MOVE ON UP – WINDSURFING TECHNIQUE
Now you all know how much I want you to jump and so I implored you last month to ‘jump the bump.’ Well this time round I want you to boost some height in your jumps onfull power windy days rather than going into your shells and doing some low into the wind flops.
Words Jem Hall // Photo Dave White
(This feature originally appeared in the April 2017 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!)
Jumping on windy days, 4.2 to 2.9 sails, takes a serious amount of physicality, technique and in the main, a huge amount of courage. These strong winds can both help and hinder your aspirations to fly. Essentially if you put all the hardware in the right place and take off the right way then you will soar, or you can take off the wrong way and end up with the wind pushing the kit back down and rapidly descending not ascending.
These windy sessions definitely see an upping of the stakes and your mental attitude will be heavily tested. Furthermore, in this cauldron of wind, bumps and waves you are strongly required to read the ocean / water ahead.
Mistakes will be punished but good practice rewarded. Lastly, you may not actually want to jump when it is cutting up rough but it is important that you can, and safely, so you can enjoy higher winds and actually know what to do should your board take off. Hopefully I now have your attention and so I will equip you with how to deal with these windy jump sessions.
“ It is very important to maintain your tucked up compact shape with the rig over you. ”
1. Take a good approach line and hit the pocket of the wave with the sail not oversheeted.
2. Bring the rig back and look high to fly, all whilst ensuring you are trimming the sail right.
3. Loss of focus here with a resultant drift into the wind, so ensure you sail a good line through the air.
4. Steer the board off the wind by scissoring your legs and opening the sail slightly, whilst you keep looking forward to spot the landing and ensuring your rail is up.
5. Coming into land now and so spot your landing and with this much wind it is best to land very tail first and slightly into the wind.
6. Keep your butt low and open the sail to assist letting the tail drop. Upon landing, throw the sail upright and open as you scissor the board off the wind to get back up to speed. Keep low!
On the beach
Further reading for these windy days can be found in my ‘Surfvival’ piece from last year. For now I will give you a reminder of what you can do to get set up for all the ensuing carnage.
• Observe. Take a good look at the water state and wind state. Amongst this maelstrom the conditions may be smoother, or wind more manageable at a different place to where you launch. Read the water and see how other sailors manage; they could be enjoying better action either closer to the beach or further out, upwind or downwind.
• Mental state. Find your peak state (as they say in sports psychology). We are all different, some like to be beating their chests and others prefer to have a quieter, steely determination. Try to not tune into others negative energy or limiting beliefs whilst engaging in beach banter. Lines like ‘it is too windy’ or ‘you will get blown away’ will not help you, but a self dialogue of ‘I can, I shall, I will’ yields positive results.
In the water
It is windy, rough, there are bumps or waves (seemingly) everywhere but it is time to get in there and dominate both the conditions and your kit.
Launch and sail a few runs in and out and assess where you should be sailing and how your kit feels. Aim to keep low, try different sailing lines and relax your grip on the boom when possible. It sounds silly but look to smile and breathe to help you be more confident and comfortable with the conditions. Aim to make your reaches short and get a few jumps in to see where the jumps are easier and more manageable and then build up to bigger ones. Sail for a short first session and then come in and reflect and if necessary tune your kit and ‘have a word with yourself.’ We have all been there when the wind is blowing scarily and jumps feel nervous so you are not alone; get back to the beach and give yourself a pep talk and know you can do this and that your courage will be rewarded.
For me sailing and jumping in full power conditions requires focus, focus and even more focus. I am constantly assessing my sailing line, take off line to the jump, in flight control and landing, then lastly my sailing away out of the jump. You also need to focus on a great stance and super efficient hooking in and out. Phew, that is a lot to think about and do, and this is why I recommend shorter sessions so you are both mentally and physically on your game.
Redefine your sailing line I reiterate again that you really have to look for your clearest and best route. Scan for an easier route ahead and your chosen ramp for take off. Furthermore, you have to spot what I call the ‘white noise’, which is a big gust of incoming wind so that you are ready for it.
Quick stance tips:
• Bear away to get moving quick and early to get the sail light and be in both straps before hooking in. With speed the sail will lighten up and it will be easier to choose your route out and be in control of your kit prior to take off.
