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floridagirl 21st February 2009 03:15 AM

trying to learn to windsurf - not fall!
I have been trying to learn to windsurf. I took a 3 hour lesson and it seemed so easy at the time. Now I have been trying on my own and can uphaul the sail (with effort) but as soon as I try to take hold of the boom and start moving, I am overpowered and FALL! I spend all my time getting back on the board, uphauling and then falling again. The instructor told me it is about balance, not strength, but I am starting to wonder. When he was teaching me, he was on the board at the same time (on the other side of the sail). I am thinking maybe he was counter balancing the sail for me? I donít want to spend hundreds of dollars on more lessons. Any tips on getting moving WITHOUT falling after uphauling?

Roger 28th February 2009 10:08 PM

Hi floridagirl,
OK, what I posted earlier did not seem to solve your issues.
How about we just deal with the primary issues.
First, what board do you have?
Is it wide (perhaps like the one you took your 3 hour lesson on) and pretty short, or is it long and narrow.
Does it have a centerboard in addition to the fin at the rear?
What size sail do you have?
If you are having problems with your rig powering up too fast, and pulling you off the board, let's talk some tuning tips to make your rig less powerful, and some techniques to
make it power up more slowly, as well as some tips to get your more firmly set on your board so you can handle more power, more quickly.
To depower your rig, you need to downhaul it more, and outhaul it more. Check for numbers written near the bottom front corner of your sail, and also perhaps on the outside of your sail bag.
There should be numbers indicating the mast specifications (i.e. 460 cm IMCS 24-26);
the recommended luff length ( the length of the mast and the amount of extension your base adds at the bottom of the mast); and a boom length.
It's very important that you set your rig up fairly close to the recommendations as you want it to give good steady power and be easy to handle.
Try putting on a little more extension ( 5 cm more than suggested by the mfg.) and a bit more downhaul and outhaul to flatten the sail and allow the top of the sail to be a little looser and "twist off" more easily. These two things will depower your rig to the extent possible and make it more balanced and easier to handle.
Next let's discuss where you are positioning yourself on your board BEFORE you add power to your sail.
After you uphaul, it works best to move back on your board until both of your feet are behind the mast foot and you have your front foot (upwind foot) about 4-6 inches outboard and upwind of the mast foot and also about 4-6" behind the mast foot.
Then place the heel of your rear foot right on the fore/aft centerline of your board and a comfortable shoulder width behind your front foot. Turn your rear foot slightly forward.
This puts you in a very steady, balanced position on your board where you will be able to handle the power from the rig more easily and you won't be tipping the board (which makes it steer in the direction it's tipped). The board needs to be very flat (side to side and front to back as well) before you power up your rig.
Your board needs to be aligned across the wind. You do this by leaning your rig slightly forward or backward to cause the board to turn until the wind is blowing across the board at a 90 deg. angle to the fore/aft centerline.
Using only your front hand (if your rig is light enough) try to bring your rig up in front of your front shoulder until the mast is mostly on the upwind side of the centerline and the rig tends to balance on the mast foot. This puts most of the weight of the rig on the board through the mast foot so you do not have to deal with very much weight.
Now reach forward right in front of your rear shoulder with your back hand and put 2 fingers on the boom.
Rotate your shoulders and upper body (from the hips) moving the back shoulder back and inboard and the front shoulder turns more inboard as well. Just turn a very slight amount, and your rig will rotate with your upper body and begin to power up.
If it pulls too much or too suddenly, let go with the 2 fingers of your back hand and try again. Unrotate your shoulders until you are facing almost forward with your upper body (you will be facing the rig and your shoulders will be parallel with a line running from the mast to the center of the end of the boom), and try again.
Put 2 fingers on the boom and slowly rotate about 5 degrees. Do this very slowly and carefully and your rig should gain just a little power, but enough to start you moving.
I would guess this is the cause of most of your issues with getting underway on your windsurfer.
You are trying to do things a little too quickly and sheeting the sail in far too much, and much too quickly.
If you PULL the sail in with your back hand, quickly, the sail will pull back, and it will pull even the best sailors off the board nearly all the time, if not done gradually.
You have to add the power slowly and gradually increase it.
Hope this helps,

floridagirl 3rd March 2009 08:37 AM

I was able to go out and try again using the advice I received. Thank you for taking the time to reply in detail. It really helped! I was able to make it "go" this time. Now I just have to learn how to stear and turn! :-)

Roger 3rd March 2009 09:38 AM

Hi floridagirl,
Excellent, good to hear that the suggestions worked for you.
We still do not know if your board has a centerboard or not.
That will pretty much dictate how you need to steer.
With a centerboard, lean the rig forward (mast arcs forward toward the nose of the board a little at a time) and the power in the rig will move forward on the board and turn you off the wind (downwind, away from the wind). Be sure to sheet out (open the sail up away from the boards centerline) as you turn further off the wind.
Avoid sailing directly downwind as it's going to be hard to gain it back as you cannot sail
straight upwind and must tack several times to gain the ground lost on a short "downwind excursion".
If you want to sail more upwind, tip the rig to the rear a little and maybe sheet it in a little, and your board will turn upwind. Be sure to level the rig as soon as you've reached your new course otherwise the board will continue to turn upwind until you stall the sail.
If you do not have a center board, you must "steer" the board by tipping it slightly. Tip the upwind rail down to sail upwind, and tip the downwind rail down to sail downwind.
Turning around is fairly easy as well.
Tip your sail all the way back and slowly bring it in over the center line of your board.
This will turn you up into the wind.
When the board is heading nearly staight up into the wind, Step over the mast foot, until you are facing the other way, then let your sail out until the end of the boom is straight downwind and you are on the other side of the board.
Now you can sheet in, just as described in the previous note, and sail off in the other direction.
Hope this helps,

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