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Far from being a Greek tragedy, the town of Ialyssos in Rhodes is a windsurfing paradise. Peter Hart explains the attractions and Juergen Niens and Bertrand Crausaz give the local lowdown. 

Words  Peter Hart, Bertrand Crausaz // Photos  Rob Whitely, Peter Hart, Bertrand Crausaz and Morten Knudsen

There can’t be many places in the world where the transition from aircraft to planing is that quick. The Pro Centre in Ialyssos is 15 minutes from the airport. Our flight last week landed at 4pm and by 5, we were skipping across the azure waters on 5.2’s. We sailed for 2 hours (they don’t shut up shop until 7). Desperation drove my group to push on until they were hauled from the water screaming. According to the Guru of Wind, that was to be the last we’d see of the wind for the week. I wasn’t that worried. This was my 5th June clinic to Rhodes and I can count the windless days on one hand. Sure enough, by the afternoon of the next day we were planing on 6.5’s. By the end of the week the group were pleading for a rest having planed every day – the last 2 on 4.2’s.

Rhodes is a consistently windy place. Jurgen, the co-owner of the Pro Centre, explained that thanks to a concrete development in the far corner of the bay, which heats up to boiling point, Ialyssos gets its own thermal when all around is calm. The sea conditions are what are commonly known as ‘real world.’ You can head for the flat water paradises and learn to gybe, only to return to the chop of home to find you can’t. In Ialysos, the wind blows pretty much dead side shore from the left, all the way to the beach to leave rolling chop on the inside and smooth swells away from the shore. When the wind kicks in above 20 knots (as it frequently does) you can get a ride-able wave. It’s also a brilliant place to learn to jump and loop. Dave White, who ran dealer meetings there for years, says it’s like Clacton (in a good way),  except 20º warmer and with Photoshop blue water. The accents are also far kinder on the ear.

“ Iallysos ticks more boxes than most people have boxes to tick ’’ Peter Hart 

So much of windsurfing is tactical. Gybing is as much about knowing where to do it as how. My groups embrace the lumps, which they say adds an all important dimension. When they learn a move in Ialyssos, it stays learned. It’s not hard to sail there. The lowest intermediates are giving it a good lash. But it makes you work. There’s a hint of a shore-break and a gentle downwind current that makes you speed up waterstarts and hone your pointing.

The Pro Centre is run with precision and efficiency and the North/Fanatic/Gaastra/Tabou kit (with JP and Pryde as an option 100m further up the beach) is immaculate. In peak season they rent out over 100 boards. Sounds frantic but the sailing area is huge. Jurgen’s partner Bertrand says that many choose to avoid July and August because they think it will be busy – and as a result it’s often less busy than June (when flights are also cheaper).

Ialyssos lies at the urban, more lively end of Rhodes and overlooking the coast of Turkey. When a couple, just one of who sails, go on a windsurfing trip, it’s rare that both have an equally good time. Here they have a good chance. Last week culture vulture Pauline, walked about 30 miles a day taking in the extraordinary history of Rhodes town. Polly did about 50 metres, remaining horizontal with a fine book on the sheltered lawn of her bungalow, which overlooks the sailing area; and from where she can keep an eye on her husband Nick.

We stay in the Blue Horizon hotel right on site. It’s clean and comfortable if a little generic. Hence we forgo the full board deal and opt for B and B.  Away from the sports bars and a further 10 minute walk into old Ialyssos town, nestle some classic loal Tavernas. On the last night we crawled from one having been fed about 10 fresh, home-cooked courses and drank the place dry for €12 a head.  And what’s wrong with it? The smooth pebble shore-line is a little uncomfortable under bare feet, although the boys have laid carpet right up to the water’s edge; and I narrowly avoided a €500 fine from the water-borne local police for sailing bare-chested. You’re supposed to wear a buoyancy aid, or at least a rashie. I guess they have to make up the deficit somehow… For me clinics must be more holiday and less boot camp. The wind and sailing are crucial but it’s also essential to have pleasant surroundings offering a variety of alcohols and a comfortable place where you can sit and exaggerate about the day’s events! Iallysos ticks more boxes than most people have boxes to tick.

Pro Centre RHODOS
Juergen Niens and Bertrand Crausaz have 3 centres in Iallysos running for over 28 years, we asked them for their big fat Greek guide.

Iallysos is a top destination where you will find all the facilities you deserve for a perfect vacation. The sailing spot is situated in the centre of Ialyssos, a welcoming traditional village with a beautiful promenade inviting visitors to stroll along the hotels, colourful shops and to explore lively bars and restaurants waiting for you do indulge yourself in delicious Greek, International and fusion cuisine. Wandering, chilling, dining, dancing or whatever you feel like after a hard but fulfilling day of windsurfing, is all possible.

Ialyssos itself is small but picturesque and nestled at the foot of Filerimos Hill, the site of an ancient acropolis named The Temple of Athena Polias (do not miss the panoramic view from there!). Ialyssos is situated at the north-west coast of
Rhodes, only 15 minutes from the airport “Rhodes Diagoras”. You can reach it within an average flight time of 3 hours from most major European airports.

The Pro Centre Rhodos is well-known for the Meltemi a thermal wind offering you a constant perfect side shore wind from 16 to 25 knots. In July and August, there is a 95% chance of planing conditions, in June and September there is still about 80%.

We have three centres to match your respective needs. The biggest one lies at the front of the beautiful Blue Horizon Palm Beach Hotel, the second one lies on the other side of the hotel, with the third 500 metres away at a slightly more wind-sheltered location known locally as Windmill Beach. The centres offer you the latest windsurfing equipment by Fanatic / North as well as JP Australia and Neil Pryde and Tabou/Gaastra. The friendly international service team eagerly welcomes you and is happy to provide you with customized support for finding the right gear.

Our centres open on the 24th April and close on the 24th October.

Pro Centre 1 holds a huge range of the latest 2015 Fanatic & North Sails equipment. Opening at 9 o’clock in the morning and closing at 7 o’clock in the evening, you are given plenty of time to explore the wind and crystal blue water, improve your skills and test out the latest kit. We store 3.4 – 8.2 rigs and all our masts are made of 75% carbon. Along with boards and sails, you can also rent harnesses and wetsuits but in the summer months, board shorts and a rash vest will do.  Once you have arrived and checked in, we welcome you to join us for a quick tour into how the station operates. We care for your safety: our Baywatch tower is manned throughout the opening hours of the centre and our professional team will be eager to help you to prepare your gear, assist you and always have a handy hint.

Pro Centre 2 is only 100m to the left of Pro Centre 1 and has a range of the latest JP and Neil Pryde gear. Choose from more than 70 boards at our centre located in beautiful palm gardens and only 30m from the sea, allowing you the opportunity to change your sail in a very short time!

Pro Centre 3 known as the Windmill Centre is located around 500 metres walking distance from Pro Centre 1. This centre provides perfect learning conditions for beginners as it is sheltered from the strong winds and waves of the bay. At this station we provide you with the latest equipment by Tabou and Gaastra, renewed every year. You have access to more than 50 boards of every size and type with sails between 1.0 to 7.5. Again, you will find the Windmill centre situated less than 30m from the sea. If you want peace and quiet, this centre offers a more chilled out atmosphere!

The 3 centres offer you the possibility to bring your own gear. Please ask for our package including the transfer of your equipment from the airport to the centre and other services such as the Baywatch tower and water rescue.


