Articles in Category: Jem Hall Windsurfing Technique Pages

Click on the image icons below to open up some great technique videos and instructional images. Here you will find the lowdown on how to push yourself into faster higher and stronger manouveres.

Lets go for it!

Carve Gybe

Carve Gybe


The gybe draws strongly and is built from having an efficient and fast blasting stance. Setting up for the gybe can be practiced whilst on a reach and continuing on that direction. The footwork and rig transition draw upon the skills learnt in the light wind gybe. Proficiency in clew first sailing will pay huge dividends in your gibing success rate. Lastly, the better your ability in getting planning the more smooth the transition from moving gybe to planing gybe. Therefore, the gybe can be addressed in stages.

Gybing Tip - #1 from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

Gybing Tip #2 from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

We can address the move by moving with efficiency through the key parts:

  • Set-up – Unhook, hang off the boom and take the back foot out of the strap whilst maintaining speed. The back hand is right down the boom with the back foot next to the back strap to give your feet space for the switch. Lastly, scissor the board downwind
  • Carving – Come over the inside rail and drop into the turn. Gradually increasing the back foot pressure. The front arm is extended with your rig forward and body back. Start to look out of the turn, where you want to go
  • Foot change and rig transition – As you come to downwind open the sail and continue looking out of the turn. With a heavily weighted back foot your front foot switches across the board and then the back foot can step forward. Keep the weight over the new back foot, carving through the heels and pause in the clew first position
  • Exit – Keep looking forwards. Slide the front hand down the boom to the mast and rotate the rig to the back and then draw the rig back forwards. Hang off the boom and drive the board back to speed.


  •  Unhooking, hanging off the boom and fast broad reaching
  • Switching the feet and sail on dry land in very light winds
  • Light wind gybes on a floaty board
  • Clew first sailing, clew first beachstarts.

Rig away – maintaining this through all the phases of the gybe will keep the board speed up as your weight will be on the rig and the board will be kept flat; another key fundamental.

Look where you want to go – This really is the top tip of the move. Look downwind on the entrance. During the foot change look out of the turn to enable shifting our weight. At the exit look forwards to keep up speed and enable a smooth transition back to full speed.

Clew first sailing - Become the master of this and your carve gybe success rate will increase significantly. The hands are spread wide and down the boom with your head looking forward and the clew pulled in tight, whilst your body resists the sails power. Your sailing line will be downwind from just off a beam reach to a broad reach.

Gybing Tip #3 from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

This video covers how to roll forward into your gybes, carving moves and bottom turns. Go with the rig and bend that front ankle as you 'Roll with it' in order to set the sail and commit you forward. Get into Gybing Tip #3 and transform your carving attack phase. The #top100tips are courtesy of #jemhallcoaching. Watch, Enjoy and Share please : )

More Top Carve Gybe Tips!

See also Windsurf Mag Carve Gybe

Forward Loop

Forward Loop

The forward loop is a balls out fun manouvre

The more efficient and effective you sail the easier it all is and we are therefore calling upon all our sailing skills.

  • Early planing - gets us up to speed to hit the right ramp
  • Sailing upwind - gets us into the position where the ramps are
  • Board control - extends the wind range we can do the move in
  • Equipment set-up – gives us the pop and keeps us in the straps.

Looping Tip - #1 from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

Whilst kit set up is personal, I find that the majority of good loopers have both a relatively high boom and a generous to big sizing of their footstraps.

In order to work towards the move concentrate on:

Improving and developing your jumping and chop hopping skills
Ensure that you are doing this airtime prep with your body over the board on take off.


Popping - Getting the board out of the water from setting up in a coiled position
Look where we want to go - We are aiming to rotate and it is therefore crucial to look behind you. This helps pull the clew in and stops you bottling out
Rig away - The front arm is extended through the rotation and landing. This increases rotational speed and lets the rig pull you from the water upon landing.

Key Stages

Setting-up - Getting low and ready to pop with the backhand right back.
Popping - Taking off cleanly whilst on a downwind course.
Rotation - Looking back, pulling in on the backhand and the back leg.
Landing - Extending the arms and scissoring the board to pull you out the water.

The Ramp

Choose a nice defined ramp, which is slightly downwind. It is amazing how much flat water has patterns of chop movement so keep scanning for those ramps. Small and steep waves are also very helpful. A little bit of chop downwind will give you so much more success than any sized ramp upwind.

Key Moves

  • Get low and ready to pop with back hand right back
  • Pop and take off downwind
  • Extend front arm towards the nose
  • Look back and pull in hard with back arm and leg
  • Stay tucked and keep looking back
  • Land and throw the rig upright and open
  • Scissor the board off and go into early planing mode.


Getting flung out the straps – Take off is downwind and ensure the board is out of the water before initiating rotation

Slow rotation

Ensure you are centred over the board
Extend the front arm more
Tuck back foot into your arse


Windsurf Jumping

Windsurf Jumping

Windsurf jumps

If you've been perusing some of the jumping articles and video clips you might be thinking it's about time I clocked up some aerial action. You may even aspire to become a freestyler or want to get out in the waves. It all depends on you. Jumping is often left till after blasting and gybing but there is no better time than the present to get into it.

My local spot of Southsea was quite bumpy and so we all got right into jumping early on, way before our gybes became accomplished. So here we will be covering how to get the board out of the water off a small piece of chop. This action is taken into waves and should you be a wannabe pilot and intend getting up very high then this popping action will be your ticket.

Tip - #1 from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

Jumping Tip #2 from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

The ability to pop off flat water will vastly improve your chances of getting into all the aerial sliding trickery around and is a real boon for your looping. Only by constantly trying these hops will your timing and technique improve, so keep at it.

Planning for Take-off

A good sailor analyses the water for gusts, lulls, bumps and is therefore always ahead of the game. So whilst sailing along scan ahead and upwind for troughs, and as your calculation of time and distance improves you’ll arrive at your chosen spot as a lovely little ramp presents itself. READ THE WATER for it has patterns, and as bits of chop double up sweet ramps will appear. If you add a shift in the wind to coming more from behind you then you’ll have the perfect ramp. You will take off slightly into the wind, which will bring the nose up and feed air under the board.


  • Popping - Getting the board out of the water from setting up in a coiled position.
  • Look where we want to go - We are aiming to spot our landing and maintain shape in the air and will therefore be looking forward.
  • Scissoring the board – Pull up on your back leg and extend the front leg to bear the board away in the air after your upwind take off.

Kit and Set-up

  • Smaller boards and sails under 6.0 are more lively and easier to pop. Although some of my very excitable intermediate clients try it on 150 litre boards and 8.0s.
  • Ensure your boom is high enough as low booms stick the board to the water.
  • Generous sized inboard straps allow you to point your toes in the air and trim the board to get the wind under it. Tight straps equal shit jumps and bad aerial trim.


  • Get down low ready to pop
  • Push through your back foot and toes HARD
  • Pull the front leg and boom up and forward
  • Pull the tail up and drop your body down
  • Bend the arms and keep tucked
  • Extend the back leg for a tail first landing
  • Throw the rig forwards and open whilst flattening the board


Try a couple on BOTH tacks, on every run and you’ll soon have it. Develop your board trim and style by going for one handed (hooked in) jumps. Use your chop hop skills off of waves and you will really fly as most people just sail off the wave, popping the board off the top of the wave will double your height.

