Rig Recovery

View count: 1285 | duration: 4:34 | date: 6 years ago on Monday, April 11, 2011

or... how to stop fighting your rig

If you feel like you are always fighting with your rig and these altercations leave you exhausted, then I know how you feel and this article is for you. The first step in a sucessful beach or water start is to recover the rig and position the board and sail. There is no use trying to master these techniques if just getting the rig in the right position strains your muscles and leaves you exhausted. Practice handling your rig, its well worth the effort. Here are a number really handy techniques I have picked up from other windsurfers.

Carry big heavy rigs to the water

Always carry heavy rigs to the water

Sorry about the sand on the lens :(

The first thing is to actually get your rig into the water. While smaller sailors with light 5 m2 rigs can carry their board and rig together down to the water in one go, for big heavy rigs it a good idea to carry your rig and board separately, or risk hyper-extending your back. Trust me 8.5 m2 get really heavy if the wind drops half way up the beach.

Take the board down first and face its nose towards the wind. To carry your rig, grab it by the mast above the boom, lift the sail and position your head under the sail above boom around the first batten, inline with the harness lines. This should allow you to balance the rig on your head. Hold the mast above the boom with your leading hand and the boom behind the harness lines with your other hand. To prevent the wind overpowering the sail, start with the mast perpendicular to the wind with the mast on the windward side. Face towards the direction the wind is coming from and slowly turn the sail so the mast base is directly between you and the direction the wind is coming from. When the rig is in the right position it should be gently lifted by the wind, and feel balanced and under control. This should make it lighter and easier to carry. Try practising on a smaller rig first to get a feel for it.

Preparing for a Beach Start

Once you can handle your rig properly, beach starts become quick and easy.

Position the sail holding the mast

Position the sail holding the mast

Position the sail by holding the mast above the boom with the mast perpendicular to the wind(in the photo above the wind is to my left). The wind should be allowed catch the sail and fly the clew (the back part of the sail where you tie it to the boom). If the current is causing the clew to sink, walk the sail towards you to let it shed the excess water from the clew. At this point he sail should feel light and it will find its own balanced orentation to the wind.

Grab the boom with your other hand

Grab the boom with your other hand

Without altering the sail orientation, lift the mast above your head and grab the boom just behind the harness lines with your other hand. Keep holding the mast above the boom with your leading hand. This is the best way to control the rig. You can reposition the board by applying mast foot pressure, which simply means that you steer the mast base about the alter the orientation of the board, all the time maintaining the relative orientation of the sail with respect to the wind direction. If you feel like you are losing control, let go with the boom hand and grab the sail with both hands by the mast again, always keeping it perpendicular to the wind and holding it form the windward side.

Grab the boom with both hands

Grab the boom with both hands

Once you have the board positioned where you want it, without altering the orientation of the sail, grab the boom with both hands. This can be a hard position for beginners to maintain, so you need to be ready to perform your beach start the moment you have both hands on the boom.

Hands should be evenly spaced, either side of the harness lines

Your hands should be apart and evenly spaced on either side of the harness lines.

From this position, you are ready to sheet in and step with your back foot onto the board between the foot straps to perform a beach or shallow water start.

Preparing for a water start

Preparing for a water start requires a bit more effort, than a beach start. Here, wearing a Personal Flotation Device can really help. It will tend to ride up unless you can secure it to your harness. You can read about my harness mods [ here ].

Work your way up the sail and lift the sail out of the water

Work your way up the mast and lift the sail out of the water

Floating in the water, work your way up the mast to a place where you can lift the sail out of the water. Once again the sail should be perpendicular to the wind with the mast on the windward side. If its not, swim up to the tip and holding the tip, swim the sail around until it is correctly orientated. Once it is positioned, fly the rig by pulling the mast towards you and up above your head. If the clew is heavy with water, try kicking a bit to draw the sail towards the wind and shed the water from the sail. If the current is sinking the clew, you may need to fly the sail clew first before flipping it and quickly flying it in the orientation correct orientation - watch the video above to see how I do this.

Work your way back down to the boom

Work your way down to the boom

Once you have the flown the rig, keep holding the rig by the mast and work your way back down to the boom. Once you get there, grab the boom with your other hand just behind the harness lines. Like the beach start this is a reasonably stable way to handle the rig, as long as the wind is consistent. In gusty conditions, there is a chance the rig will drop back into the water, so waste not time applying mast foot pressure to position the board.

Grab the end of the board and rest the boom on your arm

Grab the end of the board and rest the boom on your arm

Once the board is in position, or close enough, use your boom hand to grab the end of the board and with your leading hand to pull the board tail around so the boom is resting on your trailing arm which is now resting on the back of the board. Your leading arm should still be holding the mast above the boom. This is a very stable position to be in. If there is a lull in the wind the board will keep the sail from sinking, and you can just dangle here in the water and catch your breath for a moment with very little effort. You can also steer the board around to face the opposite direction and the wind will flip the sail for you - watch the video above to see how I do this.

Grab the boom with both hands

Grab the boom with both hands

Once you have had a chance to catch your breath, and you have the board positioned where you want it, without altering the position of the sail, grab the boom with both hands.

Place your back foot between the foot straps

Place your back foot between the foot straps

Your hands should be apart and evenly spaced on either side of the harness lines. Place your back foot between the foot straps.

Sheet in

Sheet in

From this position, you are ready to and sheet in to perform perform a water start. Keep your arms straight and resist the urge to bend them.