The 4 star Hotel Blue Horizon, one of our partner hotels, is perfect if you prefer a room with an ocean view. The hotel welcomes guests of any age and is equipped with a swimming pool, a patio, a volleyball court and a tennis court. A friendly and enthusiastic team is happy to offer you various sports and leisure activities. (dolce far niente ..Aka doing nothing!  is warmly welcome too of course.) If you prefer more private rooms or apartments, low budget or luxury hotels, do not hesitate to contact us. We shall happily try to find accommodation tailored to your wishes and budget.

And what if theres no wind?
You will have a hard time to get bored on the pretty island of Rhodes even if the wind is too light for windsurfing. There is a variety of sightseeing spots and excursions for you to enjoy, literally from Alpha to Omega. Visit the butterfly valley, the water park, or the UNESCO world heritage site of the famous old town of Rhodes, the oldest continuously inhabited medieval town of Europe. Once in Rhodes you feel that every stone tells a story. Rent a bike or book a bus tour for exploring the beautiful landscape, little villages or historic sites of the island. If you want to stay in the water, you can take a snorkel trip through one of the hundreds of beautiful coves in the morning and be back in time for your afternoon windsurfing session.

Before you starve after a long and active day, ask the team at the centre where to enjoy the best local Greek cuisine.

Special offers
While Northern Europe is preparing for the winter season, we are still surfing under the Greek Sun, book now for our End of Summer Special for stays from 27.09 – 25.10.2015. 4* Beach Hotel Blue Horizon, 7 nights Double sea view room incl. HB + 7 days of windsurf rental from 350 Euro per person.

Find the best package through our travel partner Sportif ( or contact us directly at

Website and contact

Pro Centre Rhodos
Juergen Niens and Bertrand Crausaz
Ialyssos Beach
Summer phone +30 2241 095819

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Free-ride Fin 2 (1)


The fins that power our free ride boards are an overlooked part of the engine that drives our fun on the water. We take a look at the market with key industry players, a buyer’s guide and of course to kick it off, a lesson from the master teacher, our very own Peter Hart.

Words and Photo – Peter Hart

”Here a 120 free-move board  is cracking around like a board half its size, thanks partly to the thin, curvy rails but also to the relatively small free-ride fin (35 cm) with a lot of sweep in the tip. But beware – the fin shape and size, have to compliment the design of the board. For example  putting  a small, raked fin into  a  more race speed oriented model as an attempt to make it more manoeuvrable, may not work because it would not fully release onto the plane. To be manoeuvrable, a board has to be well-trimmed and planing freely.”

“I knew I was good!” You chunter to yourself as suddenly and unexpectedly you experience a feeling of light, efficient symmetry with arms and legs equally but gently loaded and the board planing straight and level without you having to twist and contort. And good you may be. But essentially you’ve chanced, albeit momentarily, upon a perfect set-up where the lateral forces of a well-set sail are perfectly matched by the size of the fin; and the fin itself matches the width of the tail.

The aim is to feel like that the whole time across a wider range of conditions. And part of the solution comes from dialling into the information coming through your back foot from the fin; and then recognising when a change up or down can restore balance or tilt performance in a certain direction, towards top speed or acceleration, for example.

Ask a racer which is their most influential item of kit, and they’ll point to the fin. Free-ride boards are more forgiving both to set-up and to sail but you ignore the importance of the fin at your peril. Space is short and the subject huge but here are some points to ponder as you look to grow your free-ride fin quiver.


What is a free-ride fin?
Like the board itself, the classic free-ride fin seeks to blur the boundaries and provide the best of every world. The powerful, upright mid section gives you something to hoof against and converts the sail’s power into instant lift, acceleration and planing speed. The swept back tip holds the tail in through carving turns, makes the gybes feel smoother, less ‘skippy’ and allows you to vary the shape and steepness of the arc.

The limitations of the given fin.
The fins given away with the free-ride boards have improved enormously over the years. The size offered will tend to work best with the middle of the board’s recommended sail range. For example, say you have a 130 ltr free-ride board with a quoted sail range from 6 to 9 sq m, the standard fin (perhaps around 48 cm) will work best with sails around 7 to 8 sq m. It’s when you flirt with the extremes of sail size that you’ll benefit from a fin change.

The symptoms of too big and small.
When the fin is too small for the board and/or the sail size, the board slops from edge to edge. It never full releases onto the plane. It sits deep in the water and although you may feel you’re pointing upwind, you’re actually crabbing sideways. It’s easy to overload the back foot and spin out. If it’s too big, you feel you’re fighting the fin as soon as you start to plane. It’s like having jack-hammer under your back foot. It’s hard to bear away and in extreme cases, you’ll tail walk.

Reasons to change fin size.
Matching fin to sail size is the primary objective but not the only one. Going slightly bigger offers extra lift and acceleration at slower speeds – good if you’re feeling your way into the straps for the first time; and also if you’re sailing in enclosed waters where you need to get going quickly in a gust, stay upwind; and where you haven’t the space to get up to full speed.

Relating fin design and size to your board.
The free-ride board category is enormous. The choice of fin(s) depends on where your board lies on the speed, manoeuvrability spectrum. At the speed end where the boards are aping slalom shapes (aka ‘Free Race) with their flat bottoms and harder, straighter edges, you’ll err towards a deeper, straighter fin, with less sweep in the tip (if any). At the ‘squirrily’ end where the boards have more curve in the plan shape, thinner rails and more’ v’ underneath (aka ‘Free-move’), the fin can be smaller with more rake. The ‘v’ displaces a little water, increases resistance – hence you can get away with a smaller fin.
And finally …

Get a plastic ‘cheapy!’
Beware of planing obsession! Free-ride boards, especially the bigger ones, make excellent light wind training platforms for practising and nailing the basics – tacks, gybes, backwind sailing etc. – at which point the big planing fin is a bit of a liability. For very little money you can pick up a small plastic training fin – or cut down an existing knackered, fibre-glass one. With a shallow (30cm or less) and preferably wide fin, the board is more manoeuvrable off the plane and you can mess about in knee-deep water.

“Free-ride boards are more forgiving both to set-up and to sail but you ignore the importance of the fin at your peril”



Dietrich (Rick) Hanke, Founder and President,
‘’Freeriding is one of the most popular windsurfing disciplines. Boards and sails have to cover a wide range of sizes in order to match the sailing conditions and rider weights. The same is valid for the fin. The fin must provide a side force over a wide range of speed and courses without the danger of flow separation (spin-out), the fin must be fast (low drag) and easy to be controlled also under choppy and high wind conditions. Further, gybing too should be easy and without losing speed.

