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