View Full Version : Getting into footstraps

23rd June 2008, 10:36 PM

I'm trying to improve my skills of getting into the footstraps. On bigger, wider boards (i.e., 75cms up), I can do it the conventional way -- front foot first, then ease the back foot it.

On narrower boards (i.e., <70cm), I find it much easier to put my back foot in first (very lightly), accelerate, and then it's easy to put my front foot in.

I'm just curious if others find this and how many suffer from this backwards disease?Any suggestions for curing it?

PS. I'm 180 lbs and sail in the Northeast. So, typical sail is 9.0.

24th June 2008, 02:05 AM

I remember doing the same thing in my earlier days of windsurfing. The down side of putting the back foot in first is that it is more difficult to get on plane (sinks the tail) and if you get in too soon it can cause the board to quickly head upwind if you put too much weight on the back foot.

I am guessing that you must be gaining some speed and are on plane when you get into the back strap. If this is the case, you are more likely to get out of balance and get tossed over the front while picking up speed out of the straps. This is where getting into the front strap first is a benefit. You become attached to the board earlier in the planing process and are less likely to get tossed in and can power up more quickly. Once in the front strap, it is a little harder to "find" the back strap, but it just takes a lot of repetition to make it easy.

When you improve your skills, you will want to get on plane very quickly or stay on plane after a jibe. Getting into the front strap fast will help with this process = doing a planing jibe.

Hope this helps -

24th June 2008, 09:36 AM
Hi Larry,
I agree with Ken here.
You can certainly get into the footstraps in any order that works for you, but I think going in BFF (Back Foot First) is as Ken suggests, something that sailors with lots of wind, smaller sails, and smaller boards tend to do.
It's not "right" or "wrong", but I think Ken hit on the "crux" of the issue.
If you go BFF, you leave yourself a bit more in jeapordy of getting "tossed" as you don't have the support of your front leg to prevent "trips over the handlebars".
So I advocate FFF (front foot first), but I to have found occasions where BFF seemed to work better. Normally this was with sails < 5.0 m2 and boards < 100 liters.
Hope this helps,

Roly Gardner
28th July 2008, 10:01 PM
Hi Roger,

Not posted for a while. Hope everyone is having a good Summer.

I am interested in this subject as I am currently concentrating on these skills. I have a number of questions and would be grateful to hear your advice please.

1- Do you need to be in the harness before you go for the front strap?

2- Do you really need to be planing or close to it to get in the straps? I see people getting into the straps really early but when I try I sink the back of the board.

3- I manage to get in the front strap by hooking in then bearing away while leaning back opposing the rig. This takes the weight off my front foot so I can slide it in. I used to luff up, but this seems to have cured that. It is then that I have real difficulty. I cannot get into the right position to get my foot in the back strap. It all gets a bit "slappy" and out of control. I find it hard to turn and open my shoulders ,thus locking in as I have been told , with the harness on. It seems a bit weird twisting like this. I think I am meant to get the rig back and my body weight forward to get the weight off the back foot allowing movement, but I just luff up and lose control.

4- I am quite short(5' 6")and wonder if this changes the angles slightly. They seem a hell of a long way back to me! I have one setting slightly more forward but keep forgetting my philips screwdriver to alter the straps.

Any help would be much appreciated as ever.


29th July 2008, 02:30 AM
Hi Roly,
Sounds like you are more than halfway there.

Here's your questions "pasted in". I'll work on each one seperately.
1- Do you need to be in the harness before you go for the front strap?

I'd say in most cases it's advantageous to hook in just before you go for the front footstrap, but it depends on the conditions.
If you are really powered up, and getting planing is easy, you have plenty of power in the rig to get into the front footstrap (or not).
The reason you need to hook in in a more progressive "order" when you aren't fully powered is that there may not be enough power in the rig to support an adequate amount of your weight so you can "un weight" your front foot (at least as far as the board is concerned).
If (as you seem to have experienced in the past) you go into the front footstrap too early and you are not hooked in, the instant you place any weight on that front foot the board immediately "rounds up". (It's doing precisely what your weight placement is telling it to do). Any weight out near the upwind rail "tips" the upwind rail down and the board turns upwind.
So, it's usually advantageous to hook in, then go for the front footstrap, then worry about the rear foot, but you can just as well go into the front strap first as hooking in and getting into the front footstrap happen almost at the same time.
You will (with a bit more experience) develop your own sequence and rythym to get into the front strap.
Unless you are super powered up to overpowered and need for some reason to get into the back footstrap first (many who sail in windy areas on small sails do it this way) getting your weight onto the rig, then getting your front foot in the footstrap is usually the easiest as the rig takes most of your weight, so your front foot is practically "weightless" when you slide it into the strap.
During this "evolution" your weight is concentrated on your back leg with your arch right over the boards fore/aft centerline and with your rear foot somewhat forward of the rear footstraps. Just where (fore and aft) depends on your sailor weight, the width of the board, how much of the sailor weight is being transferred to the rig, and the rate at which the board is accelerating. All these "little things" are factors, and if you get any one of them out of balance by stepping too far back too soon, the nose pops up and the board slows down and decelerates.
So, as I've said so many times here before, it's a "progression" and it depends on a bunch of factors:
1/ How powered up you are.
2/ How well the board is accelerating.
3/ The rate at which you are moving back on the board.
4/ Keeping your weight over the centerline so the board goes straight ahead and you present the most level and largest planing surface to keep the board accelerating.

