View Full Version : Stuck between not planing and planing

9th May 2010, 01:48 AM

I'm trying to get planing and in the footstraps, but am encountering some problems. I have the Go 175, with stock racing fin (56cm deboichet?).

I am 6'4 and 300 pounds, using a seat harness. My sails are a 9.5 Ezzy Infinity, a 6.5 infinity, an 8.5 Matrix, and a 7.5 Simmer 3xc. I have the mast foot set maybe 1 cm in front of dead center (or at least the circle marks). I have the footstraps in the second most forward position, so they aren't outboards yet.

The problem is as I try to get planing, the board gets squirrely just as I decide to go for the straps. Sometimes it happens as I lift my front foot, sometimes before. Much like an indoor pet making a break for freedom upon seeing the outdoors, or perhaps more aptly almost like a Laser's deathroll confined to the front of the board, I lose all control of the board. I usually hook in before getting planing, so after the board's nose kicks left and right 6-7 inches four or five times in 3 seconds, I usually fall forward, though sometimes I get some spectacular catapults.

Any thoughts on what could be causing the problem? I was possibly looking to get a larger formula fin, roughly 85cm long. Would this help?

9th May 2010, 09:09 AM
Hi JSW225,
Interesting issue.....!
Where are you placing your rear foot when you go for the front footstrap?
Try to place it directly over the fore and aft centerline of the board.
Also, place your foot (try a few different positions) in a spot that does not
cause the nose to pop up.
You will have to find the spot where the nose lifts slightly to change the planing surfaces
to positive, but not enough to cause the nose to "pop up" which will put too much positive angle on the planing surfaces and cause your board to actually slow down as the drag will increase significantly.
Also, when you start putting your weight on your back foot, do so very gradually.
I know most sailors who are "stuck" just before planing want it to happen quickly, so they
tend to want to move their weight quickly. Since you are a big guy, you will have to be
extra careful and really "finesse" the fore and aft trim.
Also, wait a little longer as more speed is your best friend here. More speed creates more lift on your planing surfaces, improves the fore and aft stability, and makes
transitioning from "semi-planing" to fully planing much esier.
So, wait awhile and allow your board to gain a bit more speed.
Also check that you are not putting any weight on that front foot.
(Are you crazy, Roger, how can I not put any weight on my front foot when I get ready
to move my back foot?)
Well, after many years of careful analysis of what I do, and watching many of the pro level sailors, I've found that you really only need 2 points of contact with your board.
When you are not hooked in..... and at sub planing speeds, yes you have weight on both feet.
But, as soon as you hook in (if you have a large enough sail for the windspeed) you
can have "two point contact" while your front foot is off the board getting into the front footstrap. Huh??????? Yes, you have the rear foot, correctly placed over the centerline of the board so you can steer, and the mast foot (which pushes the front of the board in the direction you want to go).
You can practice this...... get solidly hooked in, get your rear foot correctly placed, and
try waving your front foot over and around the front footstrap. Delicate feat of balance
..... yes, but one you need to learn.
Since, you are now waving your front foot around, and all of your weight is being supported by the harness up through the rig and down to the mast foot, go ahead and put your front foot into the strap, BUT KEEP ALL OF YOUR WEIGHT ON THE RIG!
When you are balanced, and your board has PROGRESSIVELY gained enough speed (take your time here) then slip your rear foot into the back footstrap.
Also, as an aid to "directional stability" in this transition to planing you might want to try a big weed fin (53 cm is about as big as they make). Big weed fins have a lot of fore and aft "directionality" and this may help with your "wobbles" until you are beyond this stage.
Formula fins are 70 cm.... but Gorge Fin Co. has made some larger fins.
Right now, I don't think you need a larger fin as you are not up to enough speed (still marginally planing, right) where you can learn to "ride the fin".
At some point, at your size (300 lbs./136.07 Kg/21.4 stone) you will probably want a larger fin for your GO 175.
A 60-70 cm fin might help you now, but I think the suggested weed fin may have more longitudinal directionality.
Let us know how you get on.
In summary:
1/ More speed before you try to transition.
2/ Better placement of the rear foot.
3/ Take your time and be sure to get as much of your weight as possible
on the rig. (Lean back, do not squat.... hook the top of the rig upwind a bit
to help the rig lift and support your weight).
Hope this helps,

11th May 2010, 01:56 PM
I think I have seen this problem before. My guess is that you sheet out, probably unconciously, when you start thinking about moving to the footstraps.

