Dream Team - School
Join Date: Aug 2006
Great to have more information! Long and narrow sounds like more of a "vintage" board. Many of us learned on them, but it wasn't as simple and easy as the more modern designs, largely because they are tippier and less stable. Modern novice boards have about the same volume but most if it is *under* your feet rather than out at the ends where you don't really ever go. Consider a pencil and a paper plate floating in a tub. They may have the same volume, but the plate has more "floatability".
Forgive me for being wordy but here we have to deal with a thousand words instead of a picture, or rather, to create the picture.
Setting the mast in the middle is just about always a safe choice. Having the mast there will allow the nose to rise a little bit, which is good, since as you have noticed, you don't have to "push" water as much. In dinghy sailing, you are usually sailing in *displacement" mode, sailing *through* the water. One does this in windsurfing in light wind most times, with a bigger longer board and smaller sail, such as you have. The goal for most windsurfers is to get planing (hydroplaning), rising up and over your bow wave, and get going *on top* of the water. Thus one needs to get the bow up, and it will rise as you pick up speed, so you are on the right track.
As for getting the sail to work, things will be different from dinghy sailing. You will want to raise the sail with one foot on either side of the mast base. Learn to balance against the weight of the rig, and try not to let the mast get too close to you. Hopefully, you have the board perpendicular to the wind direction, and the wind is hitting you in the back and the sail is flapping like a flag, also perpendicular to the wind.
So that we are all on the same page, let me bring up a sort of "visual" concept. One way we talk about the wind, and our relation to its direction, is the "wind clock". The wind clock has you at the center; the wind always blows from 12 o'clock, and toward 6. Your course will be to sail towards 3 or 9 o'clock, back and forth across the wind. You can't head up higher than 2 or 10 o'clock, and you won't want to head much farther down than 4 or 8 o'clock.
So you will have your back to the wind, facing down wind, with the sail just hanging off with no power in it. When you want to get started, AND to have the best mechanical advantage to deal with the power that will be in your sail, you will need to get behind the mast with your front foot on or next to the centerline of the board and the toes pointed forward. Your back foot will have to move farther back and be more or less across the centerline of the board. With you now behind the mast, you can pull the rig up and across the board as you rotate your body to face (let's say) 3 o'clock where you want to travel. As you face the front of the board, get the mast right across so that your left hand is in front of your left shoulder AS YOU FACE the nose and the direction in which you want to sail. The sail should still be flapping downwind with no power in it, and the mast should be tilted slightly into the wind. With your right hand, put 2 fingers (really) on the boom just in front of your right shoulder (NOT way out on the boom), "sheet in" just a bit to get the wind on your side of the sail. Don't pull the sail in more than a few inches or you will end up steering the board too far upwind. Don't REACH for the boom either. You will need to keep your shoulders positioned over your hips or actually a bit farther outboard and keep in mind the analogy to waterskiing: When the motorboat powers up, you need to lean BACK so as not to get pulled over forward.
Keep looking where you want to go: 3 PM. When in doubt, just let go with the 2 fingers and all the power will go away, you can catch your balance and start over, also check to see if the powerless sail flaps at a right angle to the board. Again, don't reach for the boom, but rather be sure that your front hand (here your left) has brought the mast past vertical and a little bit towards the wind. The boom will be right there, put your back hand on the boom with a VERY light grip (so that you can let go...) and sheet in just that few inches. Try not to let your thumbs go under the boom (squeezing doesn't help!) but just to hook your hands over the boom. Keep in mind, when in doubt... let it out! and you will have more control.
You may have seen other windsurfers flying along with the sail pulled in almost along the centerline of the board. You don't have the speed to do that YET. You probably know about "apparent wind" from dinghy sailing. If not, let us know! Anyway, you need speed to sheet in more, and right now you need to feel comfortable and confident sailing in a straight line. More speed comes more easily with practice. The idea is for you to be sailing the board, rather than for the board to be taking you for a ride.
For now, consider the wind clock, your course, balancing against the weight of the sailing when uphauling and determining where you CAN go, and then balancing against the pull of the rig when you do get going. Fail safe is always to let go with the hand farther from the mast, and to control the position of the mast with the hand closer to the mast.
That's probably enough for now. But please keep in touch and let us know what and how you are doing it.