The design process which is applied at Maui Ultra Fins is the same for all types of fins and can be divided in several important steps:

1 Optimization of the profile (foil)
2 Optimization of the outline
3 Manufacturing of prototypes
4 Testing under real conditions

The most important and time consuming part is the selection of the foil and the optimization of the foil parameters like relative thickness, nose radius, position of maximum thickness and speed. At Maui Ultra Fins I use a fluid dynamic comput-er program where the forces (lift, drag) can be calculated as a function of all the parameters and combinations. The resulting foil polars give the design engineer all the required information on the way to an optimized foil. The fin outline has to be optimized in accordance to the required fin area, the box dimensions, the required stiffness (no breaking), the flexibility and the overall drag, which is additionally influenced by the aspect and taper ratio. For a complete new fin about three to five prototypes are designed. When all parameters are selected the fins will be drawn with a CAD program which also delivers all data for machining the fin with a CNC machine in G10 material. The relevant data is then transferred to the manufacturer and the prototypes are ready for testing by windsurfers with different levels at different places in the world. By comparing all results in performance and behaviour (feedback form) the final fin design (box-sys-tems, length range and printing design) for the series is selected and the fins are produced.Simply said, fins are the sails in the water. The fin must compensate all side forces of the sail which are transferred to the board in order to sail a straight course. That means that we must handle this part very carefully because the total performance of the board depends also very much on the fin performance.

Each damage – especially at the leading edge – reduces the fin performance. Therefore it is recommended to use your fin cover when you are back at the beach and do not stick your fin in the sand. Small damages to our G-10 fins can be sanded. If the damage is bigger you can use epoxy resin or super glue to fill the damaged part and create a smooth surface by wet sanding. (280 to 600 grade sanding paper).’’


(Graham Turner, founder and owner,
‘’Unlike 10 years ago, nowadays the standard fins coming with freeride boards are well suited to the board. The most popular freeride fins we sell in the shop are ones with a curved tip, slightly raked back and with a fine entry profile. The US box is still popular as it allows people to move the fin forward and back. We like to really talk with people and discuss their fin needs but in general we would sell a more raked profile for smaller freeride boards and swept at the tip for bigger freeride boards. Upgrading from the basic design is very popular also, something like a ready to race style. There is a slight premium in price of course but what you get is a slimmer profile throughout , like a top end race fin but detuned slightly for comfort. It would be a fin more for somebody who works the board to plane and enjoys driving and pushing the fin as opposed to just being on the board for the free ride. As we say you’re either a driver or being driven and it’s important to recognize which you are when choosing your fin. Material choice can depend a lot on the waters you sail in – if you are somewhere rocky or  shallower, stay away from carbon or polyester,  g10 is best as you can sand it down and offers durability and longevity.  Modern  weed fins are really good and often overlooked, they are as quick in weeded waters as they are not picking up drag. Another important point is what sort of freeride board you have, if it is a soft feeling, carve/comfort biased board, they don’t like race ready, stiff fins. Equally if you have a more race orientated board, stay away from a softer, flex tip fin.’’

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The November/December 2015 Issue of the world’s only monthly English-language windsurfing magazine is out now!

Subscribe or grab your copy now in either 

Digital or 

Print  versions!
(Prices include delivery anywhere globally 10 times a year.)

The Cool winds issue. High wind kit test – 80L wave boards and 4.7 wave sails. Kauli’s South Pacific exploration, Cranking Cornwall, Tobago travel, Isle of Wight circumnavigation, Danish Sizzler – the battle for Cold Hawaii, Harty’s wave directory part 2 – wave selection and wave types, Jem’s gybe exit tips, Sebastian Wenzel, Fanatic’s shaper interviewed, How to make a sail – the Point 7 production process, Xmas gift guide.


Ever searching for the prefect wave and breeze, we join Captain Kauli Seadi as he tells us more about his South Pacific odyssey to the Society Islands, Cook Islands and Tonga.

A classic southerly forecast lit up St Ives bay last spring and duly rewarded the Motley Crew. JC reports from the dunes of Mexico’s, a small sandbar with a big punch!

The 2015 PWA Cold Hawaii delivered red hot action in the North Sea; John Carter reports on an epic event and quizzes the top 4 on their North Sea secrets.

John Carter catches up with Fanatic’s head shaper, Sebastian Wenzel, to find out more about the life of a shaper, twenty years at the top of his trade.

Andrea Cucchi gives us an exclusive behind the scenes look at the production facilities used by Point 7 in Sri Lanka and an insight into the manufacture of a sail.

Ripe with tropical vibes and great windsurfing, Tobago offers the authentic Caribbean experience. Nick Jones and Jem Hall explain why you should let its trade winds lure you there.

Ross Williams and John Carter go all the way round their home island. Armed with a decent safety boat and an experienced driver, JC tells how their circumnavigation went down!



The test team examine the latest boards for strong wind conditions.

RRD Wave Cult V6 LTD 80
TABOU Da Curve 86
QUATRO Cube 85
SEVERNE Nuevo 86
JP Thruster Quad 84

4.7, the magic sail number, the team test the latest designs for 2016.

NORTH Hero 4.7m
RRD Vogue 4.7m
EZZY Taka 2 4.7m
SIMMER Icon 4.7m
NEIL PRYDE Combat 4.7m
POINT-7 Salt 4.7m
ATTITUDE Allstar 4.7m
VANDAL Riot 4.7m
GOYA Banzai 4.7m


Peter Hart explores how the wave sailor’s approach and expectations are affected by the various types of waves and how to decode them.

Jem hall

Jem Hall assists you to fire out of your gybe exits.


Freshly baked, carefully crafted and brand spanking new – we list the latest to be called the greatest.

Oh Santa please give us wind for Christmas and I don’t mean from Nan’s brussel sprouts. All we want is a nice present of a force 5/6, but anything else in this guide would be good too!


The editor looks forward to winter and wonders in the light of recent reports on ocean temperatures, what weather it will bring?

Harty ponders on why Autumns in Ireland and Scotland are like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get  – but they’re always ‘chocolatey.’

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Dolphins off the Pitons  St Lucia_0024


Harty analyses the mystical attraction of Fungie the Dingle dolphin.

“So, Annabelle (name changed to protect the guilty), what do you most want to get out of this week, here on the Dingle Peninsula in SW Ireland with its stunning beaches and amazing breadth of conditions, where sailors the world over come to learn and hone their jumping, riding and general windsurfing? What is top of your wish list Annabelle?” “I really want to see the dolphin.” It’s a reply I’m now used to when running clinics in Kerry.

For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon (and I’m surprised if you are because he’s become a global watery legend on a par with Robby Naish) ‘Fungie’ is a bottle nosed dolphin, who for the last 30 years, has colonised Dingle harbour on the south side of the peninsula. He has been neither trained nor tamed; nor is is he lured in by the promise of food. But for some reason he seeks out human company to the extent where a small industry has grown up around his ever presence. He is a wonderful quirk of Nature.

I met Fungie on my second trip to the area in 1984. A well-oiled and scarcely credible local told me that the Dingle harbour lighthouse keeper had witnessed a solitary dolphin escort the fishing boats in and out of the harbour.

With little else to do the next day, I drove over the Connor Pass from Brandon Bay, dropped into Dingle and sure enough with 5 minutes of parking saw a dolphin-like sea creature playing in the wake of a boat as it chugged towards its mooring.

There was no wind and this being well before the era of SUPs, I had no means of getting up close and personal. For a while I watched from the shore and that was that. I don’t want to appear blasé but I’d surfed with dolphins in Oz just 6 months previously; so, sweet though the yet-to-be-named Fungie appeared to be, I didn’t mark it down as a life changing experience. But it takes a long time to become a legend …

Fast forward 10 years and I was back in Kerry running clinics. There’d been no wind or swell for 2 days. In a desperate search for action, I led the convoy 25 miles over to the beach of Inch where a light northerly wind combined with sun can produce a howling katabatic wind … but not today. Arms were folded in defiance as the team stared grim-faced at the mirror sea, inwardly delighted to have someone to blame.