2- Do you really need to be planing or close to it to get in the straps? I see people getting into the straps really early but when I try I sink the back of the board.

The folks you see getting into the footstraps early are probably on larger sails so they can put more of their weight on the rig , turning the weight and power of the rig into "mast foot pressure' to push the board and continue it's acceleration.
If you do not have the speed (and sufficient power in your rig) for the planing surfaces of your board to support the combined weight (remember that when you "hook in" the place where the power is applied moves forward to the mast foot) then your board is going to stop accelerating, the nose will "pop up" and your planing surfaces will have a very "nose up" mistrim which creates a lot of extra drag and stops your acceleration.
So, if you are moving back, placing your weight on your back foot over the centerline correctly, and the nose pops up and you slow down, then you are out of synch with the "progression". (I.E. you have moved back too quickly and/or placed too much weight too far back for the planing surfaces to support.
So, don't move back so quickly nor so far.
You will soon develop a "feel" for good board acceleration onto a plane so you will know how quickly to move back to keep the board acceleratiing right up onto a plane.
Again, part of this is sheeting the rig in more slowly and not raking it back so quickly as well.
Sheet in too much and you stall your sail, and the board stops accelerating.
Rake the rig back too soon and you take away it's "low end grunt" power and the board again stops accelerating.
The sailors you are seeing that just seem to "pop back on the board and onto a plane" are usually doing all of the above steps, in a perfectly timed and balanced "sequence" that looks quick and easy, but I can assure you it didn't happen that way the first time they tried it, and if they get it a little out of sequence/progression they will have the same issues you are having.
Keeping the board accelerating is the absolute key here.
Everything else happens as a result of increasing board speed.

3- I manage to get in the front strap by hooking in then bearing away while leaning back opposing the rig. This takes the weight off my front foot so I can slide it in. I used to luff up, but this seems to have cured that. It is then that I have real difficulty. I cannot get into the right position to get my foot in the back strap. It all gets a bit "slappy" and out of control. I find it hard to turn and open my shoulders ,thus locking in as I have been told , with the harness on. It seems a bit weird twisting like this. I think I am meant to get the rig back and my body weight forward to get the weight off the back foot allowing movement, but I just luff up and lose control.

It sounds like you are in far too much of a hurry.
Getting your back foot on the centerline and placed correctly to promote max acceleration is the key here.
Practice sailing around, hooked in, with your front foot waving around over the front footstrap (in marginal conditions please) until you can easily "steer" your board and increase it's speed using only the back leg and the rig.
When you can do this, then put your foot into the front footstrap, (but do not put any weight on it, keep your weight on the harness lines and rig), and sail around some more.
In this slightly more forward position, you board should plane pretty easily, but won't accelerate up to full speed because your rig is still pretty open and hasn't been fully raked back.
I cannot stress enough that you need to keep your rig standing up and opened up so it develops maximum power to pull you onto a plane.
If you sheet in or rake back too muxh/too soon, the power goes away and you either need to ease the sheeting angle quickly (but maybe not by much) and unrake the rig a little to get it pwoered back up, or sheet all the way out, step back forward, and start the whole process over.

