View Full Version : harness and foot straps

12th June 2009, 04:47 PM

i am trying to harness properly and get in footstraps
photographer friend o mine took some shots of us amateurs on the water
asked my supplier what i was doing wrong - i wanted more planing action
he said harness lines were too long and not sheeted in enuff

to go to shorter harness lines (mine are like 40 cm :-) should i lower the boom until comfortable and then slowly move boom up and start moving back towards straps OR do i just force myself to not learn any bad habits? ie put boom at shoulder height, harness about 1/3 down the boom and short lines and learn to deal with it OR boom about 4-6 inches lower, harness lines elbow length down the boom and shorter harness lines {like about 30 cm lines}

appreciate your input

n.b. i know this is an age old question, but never seem to find the definitive answer ....

12th June 2009, 09:00 PM
a good way to learn is idd by lowering the boom untill you're comfortable. But seeing as you already sail with a harness i don't think you'll find it too hard so I suggest you give it a try with your standard settings.
As for the position of the lines: it's a feel thing. When your planning and you feel that you have to pull really hard on your back hand, move the lines a bit more towards your back hand, same for the opposite effect. There is no standard setting for your lines really. But what does help at first is setting them further appart. To begin with you could simply but the two bits about 1,5 fists appart with the first end about 1,5 fists away from your masthand.

hope this answers part of your question

13th June 2009, 03:55 AM
KEEP the boom at shoulder height. If you lower it the result will be "messed up sailing" and for example more difficult to plane.

POSITION the harness lines so that the attachments are on both sides of the sail's center of effort. You find the aproximate center of effort by holding up the sail in the wind, like sailing on a reach, and by trying to find a spot on the boom where you can keep the sail upright for a moment with just one hand.

The harness line length should be such that you with some effort can force your palm against the boom when you elbow is the the harness line loop.

13th June 2009, 05:15 AM
Hi Joe,
Perhaps what you are missing in the harness line length vs boom height equation is the simple fact that if you set your line length and boom height so you can hook in while standing up near the mast, the lines will be too long and the boom will be too low when you move back on your board to get into the footstraps.
So, if you aren't already in them, work on getting solidly and easily into the footstraps, then set your boom height and line length so your arms are fully extended when you are leaned fully back and supported by the rig.
This is one reason why many racers use adjustable length harness lines.
If you race Formula, you will find that you need a different line length for upwnd vs deep downwind as your stance will be very different on each course.
Maybe try a set of good adjustable harness lines, so you can make adjustments out on the water to get your setup really comfortable.
Oh, and the biggest issue sailors at your level face is getting a really good balance on the harness lines.
PG has it right.
Get your lines balanced to the point that you can take both hands off the boom for a few seconds and have your rig simply stay in position (not falling forward or back) and at the same sheeting angle (doesn't sheet in or out) giving you reliable and constant power.
Once your lines are truly balanced, it makes it far easier to learn to trust the rig to support your body weight.
And, that's the whole point behind harness lines.....to allow you to transfer most (if not all) of your weight off your feet and onto the rig through the harness lines.
It's a real paradigm shift when you go from having the sailor support the rig to having the rig support the sailor!
Hope this helps,

13th June 2009, 07:24 AM

as i am in the harness, but keeping them too long , i have enjoyed the benefit of less effort and planing. From all your points here , from what i have read and from what i have seen, i should have enough info to really try n blast. also watch some "learner dvd's" that give much of the same info.

your comments here are ALL really, really appreciated.

last time i blasted, even with the long lines, i noticed the pull was at the backhand. so, i will also move the lines back a little to start...

will try to lower the boom just a little since i keep it around neck level...

roger seems to suggest footstraps first ... {others like guy cribb n jem hall seem to suggest it also}
to help with this, should i move the sail forward in the track for control and counter balance ie just to get in the straps and then adjust later ?? AND am reading some forums about back foot first ??

14th June 2009, 03:46 AM
footstraps first or second is really a personal choice. Personally i hate doing it and i avoid it at any cost. First i give the sail a few pumps depending on the wind, then i hook in asap and then i move back and step into my straps. I've seen a few people do it differently, who first go for the footstraps and then hook in but I teach all of my students the techniques for harness sailing before i teach them footstraps simply because the harness ables you to use bigger sails and surf longer sessions whereas footstraps mainly increase speed and boardcontrole.