Duck Gybe

Duck Gybe

how to do the windsurfing Duck Gybe

How is all that ‘gybe talking’ and doing going? Hope all the light wind homework and top tips I have been handing out over the last few months have been a good source of information and inspiration. The perspiration does not stop there as now it is time to embrace the duck gybe, and what a wondrous move it is! You have already got a lot of the skills required from your renewed gybing focus and you can duck the rig as you have been banging these out in your light wind training drills.

The Duck gybe is a natural progression from the carve gybe, and has been around our fab sport for 30 years or more, it is old school but feels so so good it will never go out of fashion.

I will breakdown this feature on what the Duck gybe is, who it is for, why and where we should do it, when to duck the rig and how to go about the whole process. The tips for the relevant stages of the move will be covered in a similar style to last month’s Gybe feature. You can of course get even more info on my fab ‘Beginner to Winner’ Coaching dvd, but then you already knew that.

The duck gybe is a great way to turn around downwind while planing and with speed. The sail is changed (ducked) early and then the board is carved / turned out. It is a simpler gybe then the step gybe.

If you are making 30% of your carving step gybes and going into them with speed and getting your sail light then this move is for you. It is also for the thrill seekers and for the people who want to improve faster and enjoy their sailing even more!

This feature is already scattered with a myriad of reasons. It is fun, it will improve you, it keeps you inspired and it feels great. Lastly, it is a little bit scarey and just might yield your first planing gybes – hoorah!

Choose a flatter section of water, either on flat water or between waves. As you nail them, and yes you will AND you can, then go for the duck gybe onto the wave or even off the wave

First tip and one of the most important and well used is duck it early. Make the move off the wind (on a broad reach for those in the know) and when the rig is light from your amazing set up and blistering approach speed.

As Bruce Lee says ‘don’t think, feel,’ it really does pay not to over think this move and just go for it, after a healthy amount of visualization of course.


// Get low and prepared, go fast to get the sail light and thereby ready to duck’

Tips to rip through the duck gybes


// Tackle the duck gybe challenge and work up to bigger sails’

Boards that turn well work best like Freestyle Wave and Freemove boards. The sail should not be too big to learn the move, so 6.0 and under is ideal and then once you have it dialled you can use as big as you dare!

It is a move to be workedon when low to medium powered, i.e. when you go downwind the sail goes light and is not making you fear for your life. If it is marginal I will often duck gybe as it is more fun and I am more likely to come out planing as I can get the power on again early.

The How Part
The preparation is as per a Carving step gybe, hand back, unhook, get low and bear away using the same steps covered in last month’s Gybe feature.


// Get low at the end and this gets you planing and in control

The Duck
• Roll forward into the approach as per a carve gybe to keep the sail light, set the rail and keep the sail ready for ducking.

• Whilst still on a broad reach go for the duck!, going for it early and when the sail is light.

• Front hand releases and crosses over to the very back of the boom, whilst the old back hand tilts rig forward towards the nose of the board. This keeps the mast out of the water, makes the back of the boom available to you and stops you getting dismissed.

• Whip the rig back past your ear like you are wiping sweat from your brow, with your new back hand (old front hand).

• Take on the mantra ‘Duck, pull and look.’

• Pull the rig across you as you look to your exit and get low with your hips across. Honestly, it will feel natural.

• Be aggressive with the pull across, yet subtle in the initial push and positioning of the rig forwards.

• Try to move your free hand towards the water like you are the one handed duck gybe master as this will get you low and dynamic and your hips will naturally shift. All this keeps the board carving.

• Pull the boom hard across you and only grab the boom on the new side when the front of it is available. Patience please and no boom walking!

• On big sails you are actually letting go of the boom and launching it forward pre duck.

• The sail will be hands free at moments in this beautiful move so enjoy these and relax.

IMG_5084 Squ

// Gybe off front foot, cross hands, duck, look, pull and then carve and switch feet – do it! – do it!’

The Carve
• The duck part of the move helps you get low and facilitates a smooth carve, further aided by looking at your exit.

• When the boom is in both hands (near the lines) and the arms are extended then you can focus on carving hard through the back foot to take you through the wind to the new direction, broad reach to broad reach.

• Really bend your front ankle and your back leg and imagine pushing your inside knee into the water.

• Feel your arc; go wider when it is windy and you are well powered, go narrower when less powered.

• Think ‘sail away, body low and carve the board.’ This will feel natural as the sail change is done so early.

• It is really important to actively sheet the sail out so as not to get pulled over the handle bars or stall the sail.

• Imagine the rig is moving to the outside as the hips move to the inside, just like a carve gybe.

The Exit
• You are so nearly there now so eyes on the prize.

• Keep spotting your exit (new direction) and as your hips are carving nice and low to the inside then your feet are ready to shift and switch.

• If it is a big board, then change your feet earlier

• If it is a smaller board, then you can come out and sail switch (old front foot still in its original strap) for a while.

• Both of the above are down to personal preference and for me I go for the early feet change.

• Carve out on your heels, as per a gybe.

• Get low and keep the rig away and strap up before hooking in.


// Try to drag your free hand in the water to add dynamism.

Finally, learn the move in both directions to keep your techniques in balance. This move has a lot going on but like all moves, keep it simple, focus and just go for it. You will have a few crashes but ‘failure is one step towards success’ and you are already ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable.’ The Duck Gybe is a flowing move that I truly love to teach, the more we duck the faster we grow and why we will always want to improve it.


You will need a good planing stance and to be carving through about 50% of your gybes. Having experience of ducking a rig from doing light wind freestyle will significantly increase the likelihood of successful completion.

Gybing Tip #4 - Duck Gybe from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

This is Gybing Tip #4 video is about the duck gybe, one of the best transitions of all time and easier than you think. As you enter the move tip the rig forward to enable you to reach the BACK of the boom and thereby 'Duck the rig EARLY.' The #top100tips are courtesy of #jemhallcoaching. Watch, Enjoy and Share please : )


Hanging off the boom and fast broad reach entrances to gybes
Ducking the sail on dry land in very light or no wind
Sail 360s on a floaty board in light winds.

Rig away – maintaining this through the phases of setting up, carving and the exit will keep the board speed up as your weight will be on the rig and the board will be kept flat; another key fundamental.

Look where you want to go – This really is the top tip of the move. We are looking downwind on the entrance. During the duck we are looking at the exit in order to smoothly take the board through the move and to the exit point of sail.

Key Stages:

  • Set-up – Unhooking and hanging off the boom whilst maintaining speed
  • Carving – Coming over the inside rail and carving the board smoothly and keeping up board speed
  • Ducking – Crossing over the hands and ducking the rig whilst keeping the board carving
  • Exit – Collecting the rig and tightening up the carve.
  • Key Moves
  • Slide back hand down boom
  • Unhook, hang and take back foot out of strap
  • Bear away heaps and then carve
  • Cross front hand over to back of the boom as back hand tilts rig forward
  • Whip rig back past your ear to duck it
  • Look at exit as you collect rig
  • Draw rig back as you carve off heelside
  • Hang off rig and into planing / accelerating position.
  • Fault Analysis

Heavy and pulling rig – Go faster to get rig lighter, hang off the boom on extended arms and go broad.

Mast hits water and front door exit – Get the rig lighter, GO FASTER. Or concentrate on tilting the rig forward to keep mast away from the water.

