View Full Version : seat harness vs waist harness

eric b 125
16th February 2010, 02:29 AM
last year, when i took up the sport again, i used a seat harness. i had several difficulties w/ the seat harness, probably related to poor rigging/ tuning, and novice techniques. what are the pros and cons b/w seat and waist harness's? thanks.

16th February 2010, 04:05 AM
i have always used a seat harness and have wondered about the benefits of the waist harness.

it appears the waist harness is now more popular and is used for wave and free-style windsurfers.

they say the seat harness is more for cruisers, racers and straight line activity.

which one is better for the back? i do not know

i always enjoyed the seat harness cuz it feels like "i am sitting @ the bar :0"

16th February 2010, 04:32 AM
It's an old arguement that has been going on for years now. Seat or waist, what's it all about right? In the end, it's just a hook.

Thats true. I mean, the only thing it does is tranfer the pull of the sail from your arms to your body allow a more active steering during the ride, a closer trim and thus more speed and agility. But why 2 kinds?

Looking at it from a biomechanical point of view you could defend the thesis that waist harnesses are for those who need to move a lot, like wave and freestylers and seatharnesses are for those that need to transfer as much weight from their body to the sail thus allowing for bigger sails in higher winds.
A seat harness covers the lower part of the upper body where the only mechanical movements that need to be made are turns of the torso in a freestyle move which is done unhooked, and bending backwards and forwards allowing for respectively acceleration due to weight transfer and controle of the sail in overpowered conditions. Mind you this latter aspect is based purely upon the riders expertise and the pull of his sail, as you'll see this latter pease of info is what really differenciates seat from waist.

Why is it harder to acchieve this with a seat harness then? Looking at the design seat harnesses are basicly an external prothesis of your rear with the one exception that due to it's rigidety the torsion movements is somewhat limited. The attachment of your 'bum muscles' to your leg muscles limits freedom but maximizes the potential of the rider to transfer weigth because of it's low point of attachment to the sail. Bending your legs becomes a bit harder to do in a seat harness reducing (in a trained individual with propperly tightend legstraps) the reflex to 'sit down' (this one if @ Joe, maybe you're feeling isn't such a good thing for your surfing). In order then to accelerate a rider has to find a more effective way to quickly transfer weight to the sail and has to do this by moving his gravitational point backwards (leaning) creating a more effective transfer of weight to the sail and also reducing the pressure on the boards thus reducing friction of the board vs water.

This is the main reason why seat harnesses are said to be race and freeride harnesses wheras waist harnesses are said to be freestyle/wave harnesses. Mind you these assumptions are not definite and you'll even see variation amidst pro riders. Peter Volwater for example is convinced that he can do everything with a waist harness and does so quite succesfully. On the counterpart there are some freestyle and waveriders that prefer the low harnessposition and use a seatharness.

Seat or waist is no absolete story but from my personal experience it does pay to try both in both diciplines. I personally don't like the seat harnesses because it kills my groin after a good overpowered slalomsession but i do feel faster in one and i feel like i have more controle. On the other hand, when i freestyle i hate the seat and i use my waist and do so for wave as well. I have to admitt though, that 9/10 times that i sail, no matter what, i'll use my waist harness because that is the type of harness i learned to ride with so there you see that conviction is also partly conditioning.

I hope this settles it



eric b 125
16th February 2010, 05:49 AM
thanks for the replies guys. how long and far apart should the harness lines be if i go w/ a waist harness? with the seat harness i was told from finger tip to elbow.

16th February 2010, 07:46 AM
Hi Eric,
The length of your harness lines depends almost entirely on how tall you are.
How much of you is legs.... how much is torso.
You need to be able to make the "figure 7" stance, i.e arms pretty much straight out,
hips well inside the shoulders.
Think of yourself as a cantilever beam from footstraps to shoulders.
Your harness line length needs to be the length that will hold your butt at the correct level and angle to get your upper body weight as far off your board (to counter balance the pull of the rig) as possible.
How far apart..... lots of different opinions here. I use the width of one fist between the attachments. Some of the better young freestylers put them totally together.
What you don't want is to get them so far apart that they pull you forward and back.
The idea that you can get harness lines that are too long and simply spread them out does not work for me, but I see sailors doing it all the time. I'd get ripped off the board in the first big gust.
Getting them correctly balanced is absolutely critical.
You have choices here.
Do you want them to sheet out slightly if you release your back hand..... stay neutral if you release your back hand, or (heaven forbid) have them sheet in some when you release the back hand.
The latter is actually done by the formula racers (especially the smaller/lighter guys and juniors) as they set the rear line as the "pivot point", and do all the sheeting in and out with the front hand. But they are on huge sails and max overpowered alot of the time.
So, there's no "best' way.... you have to work out what works best and is most comfortable for you individually.
I might take your rig for a spin and come in and tell you your lines are too far forward/back, but they balance nicely for you.
You could get on my rig, with sails that I can let go of with both hands (rig balances on the harness lines and does not sheet in or out and does not fall forward or back and I can sail along without touching the boom for maybe 30 seconds) and feel the rig is very much out of balance.
I find the "sailing without hands" using a seat harness, with sails larger than 5.5 m2 works pretty well.
When the wind gets up, and I'm doing B&J type sailing with lots of chop and ramps, I prefer a waist harness as I can move around more, and the stance on the smaller board and fin is much more erect and over the back of the board.
Hope this helps,

16th February 2010, 09:09 AM
I've always used a seat harness as you can really sit in it. I've never tried a waist but once you get the hang of the seat you can hook in/out on demand.

