How to do a Windsurfing Jump

How to do a Windsurfing Jump

I grew up and learned to windsurf in El Médano. Here we have waves nearly every day and the stronger the wind, the bigger the waves. In other words, for me it came naturally to pick up speed and at some point hit the wave right to tale off into the air.
Most people who pick up confidence to windsurf at speed here end up doing a windsurfing jump sooner or later, mostly by accident. Let’s look at how to make a controlled jump so you can enjoy some air time without risking a crash. (more…)

How to Windsurf – The Waterstart

How to Windsurf – The Waterstart

The waterstart: portal to the small volume boards. The manoeuvre that separates the men from the boys, real windsurfers from the newbies, the dedicated from the dabblers…. The waterstart is THE manoeuvre you need to get a hang of to truly enjoy the sport of windsurfing.

If we remember my post on the beachstart, I mention that the beachstart is 95% technique and 5% wind. The waterstart is 80% technique and 20% wind. This means that we can still do a waterstart easily even if the wind drops. However, I have seen so many people unable to sail back to shore when the wind dropped just because their waterstart technique was useless. Therefore I recommend that everybody read this even if they know how to do the waterstart.

The technique of the waterstart is very similiar to that of the beachstart. Basically you can think of the waterstart as a beachstart without touching the ground. Therefore I recommend getting the beachstart technique sorted out before you tackle the waterstart.

Pulling the sail out of the water

I wrote a separate article on how to get the sail out of the water for the waterstart and positioning the gear to save time and energy. You can read up on it now and come back to this post later or finish this one first. For now the main piece of information I want to to take away is that you make sure you keep the sail flat on the water surface to avoid the end of the boom sticking in the water and undoing all your progress of getting the sail to hover out of the water.

Now to the actual waterstart:

We position the board similar to the beachstart, beam reach or slightly more downwind for more sail surface (if there is little wind). We get the board into this position with the same pushing/pulling on the mastfoot as the beachstart only that we need the keep our body more tense as we don’t have a ground to use as fixed point.To get and maintain the board in place we can hold the boom or mast with the front hand and the back footstrap with the back hand.

With these two contact points we can lever the board into place. We can either move on to the next step immediately if we have enough wind or, if we don’t have enough wind, wait for a gust strong enough to lift us is what comes next: Once we have the gear laid out correctly we put the back foot on the board. If there is enough wind we can put both feet on the board which will give us greater control. However, if we use only one foot we can use the other leg to swim upwards and help us get on.

A very important note, when you put your foot on the board DO NOT push the board away from you. You want to lay the foot on the centerline of the board and pull it towards you if anything. Pushing the board away with the back foot will cause the board to turn into the wind and leave us luffed up so far that we no longer have any wind lifting us.

So: lay the back foot on the centerline of the board and push with your front hand onto the mastfoot through the mast. As soon as the foot is on the back hand goes from the back footstrap to the boom (if you didn’t have there already). Once there do not immediately pull down. What you want to do is pull the back hand upwards towards the mast top. Basically over your head. Our intention is to keep the boom horizontal throughout the whole procedure.

As you do this you want to bend your knees and lean your shoulders forwards so that your chest is touching your knees. What this does is in essence position the sail as vertical as possible while bringing your weight centre as low and close over the board as possible. The result is as much sail surface available to the wind to lift us up and the minimum resistance of your bodyweight to pull us down.

Windsurf waterstart 3 components

Do not sabotage yourself

As soon as we start to get lifted out it is important to avoid two things:
– Bend the front arm
– Lunge forwards with our hips

Both of these will sabotage our efforts and make us fall backwards into the water again. Try to keep this in mind:we want the sail to lift us out of the water with the wind. We DON’T want to pull ourselves up as we would doing pull-ups.

Once our body’s weight centre is over the board we must start to open the sail again to avoid being catapulted over the other side.

And to top it all off we need to keep the boards position steady throughout the whole procedure. As you can see, it is quite a complex maneouvre indeed and one that takes a while to be mastered. I would definitely recommend getting an instructor to guide you for the first two hours as keeping all of these things in mind is nearly impossible… Also, it will stop you from taking up bad habits (especially the front arm and hip lunging thing).

How to Water-start

So, to recap:

– Board on beam reach or slightly downwind

– Wait for wind gust if not enough constant wind

– Foot resting on the board, not pushing the board away

– Front arm straight and leaning the mast forward

– Bend knees

– Shoulders forward

– Let the sail lift us up and NOT pull ourselves up

– Open the sail in time

– Maintain board direction steady throughout all manoeuvre

Again, here is the post on lifting the sail out of the water.