This causes the board to loose momentum, to sit on its tail and pivot around it, and then the pressure will build in the sail and you catapult.

Remedy: Focus on keeping power in the sail all the time, lean back as you move your feet. You can practice this using a fixed object on lans as a simulator. Hold on to something, lean back, and move your feet without changing your lean (and pull).

14th May 2010, 12:41 AM
I believe I figured out what was causing the problem. As I would sail, my back foot would start to drift to leeward while my front foot stayed next to the mast base and to windward. So as the boat would speed up, I would cause myself to death roll by putting pressure on one side, then the next, then harder on the next to save it... Back and forth really quick until finally an edge would catch too hard and I would catapult.

No footstraps yet, but I think I am moving closer.

14th May 2010, 05:01 PM
Yeah. Moving back gradually, with your feet over the center board, will definitely help. You basically want to be well powered up with both your feet resting against the straps before you go for them (front one first of course).

I know that when I first started windsurfing on a shortboard, I wondered why the heck the straps were so far back. Well, soon enough I discovered how much faster a short board could go and how my feet would move backwards as a results to balance more power in the sail.

Also, try not to "pick up" your front foot, especially if you've got the straps inboard. Try instead to "slide" your foot around the strap to avoid disturbing the board.

Like all parts of windsurfing, with enough practice, getting into the straps will become natural, so just keep trying and you'll get there. Once you're in the straps, you'll discover the potential to push your board so much harder and faster, in rougher conditions and higher wind and (like with a harness) you'll wonder how you used to survive without them!

Good luck,


14th May 2010, 09:27 PM
Another question that just occurred to me...

From all I've read and practiced, I thought I was supposed to sit down into the harness lines, as opposed to just hooking in and leaning out.

What am I supposed to be doing in that regard?

14th May 2010, 11:16 PM
Hi again jsw225,
At your weight, you need a larger rig, and you need for the rig to support as much of your weight as possible.
If other sailors are on 7.5 m2, you need at least 8.5 m2.
If you "sit down" on the harness, the rig really cannot support your weight and your weight is going down onto the board.
Why? Because the rig is pulling mostly downwind (with a small forward force component)
away from you.
So, if you lean back away from the rig, perhaps "hook" the top of the rig upwind a little
(basically this is not normally a good thing, but at your weight it's probably going to be a requirement until you get fully back in the straps and are sailing rigs large enough to fully support your weight) the rig will be able to support more of your weight.
So, if the rig is mostly pulling away from you, toward downwind, and across the board, "sitting down" just pulls down on the boom (alot) and this does not support your weight, and keeps lots of weight on the back of the board.
If you lean back, away from the direction the rig is pulling, hook the rig upwind a bit, the
forces generated by the rig will be in direct opposition to the forces you are generating with your upper body weight. This will result in the rig "holding up/supporting" as much of your weight as possible.
"Sitting down" when you aren't in the footstraps, can be a good strategy to avoid catapaults, but it will not result in good form and good speed as you move back on the board.
As Adrien suggests, as your board speed increases, you can move back progressively on the board, eventually getting both your feet in the footstraps, with a "figure 7" stance (body leaning back with your arms nearly straight out from your shoulders and fully extended), and steering your board completely with your feet.
You are a ways from this goal, but it sounds like you are getting there about as fast as anyone can.
Right now, your weight is a bit of a handicap, but once you figure out how to move back on the board progressively as speed develops, what size rig you need to support your weight, and how to get smoothly and progressively into the footstraps, your weight will become an advantage as you can resist significantly greater forces (rig pull) without getting flung/catapaulted forward. When you get to this point, "sitting down" will no longer make any sense.
Hope this helps,

15th May 2010, 09:59 AM
If you can take some of the pressure off your feet by committing nicely to the harness and creating a lot of mast foot pressure, the board will become less sensitive to your feet position and movement. However, as Roger pointed out, if you're underpowered due to too small a sail, this becomes difficult and, as I also previously mentioned, being underpowered you shouldn't even bother going for the straps.

