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JSW225 9th May 2010 01:48 AM

Stuck between not planing and planing

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?

Roger 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,

PG 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).

JSW225 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.

agrelon 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,


JSW225 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?

Roger 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,

agrelon 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!


JSW225 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?

Roger 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,

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