“I know …” I said scraping the barrel for options, “ …lets go and have fish and chips in Dingle and perhaps play with the dolphin?”

I hadn’t really thought this through. As we arrived at the little beach at the entrance to the harbour, the sun was setting and the tide was whooshing out – and I hadn’t seen this dolphin for a decade – nor did I know where he hung out.

“What do we do now?”, enquired the sceptical group’s spokesman. “Just leave this to me.” I said climbing into my wetsuit and grabbing my surfboard. “I’ll just go and get him.” I paddled out, sat astride my board and viewed the massive expanse of the harbour in the dimming light; and then as I slapped the water and cried ‘Fungie’ as enthusiastically and confidently as possible, I have never felt more ridiculous. But as the group looked on with ever increasing incredulity, the water gurgled and from the inky depths shot Fungie. I fear the story may have grown with the telling but I swear he jumped clean over me. Within in a minute I was joined by 5 others, my reputation, if not repaired, then definitely on the mend. He stayed with us for perhaps 10 minutes before seeking more lively entertainment. But that was enough, we’d all been well and truly ‘Fungied.’

I now make a point of visiting Fungie every year and in the 18 years I’ve been doing clinics there, I’ve never not seen him. I always pray for a light wind sunny day that gives us the excuse for a visit. From a purely windsurfy point of view, the harbour is a great place to sail. Thanks to the network of surrounding hills and valleys, it often gets wind when nowhere else does. But in truth we’re there to bother the dolphin.

Some of the encounters have been beyond magical. On one occasion we were hanging around in the bay beside the channel keen not to get in the way of the tour boats.  Fungie seems to be a bit of a petrol head usually choosing to follow the engines. But on this evening he peeled off and decided we looked more interesting to the point where he wouldn’t leave us until he’d knocked every one of us in – either by powering underneath and smacking up the dagger board or leaping right up behind us so his bottled snout was right by your ear. I have never witnessed such genuinely hysterical and explosive laughter. If you could have bottled the atmosphere that night and turned it into a tonic, you would be a rich man.

He was there with us again only last month – a little less acrobatic but still eternally curious.

The future looks … short …

The saddest fact is that the legend that is Fungie can not live forever. He was fully grown in 1983, which means he’s around 40 years old. Atlantic bottle nosed dolphins can live to 50 but a more normal age in the wild is 25.

There are 12 full time jobs that depend on him remaining alive. The skipper of one of the tour boats, Jimmy Flannery, has been taking visitors out to see him since 1987- that’s been his only job. He says the passing of Fungie is a bridge he’ll cross when he comes to it. Such commercial pressure has led many to suspect that the dolphin has been replaced many times. But Fungie is unique. He has a nick out of his tail sustained from a propeller some years ago. It’s also ludicrous to replace him with some random dolphin and expect him to stay there. As to why he stays in the harbour and communes with us daily in the way that he does … well no one really has the answer. You suspect in the dolphin world he may be a bit weird. Experts say he does commune with other dolphins outside the harbour and that he had a girlfriend who died there which is why he stayed in the area.

If I may end on an uncomfortably touch-feely note, I do feel that sometimes us windsurfers take the environment for granted – and that for us it’s not an environment but just some liquid to carve tricks on.

A day out with Fungie makes us all realise that what we use as a playground is the home of some extraordinary creatures – and one of the most extraordinary is still alive and well and living in Dingle.

PH 1st June 2015

The post AFFAIRS OF THE HART – BEWITCHED BY A DOLPHIN appeared first on Windsurf Magazine.

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It’s the holiday season. You’re heading to a windy Riviera. Harty muses over the pros and cons, joys and misery of flying with kit.

“I do apologise for the delay”, said the captain. “We seem to have a problem loading the last bag. It’s rather large so they’ve had to call for a fork-lift truck.” His voice oozed frustration.
“That’s your ‘Big Red’ Harty!” chuckled Dave White, my travel companion. “It’s grounded the plane!.” Big Red was my protest vote. On a whim, our favoured airline had suddenly changed their interpretation of a ‘sailboard’ from 3 bags (board, mast and sails), to just one – and there was to be only one sports bag per passenger. How do you fit all your kit for 3 weeks of speed and slalom competition into one bag? You build ‘Big Red’ that’s how. It was less a bag and more a huge, red amorphous, marquee of sack – totally impractical and almost impossible to get a hold of, as the beleaguered baggage folk were discovering.

Fully laden it was over 75kg. I slid my 15kg weight jacket in the top and it was a mere drop in the ocean. Amazingly it arrived in Fuerteventura. Not surprisingly the Canarian handlers refused to even attempt to handle it; but after much bartering we were allowed to drive our hire car into a restricted area and collect it ourselves off the tarmac. That was a pre Health & Safety era when slipped discs were a way of life and check-in staff hadn’t got wise to the old trick of wedging your foot under the scales. And this is now when every gram needs to be accounted and paid for. In many ways it’s more straightforward because although it’s stricter, at least there appear to be rules and protocols. Yet despite hundreds of flights with boards, I always turn up with a sense of foreboding … because someone behind those check-in desks with only a C- in the Excel spread sheet exam has the power to ruin your day.

A week ago I had pre-paid a very reasonable price for 2 bags with Monarch. Before I could even find the receipt and explain what the 2 crocodiles were all about, the nice lady had tagged them and got a bloke to wheel them away, all whilst wishing me a very pleasant flight and extolling the virtues of a twinser over a quad. But a month before that, travelling with another altogether less together airline, and having followed the same pre-paying procedure, I was told the computer definitely said “no.” Where followed one of those conversations where you’ve been dropped back into a less informed Millennium. “What you say it is again? Windsurfers?” Am I seriously the first person who has flown to this windy destination with a board? Managers were called, who called their managers’ managers as if this was the most controversial occurrence in the airline’s history. Meanwhile, the queue behind stood static and tongues clicked – all of which got the trip off to the most stressful start at a time when you should be bursting with joyous anticipation.

Shall I shan’t I take my own?
The two elements that make or break the dedicated windsurfing trip are the wind and the kit. By bringing your own, you have some control of the latter – but is it worth the hassle? It’s a puzzle with more questions than answers but the experience of three different sailors on a Greek beach where I was coaching last week, distils the choices. I should add they were all staying at or near a centre where the kit is famously plentiful and immaculate.

# 1 Nick – doesn’t bring his own
Nick is a competent free-rider of a certain age, coming on courses for the craic as well as to work gently on his nearly planing carve and duck gybes. His kit at home is quite old so enjoys the newness and variety of the rental gear. In terms of tuning, he’s been sailing a while and knows what works for him. Asked about bringing his own, he says his holiday starts at the seafood bar at the airport – and anything that eats into his fun time and offers the potential for backache, is absolutely not worth it.

# 2 Stefan – brings his own
I see Stefan there every year. He brings his 100ltr freestyle wave and a couple of rigs. He always sails with a smile on his face but has a dogged agenda to crack certain carving moves – 360s, push tacks etc – and knows the wind and kit he needs to do it. If it’s less than 15 knots he doesn’t go out or just practices heli-tacks off the plane. As the tricks get trickier success comes to a large degree from intimate knowledge of your board and rig – knowing how deeply you can push the rail; the power application of the sail – so nothing is a surprise. With those variables taken away, he can focus on the technique. Loads of the boards in the centre would do the job but he doesn’t want to waste 2 or 3 days getting used to them. As for the hassle factor, he doesn’t bring much; and he’s German and therefore super-organised.