Collecting the sail and getting it pulled out of your hands – Reach down the boom with the front hand going past the front harness line. Ensure rig completes transition by coming back towards tail.

">Gybing Tip #6 - Duck Gybe from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

This is a video about the duck gybe, one of the best transitions of all time and easier than you think Get the rig forward and then follow the great mantra of 'duck, look and pull.' Watch, enjoy and share the verbal and physical demonstration tips I give you on Gybing Tip #6 from my #top100tips courtesy of #jemhallcoaching.

Heli Tack

Heli Tack

How to master the windsurfing Heli Tack

As warmer days are still with us I now implore you to nail the heli tack and the tips to follow will equip you for this. Whilst it did not have a special mention in the ‘Moves that Matter’ features it would be in my addendum in both the Tack and Aerial Freestyle sections and for me is also a key transition tool in winning at wave riding.

Words Jem Hall // Photo Nicolas Jones

(This feature originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Windsurf Magazine. To read more features like this first, Print and Digital subscriptions are available. Prices include delivery globally for 10 x issues a year!)

Heli Tack Tech videos!

I make no bones as to the toughness and complexity of this move and I only coach it to people who are ready, and only in the right conditions. The proper Heli Tack is a distant cousin to what I call the ‘holiday heli tack,’ which entails pushing the sail into the wind, muscling it round, looking at the sail a lot and then grabbing it with not much finesse. So be ready to work hard on this move but know that it has a huge skills transfer across many moves; including tacking, carving 360’s, and gybe rig rotations to name a few. As a refresh I implore you to read my summer pieces on light wind ‘Skills and Drills’ online and from the 2014 issues.


This move, like many others, can be broken into 3 areas that should be worked and focused on:
• Taking the board through the wind
• Front to sail control
• Rig transition / rotation (front to sail gybe!)

To get ahead of the game I strongly recommend these pre Heli Tack exercises:
• Really scissoring/steering/pulling the board towards the wind in all your tacks.
• Getting into front to sail and really understanding this and aiming to dominate the rig in this area! Learn this and the Heli is yours.
• Controlled clew first sailing with efficient rig rotations, and looking forward throughout!

I’ll now outline in detail the 3 main sections of the move…

1: Pull through
Working on this key part of taking the board through the wind will not only improve your tacks, and heli tacks, but it will also help you learn and conquer sailing front to sail.
Main tips:
• Have your hands together and near the lines.
• Get the rig back to steer you upwind, with your feet spread and front foot in front of mast foot.
• Think ‘Pull & Push.’ Pull the nose through the wind with
the front foot and then push the tail downwind with the
back foot, feel this happening!
• All of this is helped by looking forward, which twists
your hips and shoulders and helps you see what point of sailing you are on.

2: Front to sail
This skill deserves an article in itself! When I am coaching the Heli Tack to people I will not coach them the ending (rig rotation) until they can sail front to sail in both directions and then return to come back through the wind, in readiness to do the drill again. If you own front to sail (sailing backwinded) you own the Heli tack, and a few other moves too!
• Pull the kit through the wind with the earlier steering tips.
• Ensure you take the board through the wind by at least
20 degrees.
• Once through wind the rig comes across with the front arm extended, this gives you the last bit of steering. A top tip here is to open the sail slightly, many push out on the backhand and this makes the board go backwards!
• Look forward and once you feel the board is on track your front leg goes from bent and steering to straight and ready to sail, this is a light bulb moment.
• When sailing the rig goes back and down to control power and assist in steering.
• Your weight is on the toeside to track the board upwind, where the rig’s power is less in this front to sail position.
• You are now ready and in the driving seat for a slick rig rotation.

Steering and front to sail power control

By dominating the rig front to sail you will get control and this will give you a point of stability in the heli tack. The more you do this the more you will learn how to control the power and how to steer the board in the move. So here are some tips for this:
• To steer more into the wind you shift the rig back and weight the back foot. More weight on your toes will also take you upwind. Upwind the sail is always less powerful so this line gives you more control as well.
• You can also control power by moving your back foot further back and edging your toes more towards the toeside (windward) rail to dip it further.
• If you are on a course too far upwind and want to steer downwind then weight the front foot more and open the sail slightly.
• For more power, or to get the sail up, push out on the backhand and soften your front arm to allow the rig to become more upright, and not so low to the water.

Own the front to sail part and you own the move

Back Hand way back to depower sail and assist in the rig rotation

The rig and feet moving together increases the complexity of the Heli tack as do bigger sails

3: Rig Rotation

So now you are ready for the next phase and for this you have to think Ninja Warrior: precise, light on feet and yet exuding subtle strength. Again your gybe rig rotation skills are called to account here, as is your ability to shift your weight distribution and switch your feet.
• When you are ready to rotate, slide your backhand well down the boom. This crucially depowers the rig and allows you to move it and then control the ending!
• Draw the backhand in. This turns the board downwind into (front to sail) gybing territory.
• Start to guide the rig towards the nose with a straight front arm, and your back arm in.
• The hips move back to balance this and to shift the weight to your back feet so you can switch your feet, i.e. move your front foot.
• The rig is going to, and around, the nose as the feet change. This phase has a lot going on, too much to cover here so I ask you to get all Bruce Lee and ‘don’t think, feel.’
• Switch the feet like in a gybe, yet the old front foot steps back behind your old back feet.
• Looking Forward throughout all this is vital!
• You can pause at clew first, and station yourself, or continue to rotate the rig if you have fast enough hands.
• As the rig goes back in the rig rotation, slide the front hand along the boom to the mast to help you rotate the rig. Shift your hips forward to counterbalance this movement.
• Rotate the rig and bring it back forward and then get down James Brown to ensure you can steer and control any power in the sail.

Take time to master all the above areas and have patience throughout learning this move, as it is a mighty challenge yet I know you are ready and will, like me, enjoy the whole journey of acquiring any new skill. Set a high standard, nail it and make me proud!

“ If you own front to sail (sailing backwinded) you own the Heli tack ”

Light winds that are stable in strength and direction. Add more wind to challenge you as you improve.

A flatter set, smaller sail on a floaty board with not too big a fin. Or use (borrow/hire/buy) a WindSup to slow it all down and have plenty of deck space. WindSups are an amazing tool for cracking heli tacks!


This is an excellent move to learn. Primarily, it is a very useful move, but it also has excellent skills transference to many other moves. So why do we do it? Its great in light winds and is often said to be easier than a regular tack when the board is going slow, e.g. on the inside in waves. The move also retains power in the sail and, therefore, keeps the nose afloat, which is very handy on sinkier boards.


Front to sail sailing. Straighten your front arm and control the power of the sail with your back arm.

Look where you want to go. We need to assess our point of sailing and use our head to take the board to where we want it to go. By looking forwards whilst front to sail you can stay on track. Remain looking forwards through the sail flip.

Rig away. Keeping the rig away will enable you to control the sails power and take the weight out of the flip.

Key Stages

  • Taking the board through the wind
  • Front to sail stability
  • Rig transition.
  • Key Moves
  • Take board through head to wind
  • Bring rig across with extended front arm
  • Gain stability whilst front to sail
  • The rig is back and away and your weight is on your toeside
  • Slide your back hand down the boom
  • Swing the round the nose
  • Switch your feet
  • Pause at clew first OR
  • Continue the rigs rotation



Windsurfing Stance - sail faster

(This feature originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Windsurf Magazine. To read more features like this first, Print and Digital subscriptions are available. Prices include delivery globally for 10 x issues a year!)

