Articles in Category: Windsurfing Fundamentals

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



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



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

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

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!

">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.