How to Windsurf in the Footstraps

How to Windsurf in the Footstraps

Once we have figured out how to use the harness properly, we will have had more than a few catapults and silly lunges over the lee side due to not hooking out in time and not having anything to stop us from flying over forwards. It is time to learn how to use the footstraps.

Be it to avoid getting pulled off the board or to keep the board under control when jumping off a wave, the footstraps are a crucial component to windsurfing with speed.

A prerequisite to using the footstraps usually is knowing how to plane when windsurfing. The main difficulty we are faced with is the actual position of the footstraps on the board. They are much further back than our basic windsurfing stance. This means we have to learn how to sail with our feet towards the back of the board and compensating for the weight at the back with the sail position and pressure on the mast foot (I will get to that in a moment) and for this it is easier if we know how to plane.

Windsurfing Footstrap foot positions

The sail pressure point further back and the centre of gravity further back cause the board to slow down and shoot into the wind.

Up until now we have gotten used to a certain body position that feels comfortable for the ideal sail position. Now we must get used to a new body posture that has the feet more towards the back.

How to learn to use the footstraps

My recommendation is to start off with no footstraps and get used to sailing with your feet gradually further back until you are able to sail as comfortable as possible with your feet where the footstraps would be without losing control (like having the board shoot into the wind).

How to stop the board from turning into the wind with the feet in the footstraps?

This is a question I get asked a lot and a problem I need to correct very often. Think of it this way. As we move our feet back we tend to keep our body position with regard to the board the same as always. However, this means that we are bringing the sail to the back of the board. This means that not only are we moving our weight further back (which causes the back of the board to sink more and thereby cause more resistance and slow us down) but moving the sail back which causes the board to luff up. These two components cause the board to turn into the wind uncontrollably.

So, what to do? We can do two things. The first is to consciously lean the sail forward. This is a motion we are already used to but it also has a disadvantage, it means we have to lean forward, putting a lot of weight on our front foot, meaning we are more prone to getting catapulted. Also, this technique is hard to apply if we are hooked in the harness.

So let’s look at the second option. We must apply pressure on the mast foot. It may sound strange but keep reading. The idea is to push/pull downwards with our front arm in line of the mast towards the board. What this does is cause the board to receive a sideways force on the front which keeps it on course. This method doesn’t require the sail to be leant so far forward that we lose control and it helps keep the board flatter on the water so we don’t create so much resistance.

Think of it as trying to get your front arm elbow to the mastfoot while holding on to the boom.

Now comes the actual getting into the footstraps. I have a theory that differs a little from what is usually taught. Most people are shown to put the front foot into the strap first and then the back foot. I agree with this … when sailing on flat water.

However, when we are sailing in waves or choppy water, my recommendation is to put the back foot in the footstrap first and then the front one. I will write a future post describing why but for now I will just say that the back foot in the footstrap is the one that stops us from doing a catapult.

Putting the back foot in the footstrap is not so difficult and so the change in body position will not be too big other than standing with a wider stance. The difficult part is putting the front foot is the strap as it is usually the one we are pushing into the board with and that is stopping us from being pulled over forwards. The trick is to push down and onto the mast foot with the front hand as we lift up the front foot to make up for the missing pressure of the foot.

That’s all I have on windsurfing with the footstraps. Let me know your thoughts.

Hit the Brakes – How to Stop in Windsurfing

Hit the Brakes – How to Stop in Windsurfing

Optin box


This may be a silly question to some people but I have had it asked by various students. There are actually 3 ways to stop:


1. Let go of the sail.

The most obvious is naturally to let everything go, in other words, just drop the sail and let it fall into the T-position. With no power in the sail there is no propulsion and the sail dragging through the water causes ennough resistance to make you stop moving in a few short metres. The disadvantage: we will no longer have anything to hold on to so we have to either bend lur knees for stability or fall in the water.

How to Stop a Windsurfer - Drop Sail

2. Luff up to a standstill

There will be times where letting go of the sail is just not an option. Maybe there is someone downwind of you or you want to keep in control procedure, like shen sailing in waves. Also, if we are going fast, the sail falling in the water will cause the board to stop moving pretty quickly meaning that, since you are not wearing a seatbelt, you will go flying. The best option is to lean the sail far back and to put a lot of weight on the back foot so that the board turns into the wind quickly. This way we stop moving and lose power in the sail quickly while staying in control of the equimpent all the time.


How to Stop a Windsurfer - Luff up to the max

Click on image to see in full size

3. Press against the wind

For those with a little bit more experience, when we are plodding along slowly and need to stop we can lean the mast into the wind and push with our back hand. Obviously this requires good sail control as we need to lean against the power of the sail with precision. I tend to use this when I sail closely behind my students and they fall in. In this situation none of the others would be possible.

How to Stop a Windsurfer - Press sail against the wind

I hope this has answered the question for some people and given a few ideas to others.