You will notice that quite a lot of my technique pieces and live coaching entail aspects of ‘life coaching,’ well this is because I am looking to get the very best out of you and technique is only one part of this and a lot of it is down to your own personal levels of fitness, focus, commitment, self coaching AND enjoyment, the most important aspect!

So come with me on the life coaching bandwagon as, like I do a huge amount on my global coaching holidays, I look to get you to become better self coaches who set targets, try new moves AND actually enjoy the act of learning.

I sail so much better when I’m happy. If I’m smiling and laughing it helps me so much, plus this can transfer to dry land where, if I’m on a tough run – hurting and frowning away – I just take a step outside myself and say ‘come on baldie, get that smile on,’ and the run becomes more enjoyable – yet I’m still pushing it.


The Holy Trinity of Windsurfing Stance

Dearly Beloved, some of you may already be showing concern about the life coaching and the title ‘Holy Trinity’ title may also have triggered some alarm too, so let me present what this trinity actually is.

Don’t worry I will not come over all reverend. The ability to sail fast, plane early and get (fly) upwind is of paramount importance in order to enjoy as many sessions as possible and acquire as many new moves as we can.

I will be covering some great ‘tips’ on how to achieve this, without going too in depth as I have already placed a lot of the ownership on you learning.

For the best visual aid out there I can strongly recommend, (warning outrageous plug follows) ahem, my ‘Beginner to Winner’ DVD as a fab reference tool for all levels of sailor and particularly the skills covered in this piece.

This Trinity of skills is required for all windies and at all levels. Let’s look at last month’s technique, the Carving 360, as an example.

If you want the 360 you have to sail fast to get the sail ‘light’. And if you’re sailing fast then the rails are easier to carve.

Yet you will not be able to sail fast unless you excel at the 1st hurdle of planing early and if you’re not able to get fully upwind then you will not have the strategic (upwind) position, or confidence, to bear away and sail fast in order to carve hard and hammer that rail. Tough one hey.

Let me put it another way. Every year I get lots of enquiries to come on coaching holidays, and there is sometimes a thread along the lines of ‘Jem, I’d like to plane out of my gybes, learn to forward and maybe try some Vulcans too’.

Now, I will work my hardest to help this person achieve this but I know, with hand on heart, that on their first coaching experience with me they will be learning a huge amount of skills from the Trinity so they have a great time and can actually learn some fun and rad moves.

Whether it is the 360, their first carve gybe or a forward loop your Trinity skills will be called into huge account, and your tacking too, and, don’t worry, that will be covered very soon too.

Jem Hall - Move on up - stance - the holy trinity - 401Jem Hall - Move on up - stance - the holy trinity - 501

Ok I’m cheating by covering upwind first but then I had to get your attention with the eye catching ‘sail fast’ as the lead skill in the trinity.

If we’re not upwind then we can’t take advantage of gusts in order to bear away (turn downwind) and get planing (early, damn right).

And if we don’t bear away to get planing, then it’s hard to get up to speed. So, Grasshoppers, get some money in the upwind bank by sailing upwind as soon as you are planing and sail upwind by ‘chugging’ if you are not planing, all will be revealed on this … patience.

Lets look at ‘Chugging’ upwind non-planing first. Unless it is very windy, do this as soon as you get going, either from a start or a turn.

This means you can see the wind and are gaining ground upwind (money in that bank).

This will aid all levels of rider and get you upwind to help learning to use the footstraps, and it will aid catching waves for riding and many many more moves.

Some tips:

• Best tip of all: where you look is where you go, so look upwind
• Step forward and out, in order to sink the rail. Think ‘rail, not sail’ to get you upwind. Find the sweet spot on your board for this
• Keep the sail relatively open, leech flapping and upright (arms bent) as you are not using sail power, but using rail power (purchase)

So now you have a significant balance in your upwind account when you see a gust you are able to move back down the board and get low to bear away and push the board on to the plane and utilise your Jedi early planing skills.

As you look to bank on your upwind account then you utilise your slick, early planing to get you sailing fast and then from here you’re now able to get upwind the faster and fun way, whilst planing.

This whole repertoire highlights just how much the Trinity skills tie in with each other. I’m not able to do justice to cover the upwind tips comprehensively in this feature, so lets look at the main ones.

Your first self coaching target, and main one, is if you think you’re sailing upwind enough, try and point higher, point as high as possible, especially when well powered, or in gusts.

Jem Hall - Move on up - stance - the holy trinity - _1982Jem Hall - Move on up - stance - the holy trinity - _2687

More Upwind Sailing Tips:

• Once you’re sailing fast then sail upwind as the fin will be creating enough lift to allow you too.
• Look upwind and bring the rig back as your body moves forward, which allows you to push / resist through the back leg.
• Keep your body low and outboards with your front shoulder dropped.
• Rig is kept away and sail oversheeting is avoided by placing your hands close together
• The more rig goes back and your body forward, the more you can push through the fin to squeeze upwind higher.

A great tip for flying upwind – and introducing more feel to this skill – is to sail one-handed.

Drop the front hand, which opens up your shoulders, thereby bringing your hips forward and low and keeping the rig back and away.

In fact, sailing one handed on all points of sail is an excellent way to improve your overall sailing and sail off your core.

The more you look upwind, the higher you will go (point) and, whilst looking in this direction, we also look at the wind to examine what sailing line to take.

Head upwind in the gusts (point higher) that we ‘see’ and bear away (turn downwind) when we see lulls. These subtle changes in direction really help you keep your speed throughout.

Jem Hall - Move on up - stance - the holy trinity - 111-1394Jem Hall - Move on up - stance - the holy trinity - 464

Right, let me get this straight. I’m not about to launch into a huge amount of tips on breaking records, as one of my main peers – a certain Dave White – might be more qualified, so lets keep this bit very simple.

Main Tips

• Keep the rig away and the board flat with the sail relatively still
• In lulls (less wind) ensure your hands are together to get the rig upright. Tighten your torso, clench a one pound / euro coin in the cheeks of your bottom. Push down through your toes and lift your hips
• In long and light lulls you can angle / tilt your upper torso forward to pull down more on the mast foot thereby maintaining a flat board when the tail wants to sink
• In gusts: ‘Get down James Brown!’ Your body and rear hip must get out (boards), back (towards the tail) and down. Your hands spread more too.
• In full powered gusts, drop the elbows and pull down hard on the boom and your heels will be weighted heavily by digging in. This is when your leg strength (endurance), core and triceps will be working to the max

An easy way to sail fast in all planing winds is to ensure your head is below boom height and allow your hips to move to balance the sails power.

Go upwind when looking to get control and turn downwind to keep speed in lulls. A lot of people are fast in gusts but really drop speed in lulls. Aim to have a great wind range and high average speed.

I could very much argue that this could be the first priority in the Trinity skills as, without planing, there is no fast fun and flying upwind is simply not possible.

In my experience early planing is the most important skill we require in windsurfing and the area we could all most improve on!

It can be divided into passive and active. As windies gain more experience – and become fitter – they become way more active in their planing.

This means they go more aggressively downwind to get more speed, (speculate to accumulate), and they get lower and pump/work the rig to get more drive and power from it.

This is a whole other article, of course. However, the above first requires being very good at passive planing.