4- I am quite short(5' 6")and wonder if this changes the angles slightly. They seem a hell of a long way back to me! I have one setting slightly more forward but keep forgetting my philips screwdriver to alter the straps

Just to confirm that the more forward/inboard positions don't get you much (and actually give you less control of the fin and less ability to get your body weight well out board and away from the rig) try moving your footstrap forward and inboard.
It might help as a "transition" until you are fully ready for footstraps all the way back and outboard.
Wish you had some photos of you trying to get planing and getting hooked in and back in the straps.
I can pretty well assure you that what you think you are doing (foot placement, stance,]
speed you are moving back, etc.) and what you are actually doing are quite different.
Then you would be able to see for yourself where you are putting your feet, your weight,
and all the other little things that make getting hooked in and into the footstrap become easy.
What is your normal windspeed and what size rig do you normally use.
What is your weight, what fin are you using, and what brand/model sail
are you using.
There are some things that can be done to get the whole "equation" more in balance and
make getting into the straps alot easier.
Hope this helps,

29th July 2008, 07:54 AM
Hi Roly,
Something you put in your post that "piques my interest" is the following:

"It is then that I have real difficulty. I cannot get into the right position to get my foot in the back strap. It all gets a bit "slappy" and out of control. I find it hard to turn and open my shoulders ,thus locking in as I have been told , with the harness on. It seems a bit weird twisting like this. I think I am meant to get the rig back and my body weight forward to get the weight off the back foot allowing movement, but I just luff up and lose control."

I do not understand a couple of things about what you've described here.
Perhaps you can "clarify" what you are trying to do here?

If you move back on the board progressively, keep the board accelerating, you will get your front foot in, and hooked in.
Since you have your weight on the rear foot, directly over the fore and aft centerline so you can "steer" the board (toe pressure takes you downwind....heel pressure steers you upwind) I don't understand why you feel you "out of position" to get into the back strap.
Take your time, let the board accelerate, and simply slide your back foot out and into the back strap. The first few times you miight have to look down to see where your foot is relative to the strap, but very soon "muscle memory" will kick in and you'll know exactly where to slide your foot out and into the rear strap without looking down.
Once you know how to get into both straps, then you sheet the rig in a bit more and rake it back fully until the foot angle of the sail is about parallel with the top of the board and the water.
Now comes the part I REALLy don't understand......

"I find it hard to turn and open my shoulders "
How does one "turn and open one's shoulders".....?
I don't get it.
As the rig comes back and in, yes, you should be facing the centerline of the rig with your shoulders (centerline being a line from the center of the mast to the center of the boom's rear end fitting).
If you have your harness lines truly balanced, this should be almost "natural" as the rig will be sheeted in nicely and raked back and you will be in the footstraps and facing the centerline of the rig with your shoulders aligned pretty much with the CL of the rig.

Now, another bit of mystery.....?

,thus locking in as I have been told , with the harness on.
What does "locking in" mean here?
You may have heard me say you need to "lock your hips and push real hard across the top of the fin with your back foot", but that's a more advanced way to go upwind on fin lift, and has nothing to do with getting your board planing with you hooked in and in the footstraps.
So what is it you are trying to do here, or what is it that others have suggested you need to do?
If you learn to move back smoothly and progressively, all of the "alignments" will pretty much fall into place on their own as you move back, hook in, find the front footstrap, get settled, adjust your course to a beam reach, then work your back foot out and into the rear footstrap.
Once you are hooked in and in both straps, if your harness lines are balanced right, you simply need to lean back (if there's enough power in the rig to support you) straight away from the sail until your arms are fully stretched out.
Hope this helps,

Roly Gardner
30th July 2008, 05:17 PM
Hi Roger,

All very helpful thank you. My comments are as follows:-

1-One of my main problems I now realise is that in placing my foot in the front footstrap too early I am pressing down on the windward rail and luffing up. I have managed to artificially remedy this by bearing away but the problem still arises later when I try to get in the rear strap. I now see that the rig has to be powered up sufficiently to counter balance this effect and keep the board level. I am certainly going for the strap too early and will try the 2 drills you suggest. If I can get skilled at steering with the back foot I will be far more in control.

2-I am still unsure as to how to get the rear foot "weightless" in order to move it. I notice though that you term it "slid" so presumably you maintain some downward pressure during the process. To get it in line with and actually into the footstrap seems quite a long way back to me. However, I am sure that I am not moving back progressively whilst continuing to accelerate gradually as you suggest. As I am doing so are my hands moving a little further down the boom? Otherwise I feel that I am racking back the rig and turning the board into wind,exacerbating my problems.

3- I think that I also sheet in far too much after I hook in. I think that you describe hooking in early whilst having the sail sheeted out and progressively accelerate as previously discussed in another post. I can then get the power into the mast foot in a controlled way BEFORE going for the front strap.

4- My usual wind range is 10-20 mph in coastal conditions. I sail a Carve 145 and weigh 75kg. In the lower wind speeds I rig my Tush Lightening 7.8m and in higher winds a Gaastra Pilot 6.5m or Tush 5.7m(not sure what model this is though).I use Gaastra 26" fixed lines, although have some adjustable Gaastra lines as well(not great as they seem to come undone very easily.

