A standing start, or beach start, is the technique of stepping straight onto the sailboard and sailing away. It is a useful skill to learn.
In the beach start, the sailor holds the sail up, then simply steps onto the board and is away. This windsurfing technique saves a lot of up-hauling the sail, and is easier on equipment.
Being able to do standing starts is an important stepping stone to mastering deepwater starts on a windsurfer short board.
Water Depth for a Standing Start
The depth of water to start in will depend on the size of the fin or skeg. As the board will tend to sink or dip down when the sailor steps on, the depth of water needs to be around twice the length of the fin. A good guide is to only do standing starts in water deeper than knee deep.
Position of the Sail and Board is Important
As with nearly every aspect of windsurfing, the position of the sail and board in relation to the wind is crucial. The board must be pointed in the direction of desired travel, with the wind coming over the sailor’s shoulder. By holding the boom and describing the base of the mast through an arc, the board can be moved around to get it in the correct position.
A foot on the board, or a rough push also helps in lining up the board. The board should be positioned so it is facing downwind on a slightly broad reach. Then the sail should be filled with wind and slight power applied with the back hand, all the time keeping the board pointed in the right direction by subtle movements of the mast base.
The Standing Start
Pick the moment and quickly step the back foot onto the centre of the board, forward of the back footstrap. Quickly follow up with the front foot and keep the power in the sail, making sure the rig is pushed forward while stepping onto the board.
These actions needs to be done quickly. There is no time to lose or suddenly stop half way; it is a decisive movement.
Problems With Standing Starts
The most common problem with standing starts is the board comes into the wind when the sailor steps on board. This is eliminated by remembering the first basic rule of sailboarding: push the sail forward to sail downwind, or away from the wind. This is exactly what should happen when the sailor steps onto the board. Stepping up and forward, so the rig also moves forward, will reduce the tendency for the board to swing into the wind.
From Beach Starts to Deepwater Starts
Once beach starts have been mastered, the next stage is to move to deepwater starts. This is where the sailor lies in the water and lets the wind lift the body onto the board.
To get ready for deepwater starts, the sailor should gradually move into deeper water with standing starts. It gets harder as the water gets deeper; as the step up with the back foot is a long way in thigh-deep water.
Standing starts, or beach starts, on a windsurfer are one of the most satisfying skills to learn. Not only does it look good to simply step onto the windsurfer and sail away, but it is also much easier way to start, for both the sailor and the equipment.