Key Skills

• Look forward to spot gusts, get the rig forward and away on extended arms with the hands shoulder width apart and close to the harness lines
• Bend your back leg and straighten your front leg to keep the board flat and push the nose off the wind
•Think drop (down James Brown) and push (the board away and flat) in windy conditions
• In lighter winds the rig is away but you are best to angle your torso forward and be more subtle in bearing away and don’t get so down with your bad self

Further skills to consider are pumping and lazy pumping which I will cover at a later date. There are 4 areas we can focus on / improve to plane earlier. Can you think what they are? They all begin with the letter T? I love this question, go on think, it will really help.

Ok here you are, 2 are on the land and 2 are on the water:

Tuning – fin size, mast foot position, boom height and sail trim to name a few.

Temperament – if you believe you will plane and are, in effect planing on the beach, then this will be so. I am a relatively heavier sailor and I’m planing in my mind before I hit the water. Focus and believe young Jedis.

Technique – we have covered this above and as you self-coach and reflect more it will get even better.

Timing – by looking upwind you can see the gusts and employ all your efforts and skills at this time and then BOOM you are off and flying!


More Stance Videos



How to perform a windsurfing Backloop

Jem Hall Back Loop 1 480px

Jump vertical, hit the apex and spread back hand, have a look and pull the kit through the wind, get the nose down and tail up, be ready to adjust on landing. Photo Karel Tyc

This feature we are going to look at perhaps one of the most elegant and aspirational jumps out there, the back loop (‘backie’). Let’s kick off by saying that this is a very challenging move and you have to be ready to take some pretty hefty ‘learning experiences’ on the head in order to progress to sailing away from it. The backie requires utter focus and belief and constant reflection but is perhaps the best jump out there as you know you earned the landing and satisfaction of sailing away from it. It is a beauty and a beast of a move, you can fly peacefully up, rotate and land and yet some days she just gets away from you.

Photos: Martin Schoppler & Karel Tyc

(This feature originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Windsurf Magazine. To read more features like this first, Print and Digital subscriptions are available. Prices include delivery globally for 10 x issues a year!)


Now I have your attention and respect for the task at hand, let’s give you some positive skills and drills to best prepare you for nailing the backie. Please feel the belief lifting inside you from now!

Before we kick off I recommend you reread my wave strategy pieces and jumping higher articles in order to give you a good game plan and a solid technique base.

Skills and drills:

  • Vertical high jumping: this will equip you with the ability to control your higher jumps and getting comfy and controlled whilst up there. Height equals time (to rotate) so ensure you are very competent at boosting height. Tips here are to select steeper ramps and wave sections, get speed and take off looking high and upwind to the sky. The top tip is to ‘take off on a strong front leg’ as this will give you vertical height and ensure you are not already spinning / veering into the wind. On the way up get compact, lean back and pull the boom in as you ‘keep looking high to fly.’ Level the board off at the top and float down tail first.
  • You got the look: after competency in high vert jumps is attained, next on the journey is having a look over your shoulder and down at the top of the jump and then steering it back around. This gives you a feel for your shape at the apex of the jump and the power of ‘where you look is where you go.’ You will go slightly through the wind; at that point it is important to look forward to steer back to your original course across the wind as you float down tail first.
  • Nosies: the back loop landing requires you to land nose first and off the wind. Therefore you need to equip your skill set with slick nose first landings. The tips here are to push down on your front arm (just prior to landing) and your front leg and then on landing sheet out, get your weight back and carve (look) upwind slightly to stop you going round the front.
  • Keep it simple: look where you wish your kit to go to way more in all your basics – sailing upwind, looking out of tacks and top turns etc. Your vision is crucial in the back loop steering and acquisition technique!
  • Flip the sail effectively and efficiently all the time. Again, we work with the wind.

“ The backie is a beauty and a beast of a move, you can fly peacefully up, rotate and land and yet some days she just gets away from you ”


It is important to understand that the backie is in three parts:

  1. – Vertical jump.
  2. – Rotation through the wind at the apex of the jump, pulling the rig in and close, looking over your front shoulder to steer you round.
  3. – The landing, which is where you spot your landing and get the rig forward to touch down nose-first and on a downwind course.

You are already quite equipped for many of these skills with the previous drills presented. However, there is one cheeky last part which is where you finish off the rotation under the water by opening the sail and weighting your heels, what I call the underwater top turn.

My first big tip is bite off the backie chunks one at a time. This is actually the great thing about backies as you can see some steady progress without having to fully go for the whole move. The trick here is to under-rotate at first and slowly try to add a little more rotation with each attempt and through this process you will inevitably be landing a lot on your back but you will not be doing the very damaging over rotated suicide backies. You can increase and add rotation but you can’t take it off easily!

The best tips for the backie are once again to use your vision, and really look where you want to go.

  • Look up to go high, and if you do this with your hands relatively together then you will go higher still.
  • The rotation comes from looking over your front shoulder and it is here your arms spread wide at the apex of the jump.

The next tips would be:

  • Maintain a compact body, close to the boom.
  • Don’t over rotate on the way up.
  • Go up and down on a strong front leg – i.e. not taking off with too much weight on the back foot!
  • Lastly, did I say really look round and then down to rotate and spot your landing?


  • Spot your ramp, unhook and get down. ready to spring off the wave.
  • Carve slightly into the wind to initiate the first part of the rotation.
  • For a lower loop you carve more and earlier, and when you go higher, it’s less and later.
  • You’re aiming to kill all of your forward speed as you take off so that you go straight up – so look high to the sky and that is where you will go.
  • Pull the sail in close and sheet in to give yourself more lift.
  • Keep leaning back and looking to the sky, aiming to point that nose fully vertical as you reach your apex.
  • As you reach the apex of the jump, you should be halfway through the rotation and facing into the wind.
  • Move your backhand way down the boom and look over your front shoulder to initiate the next part of the rotation.
  • This is that weightless, peaceful part, and feels amazing.
  • Really exaggerate looking forward and down, which will pull the rig and board across and even further through the wind.
  • This is where you must keep thinking ‘spot your landing’.
  • Look at where you’re going to stick the nose into the water and your shoulders and hips will do the rest.
  • Now you’re into that ground-rush feeling and are aiming to get the rig forwards to push the nose down, so keep pulling the rig across you and start to extend your front arm.
  • It is crucial now to get your rig forward and your body back.
  • So extend your front leg to push the nose down, and keep your back leg bent, as you glue your arse to the tail of the board!
  • Maintain this nose-first landing position while on a downwind course.
  • Hold on tight and point your toes.
  • On a good one you’ll go under the water a bit where you finish off the rotation in what we call the ‘underwater top turn.’
  • With your back arm down the boom it helps you control the power as you come that last bit through the wind.
  • Open the sail and weight the heels while staying low over the back foot, then start to look forward. Yep, that’s the top turn bit.
  • You should now have completed the final bit of the rotation with a bit of submersion and use of your waveriding skills.

“ Take off on a strong front leg as this will give you vertical height and ensure you are not already spinning / veering into the wind ”


If you’re overpowered at the apex then pull the sail in really close to you to take all the power out of it. This is very very effective! You can also control the rotation on the way down by sheeting out and extending your front arm to slow the rotation. Or you can sheet in and rake the sail back more to turn you further through the wind to increase your rotation


Now you have an overview of the move and the main tips, let’s give you the end game. We cannot overstate how important it is to use your vision and slide your backhand way down the boom at the apex. I often forget how effective this is and berate myself for not doing it more in my own self-coaching. With this wide grip you can hold all the power on landing and open the sail afterwards to finish the rotation off.