5-My explanation on the other issues is not even clear to me on re reading! What I was told to do by my instructor was get my front foot in and then head up wind while sheeting in and opening my stance i.e. turning my shoulders to face more forward. I understand your comment regarding locking out and driving against the fin as this is something we talked about before. It sounds like I should not be so "open" but with my shoulders and hips in line with the CL

6- The "locking in" from his perspective meant adopting a strong up wind stance to allow the rear foot to move into position. Trouble is for me, that if I am leaning forward with the rig back heading up wind I have no chance of getting my rear foot anywhere near the rear strap. I think that you are recommending a broad reach rather than heading up wind which would seem to be a more balanced approach and I can visualise how that would allow me to gently move the rear foot back and in.

I will certainly try those drills that you have suggested and re post with further comments. Many thanks for your guidance so far.


31st July 2008, 01:31 AM
Hi Roly,
Did you have problems staying upwind when you were taking this instruction?
I'm wondering is what was suggested was perhaps a short term "fix" to get you sailing upwind sooner.
It won't work at your current skill level.
You need to get the board going on a beam reach or below (but not below by much) and work through the sequence we've just discussed here.
Once you have been through the entire sequence, progressively, and are back in both footstraps, hooked in, and fully planing, THEN you can think about heading upwind.
Heading upwind at all, while you are trying to get planing, is prety much an exercise in futility.
You need to be on a beam reach to get the full forward thrust of your rig, and to be able to keep the board flat and the fin mostly unloaded so the board can gain speed as quickly as possible.
Anything you do (like heading more upwind) will reduce the likelyhood of you getting on plane.
Try the drills, and get used to sailing on your back leg in the correct fore and aft position for the board to accelerate and then "take off". Don't be in a hurry to get your back foot in the strap until the board is almost to full speed.
If you go for the back strap too early, the board won't have the speed to support your weight back there and you will only succeed in getting the board to slow down because the nose will pop up and the drag will increase.
As far as "sliding" your back foot out to the strap, yes, you can slide it, but you can also just pick it up and place it in the strap.
Think of the forces here:
Mast foot pressure because you are hooked in and the rig is driving the board.
Most of your weight should be "suspended" off the board and onto the rig by the harness lines/harness. Your arms are just the "adjusters/positioners" at this point.
You have your front foot in the strap, but no weight on it because your weight is being supported by the rig.
So as far as the board is concerned, you are pretty much "weightless" unless you over sheet or rake the rig back enough to destroy the power in the rig that is supporting you.
If you have enogh speed, and maintain the power to the mast foot, you should be very stable. If you are getting pulled forward (up and over your front foot) then you are probably over sheeted to some degree.
As far as your upper body facing the CL of the rig, yes, you will want to be pretty much facing the rig all the way through the entire evolution.
Before the rig is sheeted in to 45 deg. off the centerline, you will be facing pretty much forward, and keeping your upper body weight pulling directly away from the CL of the rig.
As you sheet in more, and begin to rake the rig back, you will progressively turn your upper body as the rigs angle to the CL of the board changes.
Once you are at full speed, and in both straps, and firmly hooked in, then you can lean forward/outboard to really sheet the sail down on the deck and fully rake it back so you can sail upwind.
Hope this helps,

31st July 2008, 03:01 PM
Roger, I understand you recommend to get up to the full speed before getting into the back footstrap, and I also understand it requires some practice, but I find the moment of getting into back strap pretty difficult when my speed is too high, especially in the chop. Also, the moment when I'm trying to get into the back strap is when most of my catapults happen (although I'm getting better), and obviously the faster I go the more violent they are.

So I actually try to get into back strap asap, which from what you said is not a good thing.
I also head up asap (on plane, but before getting into the back strap) to reduce the speed and get into the back strap (then, being in both straps, I feel safe to bear off).

So my sequence is as follow:
1. Bear off, starting to get on plane.
2. Almost planing, hook in, still bearing off.
3. Planing, front foot in the strap
--- [1,2,3 happen almost together and very fast, board is accelerating at all times] ---
4. Head up, place the back foot near or on the back strap, stabilize the position
5. Getting the back foot in <-- full control after this point.

Problem is always between 4. and 5. Sometimes the board goes so fast that I am afraid to put the back foot in and I stay like that (especially in the chop), which is like 50% control comparing to being in both footstraps.

What do you think?


Roly Gardner
31st July 2008, 07:28 PM
Hi Roger,

I am ok at staying upwind, although I understand the principle of bearing away to get on the plane and then heading upwind. I am beginning to understand what I need to do here I think.