# 3 George – doesn’t bring his own (but sort of wishes he did)
George is a trickier case. He has a board and rig that he really loves at home and harbours an instant mistrust of other brands. One problem in centres is the assumption that everything is perfectly rigged. It may have been once – but you’re often inheriting the tuning horrors of the last person who used it. That happened to George twice on day one and reinforced his perceived hate of the sail brand in question. We did turn it round as over the week he began to realise how key tuning is to performance – and how impossible it is to perform even if you think the kit isn’t working for you. For most people, a well-stocked centre is the only time people get a chance to try and feel the differences between board and rig categories. But George still loves his own kit and I sympathise. But here’s the thing – he loves it so much that he’s terrified of it being damaged in transit – and that’s a grim reality most of us in the business have confronted all too often.
The compromise I suggested next year, is that he should bring his favourite rig – like a 5.7. That immediate familiarity will make him feel at home and will help him make studied judgements about different boards. A complete rig will weigh about 10-15 kg and will be accepted easily by most airlines. Just having your own boom and lines keeps you in touch with home and gets the positive juices flowing.
The alternative is to take up international snooker …

PH 28th June 2015

PHOTO CAPTION:   Racks full of kit, keen helpers to help you tune it and a hassle-free. flight are three reasons to leave your own kit at home …

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sotavento PH


Harty tells of his love hate, but mostly love, relationship with Fuerteventura.

The front of the virtually brand new jeep lay buried up to its radiator in the river.

“I just told him to keep his foot down” said Dave White strangely confused.

“You told your Essex brother, who inspired the whole concept of ‘boy racer’ to keep his foot down?” I repeated incredulously.

The scene of the crime was the Sotavento speed track in Fuerte, which lies a kilometre from the rigging tent. At the beginning and end of the day you were allowed to drive on the beach to fetch and carry spare rigs. Half way down was a river where the lagoon emptied into the sea. It was just passable in a 4X4. As I’m sure you’re aware dear reader, the way to pass through water in a car is to go slowly and steadily. Above all, do NOT stop or water flows back into the exhaust pipe. That’s sort of what Dave meant – but ‘keep your foot down’ in Essex speak means something altogether more exciting. So it was that Joey wound her up to about 60 and launched into the river like an outtake from the ‘Dukes of Hazard.’

10,000 pesetas later the event tractor dragged us out. After a good hosing we managed to start it but electrics and salt water aren’t great bedfellows and every day from then on something stopped working. Ultimately it was the lights, which flashed on and off at random, which we got away with because everyone including police, assumed it was an emergency vehicle.

Yin and yen
Ah yes – I have such fond memories of Fuerte’, in the same way as a World War 1 veteran has ‘fond memories’ of the Somme. The views are stunning, he made lifelong friends, the action was a bit grim, but he was happy to survive it.

Mention Fuerte’ and a torrent of conflicting images and sensations flood the synapses – I’ve had the best and worst times. It’s not the island’s fault, just interpretation of events.

You only get the chance to make a first impression once and the first trip was a bit grim. November 1982. Rumours on the pre-interweb grapevine were that the Canaries had wind. Four of us smashed piggy banks and headed out for a month. For the first 3 weeks in Lanzarote there wasn’t a breath. We then drove over to Fuerte to enter the first Eurofun Cup. Arriving in Corralejo in the beautiful north, our car was immediately impounded because our insurance didn’t cover both islands (a favourite revenue stream for local police apparently).

With most of our spending money gobbled up in fines, we had a choice of either entering the event or getting a hotel. We entered the event and slept rough – big mistake as the wind never crept anywhere near the 17 knot minimum. Days were idled away staring at the sea (we had no transport) and trying to sneak into a posh hotel’s all-inclusive buffet. It seemed the event organisers had done as much meteorological research as us. Very few places are windy all year – and November in the Canaries is generally one to avoid.

Returning to Heaven
Believing everyone and everything deserves a second chance, the following January I returned with racer Mark Wood and snapper Alex Williams. What a difference. There was still no direct flights to Fuerte so again we came in from Lanzarote – this time the ancient flat bottomed ferry was picking its way between the reefs which were throwing up tubing waves as big as we imagined Hawaii to be (we hadn’t been there yet). This was the real deal. And it was windy every day for a month.

The northern port of Corralejo has since become something of a tourist town but back then it was a classic fisherman’s port with a bar (the Arena) and a pizzeria (Willies) and a lot of long-stay windies keen to bond and share. In that month I was delighted to break every bit of kit I had because I learned SO much in the process. I got totally trashed on the rocks and reefs at the Harbour Wall and the Shooting Gallery (lesson learned, gybe out before you feel the fin hit); and got pounded relentlessly by the Cotillo shorebreak (lesson learned, when the water is yellow and full of sand, best not hang about in it). But then after the beating, we enjoyed one of the best fish meals ever in the village.

The War Years
The summer of 87 really put Fuerte on the map when Pascal Maka smashed the world speed record on the recently discovered Sotavento down in the south of the island. The following year every speedster in the world wanted a bit of the action. The qualification process was brutal. But we made it. Careful what you wish for. That beach was to become my home for 4 weeks every summer for the next 12 years.

The south of Fuerte – it could be a different island. The 10 km beach itself is worth the visit. I asked a hotelier what ‘Sotavento’ meant. The answer he gave depended on whether you were a normal tourist or a windsurfer. ‘’Eeet means, ‘shelter from the wind.’ Oh you weendsurf? It means ‘crazy windy!’’

It is crazy windy. For 3 weeks one July it never dropped below 30 knots. It was like being in the ring with Mike Tyson. You take the first punch but every one after that makes you weaker and weaker until you collapse. By the end it was all we could do to drag ourselves to the rigging tent, let alone sail for 6 hours over-powered with a weight jacket.

The wind – it never stopped even at night. It screeched relentlessly through the Gorriones Hotel sounding like the shower scene from ‘Psycho’ reminding you of the punishment waiting for you the next day.  I’ve just talked to Whitey, my constant travel companion during those years, and asked him of his most abiding memories. “The trips north.” He said without hesitation. At least once a week he’d force us in the Fiat Punto and drive the 90 mins up to Corralejo just so we could get a decent meal in the Mexican restaurant … and get a break from the screeching.

But don’t let me put you off – the seascapes are stunning. If you’re prepared to drive you can get some amazing sailing in and out of waves.

Overall we had more fun than we knew what to do with. .

PH 7th May 2015-05-06

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The October 2015 Issue of the world’s only monthly English-language windsurfing magazine is out now!

Subscribe or grab your copy now in either 

Digital or 

Print  versions!
(Prices include delivery anywhere globally 10 times a year.)

The New sensations issue – 2016 wave mega test – Stubby and 90L wave boards and 5.3 powerhouse wave sails, Pioneering XXL waves at Tasmania’s Pedra Branca, Robby Naish’s best day ever in Fiji, Easter Island eco-exploration, Harty’s wave directory – guiding you on all the wind and wave angles, Discovering Malaysia, Alice Arutkin profile, Back loop + Tweaked pushy technique, West Ireland waves and Skeyboy’s slalom return.