• As ever, ‘Get down James Brown and pull down.’ Drop your arse and really drop your elbows to pull the kit into the water.
• Widen your wind range with raising and dropping of the hips and effective sail trim.
A typical example of your sailing line might be:
• Off the wind to plane and get in both straps, and then hook in.
• Choose your route; which might mean huge variations up and downwind so that you get very little height off the inside waves and be in a position to absorb them. All with the target of hitting your chosen ramp at the right place with a light sail on the right sailing line.
• Prior to take off you might have to bear away a lot to get the sail light and board fast and then take it back across the wind so you can take off up a nice steep part of the ramp.
• Note: your sailing line will keep improving if you consistently keep varying it and look to reflect on your choices. Less experienced / able sailors do a lot of sailing slowly into the wind, followed by jumping whilst sailing upwind. Set a new standard and ATTACK, go fast, pop hard and fly!
You are flying towards your ramp and are looking to hit a nice steep pocket of the wave, which is often right next to a breaking section. If you want to go high, and you have speed, then you can take off slightly into the wind and really aim to get the board pointing straight up the ramp. Let’s look at the process:
• See your ramp and make final adjustments to your line to hit a steep part of the wave (with no big waves to deal with behind it).
• Unhook early! This stops the board becoming unsettled when you are close to the wave. Get low over the board like a coiled spring.
• Your aim is to pop off this ramp, whilst keeping your speed. Many sailors expect the wave to do the work, it does, but you must do a whole lot more.
• It is the same pop principles as the chop hop, which is push down on the back leg and then lift the kit off the wave with the front leg and arm. The latter action really gives you some serious airtime and a huge tip here is to look up high into the air as to where you wish to soar too.
• The more you point the board straight up, both on take off and on your ascent, then the higher you will go.
‘‘Bad technique – taking off too into the wind and having the prospect of landing on the wave behind are not recommended!’
“Much better technique – good wave selection, across the wind & with the wind pushing up under both the board and sail will all boost your flight time.’
‘‘Keep compact, elbows in and down, rail up, knee up and sail the board through the air!’
‘Get that rig over you to help your flight and drop that arse in the air.’
In flight control
If you think you can take off and then switch off then you are wrong. The focus continues here as it is windy up there and you really have to sail the board in the air. Your best tips whilst flying are to really get compact and feel what the board and sail are telling you.
Here are some tips to soar and be safe:
• You will have taken off relatively over the board but as you begin your ascent you must move your body outboard as this begins to reposition the sail over you, both as a source of more upwards propulsion but also for your float downwards. The sail in effect becomes a wing.
• Really pull the boom into you, contract your core and get your front leg straight and back heel right up your arse.
• It is really important to keep the wind under the board so get those toes pointed and try to feel if the board trim requires any adjustments to maintain this.
• Pointing the board up will fly you high but on the way down you need to flatten the board at the apex of your jump (from vertical to horizontal) so both the bottom of the board and the sail utilizes the wind to float down. Your wing has now become a glider.
Float and Land
On the way down you want to really float and also keep some sort of forward momentum so that you land without excessive power in the rig. It is also worth noting that on a big jump on a windy day you may feel the sensation of nearly landing on the wave you took off from; if you do then you have definitely begun to attack windy jumps!
Here are the float and sail away tips:
• Level off the board at the apex by sheeting out very slightly and pushing away on your front leg to get the board off the wind. This also gives you some forward momentum and allows you to feel whether to hang into the wind or across the wind on the way down.
• It is very important to maintain your tucked up compact shape with the rig over you.
• For a safe landing I keep my butt low and hang slightly into the wind and then my flesh can break the surface tension of the water as opposed to my board.
• Your back leg remains very bent all the way down and only extends a tad just before you land.
• You look up on the way up but on the way down you definitely look down to spot your landing.
• After landing throw the rig up and open and scissor the board off the wind, akin to an in the straps waterstart, both of these actions get you moving and lightens the sail.
• You are not done yet, only when the sail is light and you are low and in control do you hook back in!
• Generous straps to allow feet in to bear board away and get your toes down, but slightly tighter than your normal setting.
Long lines enable you to keep low and hook in/out easily.
“ ‘Focus, believe and enjoy,’ this is my most often used mantra to all the people I coach. ”
RRD boards, wetsuits, softwear, Ezzy sails 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..