I am certainly going for the straps far too early. I am not fully committed to the harness either so this is not taking my weight allowing the feet to move more easily. I am also not using the rear foot to steer and maintain trim. My body and feet have not been in the right position, which has been exacerbated by some of the advice I have been given.

My aim will to be to put some of the tips you suggest into action and practice the drills in an effort to get a feel for what I am attempting to do. Perhaps I can then come back to you with a progress report.

Thank you for the continued support.


31st July 2008, 07:39 PM
Hi Marek,
I think you might be overlooking another way to limit yoiur boards speed and making
it easier/safer to get into the back strap.
What would happen, if you didn't sheet in fully as soon as you hook in.
If you don't continue to sheet in, your speed should stay fairly constant, and
allow you to settle things down, at much less than full speed, then get your foot
in the strap.
I tried this yesterday while sailing the Futura 133 with the '08 Retro 6.5.
The wind was strong enough that I was getting tossed over the forward lee side
doing beach starts, so there was plenty of power in the rig.
What I found was that I did not want to (or need to) sheet in fully.
If I only sheeted in enough to support my weight, hooked in, and with the front foot in the front footstrap I could sail along nicely with my back foot on the center line and just forward of the rear footstrap.
I dould sail along at much less than full speed.
When I was ready, I moved my foot out to almost standing on the front of the outboard
rear footstrap, then placed my foot in the footstrap.
As soon as I was fully in the strap, the rig was raked back fully and sheeted in a little more, the speed increased noticeably, and the board went to full speed.
I cannot stress enough to you guys that you do not need to be in a hurry during this evolution.
Yes, I know, you think the board is going to gain too much speed and you will have problems/get catapaulted if yoiu don't get hooked in, sheeted in, and in both footstraps quickly.
If you use the sheeting angle of your sail to moderate the power from your rig, you should be able to do the whole evolution at a much slower and more comfortable speed.
This changes a bit is you are only moderately powered and have to wait for boardspeed to develop, but as I said before, in moderate conditions you need to be very careful not to oversheet because it's very easy to do, and shuts your speed right off.
I hope to try all this again soon and get back with your.
Wish I had a video to send you that breaks it all down into steps.
Hope this helps,

31st July 2008, 09:01 PM
Thanks Roger, I'll try to use the method you described, but...

you've been always telling us that sheeting out is not a good thing as it reduces the mast-foot pressure and makes the board unstable.
I noticed it myself, that when I get overpowered the worst way to keep control is to sheet out - the board starts dancing like crazy. However, when I sheet in hard, hang on my harness and lay onto the windward side things stay under control (which does not necessarily mean that the board goes any slower ;-)).


Ellen Faller
1st August 2008, 02:43 AM
As an observer of this exchange I feel I must comment here. There is a lot of difference in the wording and it is a very important difference.
In reading Roger's post, and then yours, the difference is in "sheeting out" and "sheeting in". If you have not sheeted in too much, then there is not the problem of having to sheet out.
In a car, you can accelerate by increasing pressure on the gas pedal. You can control your acceleration. You can accelerate up to 25 mph and keep your speed there. No braking is needed. If you accelerate to 35 mph, and wish to go 25, then you will have to use the brakes or remove pressure from the gas pedal to slow down.
What Roger is saying is that you can get up to a certain speed and stay there by sheeting in only to a certain point. If you sheet in more and go faster, and then try to back off by sheeting out, you may have a problem.
I think that is the difference between what you and Roger are saying.
hope this helps

1st August 2008, 04:58 PM
OK, I got it now - can't wait to try the new method this weekend. ;-)



8th August 2008, 06:33 PM
Hi All,

Some great information on this thread, very helpful!


You described:

"What Roger is saying is that you can get up to a certain speed and stay there by sheeting in only to a certain point. If you sheet in more and go faster, and then try to back off by sheeting out, you may have a problem."

With this in mind, how do you recommend slowing down. I mention this because I have just got my Carve 145 and had it planing at a ridiculous speed the other day :) and when it came to slowing the board as I reached the end of the lake, my only recourse was to leap off :o not the best technique I thought.

I am also having great difficulty controlling the pull of the sail whilst in the Harness (just got it), when I hook in do I control the pull by pulling with my front hand and pushing with my back hand? I tried this but it seems difficult when I'm attached to the rig (getting some horrific catapults), this is also getting me worried about committing to the harness as when the board really powers up I dread the upcoming huge smash, I think this may be a contributory factor to my catapults and could do with some advice.

