How To Improve Sailboarding Technique

Ways A Sailboarder Can Enhance Techniques On A Windsurfer

Every beginner windsurfer at some time would have watched the ‘hotshots’ carving fancy gybes and other tricks and wondered why they can’t master those techniques.

Like anything requiring physical co-ordination, the only way to improve is through practice. Practice! Practice and more practice!

Turns Are An Important Sailboarding Skill

Practice shouldn’t be as tedious as it sounds. The simple trick is to do a lot more turns, as turning a sailboard is the major component of technique.

This is similar to snow skiing. A skier who goes down a slope and does twenty turns has practised much more than the skier who has done only five turns on the same slope.

In snow skiing, turning is the most important skill. Anybody can ski down a slope and not turn at all. It might be suicide or madness but it can be done. In windsurfing, the same applies. Anybody can lie back in a harness on a gun board with a big rig and go flat out in one direction. But that person will achieve little.

The ability to turn a sailboard, and turn it well, is what counts. In all types of competition the turns are the most crucial. Miss one turn around a mark in a slalom race and no matter how fast in the straight run, that time is lost.

Practicing Sailboard Turns

Practicing sailboarding turns is achieved by making a lot of short runs rather than long runs. Halfway through the usual run, try a turn and come back to the staring point, then try another turn. This is the same distance as one long run, but includes two extra turns.

Instead of a long, straight run, try sailing a ‘figure-of-eight’ circuit. Point upwind for a while, then turn onto a broad reach for a fast, tight turn, then point upwind again completing the ‘eight’ on the other leg. This type of circuit will exercise three elements of windsurfing:

  • turning;
  • pointing upwind; and
  • a momentary run on a fast broad reach.

Windsurfing Learning Plateau

Another annoying aspect in sailboarding, as in most other sports, is the ‘learning plateau.’ This occurs when a sailor has reached a certain point and just can’t improve. Maybe the duck gybe can’t be mastered, or landing after chop jumping just aren’t working.

One way to get around this is not to try to hard. Go out and have good blast. Fall in, get wet, but most of all enjoy. This is what it is all about and simply trying too hard can be the main problem.

Another is a sailboarding holiday. No doubt the majority of sailboarders work a nine-to-five job and only sail on weekends. Pick the weather of course and arrange a week off to sail for seven or so days straight. Five or six hours a day for a week on the water will definitely lift the skill level to a higher plateau.

Try changing style for a while. If the learning problem is in the surf, go longboard cruising for a while. Or if the duck gybe isn’t happening, try only carve gybes for a while. Different styles still means time on the water, and it might just be enough to lift the technique that little bit.

All these tips come down to two basic elements. Practise and thought! The person who spends more time on the water thinking about what he or she is doing is that much better that the person who is rarely wet.