There is a lot going on in the backie, yet as you get more oriented you can start to get more control out of them. Lastly, please understand and visualise that the backloop needs vertical height to depower the rig and the majority of the rotation is done on the way done. Good hunting as I know you will ‘Bring it back.’


In the last few years I have looked to get my backies higher and better. Whilst I have crashed more, I have gained some key insights. The main one, gleaned from Mr. Jamie Hancock, is a strong front leg. This has helped immensely and is now my key focus. The next area I am now focusing on is hitting the water with my arse more on the tail of the board with a bent back leg and keeping this all the way into and through the landing. I love backies and so too I hope will you.

Jem Hall Back Loop 2 480px

// Coming in to land so keep that tail up and get your nose down. Photo Martin Schoppler

Jem Hall Back Loop 3 480px

// Hit the pocket straight and take off on a strong front leg as you look to the sky. Photo Karel Tyc


Medium sized ramps that have some kick and steepness to them but not that threatening. Clear space before the ramp so you can set up and choose your take off spot and keep speed and be settled. Side shore to side on is best. Go to the right spot to get the right conditions.

Jem Hall Back Loop 4 480px

// All the looking may be good but I must be more active at pulling the kit through the wind with my torso and front arm. Photo Karel Tyc

Jem Hall Back Loop 5 480px

// Close but I need to look over my front shoulder way more and have back hand way further down the boom. Photo Karel Tyc



Improving YOUR Windsurfing Waterstart


Waterstarts are key to windsurfing progress and a huge part of windsurfing for intermediates to advanced sailors alike – from learning this gateway move to getting up in 7 knots of wind in a wave break. They are an extension of our stance and our beach starts so great skills in these really can ignite our waterstarts. Many of the skills and actions required for waterstarts will also help you nail your footstraps and vice versa so it is worth attempting both these skills in a similar time frame to get the cross over technique dialled in; so recap by reading last month’s piece on footstraps if required.

Words Jem Hall // Photo Dave White & Nick Jones

(This feature originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Windsurf Magazine. To read more features like this first, Print and Digital subscriptions are available. Prices include delivery globally for 10 x issues a year!)

Be in the sweet spot, bend and extend and then come up slow, stay low and finish looking upwind.
Photo Dave White

Extraordinary actions will produce extraordinary results, so from here on in,ensure when beach starting you exaggerate your key actions and control your board’s tail to not drift downwind as you beach start. Following on, in your stance, keep the rig away, get low and look where you wish to go. This piece will give you the tips to conquer and improve your waterstarts and also highlight the all-important 3 stages: rig recovery, board positioning and up and away. I will also suggest some key waterstart techniques advanced riders should have in their armoury.

Drills to help your skills

As you well know I like to keep you working hard, improving, being challenged and ready you for victory in your skill acquisition, so let’s look at some skills I recommend for light wind sessions. These will not only help you learn to waterstart but they will also improve your waterstarts and water fitness:

• Kneeling down and sailing along both ways.
• Leg Drags both ways. Drop your front leg in the water and bend and extend, more on this later.
• Leg drag beach starts both ways. Genius move for steering and downforce (mast foot pressure).
• Carry sail efficiently to and from water. We must embrace working with the wind from the moment we are rigged up!
• Flip the sail effectively and efficiently all the time. Again, we work with the wind.

Main tips and mantras:

Here are some simple tips to keep in mind and focus on; they can apply to both the deep-water beach start and the waterstart:

• Know the exact wind direction and your position relative to it. This aids all areas of your waterstarting.
• Relax when clearing the rig and getting it up and away out of the water. The rig will clear and you will get up, even if you don’t manage it straight away.
• T.C.U.P. Think clearly under pressure.
• Lift the rig up and across to clear it and again work with the wind.
• Look upwind when waiting. To keep control, assess your position and see gusts to help you get up in lighter airs.
• Kick with the front leg in the water to propel you up and only place it on the board late so it acts as a daggerboard in order to stop you drifting.
• Bend and extend; bend your back leg to pull the board in and extend your arms to catch the wind AND pull down on the boom.
• Come up slow and stay low, you can actually plane out of a waterstart from this low position.
• Look upwind to spill wind after coming up, and avoid catapaults and reset for getting planing / moving.
• Little and often or less is more. When learning this challenging and physical move hit it for no more than 20 minutes in chest depth water both ways. If it is not working in deep water then get on and uphaul after a few minutes.

The 3 stages of the waterstart:
Let’s look at some tips to help ignite your waterstarts.

“ Determination will beat skill every time ” Jamie Hawkins (UK Windsurf legend)

Rig recovery:
This is how you get the rig out of the water, both for deep water and when out of your depth. Please note there are so many ways to clear it and too much to cover in depth here so for a more comprehensive guide check my DVD Beginner to Winner, and my top 100 Vimeo tips. With all your hard work in the earlier drills you are now ready to get the rig out of the water so here we go.


• Again, check and know the wind direction.
• Use the wind and your body in the most efficient way possible as it is technique and working with the wind, and not strength that clears the rig from the water.
• With the mast across the wind this is perhaps the most common and easiest position to learn the rig recovery. Ensure you swim backwards to clear water from the rig and that you are at a right angle to the wind.
• With 2 hands on the mast, above the boom, keep swimming and pull the mast across and over your head, like your bed sheet on a cold night.
• You can also swim sideways towards the wind and with one hand (the back hand) on the mast throw the rig forward into your other hand. This is like throwing a javelin and uses stronger muscle groups in your body.
• With the rig downwind of the board you can clear it over the back of the board and so for this ensure you are upwind of the tail, and that you have your front hand on the mast and back hand on the tail as you pull the mast across and over you.
• With the tip of the sail pointing into the wind swim to the head and then lift and shake the rig to clear it with the front hand as you swim backwards. You can then work down the mast to be ready to get your hands on the boom.
• It is important to note that after clearing the rig the back hand goes on the boom first as you look upwind and then move your body into a position upwind of the tail of the board from where you can steer and then position it.

Board positioning

Now that you are a rig recovery master let’s put you into the ‘sweet spot’ to enable you to position the board correctly for getting up and away. The ‘sweet spot’ is upwind and towards the tail of the board where you can steer effectively, control the sail’s power and spot gusts. The position and steering technique is the same as for the beachstart.



• Remember back hand on to the boom first
• Place front hand near front harness line for effective steering and power control
• Keep looking upwind
• Keep away from the tail of the board
• Your shoulders and hips should be parallel to the boom
• For lighter winds the ‘sweet spot’ is more across the wind
• For stronger winds the ‘sweet spot’ is more into the wind. Rig gazing and heading downwind whilst waiting results in catapaults.

Up and Away

Many of the skills and actions to get you up and away on to the board you will already have from brilliant beach starts and from all your hard work on drills previously highlighted. You will need to co-ordinate many actions at the same time so speed and explosion is very important.