Step onto the board and let the sail lift you out of the water

Step onto the board and let the sail lift you out of the water

You should hang off the sail like a monkey, step onto the board with your front foot and let the sail lift you out of the water.

Pull the board towards you with your back foot

Pull the board in with your back foot

As the sail lifts you out of the water, pull the rear of the board towards you with your back foot. This will help prevent you from pushing the board away - which doesn't help at all.

Once the sail has lifted you up so your weight is centred up over the board, remember to sheet out! More information on learning to water start can be found here.

Turning your rig around

Often beginners will sail from one site of a lake or estuary to another, or form a beach to a sandbar and back. This makes life a bit easier because you can perform a beach start on each tack, rather than having to up-haul or water start. This however still lead to trouble if at each end you battle to get your rig flipped around and board in position.

Keep your rig in the air

Keep your rig in the air

As soon as you step off (or bail as is more often the case ;), try your best to keep your rig out of the water and in the air. Do this by grabbing the mast above the boom with your leading hand. Now you have a better chance of controlling your rig and flipping it as you turn your board around.

Use mast foot pressure to turn the board around

Use mast foot pressure to turn the board

Use mast foot pressure to turn the board around, which simply means that you steer the mast base towards you to alter the orientation of the board, except this time you will be performing a rig flip in the process. As the board starts to flick around, the sail will start to flip, get ready to let go with your boom hand, all the time controlling the sail and board orientation with your mast hand.

As the sail flips, grab the mast with both hands

As the rig flips, grab the mast with both arms

As the rig flips, keep the board moving in the direction you want it to so it continues to turn around and grab the mast above the boom with both hands.

Keep turning the board and grab the boom with the other hand

Keep turning the board and grab the boom with the other hand

Lift the mast up above your head with your leading hand and grab the boom with your other hand, all the time keeping the board turning.

Position the board for a broad reach

Position the board for a broad reach

Position the board for a broad reach, ready for a beach or shallow water start.

Grab the boom with both hands

Grab the boom with both hands

Without altering the position of the sail, grab the boom with both hands.

Place your back foot between the foot straps ready to water start

Place your back foot between the foot straps ready to water start

That's pretty much it. I hope this has been helpful. You will know when you are doing it right, because recovering your rig will be much more controlled, take less effort and less time. Eventually it will become so automatic - an almost unconscious process - that you will completely forget just how hard it used to be.

Posted by Henry Thomas, 6 years ago on Sunday, April 24, 2011

11 comments:

Ian said...

Man... one of the most useful lessons I've come across. Thanks a ton for posting these and not being a pro making it look so easy.

Posted 6 years ago on Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chris in Toronto said...

Great advice - as a new windsurfer your tutorials are much easier to understand than most of the online stuff i have read. Thanks a bunch!

Posted 6 years ago on Wednesday, September 14, 2011

newbi in Melbourne said...

Your tips are just hitting the points how to windsurf, thanks a lot! love it so much!

Posted 6 years ago on Friday, October 7, 2011

Mike said...

Clue is spelled 'clew' good lessons.

Posted 5 years ago on Thursday, February 16, 2012

Henry Thomas said...

Thanks Mike, all fixed

Posted 5 years ago on Saturday, February 18, 2012

Denis From Lancieux France said...

Thanks a lot! This is Teaching! Hope, I will make it for real now...

Posted 5 years ago on Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jacek Polubiec said...

One thing puzzles me about the water start when it is time to put one of the feet on the top of the board. At that point, what is supposed to prevent the sailor and the rig from sinking? It seems that even with the life preserver it would be hard, never mind without it.

Posted 5 years ago on Saturday, August 25, 2012

Henry Thomas said...

Hi Jacek,

The whole idea is to use the sail like wing - the sail generates lift, and it is this lift that stops you from sinking. Consequently the most difficult part of the water start is when he sail is flat in the water. That's why you work you way up to the tip - its lighter to lift it there - lift the tip of the sail over your head and as long as the sail is orientated perpendicular to the wind, it will fly and generate/maintain its own lift. The challenge for the sailor is to control that lift while you get into position and then have it lift you out of the water onto the board. As you are lifted onto the board, most of your weight should be on the sail, the board will start moving forward, and this combination of factors - board movement and sail lift - maintains the lift to stop you and board from sinking.

Posted 5 years ago on Saturday, August 25, 2012

Steven said...

Hi Henry, great videos and great how you are helping so many people! A top tip you could maybe include for getting the rig out of the water is to pop to battens round to the right side of the mast before you try to get the rig up - makes it so much easier. Just like you say with the mast perpendicular to the wind but rather than swimming all the way to the tip of the mast have you tried holding to mast about an arms width above the boom and pulling / sliding it upwind towards you - not lifting at all - the sail literally pops out of the water - from there it is easy to grab the boom and go - using this technique I can get a sail flying without using my hands at all - just my teeth :)

Posted 4 years ago on Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ingo said...

Hi Henry,thank you very much i will try the "lazy waterstart" next week in Dahab.Your videos are much easier to understand than others.Thanks and greating from Germany Ingo

Posted 4 years ago on Wednesday, April 3, 2013

mikeleclair@hotmail.ca said...

Your videos and comments are really helpful, the best, great website, good for average Joe windsurfer like me who want to improve Thanks, Mike from Qu├ębec (Canada)

Posted 4 years ago on Saturday, June 1, 2013

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