Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Better Way to Jibe?

I just noticed an interesting thread on the iWindsurf forum about jibing. Spencer Thompson, aka Spennie the Wind Junkie, had suggested that taking the front foot out for jibing (a) reduces the chance of injury, and (b) makes it easier to keep speed in jibes. Spennie stated that this works well even in chop, as long as the knees are bent enough.
My jibes are pretty decent, and it's rare that I fall during a jibe on my own gear, unless I'm surfing in unusual conditions (e.g. a lot more wind and chop than I'm used to). However, one of the things that makes me mess up jibes every now and then is that I can't get the front foot out of the strap. So taking the foot out before the jibe sounds like an interesting idea worth trying.

Andy McKinney did actually try it, and posted a video about his tries. His conclusion was that it worked better with the front foot in the straps. However, the board he used for his tests was a freestyle board, which had the foot straps mounted very far to the front and to the center of the board. Furthermore, the straps were very wide, so that the front feet are very close to the center line. This is very different to the boards I typically sail, which have foot straps that are further back, and much more to the outside of the board. On these boards, putting the feet in front of the straps to the center would place them pretty much at the place where the straps are on Andy's boards. Therefore, the results may be quite different when tested on "out-back" foot strap boards.

But Andy definitely had the right idea: this is a thing that's easy to test. I'll try it out as soon as I get to it, and I'll do it with a GPS that gives me cold, hard data about jibe speed. The one thing in my jibes that still needs improvement is the end speed. My minimum speed in jibes is typically only about 40% to 50% of the entry speed. I think one problem is that I'm flipping the sail to late; but nevertheless, a different foot placement is certainly worth exploring.

The funny thing is that my first chance to do so is during an ABK camp week. Andy Brandt has a great way of teaching jibes, and it's his "fault" that my jibes are looking good now. But he's also particular to the way he does the laydown jibes, and tends to correct campers who jibe differently (for example a sail-first jibe). Well, I'll just have to hope that we get wind during the two days before camp that we'll be there. As I explained in a previous post, I'm already planning to question the wisdom of teaching the Vulcan as the first New School trick, so we should have some interesting discussions :)

So, here's a suggestion for other windsurfers that use a GPS: try both ways of jibing, and let us know what the results are - both the GPS results and how it felt (videos are also great, of course). I have an example of a jibe analysis generated with GPS Action Replay in a previous post.

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