Many thanks,

8th August 2008, 07:43 PM
Hi Rob,
When you want to slow down, just "ease" your sheeting angle slowly.
Depending on your rig size this could be very little, or as much as 15 degrees.
If you "ease" the pressure in your rig, it will most certainly result in a decrease
in speed.
The whole "point" here is that you do this slowly.....
DO NOT "sheet out" suddenly as this will upset the balance of the board, the rig and the fin and may result in some sort of "crash".
As far as controlling the rig when you are hooked in, if you have your harness lines positioned/balanced correctly, you will be able to take both hands off the boom momentarily and the rig won't do anything, just give you the same amount of power you had when you took your hands off.
If your rig increases or decreases it's power, or tries to fall forward or to the rear, when you remove your hands momentarily, then your lines are not "balanced" and your rig has the ability to jerk you around all over the place.
If your rig is powering up more, that usually means you have your lines too far back on the boom and 2 things are happening:
#1 as the speed and power increase, the rig sheets in a bit more (because the lines are too far back and it's "pivoting" around the front line attachment point) and it also wants to fal forward which increases it's power and gives it more fore/aft leverage over the resistance (you the sailor).
You can set your harness lines so the rig actually "eases off" when it gets overpowered.
Move the front line until the rig neither falls forward or to the rear, then position the rear line attachment point so the rig tends to "ease out" if you stop pulling in with your back hand.
This makes the rig very much like a car.
If you lift off the accelerator pedal, a spring pulls the throttle closed and your cars slows down.
Getting your lines balanced so the rig "eases off" when you release the pull with your back hand makes your "throttle" close slowly, just like in your car.
Unfortunately, you can't "experience" how all this works without fully committing to the harness lines.
Once you get it right, and learn to trust that you can ease off if required, handling gusts (with modern twist off at the top sails) is quite easy.
The sails are designed so that the pressure/power in the top of the sail (the upper part of the sail has the most "leverage" over the sailor) automatically reduces in gusts by the simple expedient of having the leech "open up" and spill some wind, easing the overall pressure in the rig.
Hope this helps,
Hope this helps,

11th August 2008, 03:10 PM
Hi Roger,

I put your advice into practice at the weekend and it was very helpful. I felt much more in control of the sail, though to release the power in the sail in gusts, at the same time as pushing my back hand out slightly to sheet out, I also had to pull the mast back and towards me slightly (as in a quick jerk) at the same time to spill the wind. Should I do this? It felt that if I didn't the sheeting out action created a pull from the sail that was overwhelming and I would be catapulted. I think that this is because when I have to sheet out quickly in a gust (i'm on a lake) as my back hand pushes my body weight comes slightly more towards the board and also the mast may move forward slightly. Its hard to analyse it at the time but it does create a feeling that if I sheet out I receive an even greater pull than If I pull against the sail and lean back (though if go too far back I stall).

On a slighlty different track, I've noticed that its difficult for me to go downwind whilst in the harness. As I'm attached to the sail and have to move forward to move the sail towards the nose and head downwind, I am off balance and do not have enough leverage to withstand the pull on the sail (then get wet). If I lean back then the sail comes back and I move back onto a beam reach. If I let some of the power out of the sail by sheeting out as I tip it forward then I lose the power I'm trying to get to plane. I dont have these problems when not in the harness as I can hang my weight off the boom much further back than when I'm hooked in.

Just a few things that came up during harness practice.

Thanks for the advice Roger I think I'm starting to get there,


11th August 2008, 08:49 PM
Hi Rob,
On your first question on "easing" your sheeting angle, I think we are still not clear
on how to "ease" (rather than sheet out.
First, try to watch the water upwind and ahead of you so you can "anticipate" when the
gust is coming.
Then, instead of "sheeting out" try to just ease off a little.
Easing off could be equated to an attempt to keep the power at the same level.
This is the level that you can handle comfortably.
Look at it this way...... as the gist hits your sail, there will be an increase in power,
so at the same time you ease off (at as close to the same rate as you can) your sheeting angle to keep the power at the same level.
I know on lakes you get mega gusts from hell that hit all at once and can almost double the windspeed, but the gusts affect on the water is usually visually quite dramatic.
The surface darkens alot, little ripples become much larger ripples, maybe even instant
So, if you are watching upwind and ahead, you have some time to adjust BEFORE you get hit with the gust.
I also suspect that you may still have a bit of a harness line balance issue.
What sort of harness hook are you using? Reactor Roller.... or a solid hook?
If you get more power when you "ease off" your sheeting angle, this indicates to
me that you are slightly oversheeted to begin witn. In other words, you have learned to
sheet in a little more than the optimum angle to give your rig it's max. forward drive/min. sideways pull.
Try this, when sailing along on a beam reach or above, with your sail raked back and fully sheeted in, ease off the sheeting angle slightly.
Does this increase your speed........give better control......what?
Also, I'm having a bit of a problem with your statements about sheeting in and "pushing out" to ease or unsheet your sail.
Most sailor have their lines set so that just taking your back hand off the boom allows the rig to ease off slightly.
So, there does not seem to be any need for "pushing" with correclty balanced lines.
If I read your first paragraph carefully it almost seems like you are in an action/reaction
mode here and may be doing 2 or more things at once and the net result is an increase in rig pressure.

