The waterstart could be an easy and energy saving way to get going again after falling in the water. However, a lot of the time I see how people on a more advanced level (such as learning how to gybe in lessons with me) waste a lot of energy on the waterstart. In my previous post on how to waterstart I only focused on the waterstart itself and skipped the part on how to get the sail out of the water or position the gear. In this post I will focus on how to lay out the gear and lift the sail out of the water in the most energy efficient way so that your sessions on the water can last longer.
Check the wind direction
Missing this small little detail is by far the one which has robbed the most people of a lot of energy. By trying to lift the sail out at an angle which has the wind pushing down on the sail rather than going underneath it and lifting it up, many windsurfers end up tired in a matter of minutes. Before you do anything in terms of handling the gear or making a physical effort for the waterstart, take a moment to ensure you have a clear notion of the wind direction.
Put the sail on what would be/is the upwind side of the board when the board is pointing in the direction we want to start in
Let’s assume we want to start on a starboard tack. If we have the sail on the upwind side of the board, all we have to do is turn the board under the sail (if necessary) so that it is set out on the starboard tack. If the sail were laying downwind of the board, simply lay out the board so that if the sail were upwind, it would be set out for a starboard tack.
Position the sail so that the mast is on the sailing direction and the clew is on the aft side of the board
If the sail is not already laid out like this, we must flip the sail. The way we do this is by positioning the clew upwind of the mast and starting to lift the clew out of the water until the wind gets some of the sail surface and helps you by pushing the clew all the way on to the lee side.
Turn the gear so that the mast is between 20° and 90° to the wind
There are two ways we can turn the gear. I generally recommend considering the mast top as the centre of rotation and making the board move around it, always with the bow first (as this is the natural direction to move in and will be wasier). The exception is when the gear is practically already correctly laid out and all that is needed is a few more degrees around. It is more effective to swim 20° in the unnatural sense than 340° in the natural one. I recommend grabbing the mast between the boom and the mastfoot and swimming paraell to the board.
Swim to the correct position along the mast
The closer the sail is to 20°, the higher up on the mast we must position ourselves to start lifting up the sail. The closer to 90° the sail is to the wind the closer to the boom we must position ourselves. At the 90° mark we must be at around 60 cm (2ft) above the boom.
Swim to the wind until the sail is flat on the water surface
Start swimming towards the wind with the mast in hand until the sail is lying flat on the water. Do not lift the mast out of the water until the sail is flat on the water as if the clew is still to deep in the water when you lif the sail up, the wind will blow the sail out of your hand and over the clew instead of getting the rest of the sail out of the water smoothly.If the clew is in the water you will not be able to hold it when the wind hits the sail, and if you are able, all that is going to happen is that the sail sinks into the water again.
Lift up the sail slowly and don’t stop swimming
With the sail flat on the water we start lifting the sail with constant upward force. Do not jerk it upwards. The water on the sail will keep the sail from going up and all you are going to do is waste energy. Lift up the sail slowly so that the water can run out of the sail as you slowly lift it up. Slowly lift the mast about 30 cm (1 foot) over the water surface so that the wind can do the rest of the sail lifting for you. Do not stop swiming towards the wind or the clew will start to slip deeper into the water.
Set up for the waterstart
So to recap:
– Check wind direction
– Set up board relative to the sail first
– Then rotate to get mast between 20 and 90 deg to the wind
– Grab mast and swim towards the wind until the sail is laying flat on the water
– If the sail is not flat in the water it can get stuck in the water an undo all the progress.
– Start lifting the sail by continuing to swim towards the wind and lifting it up slowly but steadily.
– Do NOT jerk it upwards as tere is water weighing the sail down and will just use a lot of energy for little result.
– Slow steady lifting up so the water can roll off the sail.
– Raise it up to 30 cm so the wind lifts it up completely
– Do waterstart