Free Style

Chris_ThompsonWhy do freestyle?

  • Freeestyle is one of the four disciplines that contribute to the overall score (pentathlon) at the Australian Windsurfer One Design National Championships.  A good ranking in the freestyle event can greatly improve your overall result.
  • Freestyle improves your board handling skills and these skills can be really useful on a start line.
  • Freestyle sessions with mates are silly, sociable and spectator-friendly. 

Before you start

  • Choose a place with a sandy bottom, light winds, flat water and on-shore or cross-shore winds
  • Wear footwear to prevent injuries
  • Never sail alone
  • Have your boom set at underarm height, not too high
  • Be prepared to fall in, feel like an idiot and laugh at yourself.

 Half_SplitHalf Splits

Why?

An easy trick that looks really impressive to spectators

Best conditions

Light to medium winds

Flat water to small chop

Step One

Sail on a beam reach (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Points_of_sail#Beam_reach)

Step Two

Prepare to drop the body by bending the knees a bit, legs a little apart, and grab the mast 1-2 feet below the boom. (You may have to hold the boom a little further back than usual for balance)

Step Three

The mast hold gives you enough steadiness to continue the split, with the legs further apart. Keep weight on the boom hand to control the split, but do not lean the rig back – stay on the reach for full power.

Step Four

Once almost fully split on the board, consider releasing the boom in order to hold the foot of the sail as in the picture.

Furthering the move

Try adding a head dip (you will need a stronger breeze).

karen_leesideLee-side Sailing

Why?

A great first trick for freestyle novices.

Best conditions

Light winds, flat water

Step One

Start on a beam reach (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Points_of_sail#Beam_reach)

Step Two

Put the front foot in front of mast.

Step Three

Shift the front hand from boom to mast, below the boom.

Step Four

Now, release rear hand and step in front of mast, sort of facing the mast and the rear of the board, with the board still on a beam reach. Bring just enough of the rig with the mast hand to keep the same direction – sail will open up a bit (not held at the back).

Step Five

We’re almost done: grab mast with the loose (hitherto rear hand) above mast, and split second later shift the below-mast hand to the rear of boom, about 2 feet away from mast.

Step Six

The body should now face the sail, and the (hidden wind) as in the picture.

Furthering the move

You can also get into this position from half-way through a tack; instead of stepping around the mast shift your weight to the front foot and lean the rig towards the nose of the board and a little to windward.

When you’re confident with lee-side sailing, add a pirouette: while underway, release the boom, spin your body through 360 degrees then catch the boom again.

Try finishing this trick by pushing the rig into a clew-first position (sail backwards), without changing tack.

pirouette_tackPirouette Tack

Why?

A stylish-looking way to tack

Best conditions

Light to medium winds

Flat water

Step One

From a reach, turn upwind to initiate a tack.

Step Two

When the board is head-to-wind, rather than moving around the front of the mast with your body facing towards the sail to complete the tack, simply pass the rig behind your back as in the picture.

Step Three

Complete the tack by turning your body towards the ‘new side’, grab the boom as normal, bear away and sail off.

duck-tackDuck Tack

Why?

A very quick trick which makes a good transition during a routine

Best conditions

Light winds

Step One

Initiate a fairly aggressive tack, rig quite far back, with the rear foot a bit further back than usual – both hands on the boom (not the mast).

Step Two

As the board gets close to the eye of the wind, 3 things must happen at once:

  • shift your front hand 1-2 feet further back on the boom (let go of the rear hand)
  • at the same time, shift body further back and a bit low by bending the rear knee
  • and push the rig slightly into the wind – but very little.

Step Three

The board should still be turning, as the tack was aggressive (step one), it is now passing the eye of the wind and on the verge of getting ‘on the other side’. Since your body is further back and low, you can now *quickly* duck/step underneath and onto the other side, face the sail, grab the boom at first with the free hand, and resume sailing – tack completed.

Gotchas

Make sure you ‘duck’ under, try to go low. If the rig keeps dropping forward then you’re not ducking low enough. If the rig keeps falling to leeward then you’re probably taking too long for the ducking.

karen-knees

Kneeling

Why?

Great for building freestyle confidence

Best conditions

Medium winds,

Flat water to small chop

Step One

On a beam reach, grab the mast below the boom, rear hand not too far back on the boom.

Step Two

You’re ready: put a bit of weight on the rear hand, and drop the front knee first, whilst keeping tack. Be prepared to move the rig aft (forward) to keep tack.

Step Three

Once you learn to be in control with one knee, drop the other knee – keep weight on the boom.

Furthering the move

Try sitting on the board, you will need to be heading slightly upwind.

dennis railrideRail Rides

 

backtosail

Back-to-sail

Why?

Why not?

Best conditions

Light to medium winds

Flat water to small chop

Step One

From a close-hauled point of sail http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Points_of_sail#Close_reach

Step Two

… rear hand lets go of the boom to grab the mast *below* the boom attachment. Let the sail luff out as you grab the mast.

Step Three

Now let go of the remaining hand on the boom, as you rotate with your feet your body 180 degrees clockwise. Your now-free (right) hand travels around with the rotation, reaching outward and towards the back.

Step Four

Said swinging hand grabs the boom far right, almost in your back. Meanwhile the mast hand keeps the mast steady. With the hand on the boom, you can now start sheeting in a bit. You steer by moving the feet back or forward on the board – do not steer with arms.

Tips

You can practice this move on dry land first!

head_dipHead Dip

Why?

One of the few freestyle tricks that is easier in fresh winds

Best conditions

Fresh winds, light to heavy chop

Step One

Start on a point of sail about 60 degrees off the wind – do not try on a beam reach. Spread the legs a bit, then practice by arching the back, then coming back upright quickly. Be more flexible than the sailor in the picture and do use your neck in the arching to look upside down.

Step Two

Bend the knees more and more with each practice arching – you will slowly get closer to water every time. Keep the same tack with each try – do not bring the rig backwards as you arch.

Step Three

You’re now ready – start with touching water with the hair quickly and come back. The final test is a full head dip.

Tip

This is best done in fair winds. If the wind is lighter you will need to have the front hand on the mast one foot below the boom for leverage and have the legs a bit further apart. And be nimble with the dip!

inside_boomInside the Boom

Why?

It’s harder than it looks to the untrained eye, a great addition to any freestyle routine

Best conditions

Light to medium winds

Flat water

Step One

Start from a close-hauled point of sail http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Points_of_sail#Close_reach so that the sail and boom are aligned with the board and with the front foot touching the mast base.

Step Two

Grab the mast with the front hand a foot below the boom, without steering upwind or downwind.

Step Three

Bend the knees & duck under the boom. Slide the rear hand further back to make room for the body if needed.

Not as simple as it looks, huh?

Safety

Stay close to the wind at all times – do not try to reach. Be prepared to get out at all times by bending the knees back to a normal sailing position.

flare-gybeFlare Gybe

Why?

A fun and easy transition – you can make it as extreme as you like

Best conditions

Medium winds, flat water

Step One

Being able to do a standard gybe is a pre-requisite here… Make sure you get power in the rig just before is gets fully downwind – this is what allows you to step back: the rig ‘holds’ you.

Step Two

Practice gradually by stepping slightly further back on the board but ONLY a) as it gets towards the last part of the turn (last 30 degrees) and only if you have a good amount of power in the sail. Abort if the feel is not right…

Furthering the move

Try sinking the tail further and getting the nose higher out of the water with more power in the sail.