On your sailing downwind issues, try not to tip the rig forward so much, but rather'simply bring the mast more upwind.
You may want your harness lines a little longer for sailing off the wind. This is why the formula racers all use adjustable harness lines with stopper knots in them.
They crank the lines short to sail upwind maximally, then when they jibe around the top mark, they extend their lines to a stopper knot the put in and adjusted while traning or the race.
You could do the same with an adjustable harness line setup.
You normally do not have to "move forward" to tip your rig, just push it forward a little
and adjust your stance while still in the footstraps.
Also, to head off the wind, you would need to pull up a bit with your front foot and tip your back foot more toward the toes to get the board to turn vice doing it all by tipping the rig more forward.
Hope this helps,

Roly Gardner
14th August 2008, 04:22 PM
Hi All,

Been following this thread as I made a couple of posts earlier. Thanks to Roger I can now get in and out of the harness more easily and find it so much more controlled particularly when getting up to speed. I have the same board as you do Rob but sail on open water with more chop probably. We are also quite gusty as we have a pier (stupid inconsiderate Victorians) which interrupts the predominant South Westerly wind direction and a marina harbour wall to the East. I find the anticipation described by Roger quite helpful. I also have to get really low and sort of hanging from the boom with a bent back(and sometimes front but I am not sure if this is good technique!) leg. In this position you can resist the urge of the sail to whip you over the front. At first I thought that I was getting low but was not. I exaggerated the stance having watched some more experienced sailors and this helps a lot.

It also helps to really commit to the harness. You read this in all the mags and it was easier said than done for me. A chap here called Jem Hall advises in his DVD Beginner to Winner, to lighten your grip on the boom to test that you are committing to the harness. He likens this to playing the piano with your fingers. So where Roger suggests you can take both hands off the boom ( tried it, it hurt, stopped doing it ) in theory, this tip is a nice transition.

Once more comfortable in the harness I started to put the tips on foot straps into practice. For me progressing in this sport seems to be a fairly slow and methodical process. I am not one of these people that gets up on the board and everything falls in to place. I need to get comfortable with one element before moving on but get there in the end. I can get in to the front strap and sail in a ( fairly) controlled fashion. I am now concentrating on the smooth and controlled transition to getting the back foot in.

In relation to stopping quickly, something odd happened to me recently on the water. I was planing nicely in to the beach and picked up some good speed. Like you Rob, I have in the past just pulled the ejector chord. However, on this occasion I sort of went into a carve tack if such a thing exists. I did not get all the way around but ended up heading straight into wind and stationary! Not tried it since and am convinced I could not do it again.

One quick question for you Roger if I may. When you say "rake the rig back" does this draw the mast to aft as I assume and if so why does this not drive the board into wind? I think it does when I try it so am I supposed to balance this action by doing something else? I have a feeling that it may have something to do with foot steering while and whilst I have read some articles on this I am still not clear. I am using your tip on taking the pressure off the front foot with the rear foot steering across the centre line which works nicely. Is it an extension of this?



14th August 2008, 08:12 PM
Hi Roly,
The hard carve upwind is a maneuver used by many sailors to slow down at the end of a run in toward the beach, and yes, calling it a carve tack is about correct.
Next time, just quick step over the mast, keep the board carving/planing and sail off back out to sea. First time I saw some top level sailors doing planing tacks I was astonished! Took me a while to figure out exactly what they were doing.

On your raking the rig back issues, if the board is turning upwind when you do this you do not have enough speed to be doing it.
And I would guess that as you are doing it you are somehow shifting a bit more weight onto your outboard front foot, or onto the heel of your back foot.
The rig does get fully raked back until the foot angle is parallel with the deck of your board (maybe even touching your board at the back on bigger sails) but you cannot do this until you are hooked in and fully planing at nearly top speed.
You need lots of apparent windspeed to make fully raking the rig back work, so wait a bit more when raking the rig.
It's more powerful standing up slightly, but gives you better speed raked back to allow you to sail on apparent wind.
You really need to be in both footstraps and really moving before the rig gets fully raked back and sheeted in to almost the centerline of your board for sailing upwind.
If your course is further off the wind, you may not need to rake back or sheet in quite so much unless you are on formula gear that sails almost completely on apparent wind.
You can also "footsteer" once you are in both footstraps.
More pressure over the top of the fin with your back leg (towards downwind) takes you upwind more.
Backing off the pressure on your back leg and rolling the toes on both feet down a little will take you off the wind. It's not intuitive.....you'll figure it out, just like your carving tack.
Hope this helps,

Roly Gardner
14th August 2008, 09:05 PM

Crikey that was a quick response!