The problem with "sitting in the harness" is that you're not making the most of your sail. Your sail is most powerful when it is upright, and if you're pulling it to an angle by sitting in your seat harness, whilst underpowered, getting up to blasting speed to get in the straps is going to be difficult.

However, being able to sit in the harness is a very good technique for being completely over powered (at which point, I find, a seat harness to be a life saver). For me, I get overpowered quite quickly at 55kgs. When I am overpowered, as soon as I come out of the water from a waterstart I'm straight in the harness and have almost no weight on my feet, just enough to drive the board forward. In this sort of situation, knowing how to commit all your weight to the rig via sitting in the harness is essential.

The more comfortable you get with sailing hooked in and making harness use second nature, the easier it's going to be to consistently get into the footstraps and get the board flying!


16th May 2010, 02:47 AM
Things went better today! By leaning out and not down, the board remained in control, though I didn't really have enough power to get into the footstraps.

My next problem is that the hook on my seat harness is drifting upwards, but nothing except for experimentation can help that.

Also, what is meant by hooking the top of the sail into the wind?

16th May 2010, 05:00 AM
Hi jsw225,
"Hooking the sail into the wind" means tilting the mast upwindof vertical.
Ideally, with modern sails that twist off at the top, having your rig nearly perfectly
vertical (perpendicular to the water overall water surface) is nearly always going to give you the fastest speeds (but I have seen some very fast sailors who do in fact hook the top upwind some of the time under certain conditions).
Why I am suggesting that you try this, is to get more vertical lift/force up off the water to help get your weight off the back of your board.
You are a big guy, and anything you can do to get weight off your board, and onto the mast foot (which pushes the board forward and keeps things in line) is a good thing at this stage of your skills building.
When your skills have improved, you are on sail sizes that support your size, it will be something you can correct. It might become a "bad habit", but not a bad habit that is difficult to correct when you want to go your fastest.
Simply standing up a little taller, changing your boom height, or adjusting your harness lines should correct for this, but you need to be fully powered up and have the rig supporting all of your weight when it's vertical before correcting the "upwind hook" is a good thing.
Right now it will help you get weight off the back of your board and help you to get planing.
Keep up the good progress.
As far as your harness hook riding up, what sort of harness are you using.... does it have upper and lower straps (a seat harness) to hold the hook height where you set it.
They all tend to "ride up" a bit, but making an adjustment for harness strap stretch, and
the natural "settling" of the harness to your hip shape, after you've sailed a few runs usually takes car of this, and soon your harness will fit you like a glove, and all the stretch will be gone on the straps and your harness hook will stay where you put it when you put your harness on and cinch up the straps.
If you are using a waist harness.... it takes along time for the harness to settle down, and the hook height is much higher in any case.
Hope this helps,

16th May 2010, 10:04 PM
I'm using the Dakine Speedseat. There isn't a control to keep the bar down, so I now understand how it is riding up. Speed Seat. (http://www.the-house.com/dkhsps02bk9zz-dakine-windsurf-seat-harnesses.html)

Anything I can do to keep it riding up, or would a different seat harness be better?

