Yeah, I hope to see you there. I'm sure I could give you some waterstarting
tips. Actually it sounds like you are ahead of me! I have never even attempted
to tack since I've been using shortboards, let alone jibe!!! I envy that you can
tack AND sometimes even jibe! And if you are in the harness and working
on the foot strap then you're only a few sessions behind me on that because
I found that progressed fairly quickly, and I still haven't quite nailed it (but
I haven't sailed in almost 2 weeks for various reasons, not the least of which
has been lack of wind). The only thing I'm ahead of you on is waterstarting,
I've got than down cold.
I think you definitely got the right idea about working on steering the board
with the sail in shallow water. That is the crucial first step. I don't know how
I missed your post on waterstarting, I would have responded if I'd seen it.
The problem I first had when waterstarting was whenever I'd fly the sail
the board would round up into the wind. This was solved by pulling the
sail further forward into the wind quickly. So let's say the wind is from
your left, so you're on the left side of the board and the sail is as always
leeward with the mast towards the wind, with the boom resting on the
tail. Your right hand should be grasping the rear footstrap, your left
hand grasping the mast just above the boom. In one quick motion
pull the mast towards the wind and up a little bit so it catches the wind.
I had to learn to pull it so far forward that my left arm was comletely
extended and locked at the elbow and shoulder, and that stopped the
rounding up problem. Later I refined this into steering, the more you pull
the mast into the wind, the more the board will steer downwind, the more
you push it back towards the board, the more the board will steer upwind.
(You can also steer the board in this position by applying and releasing
mast foot pressure, i.e. pushing the mast towards the foot or the
opposite, but this is much more difficult than steering with moving the
mast windward and leeward, and a more advanced technique that it
seems to me is only useful once in a while).
After I got to where I could steer the board with the sail while preparing
to waterstart, the next step was putting my foot (or feet) onto the board.
My first instructor was really bad, he taught us to put both feet on the
board. That only works in the highest winds. I have since learned that
it is much better to put only the rear foot on the board until you are
standing. It works MUCH better in lighter winds and even works in
high winds too, it just takes a little less energy to put up both legs
in high winds and let the sail pull you up more, but for learning you
want to be using just the rear leg.
Imagine you are lying on the ground with one foot up on a bench and
you want to stand up on the bench, somebody is standing on the bench
reaching down to give you a hand. It's going to be much easier for you
to stand up on the bench with one leg first (and easier for them to pull
you up) than if you put both feet up and then they try to pull you up.
The other advantage of standing with only the rear foot first is it puts
alot of pressure on the tail as you stand helping to prevent the board
from rounding up which is the hardest thing to overcome when water
So you got the sail flying, the board is across the wind, rear foot
is on the tail in front of the rear strap. Next get both hands on the
boom. Work on being able to hold this position for a long time
before trying to waterstart. You need to be totally stable in this
position before even attempting the start. That is, sail flying,
one foot on the board, both hands on the boom, and maintaining
the proper orientation of the board to the wind. Once you can
hold that position for 30 seconds or more you're ready to try to
Another problem I had early on was thinking the sail was supposed to
pull me up by my arms, via the boom. I finally learned that the sail
is not supposed to pull me up (except it can when you are advanced
and in very high winds) but while learning it was a big mistake for me
trying to get the sail to pull me up. What I learned is you have to
get the sail upright on the board, then pull YOURSELF up by
using the boom like a chin up bar once the mast is vertical.
So from the stabilized position just described, the next step is
to tilt the mast forward to try to get it as vertical as possible
while you are still in the water. The more vertical you get the
mast, the more you can pull yourself straight up like a chin up
bar, standing on your rear foot. To get the mast vertical, you
must fully extend both arms as they hang on to the boom, and tilt
the mast as forward as you can. Also in order to get the mast vertical
you need to move closer to the board. This is why people (including I
think Peter Hart) tell you to try to imagine you are going to try to stick
your head between the boom and the sail, and stick your head forward
between your two extended arms.