• From your sweet spot get your back foot on the board with your heel down/ toes up and positioned just upwind of the centre line between your footstraps.
• Control your position and sail power with subtle steering and raising or lowering the rig.
• Your front leg should be straight down in the water, as a daggerboard and to kick and propel you up!
• Spot the wind and ensure you are across the wind or slightly upwind.
• When ready to explode up and away, your back legs BEND as your arms EXTEND, after an initial twist (sheeting in) of the rig.
• Your head should move forwards and in as you focus on ‘eating the mast foot’ which will only be possible with heaps of Bend and Extend.
• Really pull back heel to your arse as you initially throw the rig up and then pull down on the boom (into the mastfoot) when the rig is fully upright. Kneel and leg drag drills ready you for this!
• As you come up slow, stay low and then look upwind to spill the wind. Hoorah to you and keep at it and look to keep improving all areas of the waterstart. Mine are still getting better!

“ Up and away, bend and extend and pull down on boom, eat that mast foot! ’’

Advanced Waterstarts
Many of my wavesailors and advanced sailors still need plenty of tips to get better rig recoveries and actually get out of the water.

The advanced waterstarts you need are:

• Flipped; when the board flips in the waves or after a tack then keep the rig flying and use your feet to flip the board as you come up.
• Light wind; either place the front hand on the mast to get the rig more up right and powerful or the full power one hand on the mast and one on the foot for super light airs. Note: I can do this much better as my core is now stronger!
• Clew first; a crucial waterstart for all levels.

Waterstart Technique Videos

Waveriding Top Turn

Waveriding Top Turn

The Top Turn is a way of redirecting your board off the top of the wave to 'accept it's energy and charge with it' (as Bodhi would say in Point Break). The better your timimng and technique the more you will become addicted to these. As you top turn and drop down the wave you are then gaining momentum (speed from gravity) and you can then look to use this to bottom turn again and head back up the wave for another turn.

As your wave riding progresses you can build up to:

  • hitting the lip (breaking section of the wave) later, to get more energy and feel even more excitement
  • cutting back to take you back upwind to a better / steeper section of the wave
  • top turning one handed
  • lip sliding
  • aerials, jumping off the lip as you top turn and looking to land back in front of the wave
  • aerial tricks and slides, like ponches, takas

One Handed Top Turn from Dave White on Vimeo.

Jem Hall Wave Clinic, August 2012, Solo Sports Adventure Holidays, Punta San Carlos, Baja, Mexico. from Clive Boden on Vimeo.

Carving 360

Carving 360

Foundation An old school classic that shows who really has true rig control! Video out now on Vimeo, check out #1 of the top tips on the Windsurfing Carving 360 in the straps :) 

Check out the article in the Fab Windsurf magazine from my 'Move on Up' Technique series  

">Sup Top Tips Series: Catching waves from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

Sup Top Tips series; Riding Waves

">Sup Top Tips series; Riding Waves from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

Carve Tack

Carve Tack


Tacking is the new gybing. It really is such a useful move; Intermediates can use it as a way to keep upwind giving them ground to try gybes, Wavesailors use it absolutely heaps and its by far the best way of turning in gusty or light winds as you can then use the upwind advantage to try and get planing.

If you are sailing short boards and not tacking then you might want to seriously reconsider your sailing goals.

The key parts draw heavily upon the light wind version and therefore with a floaty board you can get in a lot of practice to assist you in achieving the carving tack.

Tacking Tip #1 from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

Tacking Tip #2 from Jem Hall on Vimeo.

Key Parts

Entrance – Unhooking and carving the board upwind from a low position until almost at head to wind.
Transition – The action of moving around the front of the mast and getting your feet and hands in position on the new side.
Exit – Steering the board off the wind and getting ready to take on power on the new beam reach

Light wind tacks – aim to gain proficiency in all parts of the tack and get that hand and foot work uber slick.
Front to sail and then coming back through the wind – Either from stepping round, front to sail or from going through the wind like in a heli tack. This is a great drill for when you step around a little bit earlier in lighter winds. (This will be covered in another feature)

Look where you want to go – As with most moves, the head is the key as it orients you and assists in moving your body, hips and feet. From looking forward and upwind going in, to looking back down the board for the foot switch to looking forward in the exit. The head is paramount.

Rig away– As the rig goes back in the entrance of the tack, the body moves forward. When transitioning around the mast, the rig is kept away to give you SPACE to move through. Finally, the rig comes forward and across to bear you away as your body moves back and down.


  • Head upwind from blasting
  • Reach for the mast or front of boom
  • Unhook and get feet out of straps
  • Carve upwind on heels
  • Rig comes back and body goes forward
  • Start and keep low throughout whilst looking forward
  • At head to wind look back and reach to new side of boom
  • Pivot the feet
  • Get new back foot well down the board as you look forward
  • Rig goes forwards and across you to bear you away
  • Body moves back and down
  • The legs can now scissor to assist in steering
  • Stay low and off you go

Fault Analysis

Board is unsettled and loses speed in carve upwind – Get down low and unhook efficiently and then gradually carve on heels.
Get stuck on old side – swing your weight forwards to take weight off back foot ready for switch.

Get thrown off front – Keep the rig back and away

No space on new side – look forward and draw rig forwards through front arm to keep the rig away

Board gets stuck at head to wind after foot change – scissor board off wind with feet
Get pulled over by rig on exit – get down James brown with the rig forward and body back.

More Windsurfing tacking tips and videos!



Early planing and footstraps

Photos Nicolas Jones

(This feature originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Windsurf Magazine. To read more features like this first, Print and Digital subscriptions are available. Prices include delivery globally for 10 x issues a year!)

One of the main strategies for early planing is to embrace the 3 T’s:

Temperament – you actually believe you will get planing!
Timing – to get planing in the most suitable area of the water (e.g. enough flat water between waves) and in the right amount of wind.
Tuning – ensure you are in tune with your head, hips and hands and the huge effects their positioning can have on effective early planing and strapping up.



Pulling down on the boom when powered up is easiest when low and beneath it’

Here are the most essential tips for planing early and moving towards strapping up:

• Look upwind to spot gusts to utilise.
• Chug upwind by sinking the rail to gain ground when not planing.
• The back foot is placed behind the front straps and facing across the board. The front foot faces forward and is towards the mast foot.
• Really pull down on the boom and get your weight on the rig, best achieved by being low and outboard!
• Get the rig away on extended arms, shoulder width apart hands, to ensure it is upright and catching the most wind.
• Place your front hand very proximal to your front harness line to illicit max power from the sail.
• Keep the board flat by mainly bending your back leg and pushing the board forward through the front foot and leg.
• Bear away (turn downwind) by scissoring your legs, push through the front foot and pull the tail upwind with your back leg.
• When looking to get the relevant foot in the strap ensure the weight is on the other foot and the mast foot through downforce.


The common misconception in windsurfing is that to progress it is all about planing and windy sessions. Yet to plane early and strap up you will learn a huge amount more in light wind sessions with the skills I presented last summer on a SUP and a freemove board. This might be on a summer afternoon, or after work sailing or just staying out when the wind drops on a suitable board. The skills for these winds are wind awareness, seeing the wind, spotting gusts and lulls and changes in wind strength. The wind is your fuel and these skills help you best utilise it. Harness commitment and keeping a flat board are paramount so harness up, commit to it, (be a harness user not just an owner) and sail one handed, and really ensure you are very effective and efficient with your hooking in and out! Really work on getting in the straps whilst non-planing. Pull down on the boom and keep your weight forward and pop that front foot in and then go for the back strap. Learn to adapt on the fly and it will really build your skills. Remember these fundamental skills will be called into strong account when the wind kicks in and are what you will require to nail planing earlier and strap up smoothly, more often and in control!

