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We already know how important the waterstart is to enjoyment, and progression, and I hope last month’s article has focussed you at paying more attention to this essential fundamental skill. This month we continue to look at ‘SuperStarts’, following on from last month’s light wind (LW) and clew first (CF) waterstarts with the super light wind (SLW) and flipped board (FB) variations. These are slightly more challenging so please be ready and
eager to take it to the next level!

Jem Hall  //  Photo  Nicolas Jones


(This feature originally appeared in the November December 2016 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!)

All these advanced starts require you to call on your core strength, so awareness of using the power you hold in your core and core specific training will help in these waterstarts and many facets of your sailing!

“ Awareness of using the power you hold in your core and core specific training will help in these waterstarts ”

Main Core Skills

Last month I presented the essential core skills that will not only open up your ‘SuperStarts’, but will also boost your waterstart learning and improvement,
so again please really take these on board. Here is a reminder of the main tips.
•  Check the wind direction and strength.
•  Keep your rig flying; very important in these 2 SuperStarts as the rig is quite close to the water.
•  Keep in control; very relevant in the windier FB waterstart.
•  Pull in with your back leg.
•  Twist the rig; the back arm pulls in ever so slightly as you throw the rig upright on an extended front arm. This is subtler in both these starts.
•  Pull down on your arms. Pulling in on the boom will make you go sideways in the FB start and see you never even leave the water in SLW start.
•  Eat your mastfoot; moving your head forwards and in over the board actually gets you bending your back leg and extending your arms, so get hungry!
• Believe; in light airs I believe I am getting out of the water and am patient until I actually achieve it.
•  If at first you don’t succeed then go again. We don’t always get up on our first attempt, so if you don’t, just reset and go again.
All of these points are crucial in the heat of the SuperStart battle, so ‘Think Clearly Under Pressure’ (TCUP) and address them. Let’s go on to look at the 2 more advanced waterstarts and their very own specific tips.

Flipped over board (FB) waterstart
We have all been there, in the water flying the rig and the darn board is flipped over, so we drop the rig and go to the board and flip it upright only for the wind, or waves, to then flip it over again and back to square one. This scenario often occurs in waves, failed tacks or perhaps when trying more funky moves, but it happens and maybe just maybe you want to get out of the water from this FB position, so let’s give you the top tips.


It is important to note that you can either flip the board from the ‘rig flying’ feet on the rail position or on your way up and out of the water. These tips will cover the latter. So from the starting position tips, just flip the board with your feet and then go into a regular waterstart.

Core skills and top tips:
• The FB start, and all waterstarts, involve you looking to always keep the rig flying, in any way you can, so please, even if you fall, do just that. This means less work on having to do even more wet rig recoveries.
• Your starting point is slightly into the wind so that the rails can grip and lessen the sideways drift. From here only get your feet on the rail when you are ready to go for it, as the board can slip sideways mighty quick when the board is flipped.
• Get your feet ‘wrapped’ around the rail closest to you and either side of the mast foot. The back foot is in its usual place just behind the front straps. As ever, keep the rig flying.
• Once you get your feet on the rail you have to act quickly as two sensations will come in; that you are slipping downwind fast and that your legs don’t feel long enough.
•  Twist and thrust the rig upright, on extended arms, to start your ascension. The head should move inboards. Early in the ‘up and away’ phase your feet are starting to push away to flip the board.
• As the rig becomes fully upright, ensure you pull down on the boom as the feet continue to flip the board (the right way).
•  Whilst you maintain composure, letting the rig pull you in and up, your feet should be ready to slide towards the centreline.
• Keep pulling down on the boom and feel which foot you need to weight to both keep the board level and start driving it forward. Any sideways action will severely drop the rig’s power and you are back to square one!
•  Sheet out at the top of the ‘up and away’ and switch your vision from looking (eating) at the mastfoot to looking forwards, this aids avoiding oversheeting the sail.
• Get some forwards momentum and then bring your front foot back behind the mastfoot.

Fly rig and position feet on the closest rail, with your front one in front of the mast foot, board slightly into the wind.


Throw rig upright and move inboards as feet start to flip board.

With rig fully upright begin to pull down on the boom as the feet ready for sliding to the centreline.

Keep pulling down on the boom and pull yourself up whilst feet move to the board’s centreline.

Get upright and look upwind to open the sail as front foot moves back behind mast foot..

Super Light Wind (SLW) start 
I love this move, I relish both the challenge and physicality of it and it also reminds me of windsurfing videos and pics from yesteryear too. Funnily enough, even at my tender age, I can only now nail these more consistently as my core is stronger and better trained. I use it a lot on my windsup, in light wind freestyle, and having it in my armoury gives me more confidence in the lighter wind float and ride sessions. As I extricate myself from the water I never fail to smile every time I make one, as well as breathe a sigh of relief too.

 Core skills and top tips:
• All waterstarting core skills are heavily bought into play and none more than so than ‘keeping the rig away on extended arms’ and ‘eating the mast foot.’
•  You often come to this waterstart after you have failed a few light wind ( LW / front hand on mast) waterstarts and realise you now have to take it up a notch.
• From the LW start position, move your backhand to the foot of the sail to where it feels balanced, and often move your back foot forward to just in front of the straps.
• Take a moment here to feel where you can keep the rig flying.
• In order to stop the dreaded sideways drift, dig in the windward (upwind) rail to create some resistance, by slipping heels slightly towards the rail.
• From this sweet spot, twist the rig to create the drive to get you up. It should be moving away and forward. Be subtle and aware here so as not to oversheet (stall) the sail.
• Really pull your heel into your arse as your head moves in towards the mastfoot and let the core work begin. Your legs should be really bent to get you centred over the board.
• As for all starts you are rolling forwards and in, whilst really pulling down, yet in this start this is mainly through the mast hand.
• The rig not only goes upright but it also actually tips away from you (to leeward) to almost lever you out of the water with its dynamic weight. At the same time, ‘squat’ yourself up by extending your legs.
• Keep pulling down on the mast and moving forwards and in. Thinking ‘come up slow, stay low.’
• Feel which foot you need to weight to both keep the board level and start driving it forward. Any sideways drift here will severely drop the rig’s power and you are back to square one!
• Sheeting out at the right time is crucial to not stalling the sail.
• As you feel the board moving forward and that you are almost there, you can move your backhand onto the mast.
• Get a bit more forwards momentum, looking upwind, before placing front hand on the boom.

Remember to smile and let out a small whoop!

Fly rig and position feet on the closest rail, with your front one in front of the mast foot, board slightly into the wind.

Twist and tip rig forward and upright as you ‘crunch’ yourself inboards over very bent knees.

Let the rig fall away from you to lever you up and get your head over the mast foot, keeping your legs very bent.

Get your feet weighting right to flatten the board and be ready to start standing up by extending your legs from a ‘squat’ position.

Look forwards, sheet out and push the board forward to get some momentum.

Move foot hand to the boom and then mast hand. Look upwind, sail away and whoop!

•  The FB start requires planing wind to get you up and out the water and also to compensate for the likely sideways slipping of your kit when positioned like this.
•  With the SLW start you can really push the limit and try it in less and less wind, but realistically it is about 6-7 knots that you need (Beaufort Force 3).  

“ Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will ”  Suzy Kassem, philosopher

RRD boards, wetsuits, softwear, Ezzy sails sponsor Jem Hall. Get him live and direct on one of his highly acclaimed coaching holidays. You can also follow him on twitter / Facebook and Instagram.


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