I've read a fair bit about footstrapsailing when i was getting into it and everyone has different advice. What you should do is try them, see how your balance is and once you've found your pref, stick with it. I've gone with the classical front foot first because in the beginning it's easier to move back and put in the front foot and simply sail with one foot in the straps rather then the mandatory 2 you need in the backfoot-first setting.

in the end, windsurfing is a feel thing, technique comes automatically through experience.

keep it fun!

15th June 2009, 07:09 AM
Hi Joe,
There is a REASON why it's better to get back either into or very near the footstraps before you hook in to your harness.
Most boards have a rockerline that pretty much DEMANDS that you move back progressivley on the board to a point where you rear foot is on the center line and your front foot is in the front footstrap BEFORE the board will actually plane off well/easily.
Sure, you can hang around forward of this point, and your board may actually plane a bit if you have lots of wind.
But until you move back, the planing surfaces of your board (usually the flatter (fore and aft) surfaces behind the rocker transition and under or behind the front footstraps) will actually be negative rather than positive which is pretty much required for your board to plane freely.
So, you need to move back on the board, to get the nose up a little and the planing surfaces correctly inclined so the board wants to rise up over the water rather than pushing the rocker transition THROUGH the water.
So, hooking in while your weight and feet are too far forward really does not work.
And, as suggested before, you really cannot determine how long your lines need to be and what your boom height needs to be until you get back near the footstraps and get the fore/aft trim of your board correctly set to plane freely.
Granted, if you watch really good sailors, they seem to hook in and move back all at the same time, but actually they move back progressively, then hook in and put their weight on the harness while they are getting the rear foot into the back strap.
It only APPEARS that they are hooking in first because they do this all in one fluid sequence.
As far as hooking in and then moving back, that's pretty unstable as you have nothing to anchor your front foot and push the board forward until you get into the front strap.
Then as you hook in, you transfer the forward "push" of your front foot to mast foot pressure from the rig.
As far as moving the rig forward, why do you think you need to do that?
There is a position in the range of the mast track (and pretty specific to each board) that will get your board on plane the earliest and allow the board to plane freely and fast.
That's where you need to place your mast foot.
Then you adjust the other things (boom height, harness line length, footstrap position,
etc. to get yourself comfortable around that mast foot position.
As far as back foot first, that works, in very high winds and waterstarting, but for normal sailing in moderately powered conditions, it will put you too far back on the board too soon and keep you from getting on plane easily.
Remember, getting on plane, whether you are underpowered and need to pump, or nicely powered and can just sheet in and go right up onto a plane, is always a "progression".
You go a little faster, move back a little more, go a little faster still, move back until you get your back foot on the boards sweet spot to jump onto a plane, and your front foot into the front footstrap, then hook in to get your weight off the board so it can really accelerate (being pushed by mast foot pressure), then worry about getting your back foot into the back footstrap.
Hope this helps,

16th June 2009, 05:30 AM
wow, what an explanation :)

hope others benefit toooo

if yur interested, will let yas know how it goes

have already removed the 40 + cm harness, moved the 30 cm harness to about 6 hands back, butt as roger says, i'm goin' 4 speed - so , front foot first with back foot in the sweet spot and only then adjust harness fully - will rig it in backyard in order to get close to ideal settings

i'm already dreamin about it

ok, so where is the wind this week ?...

... why move forward in mast track ?
have read about 135 cm, center of mast track , etc...
also read about forward for control or larger sails and back for speed or smaller sails
again, i do not feel difference yet
therefore will go for center for now ....

thx again ....

16th June 2009, 08:26 AM
Hi Joe,
As far as where to position your mast foot, that depends on what board you have
(hmmmmm.... what board are you sailing?).
Formula boards run the mast foot way forward, to get better VMG upwind, but this
can cause issues downwind as they run so deep.
On slalom boards, you might want to start nearer the back of the track (vs the middle) unless you have some marking or other compelling reason to put it more forward.
Near the back usually gives you the best ride at higher speeds.
Put the mast foot too far forward and your board tends to pound and rebound.
Moving the mast foot back a little can really smooth things out.
If you have it too far back and you are really going top speed and are overpowered, the board can begin to have control issues (called tailwalking) and you need to move it a little forward to settle the board down, or reduce the size of your fin.
Hope this helps,