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Manu Bouvet explores Easter Island’s exotic windsurfing shores with an eco purpose, highlighting an ancient island under threat from plastic pollution.

JC Main Spread_69T9842
The Motley crew enjoy a stellar day of Irish Atlantic action along with the inevitable Motley mishap and learn what has drawn some of the local crew of windsurfers to make their home out west.

JC MAIN SPREAD_7524_Naish International_Glenn Duffus
When the king of windsurfing, Robby Naish, calls a session his best ever; you know it must be special. King Naish recounts a day when the magic happened.

John Skye reports on his return to PWA slalom at Sotavento and how he achieved his goal of a top 30 result and the lessons learned.

Chris Pressler and Kerstin Reiger travel to the remote beaches of Malaysia’s east coast and discover a land rich in culture, scenery and excellent windsurfing.

JC MAIN SHOT F16_WS_DY10_D2_6442
John Carter interviews the beautiful and talented Alice Arutkin about her love of competition, the art of selfies and all about Alice!

Pedra Branca is one of the world’s gnarliest waves. It’s big, remote and never been windsurfed before, until Alastair McLeod dropped down its face. We get the lowdown on an incredible day.


H IMG_3958-improved
We test the new generation of ‘stubby’ wave boards, is less length more performance?.

FANATIC Stubby 88,
JP Wave Slate 86,
STARBOARD Reactor 87,

The test team put some of the 2016 big boy wave boards under review, is big beautiful?.

FANATIC Tri Wave TE 95,
RRD Wave Cult V6 LTD 90,
STARBOARD Kode Wave 93,
TABOU Pocket 94,
GOYA Custom 94,

2016’s 5.3 powerhouse wave sails tested, the team find out what the latest designs delivered.

NORTH Volt 5.3m,
EZZY Elite 5.3m,
GA SAILS Manic 5.3m,
SAILLOFT Curve 5.3m,


wave directory 9

One day a hero, the next day a clown – Peter Hart describes how different combinations of wind and swell direction alter the nature of the challenge.

Jem Hall breaks down the back loop.

Marcilio Browne teaches us how to tweak the table top into your push loop.


The word on the beach is there is some fresh gear in town, we round up the rumours!

We review the current market with the latest buying trends and a look at some of the brand’s freshest offerings to armour you for winter.


EDITORIAL – NEW SENSATIONS. The editor extols the benefits of shaking it up and why windsurfing keeps us young and interesting.

He doesn’t work for ‘Relate’ but Harty reckons a regular dose of misery is the means by which you keep the passion alive.

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Words Peter Hart  //  Photos Graham White, Peter Hart, John Carter & Dave White.

Surely the longer you plug away at this game, the better you’re going to get. If only … Amateurs are no different from the elite in that they too suffer dips in form. Moves they could once do with their eyes shut suddenly elude them. It’s frustrating beyond belief. What is going on? Peter Hart investigates how and why bugs get in the system and what you can do about it. 

Poor old Tiger Woods. It’s like someone has attacked the Sistine Chapel with a spray can – greatness has been horribly tarnished. He numbers among the very few athletes who have managed to transcend their sport. Even if you don’t give a toss about golf, you are surely aware of his former dominance in a game which through its multiple variables and luck factor, is notoriously hard to dominate.

At a time when golfers were often chubby, awkward and chronically dressed, Tiger bestrode the fairways like an ebony Achilles on the catwalk – a fearsomely ripped athlete blending power, immaculate technique, the deftest touches, mental fortitude and an unshakeable belief. Then suddenly the walls came tumbling down. Last month the top amateur beat him by nearly 15 strokes at the British Open.

The reason for the descent appears multifactorial. Exposure in the press as a serial philanderer leading to the break up of his marriage, burst the all American, clean-cut bubble and surely deflated his mental infallibility. Then followed a series of injuries. Many sportsmen come back from injuries. However, the most recent has been to his back, which has forced him to totally remodel his swing. All that muscle memory had to be … forgotten … and then re-remembered. Are you spotting any windsurfing parallels yet? Have you noticed new holes in certain aspects of your game? If so, do you have a clue how and why they’ve appeared? I’m not suggesting for one moment your marriage has been rocked by having an army of call girls on tap in Las Vegas; but has a certain incident, on or off the water, made you cautious, more defensive, less confident?

Has an injury forced you, perhaps unconsciously, to protect a certain body part? Or have you, for no discernible reason, just picked up a bad habit, which has knocked you back down a level?

We expect the odd period of stagnation – but to get worse! That’s often too much for many to bear and eventually persuades them to seek out a drier, more rewarding recreation. So here are a few of the possible causes and remedies gleaned from coaching courses and personal experience.

Not getting better is one thing. We can live with that. But getting worse…



// However benign the conditions may appear, if you’re in any way anxious, you’ll push the eject button prematurely and get defensive – and that’s when the bad habits take hold.

There’s an old coaching mantra that it’s far harder to eliminate a bad habit than it is to teach something from scratch. There’s a hint right there. When something starts going wrong, the best approach is to sweep it right back to the fundamentals. Don’t get bedevilled by the details but check the basics and build up from there – and when we say basic, we mean really basic – like the venue.

For better or for worse, your set up and kit choice determine your posture. In the pic below the large sail (for the conditions) is set with very little tension so it’s pulling like a tractor. Arguably it suits the well-muscled character in charge, whose well spread hands and bulging arms reveal that upper body strength rather than the harness are doing most of the work. It’s fine … but should he swap to a smaller, softer more move-oriented sail, in order to improve the corners and his general rig handling, he will probably regress.


//  Set up to heave – it’s working but it’s encouraging a destructive habit.

A history of trashes and crashes, or just one deeply over-powering and mildly traumatic session, can encourage a defensive bad habit that can linger in the system. The most common is the front hand position. The front hand creeps forward on the boom when safety is threatened because instinctively it knows it only has to pull in slightly to depower the sail. However, it’s a glitch that infects so many moves. It leaves you too close to the boom; makes you draw the rig back and head up as you step back into the straps and as you waterstart – to name just a few.


//  Mike, a polished allround sailor, got infected with the front hand habit and had no idea he was doing it. 


//  The front hand position destroying the gybe. One slight pull depowers the rig, lifts the nose and stalls the rail.

Bigbury is a gorgeous wave sailing beach on the south Devon coast and if you live in the area you are indeed privileged to have it as a local spot – but I never sail well there. It’s a personal problem.  It’s where I learned to surf as a nipper. Aged 12 I went out on a day, which was literally way too far over my head. I got cleaned up by a big set.

My leash broke and I was caught in the infamous rip that sweeps out around the rocks at the Bantham end. I managed to swim out of it, bodysurfed in … but not far enough. I was caught again and did three more circuits before, almost mortally exhausted, I touched sand. I’ve had worse since but perhaps because I was so young and impressionable, the dread remains indelibly imprinted and every time I launch there, dormant alarm bells start to ring and I tense up. Anders joined me for a clinic in Dahab a few years back. Conditions were excellent but he never sailed with a smile and didn’t hit the markers of earlier planing and faster gybes he’d set himself at the beginning of the week. In fact, he regressed, his sailing becoming ever more stilted.