Maybe a waist harness would be better for B&J... easier for hooked in landings maybe... I don't know but definitely tuning of your rig/harness lines/mast track/etc will make a much bigger difference on your overall performance than whether or not your harness is seat or waist.

You see guys like Micah Buzianis using waist harnesses in the PWA Slalom as well so that sort of shows you how much crossover you get between the two types. Best bet is get your kit tuned right then if you can try both types out before buying.

16th February 2010, 05:05 PM
Once you get used to a waist harness you will never go back & and your skill level will improved. Sell your seat harness.

16th February 2010, 07:07 PM
With its lower hook the seat harness will transfer more of your weight from feet to mast base. It helps keeping the board flat on water, moreover if you wear a weight jacket ;) Went from 15 years of "sitting" and adopted the waist in a minute. Just found it more convenient & comfortable overall although you get tired faster in overpowered conditions. However if your difficulties come from poor rigging/tuning a waist harness may not fix them, but it can make you more confident which is 50% of the job.

17th February 2010, 07:04 AM
Once you get used to a waist harness you will never go back & and your skill level will improved. Sell your seat harness.

Yeah, right.

17th February 2010, 08:59 PM
I went from a chest harness in the "old days" to a seat harness and never tried a waist harness. I thought they would pull/stress my lower back too much where a seat harness wouldn't. I have always raced - long boards, course slalom and formula and the seat harness is the only way to go.

Here is one for you - I sail with my spreader bar hook facing up. In the "old days" with a chest harness, I would lean back so far that the line would slip out and I would fall back into the water. Solution - turn the hook up. Now, my lines only come out when I want them too. I tried to go back for a short time, but couldn't make the switch.

Occasionally, I accidentally get hooked in during a jibe, but that only happens if my booms are too low or if I don't bend my knees enough.

It works for me.

18th February 2010, 06:11 AM
In addition to waves and frestyle, most PWA sailors use a waist harness for slalom. I switched last year and I found the waist harness much better for overall control of the board. It also makes hooking in/out of the harness easier, and therefore you come into the jibe with no hassle from the harness, and it helped planing, probably because it is easier to keep a correct stance, or maybe is the pull that puts less weight on the tail.

Only limitation I can see is with big sails, I used it up to 7.3, not yet with a 8.0.

eric b 125
18th February 2010, 07:22 AM
Yeah, right.

do i detect a hint of sarcasm, or are you being serious in your agreement, coach?

18th February 2010, 08:01 AM
You detect sarcasm from someone who uses both.


18th February 2010, 02:57 PM
Get used to both as each as hits merits.

A point not mentioned (and main one I adopted to a chest/waist is extra loading put on boom end with a seat.Sitting into a seat harness puts loads of ttwist into boom.

Diffference is to do with your centre of gravity. Seat pulls through bodies CoG ;chest doesn`t. Ultimately seat has to be less tirin. (but more damaging to boom ???)

19th February 2010, 12:20 PM
Iíve never heard of or thought of a correlation between a seat harness and breaking booms. Todayís booms are built much better but not too long ago the biggest correlation to breaking booms had to do with harness line width. When you placed your harness lines close together you point loaded the boom and it was much more likely to break.

As an instructor I often have students that ask about which harness to get or why I use one harness one day and another later on. I tell them that a waist harness is easier to learn on, easier to put on and easier to use so it will generally be the preferred harness. I also tell them that no matter how well made or how tight a waist harness is, it will still ride up a little in a gust where as a seat harness will not. I also point out that a waist harness wonít fit all people-people with too much midsection or no waist.

Now, here is how that little thing about riding up in a gust affects your sailing. If you are sailing in a situation where you need to spill power the waist harness is great because the riding up will force the sail to sheet out a little whether you want it to or not. If you are sailing in a situation where you absolutely canít afford to spill any power, use a seat. Otherwise, use a waist.


eric b 125
21st February 2010, 01:20 AM
i'm going to buy a waist harness. i have the seat (although outdated, i'm sure) and not only did i have trouble getting hooked-in, but when a gust would over-power me, i couldnt get un-hooked early enough to prevent from getting launched while attached to the rig- not good news for the nose of the board.