Friday, July 31, 2009


Sitting on my rear end with a busted ankle, I came across a photo spread in windsurfing mag on hero jibes. And it occured to me that a full planing jibe, especially in choppy conditions, tends to be one of those things that people "work" on for years. The reason I'm using those quotes is that it seems most people are stuck in a bit of rut with their jibes; they've internalized some of the conventional wisdom on jibing, and they're focusing on those things, but they never really seem to get rid of their weak spots.

For me as a racer, jibing is a pretty important tool. And when comparing my jibes to those of people like, say, Bruce, or the pros, I find much left to be desired. I have, however, noticed that there are a couple of things that over the years have made a huge difference in my jibes.
Since the "how to jibe" articles always give you the whole package, and since that seems to overwhelm people, here are two things to work on in isolation. Together, they make a huge difference in the quality of a planing step jibe (which, if you want to go fast, is really the only viable thing to do). First, look at that first picture above. This is in the middle of the carve, in the process of oversheeting (and, if you want, laying down) the sail. Be sure to look at the picture in full size, and focus your attention on the area below my front shoulder. If you look closely, you can see that my lats and obliques are engaged. That's because I'm pulling *down* on the boom with my front arm with all my might.

The jibe instructionals in the mags often talk about a straight front arm while oversheeting; the reason they do that is to get you to use the weight of the rig to keep the nose of the board down, not only keeping you from bouncing out of the turn but also engaging the front of the rail. If you're freeriding and only moderately powered, that's fine; if you're in race mode, and you're lit out of your mind, that won't do. Instead, you'll need to get pretty aggressive not only on bending your knees and getting your body weight down and forward, but also actively transfer your
weight onto the rig. That will require active participation rather than just passively letting the weight of the rig take care of things - hence the
engaged lats and obliques.

So then you're onward to stepping your feet and shifting the sail. Look at the second picture (courtesy of Arnaud, who took this at the Blowout).
The jibe exit is the thing lots of sailors completely neglect - they just disintegrate. Here are some key pointers for a poised exit:
  • Legs are still bent - if you're standing up tall in this part (or really any part of your jibe), you'll just end up getting pulled over the handlebars at some point. You're about to flip the sail and sheet in/power up - you had better be braced for that with a low center of gravity.
  • The front hand might have moved forward on the boom - but it's still pulling down. Not as extremely as during the carve, but you're still adding to mast base pressure.
  • Your gaze is forward, towards where you're going. If you start looking at the boom to see where your hands need to go, you're pretty much guaranteed to fumble the exit. Look ahead while aggressively shifting the sail.
There you have it - downward pressure on the front hand during the carve, and a poised exit. This applies on formula and slalom gear alike. If the mantras you've been saying ("bend the knees", "nose to nose", etc.) haven't fully solved your jibe issues, try working on these two things to see if they make a difference for you in aggressively committing to your jibes.


sailworksman said...

Good stuff Andreas,

Here's a 31 shot gif animation of one of the smoothest jibes I've made this year. This doesn't happen every time, so I've looked at this clip a 100 times trying to get every nuance of into my sub-conscience.


G-42 said...

that's a sweet sequence; looks like something that should go in a mag. I like how you can see the board carved consistently throughout the whole thing - no wobble whatsoever. Thanks for making that available.

Catapulting Aaron said...

Andreas, this is a great explanation. I've always wondered why everyone teaches straight front arm, but you see bent arms on all the top racers. I'll give this a try next time I'm trying to baf powered up.

Gorge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.