He returned four months later but this time to Mauritius and was a different bloke – laughing and joking on the water, chucking himself at it and really taking up the angles necessary to nail the gybes. The difference was simply wind direction. In Dahab the prevailing wind is offshore. Anders confessed over a beer that he’d never sailed in offshore winds before and the dread was instinctive and mighty. But he was loathed to admit it at the time because, everyone else was happy and he knew his fear was disproportionate given his competence, the flat water and the ample safety cover. In Mauritius the wind is side-shore and he launched with a free heart and a happy head.

SOLUTION: No matter how irrational, if you feel afraid or under pressure you will sail badly. Choosing the right spot and conditions is the simplest and most effective way to kick a bad habit.

Retail therapy can be the improver’s best fillip. The new tennis racket, the new carbon sandwich freestyle wave – they fill us with joyful expectation and make us attack with renewed vigour. However, a new piece of windsurfing kit may feel and behave differently. And if you’re not open to change, then expect to get worse before you get better.

Geoff, a competent free-rider of some year’s experience, was looking to expand his windy repertoire into some basic freestyle. So he traded in his ancient 6.0 twin cam for a light, modern cross-over freestyle/wave sail – and got steadily worse. He would have practised some of those new moves if only he could have got going. The new rig only got him planing in the biggest puffs at which point he was too ‘on the edge’ to even think about trying anything new and risky.

The issue was that Geoff was a ‘back-hand’ sailor. His back hand was his accelerator. When he pulled on it, his old tight-leeched sail pulled back, providing solid resistance and instant power. But his new, softer, ‘flickier,’ more reactive rig, didn’t offer such a solid counterbalance and he kept falling against his back hand and over-sheeting.

He needed to sail more off the front arm; push rather than pull to power up; go with the flow rather than resist – stand up rather than hunker down.

It was totally alien and asked him to completely change his oppositional relationship with the power, which for a long time he was reluctant to do.

If you’re getting worse at a certain move, it’s likely you’ve got caught up in fine detail, are over-thinking and are ignoring a very basic element. There’ll be a clue in the title. For example in a carving 360 and a carve gybe, you have to carve. To do a duck gybe, you have to duck. To do a fast tack, you have to tack … yes you’ve guessed it … fast! Remake the omelette – but this time break some eggs!


//  The carving 360. It’s all too easy to start thinking about how and where to lay down the rig – but if you stop carving, it’ll never happen.


//  Focus on speed, constant rail pressure and drawing a steep, ever tightening arc and the rig will look after itself.


//  It only takes one scrape in the mush from the foot of the sail when duck gybing, to persuade you to throw the head back out of the way, thereby losing vision and commitment.


//  But if you think about ducking, you naturally move to the inside, keep carving AND get an instant view of the new side of the boom.


//  Once the gybe rig change becomes a mental issue, people tend to stand up, look at it and stop carving – a guaranteed way to make it worse.

Jez’s wave sailing has got worse since he swapped his single fin for a Quad. He’s a good bloke but couldn’t be more set in his ways if you buried him in concrete. He’s a back foot sailor. It’s not a criticism. It’s a style. He planes early, is light on his feet but in keeping with the first generation wave boards, he turns off the tail and uses his back foot exclusively to carve.

That works on the single fin board, which was longer and had a meaty pivot point (the fin) – but on the Quad, with its shorter, wider, curvier outline and titchy fins that are not designed to withstand heavy shock loads, he just skids and over-rotates. The problem is he sees it as a positive and calls it ‘looseness.’ But he’s barely moving and stops completely after every turn.

The Quad is all about carrying speed through the turns by dropping forward onto the front foot and using the whole rail to turn, at which point the side fins offer extra drive. It’s a massive shift for him and one that he isn’t going to make. But he’s happy – for a while anyway.


If you upgrade your kit – you’ll only get better if you upgrade yourself to match it.

Imagine you’ve spent years of your life lovingly restoring a classic car. You take it to the garage for an MOT and when you collect it, you’ve found the mechanics, for no good reason, have added a spoiler, wide wheels and a horn that plays “I’m sexy and I know it…” That’s how the coach feels when one of his charges, who’s he’s set up perfectly for his style and standard, returns a year later with a ridiculously inappropriate stance from being poisoned by some trendy at his local spot with a one track freestyle mind.

The trend for a crazy high boom (mouth height and above) has seen the deterioration of many a carve gybe and wave ride. The high boom favoured by freestylers leaves them upright over the board in the best position to get planing with a small sail and drive down and ‘pop’ the board into a trick. Dedicated freestylers don’t do a lot of carving. The high boom upsets your carving in two ways.

1. You’re too upright to bend the knees. It’s only by bending the knees and getting low that you can keep constant pressure on the inside edge.

2. You end up under the boom and can’t lean the rig into the turn. It’s by dropping onto it that you load up the mastfoot, control the nose, engage all the rail and stop it bouncing.

Worse still an over-high boom can be very tiring, pulling up in the waist harness and forcing you to take a lot of pressure on your arms.

The general trend for higher booms and longer lines (shoulder height and lines which accommodate elbow to palm) is great in that in helps early planing, distances you from the rig and puts you in a tall  ‘ready to drop’ stance. However, unless you’re an extremist, avoid the extremes.

SOLUTION: It is indeed a good idea to experiment with elements of your set-up but you have first to ask yourself what you want to achieve and what position you want to end up in on the board.

If you’re going to change your set-up, do it gradually. If you go from a nipple high boom and 26” lines to mouth high boom and 34s, you’ll basically have to learn to windsurf all over again. Make gradual changes so you stay in touch with what you know.

In the earliest days of freestyle, the duck tack was THE manoeuvre you were judged by – not particularly spectacular but very technical. The timing of the duck and the angle of the throw all have to be perfect. The room for error is zero. I cracked it one winter in Barbados. Then came home to find I hadn’t – especially galling since I’d told everyone I had.

The reason turned out to be a change in sail design. The new sail had more shape and less tension in the back. It was only marginal, but as I released the rig, it didn’t neutralise as well as the old one so the wind caught the other side and slammed it.

A high proportion of modern tricks start with a sail duck so you initiate the trick back-winded and boost out of the water by pushing on it (not pulling).

Being able to duck the sail sweetly at full planing speed (without losing any) is therefore crucial; and to that end sail design is critical. James, a top Vass freestyler in Vassiliki, was telling me he began to struggle with a trick on one tack because his new sail didn’t duck so well on that tack – because the battens of his new sail were laid on the other side.

It’s marginal but many sails, due to the batten lay-out, do rotate better and power up more crisply on one tack; which is why on some designs the battens are laid on alternate sides and on the very latest, the battens actually dissect the sail so it’s perfectly symmetrical.

The atmosphere is getting a bit rarefied but if you start struggling with a move you could once do, it could be down to how the sail depowers and behaves during the transition.

“I think the worst case of getting worse I had was when learning push loops. By chance my first feeling for the move was the right one, so from day one they just worked really well. However after about one year of doing them well, they all started going wrong. I think I started to think a bit about what I was doing and they went to pieces. I was mostly over rotating, so I tried to slow them down and then under-rotated and had a nasty crash into the sail. In the end it took a top tip from Andy King about my arm position to snap them back into place and since then it has been my most reliable move. For me when things start going in the wrong direction one of the best tips I have is to stop sailing. Go stand on the beach for 10 minutes and enter the water again like it’s a new day. Quite often that system reset is enough to make everything work again.”

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//  Skye boy, having taken a rest to reboot.