Getting the mast vertical mostly involves tilting it up and then forward,
swinging the boom in a rorward arc, but also tilting it up off the water
by getting your upper
body close to the board as just described. Once the mast is almost
vertical and catching the wind you can pull DOWN on the boom,
exerting mast foot pressure, at the same time pulling the board towards
you with your rear foot and extending your rear leg as you stand.
There are four important things going on at this point: you are getting
up on the board by two means: pulling up on the boom with the mast
as veritcal as possible, and extending your rear leg, at the same time
you are preventing the board from rounding up by the same two means
exerting all that pressure on the mast foot, and pulling the board towards
you and pushing down on the tail all with the rear foot. The mast foot
pressure is important for two reasons: it teaches you the proper way
to pull yourself up: by tilting the mast vertical then pulling straight down
on the boom, secondly to prevent the board from rounding up.
This is why Peter Hart tells you to imagine you are trying to
"head ***the mast foot". That gets you to get your head, and
thus your whole upper body, close to the board and sail, and
also gets you to focus on that all important mast foot pressure
while starting, and the swinging of he mast and your upper body
One you extend your rear leg and pull yourself up, it's all over,
the rest is easy. Step the other foot on and sail.
The things I would emphasize are first getting in the pre-start
position with both hands on the boom and one foot on the tail
and being able to hold this position for as long as you like while
maintaining the proper board and sail orientation. Secondly the
idea of tilting the mast forward, fully extending the arms, applying
as much mast foot pressure as you can, and
pulling up once the mast is vertical, not trying to get the sail to
pull you up, while simultaneously pushing down on the tail and pulling
the tail into the wind by extending the rear leg and pulling your heal
Hope that helps!
Shoreline sounds perfect because its closer to me than any
of the other sites. Look for me there starting next week. I
have a light blue AHD Free Diamond 70 (big wide board), a
bright yellow Retro 7.0 or a blue Revolution 5.4, a red and black
shorty wetsuit, and a white VW Eurovan camper with Gorge racks
on top (the kind that can stack multiple boards).
> I have been following your posts for a few weeks now, watching you
> progress as I too get better each time I go out. You're ahead of me I
> reckon, but I can't sail as much as you :-( At least I get out in the
> Bay area every weekend and a few times at lunchtime to Shoreline in
> Mountain View.. don't telll my boss :-)
> I started in July and I too got hooked - now have my own board (Techno
> 283) and a few sails (Retro 5.5 and Z1 6.6). I usually sail at the
> beginner friendly spots of Shoreline (lake), Alemeda and Berkeley, but
> on Sunday I went to Candlestick.... wow! The people there were
> incredibly friendly and helpful, especially when I told them it was my
> first time there. The wind went from 0 to 20 in about 10 minutes and
> I was zipping along at high speed in the harness and flirting with the
> front foot strap. However I also took some spectacular falls for
> which I could have gotten some frequent flier miles :-) My gybes work
> sometimes but my shortboard tacks are getting quite good thanks to the
> ABK clinic (you should take one or more of these for sure). The wind
> is a bit gusty at Candlestick, but the water is much flatter than
> places like 3rd Avenue I've been told.
> However my waterstart is nearly non-existant, so I ended up being the
> only person uphauling in gusts of probably 25mph+ with my 5.5 sail.
> My success rate was about 1 in 3, so I spent a lot of time in the
> water and finally called it a day after about 2.5 hours due to being
> freezing cold in my 3/2 wetsuit and not being able to waterstart. By
> the way, even though the breeze is offshore, just follow the direction
> of everyone else and you won't go wrong - they go up wind just a
> little. The place felt pretty safe to me - my arms felt pretty tired!
> Rather than give up I headed down to Shoreline to work on the
> waterstart. I know the theory, read the articles and books, watched
> my Peter Hart videos - but the practise is eluding me :-( I know that
> to get out n the Bay and have fun it is essential unless I never fall,
> which is about 20 years or more away :-)
> This is part of an article I posted yesterday (under plumeria) about
> my waterstartig problems :
> The thing I have been trying so hard to learn for the past few weeks
> is the waterstart. I got up maybe once in twenty or thirty attempts
> and that was where I could just touch the bottom.
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