when the wind hits the top of the board and you lose control.

Onshore is not ideal for jumping but the main tip is to jump when you are more ‘out the back’ so you are not washed in after failed attempts. Look for a nice section to take off from and bear away prior to take off so you can then carve into the wind with speed and get some height. It is crucial to level the board at the apex and steer it downwind so you have some momentum on touchdown.

Cross-onshore winds are very good for jumping as the wind blows the waves over to make them a bit steeper and you also have more space between the waves to choose your sailing line. As with onshore winds, spot your peak and bear away to get some speed before take off. Choose either some smaller ramps inside or attempt your jumps more out to sea.

Cross-shore winds are ideal for learning and also the best direction for attempting one handed jumps and loops. My main tip here is do not jump into the wind as you will lose speed and thus harder to improve your jump height and land smoothly.

Cross-off winds are not ideal but definitely more ‘doable’ than you think. Avoid the steeper / bigger waves and just aim to get over, or absorb these. Choose the smaller ramps and get plenty of speed and aim for a good height and length, this will place you above and beyond the weird wind behind the wave!  It is surprisingly easy to take off too close to the wind and the inevitable falling out of the sky will then follow just behind the wave. Find your line to get a good take off and flight and lift the board off the wave.

This direction is also surprisingly good for learning to loop as you know that straight up the wave is off the wind and therefore can be helpful for your first forward loop attempts.

Medium sized ramps that have some kick and steepness to them but not that threatening.
Clear space before the ramp so you can set up and choose your take off spot, maintain speed and be settled
Go to the right spot to get the right conditions – cross-shore to cross-on is best. However, if you are planing and have ramps you should always be trying to JUMP!

Rail up and toes down helps you fly as you lift the tail to give you a longer jump.

Scissor the board off the wind to get a faster flight time and more speed on landing.

One handed jumps feel great and really improve your jumping – so do them!

Try mixing it up and grabbing the tail.

Fault analysis
Let’s look at the main ways that we might crash whilst jumping.

Nose first
A nose first landing can actually be aspirational, but for many it is because they have either sheeted in whilst in the air or have not got their rail high enough. Main tips therefore are help sheeting out by bringing the rig back and keeping the rail high by pointing your toes in the air. Lastly, too much front hand down force will drop your nose too much, so go easy on this.

Death by cheese
This is a crash I have experienced and also have witnessed my clients performing. It involves turning upwind in the air and then the wind getting on the wrong side of the sail and flipping you around in the style of a back to front cheese roll! This is pretty scary and is caused by the worst habits of jumping which are being sheeted in prior to take off and then taking off on your heelside into the wind, so to avoid it, be over the board and always take off on your toeside and not too much into the wind!

Falling out of the sky
You jump, you soar and then you plummet fast and land heavy. This is caused by not getting the wind under the board on the way up and pulling the rig over you enough for both in effect to become wings / parachutes. It is exacerbated by starfishing, i.e. straightening of arms and legs. Therefore get compact at the apex of your jump and hold the tuck until just prior to landing.

Land and stop
All is going well as you fly and you come down gently, but then you just stop dead and fall in backwards. This is from not opening the sail enough just before you land and also getting it upright enough so it can catch the wind and assist your getaway.

Flat landings
Again your jumps are going well and you are coming in to land, but you land flat and feel a huge jolt through you and the board. This is mainly caused by sheeting in whilst airborne and dropping out of your tuck prematurely. Therefore always sheet out a bit more just prior to landing and hold the tuck until you land with a slightly bent back leg as you feel how to get the tail down first.

Generous straps to allow feet in to bear board away and get your toes down / rail up. Long lines enable you to sail fast over bumpy water and unhook easily.

RRD boards, wetsuits & softwear, Ezzy Sails & Black Project fins sponsor Jem Hall.
Get him live and direct on one of his highly acclaimed coaching holidays but be quick as they are selling out – check out his fab new site www.jemhall.com for details. You can also follow him on twitter / Facebook / Instagram.


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