I certainly think that I am depressing the windward rail as you suggest. It is something that I became aware after your previous comments on getting into the front strap. I need to concentrate a bit more on this aspect. I shall leave the raking back until I have successfully managed the rear strap and am comfortable planing in this position.

Thanks very much.


14th August 2008, 11:44 PM
Hi Roly,
Yep! Your board is only doing what your stance and weight are telling it to do. If it's heading upwind, the lowered upwind rail is usually the issue.
Try the waving your front foot over the strap drill some more.
That will teach you that you can put that foot in the strap, but keep it weightless and
therefore it won't "steer" the board. All weight goes on the back leg and the rig with as much weight as possible on the rig. Back leg just steers!
Again, do all of this "step by step" and soon you won't even notice all the little "transitions" and your board will jump onto a plane and you will be hooked in and back in the straps with no effort (or thinking/ counting steps) at all.
Hope this helps,

Roly Gardner
18th August 2008, 04:28 PM
Hi Roger,

Just to say thank you for talking me through the foot straps problem I was having. I managed to get this sorted out yesterday in a great days sailing here in Eastbourne, UK. I had set myself the task of practising this until it came off! In fairly flat water and a slightly gusty 20/25 mph I took to the water on my Carve 145 and my Gaastra 6.5m rig. It was pretty easy to get planing and I concentrated on a more gradual approach to getting in the harness. Once hooked in I managed to bear away a little for the front strap and then head up wind slightly to unweight the rear foot. As I was feeling more controlled and secure the rear strap was way easier to locate and slide into.

I realise now, having successfully "found" the rear strap, that I actually had the wrong mental picture of its position if you see what I mean. Once I knew where it was it felt far easier to locate and power up. Against my initial thoughts, it felt far more secure than I anticipated and was really quite comfortable. This was particularly the case as the sea was pretty choppy and my big board was hitting the front of waves on the way out causing it to jump and bump a bit. Very exhilarating though!

Once again thanks for your thoughts, it really did make the difference. Now just the task of cracking those elusive waterstarts!

Cheers, Roly

18th August 2008, 07:58 PM
Hi Roly,
Glad to hear it's coming together for you!
Good Show!

16th September 2008, 04:37 PM
Just wanted to add to this thread - last weekend I had a great session but I discovered the major reason for the problems of me getting into the back foot strap was that it was twisted!

The sides of the straps twisted to the inside so both back footstraps looked like this: \ / insted of this: / \ and it was harder to slide the foot inside.

I checked and the screws hold pretty good, I'm afraid to overdo them. I had to apply quite a lot of force to align the straps again (without touching the screws), but they twisted again after a couple of hours.

Any solution to that?


16th September 2008, 09:08 PM
Hi Marek,
If your footstraps are twisting with the anti-twist plates installed, about all you can do is to take the take the footstrap off completely by unscrewing both screws, and then check the condition of the anti-twist plate and the oval toothed SS washer.
Be sure the pin or tang on the ant-twist plate is still OK.
Look at the oval toothed SS washer to ensure that the tooth part still extends beyond the middle (where the screw compresses it).
If any are damaged, then need to be replaced.
Then clean everything up and apply a bar of soap to the screws (maybe even slice off some "slivers" of soap and push them down into the FS screw hole in your board.
The soap serves as a lubricant and makes getting the screws nice and tight much easier.
Also be sure to use a good quality #3 Phillips screwdriver (something with the black oxide on the tip (indicates the tip is hardened, has good geometry, and has been protected from rust by the black oxide coating) is usually the best).
The re-install your foostraps.
If your footstraps aren't in established pairs/sets, then think about moving the back straps to the front and the fronts to the back so the anit-twist plate "points" will stick into a different part of the footstrap.
After you get them installed nice and snug, go out an sail for half an hour.
Then come in and retighten the FS screws again.
Now they will stay in position for quite a long time.
Just check the tightness every few sessions as they do tend to compress the materials under the screws over time.
Another trick is to add a flat washer on top of the oval toothed SS washer to spread the load out over more of it's surface.
Hope this helps,