Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Flowstyle 101

When Caesar Finies visited us here on Cape Cod a couple of weeks ago, he filmed a few minutes of Flowstyle from the same view point that I used in my recent video - the nose of the board. We even did some of the same tricks - but that's where the similarities end. His raw footage is much more interesting to watch than my heavily edited video. The remnants of my scientific education prompted me to study the "why" (beyond the obvious answer that he is much better looking). I will present my findings to you in a minute. Let's look at a very short fragment showing Caesar in action first - about 12 seconds. There was too much going on in these 12 seconds, so I added a slow-motion repeat, and annotated it:

Here's a list of the moves:
  • Sail-Body 360
  • Ankle Biter
  • Sail-Body 360 (from leeside sailing)
  • Clew push-through
  • Sail flip and sail duck (Reverse Sail 360)
Interestingly, most of these moves are pretty simple. The exception is the Ankle Biter, which is one of the harder light-wind freestyle moves to learn; but with proper instruction and equipment, an advanced windsurfer can learn the Ankle Biter in a few days. Nevertheless, the sequence is quite amazing.

What makes it amazing is that moves flow seamlessly into each other, without breaks in between. They also all go into the same direction, which "enhances the flow". Going back to my video, I started with a similar combo, a Sail 720 into a Sail-Body 360. But in my sequence, the sail rotation was going one direction, the sail-body rotation the other direction, making the sequence much less smooth. 

During Caesar's sequence, the board turned through the wind, without any visible effort on his side. One could argue that not having a fin in the board helped him - but sailing the board without a fin is in itself not entire trivial. When I tried, I had to concentrate quite hard to keep the nose from turning into the wind. Having the board turn "automatically" in the middle of a trick sequence not only adds to the magic, but it also sets up for a move repeat (the Sail-Body 360) from a different starting position, which makes the move look quite different.

In summary, here are some of the basic "Flowstyle 101" rules:
  • Keep moving! Flow from one trick into the next without breaks.
  • Keep the direction of flow! If you start going clockwise, add other moves that go the same direction - don't suddenly switch to a counter-clockwise move.
  • Mix the categories! Don't just go through endless series of board 360s, even if you change things like sail or board orientation. Instead, mix board moves, sail moves/throws, and sail-body moves. Two upwind 360s with a sail throw (Ankle Biter or Chacho Throw) in the middle look way cooler than three different upwind 360s in a row.
  • Learn variations of basic moves! After learning the Sail-Body 360, try it going around the other way, and starting from leeside (backwinded) sailing. If you got the Ankle Biter, learn the Clew First Ankle Biter. The same basic principles generally apply, but the moves often look quite different, making your routine much more interesting. 

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