The duck gybe is one of the easiest extensions to our free-ride repertoire as it shows class without being very difficult. In essence we just take advantage of the relative wind being zero on the running course in order to flip the sail around the clew. Let me go into the step by step:
- Grab the boom a little bit further back with the back hand
- Bear away like you would for the power-gybe
- Once you are nearly on the running course (when your relative wind speed is 0) instead of releasing the back hand to shift the sail, release the front hand and simultaneously bring the clew of the sail forward with the back hand
- Move the front hand to the back of the boom, closer to the clew than the back hand so that you can let go of the back hand
- The sail should now already be with the mast on the correct side only that we are still holding on to it on the old side of the boom
- The back hand (now to be the front hand) grabs the boom on the new side
- The old front hand comes on to the new side of the sail and grabs the boom further forward than the previous hand
- The new front hand grabs the boom close to the mast and we prepare to shift our feet
- We Finnish positioning our feet correctly as we start to catch wind again on the new side
- Push your hips forward and lean back with your shoulders to continue planing on the new course
The idea is to do all this sequence of steps with no wind in the sail. For this we must be going as fast as the wind so that the relative wind in zero. You can start practicing this manoeuvre by just bearing away onto a running course, shifting the sail around the clew and then continuing to shift it around the mast so that we can continue sailing into the same direction. This will allow you to focus only on the sail control and add the foot position and weight transfer once the sail handling is under control.
One last tip:
Don’t let the mast touch the water as it will get stuck in the water, make the kit come to a sudden halt and send you flying forwards, possibly getting hurt in the process. I call this the involuntary superman.