“ Get down, get out, bend the back leg and push that board on to the plane ’’


Traditional: get hooked in and then into the straps. Perhaps the easiest technique for lower ability sailors or more moderate winds.

Active: from a dynamic low position get the board planing unhooked, then get in the straps and then hook in. This pays huge dividends for the future and is actually what I push people to do to build their windsurf fitness and ready my intermediates on my coaching holidays to become wavesailors. Planing carve gybes will only really be cracked if you can plane in the straps before hooking in!

New School: from a non-planing position get into the straps smoothly and then look to bear away and plane on a gust either before or after hooking in. Modern boards and wave boards prefer this as you can be more active with your planing and use your legs more to steer, unstick and almost lift the board onto the plane.


// Sailing one handed gives you vital harness skills to dominate planing control’


// Keep planing in lulls by rolling your body weight forward with the rig upright and away’



• hook in across the wind, spot your gust and scissor the board slightly down wind.
• commit hard to the harness and pull down on the boom as you lean out, weight back when well powered; weight forward when less powered.
• flatten board with bent back leg, get weight off your front foot, lift it up and pop it in the strap.
• accelerate by leaning out more to power the sail up and ensure you look upwind to take you there.
• with your back foot positioned next to the back strap pivot on it and pop it in whilst sailing across the wind or slightly upwind and with your weight more on the front foot.


• Good early mast foot pressure.
• Really develops committing to the harness lines.
• Very effective in less powered winds.
• Less physical.


• Board can accelerate too fast before riders get time to get feet in the straps.
• Hooked in catapults can occur if people are not low, committed and wind aware.
• The rider cannot go as far off the wind to use the wind more effectively to get planing as being broad and hooked in is very unsafe.



// Traditional: hook in, lean out, drive the board forward, pop front foot in and accelerate’



// Active: Get down and out, drive the board forward, get front foot in, accelerate, then hook in.’



// New School: Pull down on a bent front arm and then pop your front foot and then back foot in. Keep front knee bent and weight on balls of both feet.’



• With enough wind get out and get low on extended arms to scissor the board downwind and pull down on the boom.
• Really bend your back leg and from your low position pop your front foot in.
• If enough wind then go for the back strap.
• Bring the board back upwind to sail across the wind and hook in. If you are less powered you can hook in and then get in the back strap.


• A strong safe position where you can really feel the wind and develop a dynamic active stance that you will use in many aspects of windsurfing.|
• Being so low and outboard you can really drive the board on to the plane.
• Gets you windsurf fit and develops active technique.
• Very effective in windy and well powered conditions


• Quite physical.
• Requires good wind awareness as hooking in must be performed across the wind or slightly upwind.



• Pull down on a bent front arm and then pop your front foot and then back foot in. Keep front knee bent and weight on balls of both feet.
• You can choose to hook in either before or after planing.
• Spot your gust and because your feet are already in the straps you can just lean out and get low to drive the board on to the plane.


• Foot movements are done early and so you are not upsetting the board when just at the threshold of planing.
• Again you can be dynamic, low and driving as you can hang off the rig from a low position.
• Makes your footwork and steering very subtle and refined.
• Readies you to sail on smaller boards and in a wave environment.
• Gives you a choice of when to hook in.
• Easy to hook in if you choose to do it early as the harness lines are very available.
• Develops key windsurf skills.
• Can be used in all planing winds.


• Requires subtlety and wind awareness.
• Sail trim has to be sensitive so as to not over sheet or under sheet in.

Refine and reflect.

“If you are not planing then YOU are not planing.” I use this quote when coaching a lot so people take ownership for their planing. The wind will do what it wants but it is us who can take actions to tune our board, body and sail, be positive and be active in getting planing.

Generous straps to allow feet into the footstraps smoothly. Long lines enable you to move your weight to keep the rig upright and will hugely extend your wind range and give you way less catapults whilst also making hooking in and out way easier.

Medium to strong winds and flat water are the best. If it is choppy or wavey then embrace these conditions as an opportunity to improve and to not limit yourself. Go to the right spot to get the right conditions. Windsurfing is challenging enough, help yourself by using watercraft from a recognised windsurfing centre to get back upwind if required, they can give you vital aid at a key learning stage. 




This is the core of aerial/sliding freestyle and started the revolution that has transformed windsurfing. You are either into it or not. However, once you get that first slide backwards you will be hooked. The move is built from having good flat water chop hop / popping skills and fast hands.

Flat water popping
Sailing switch foot to get the exit skills required


Popping. Setting up for the move from a crouched position and using the spring from your legs and pulling up on your arms will enhance your pop.

Look where you want to go. Look behind you as soon as you take off to make the board rotate.

Stay over the board. Keep centered so as to land on your toeside, which will give you the slide.

Key Stages

Popping the board and getting it round
Getting the slide backwards
Stability in switch stance and changing the feet

Key Moves

  • Slide front hand up to mast
  • Unhook and crouch, ready to pop
  • Pop and look behind you whilst releasing back hand
  • Draw rig tight across your chest
  • Keep weight forward and land on toeside
  • Switch hands – old back hand goes over front hand to become new front hand
  • Slide backwards
  • Sheet in as you slow down
  • Get stable whilst in switch stance
  • Change feet and exit.

Clew First Beach Start

Clew First Beach Start


Now that you are a beachstart or waterstart master, it is time to take it to the next level and address getting up and away in a clew first style. This technique gives you another starting option and is very useful should you happen to fall mid gybe and manage to keep the rig flying.


We can build up to this skill from deep beachstarts and from our razor sharp waterstarts. Gaining clew first (CF) sailing skills can be achieved by ducking the rig in light winds on big boards and sailing on clew first. Practice can also be gained from a lightly powered rig on the beach, or in a clear space.


Try controlling your sail in a clew first position on the beach before trying it on the water.
Be competent in sailing in the clew first position before trying clew first beachstarts and waterstarts.

Look where you want to go – As in the waterstart we are moving forward and in doing so, we look at the mast foot to get up and away. In order to have a smooth controlled exit you will then be looking forward.

Rig away – In order to exit the water with a relatively less efficient rig (due to the clew first position) it is paramount to extend the arms. The rig will continue being kept away in the controlled clew first exit. This will enable us to control its power in the unstable position, whilst clew first.

Clew First Issues

With the sail in its normal guise the mast is quite happy being the leading edge, flip her round and the leech does not offer quite the same compliance. Therefore it is necessary to operate in a more downwind position; here the wind hits the mast first thereby giving us an easier time.

The rig is less powerful as we shift our hands forward i.e. towards the mast, when in its normal position. When CF this movement forwards is now towards the clew, and therefore down the boom. So for CF power control our back hand is well down the boom.

Key Stages:

Positioning – Keep the board off the wind
Up and away – Getting on the board and continuing clew first
Controlled exit – Sailing away clew first

Key Moves

  • Board is downwind
  • Back hand moves to clew for control and up towards the mast to get up and away
  • Back leg to bum as arms extend
  • Look at (eat) that mastfoot
  • Clew first rig control comes from moving back hand towards clew
  • Look forwards and keep rig away
  • Get low
  • Rotate rig and keep looking forwards
  • Remember to slide front hand to mast to facilitate this