16th May 2010, 11:54 PM
Hi JSW225,
I use a DaKine XT Seat harness.
It looks about the same as the Speed Seat, but it has a 2nd set of adjustment straps down lower than the single adjustable strap on the Speed Seat.
Getting a harness that fits you really comfortably takes some trying them out.
Just because I am super comfortable in the XT seat, does not mean that you will be
You might want to go to a WS shop and try the XT Seat on and see if it fits you at least as comfortably as the Speed Seat.
The XT seat allows you to set the lower straps to keep the harness hook down.
I use mine with a Reactor Spreader bar (the one with the roller, but it's really a DaKine Knock off of the original Reactor bar.
The Reactor Bar makes harness lines last almost forever (no wear) and makes you get your harness lines balanced on the rig to a much closer balance tolerance. I highly recommend the roller harness spreader bar. It's also a little shorter (out from your hips) and tends to stay down better.
What hook are you using..... do you have the open side of the hook up or down?
We have not had our "harness line balance" discussion yet, so I'll give you a bit of my take on this MOST important aspect of getting hooked in and unhooked comfortably with the fewest possible catapaults.
Get your lines set so the rig will simply stand up pretty straight when you are hooked in and you take both hands off the boom momentarily.
If the rig falls forward, adjust your front lines back a bit. If the rig falls back, adjust the front line back a bit (see how this goes for you as I often get the adjustment direction backwards and I'm not sailing to day to check it out).
When the rig just stands there, with no hands, you have the fore and aft balance correct.
Then move the back line forward or back until the rig stays at the same sheeting angle.
If it sheets out a bit, move the rear line back a bit. If it sheets in (whoa, this leads to serious catapaults as if you are not paying attention and a gust comes along, your rig will load up and toss you over the lee side or the front very quickly) move the rear harness line forward until it just stay neutral (does not sheet in or out, giving you steady power.
When you get your lines all set up and balanced correctly, they should be less than a shoulder width apart. (I like mine the width of my hand apart, but you may like yours a bit farther apart.
The reason they need to be pretty close together is that when you spread them, they pull
with much more angular force both fore and aft as you sheet your sail in or out.
The idea here is to get the harness pulling pretty straight out from your hips in a balanced setup so that the rig does not pull your hips in any direction but straight into the sail.
Then set the length so that with your arms nearly fully extended, the harness pulls your hips and butt in (slightly up as well) toward the balance point in your rig which should be around the same height as the boom and at or just behind the point where the luff sleeve attaches to the monofilm in the sail (this does not apply on wide luff race sails).
Get it all adjusted, and you can sail along with both hands off the boom for quite a ways.
This makes other small adjustments etc. much easier as you do not need to focus on "holding the rig up" all the time.
I've taken quite a few newbies boards and rigs out, when they were having problems with their harness line balance, and adjusted the lines to balance for me.
Most of these new (to being hooked in anyway) sailors saw an improvement and a new (better) comfort level when hooked in, immediately.
Getting the lines correctly balanced is really important!
Hope this helps,

6th June 2010, 05:56 AM
Hi! I'll put more effort into balancing the rig on the beach.

I got out on tuesday, but was having the same problem all day. I basically would put my feet touching the straps, but in front. The problem is that when I hook in, the sail would have plenty of pull when it was on the other side of vertical. But it seemed like the moment it would get my side of vertical it wouldn't have enough pull to keep me up and I'd have to rescue myself from falling overboard.

I had a larger sail then most other people, I was on a 9.5 at first when the next biggest was an 8.0. I later switched down to an 8.5 as other people switched to 7.0's and further down as the day progressed. It seemed to be the same problem both times.

Still had a bunch of catapults, but this seemed to only happen from stuffing the board into a wave, or deeply burying an edge.

6th June 2010, 10:22 AM
Hi JSW225,
Maybe a little discussion of how/where to balance your harness lines.
You can get close, but you will never get your harness lines truly "balanced"
on the beach.
How I do my lines is to get them balanced as good as I can on the beach, and
then go out on the water and get the final "tweaks".
I set my lines so I can take both hands off the boom for a few seconds.
I use the front attachment point to set the fore and aft balance of the rig so that when
I take my hands off and move the front attachment forward and back until the rig will
just stand in place with both hands off the boom.
Then I use the rear attachment point to set the rig to neither sheet in nor sheet out when I remove my hands from the boom.
So, when I have my lines completely balanced, I can sail along for several seconds with both hands off the boom, on either tack, and the rig simply stands in place and provides steady power.
The balance can change slightly as you move back on the board, so ultimately you need to do your final balance after you are comfortable in the footstraps.
If you take your hands off the boom momentarily, and the mast falls forward, then you need to correct for that.
Move the front attachment point (back I think, but I could have this reversed)
until it just stays in one pace and is balanced.
If the rig falls back toward the back of the board then move the front attachment forward (again, could be reversed) until the rig just stands there.
Same with the back attachment point, move it until the sail, when you take your hands off, does not change angle (sheeting in increases power until the rig stalls and is called "over sheeting");
sheeting out reduces power and is called sheeting out or "easing".
Get it right, and the rig will just stand in place giving you steady power, with both hands off the boom.
Also (and I know this will be hard for you at your level) you need to not hold the boom too tightly.
When you get your lines really balanced you will be able to "play the piano" with your fingers on top of the boom. If you get everything balanced and length adjusted correctly,
your rig will support your body weight.
Hope this helps,