Saturday, March 3, 2012

A few good finds

I stumbled upon a couple of things on the web recently that I really liked. One is a guide to basic tuning of your gear from Eric Loots, based on recommendations by Kean Rogers. It is intended for speed gear, but I think a lot of the steps make sense for freeride and other windsurf gear, too. The one thing I found most interesting is step 10, which Eric explained in a separate picture:
The point here is that the harness lines should be in the middle between the footstraps to get a balance setup which will make the board loose and fast. This position should allow even pressure on both legs, which is ideal. Having the harness line further towards the back strap means more pressure on the back leg, which can (a) be tiring and (b) lead to more spinouts from excessive back foot pressure. It might also lead to leaving the sail a bit more forward and not closing the gap, which will also be slower.

One thing that is interesting about this advice is that it somewhat contradicts another piece of advice that I have heard often: "mast foot back for more speed, forward for more control". The idea is that moving the mast foot back will reduce the wetter surface of the board and thereby make you go faster. There may be some truth to that, but I think that control is more important - top speeds require full control. So in my next few sessions, I'll ignore this rule, and instead adjust mast foot position (and boom height) to center the harness lines between the footstraps.

The other interesting tidbit I found was an instructional video for the Vulcan from the folks at Here it is:

What I like most about it is that it is simple. I have heard a few Vulcan lectures, read about it, and watch other instructional videos, but they all made the move look terribly complicated. For example, the Tricktionary states that at or right after the takeoff, three things have to happen at the same time. I'm sorry, but when learning a new move, I only can concentrate at one thing at a time. If I need to do three things, tell me what to concentrate on first, then the next one, and finally the third one. After I mastered the first one, I'll probably mess it up again when I concentrate on the second one - but eventually, I'll get the first two, and then can go on to the second one. Here is how I get the successive steps from the above video:

  1. Learn to pop the board. They have a nice separate video for this step. Two things to learn hear are (a) to get the body over the board at take off, and (b) to pull up the back leg so the tail comes up.
  2. Before take off, move the front hand to the mast and the back hand back.
  3. When taking off, look down at your back leg. This will turn your body and initiate the board rotation.
  4. At the same time, pull you back foot up into your butt. Ok, this sounds like two things at the same time, but it's actually what we learned to do in step 1. The difference is that we don't extend it for the landing, but instead wait for the nose to hit the water. With a bit of rotation from step 3, we should now turn the board 45-90 degrees before falling backwards into the water.
  5. Now add the sail handling: at takeoff, move the mast forward and quickly pull in with your back hand, before letting the boom snap out of your back hand (like you'd do in a fast tack). This will help to get the nose rotating downwind more.
  6. In the air, pull the front hand across you, leaving the arm quite extended and pushing down on your front hand. Grab the boom on the other side with your new hand.
  7. As you are landing, extend the back leg, and keep the weight forward over the bent front leg.
  8. Sliding backwards now, put your back hand on the boom, and move the front handback. Keep the arms extended so that the weight of the rig is towards the nose to help the slide.
  9. When you slow down, sheet in slowly to reverse direction. Switch your feet when the board stops or after gaining some speed again.
All this happens in the space of about 3 seconds, so each individual step will have to be automated so it happens without thinking. I'm guessing I'll need 20-50 tries for each step, plus some more to go back when concentrating on the next step messes up an earlier one. So it will still be several hundred tries in total, but with a Clew-View mounted GoPro, I should be able to monitor progress along the steps above. So, many thanks to Phil and Danielle from for their video - it's the first Vulcan video that really made me want to learn the Vulcan.

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