Photo Carter /

But let us not beat about this bush. The fault for gradual or sudden deterioration usually lies with the physical self.  I banged on about this last year but physical fitness, a lack of it, is often the culprit.
Consider these situations.

If you put on weight, you have to select kit that fits your new size but not your strength. Carrying a surplus of sail and litres you quickly find yourself fighting the kit as you bear away up to speed, which spawns ugly, back seat habits.

When you’re unfit, the first thing you do is stop bending your knees. The legs have the biggest muscles so it’s less tiring to keep them straight, whereupon many bad things ensue.

• you lose the use of those big leg muscles and with it the ability to suddenly extend the legs and explode into moves like tacks and jumps.

• with the legs locked you can’t bend to absorb shock loads.

• with the legs straight you end up balancing with the upper body, throwing head and shoulders around and pecking at the waist in a boogie of reaction and over-reaction.

As a study of balance I urge you to view a YouTube clip of Laird Hamilton on his SUP doing 360s on his SUP on pretty big waves. Even as the board is spinning or going backwards on the wave face, you can freeze it an any moment and you’ll find him in a biomechanically sound position with head up, knees bent, core tight and hips over the feet.


just say ‘no’ to the cream doughnuts. Get fitter. Take breaks.

OK, so you’re fitter than the proverbial dog of the butcher – but does that superb fitness persuade you to stay out far longer than is sensible? Habits (and injuries) often take root at the end of a session when people are knackered – at which point all they assume the habits of the unfit. They lose tension in the body. They stop flexing. They reduce their cage of movement. They’re less agile, heavier on the feet, lose mobility and stop moving their hands on the boom. The problem is that it only takes you to do a certain action two or three times for it to become a habit (good or bad).

SOLUTION: Get off the water when you start making silly mistakes (or preferably before).

Often people’s very first attempts at a new move are the best. Relative ignorance can be bliss. The lack of intricate knowledge means you focus on the fundamental element. And there’s usually a clue to that element in the title – fast tack, carve gybe, duck gybe.  A classic is the carving 360.

“What should I do?”

“Just carve and see what happens.”

With nothing else to think about, that’s exactly what they do – and they make it most of the way. But having nearly made it, they start thinking about how and where to lay the rig down and backwind it. With thought comes hesitation and jerky, cognitive behaviour. They lose dynamism. They forget the basics, which in this case is the carving bit – and get worse.

If your carve gybes appear to be deteriorating, the cause is often the same. You’re so wound up by the apparent complexity of the rig and foot change that you forget to carve – and if you don’t carry speed around a smooth arc, a slick rig and foot change IS impossible.

SOLUTION:  Five or six attempts at a move that isn’t going well is often more than enough. Take a break and when you come back focus once more on the most fundamental elements.

You only have to repeat a mistake a couple of times for it to become a habit.


Dave White, speed-sailor of some note, gets injured for a living. It seems to be part of his act and due to a large dollop of Essex bravado, he appears to bounce back with no ill effects. That actually is NOT the case. I caught up with him recovering from his latest mishap (a ruptured Achilles).
“The worse time was when I had cancer in 2000. I put on a lot of weight with the chemo and so jumping really hurt and I didn’t want to get caught by the white water because it was a real mission to get going again. As a result I always avoided the peak of the wave and it took me about 3 years to get over it and actually attack the wave again. The problem was I was so proud I didn’t even want to discuss it. That happens a lot with blokes. Ego gets in the way. They’re afraid but rather than admit it, they start making excuses why they can’t go out (busy at work etc) and then get in a negative spiral.”

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//  Whitey in SA well over his fear of attacking the lip

By far the most effective way to develop a dodgy habit is to have a proper knee-trembling crash preferably involving some claret or a deep soft tissue injury. Thereafter, like keeping a safe distance from the dog that once bit you for no good reason, you will approach the move with extreme caution and adopt pre-emptive evasive measures.

Take the catapult – the move, if such it be, that infects future technique like no other.

As you move into more advanced planing skills – early planing, carve gybes, forward loops – most of the advice is about getting forward; going with the flow; letting the rig pull you into positions where you’re on the edge of a catapult. But having experienced a real catapult – ‘on the edge of a catapult’ is the very last place you want to be.

The hangover symptoms vary. At one extreme you have the terminally disturbed who now sail with buttocks SO clenched that they could crack a nut and whose booms carry the palm imprints from death-like squeezing. Serial accidents have made them paranoid about bearing away, powering up and accelerating. But without speed and an inboard body position, they’re basically screwed.

For others, less bruised, the symptoms may be more subtle. The classic is the front hand. A couple of weeks ago I asked Mike why he sailed with his front hand so far forward on the boom. (There may have been a legitimate reason, like deliberately placing lines back on the boom so he can sit on the biggest gusts). But he wasn’t even aware of it. It probably started after a wildly frightening over-powered session. Putting the hand forward makes it easier to sheet out (you just bend the front arm). He was a good sailor but admitted he was going through a bad patch, slower to plane and piling over the front during gybes. It was all down to that front hand which left him too close to the rig.

SOLUTION: Catapults are a symptom of poor power control and board trim (rocking the board to windward so the front foot hits the water) so the frequency will naturally lessen the more you sail. Don’t let them shape you. Put a piece of red tape at the front of the boom as a visual reminder that it’s a no-go area for the front hand.

Spread arms, bum inches from the tail, hands squeezing are all symptoms of an apprenticeship littered with catapults. 


Compensating for a weak or injured limb is fine – bur remember to readjust when you’re better or the old readjustment will quickly become a habit. In the pic above, the angulation is all up the spout. I had pulled a muscle in my right side making it uncomfortable to drop my hips that way – so I compensated by keeping the hips upright and dropping the shoulders in. It’s not a technique to copy.

worse 15 - 12 480px

//  A minor back injury forcing Harty to angulate back to front.

Injuries are bound to influence the way we sail. It’s not necessarily a fault. If the condition is chronic, if you’ve lost mobility in an arthritic joint for example, you’ll naturally compensate in the same way that a swimmer with one arm will adapt their freestyle technique.

If one or other knee is a little sore and unstable, you’ll avoid loading it up and so will struggle on one tack with moves like upwind 360s, Vulcans etc, which demand extreme forward lean and where the front leg takes all the pressure.  If you constantly favour one leg, your gybes will be tighter on the side where your good leg, is your back leg.

The problem is when a temporary injury has forced you to protect a body part and created a compensatory habit which you keep even after you’re cured. A while back I had a minor back strain, which made it uncomfortable to bend sideways at the waist on one side. So as I entered a gybe or a bottom turn, rather than drive my hips into the turn, I left them over the board and dropped my shoulders to the inside instead. Hips and shoulders should form a ‘C’ shape – his ‘C’ went the wrong way – more like a ‘)’ – and left me hopelessly discombobulated at the exit. It took a lot of re-drilling to correct.

It’s not complicated. All the examples above have a common theme. Something – the threatening venue, the unfamiliar kit, the loss of fitness, the crash, the injury – has dented the confidence. As you lose confidence, you disappear into your shell, play safe and start doing things you’d never do if you had a sense of freedom and self-belief.

Habits rarely take care of themselves. Take this one nugget with you – if you start sailing badly, consciously you have to change something!
And on that bombshell…

Harty has a fabulous new website revealing news of everything windsurfing including spaces on up and coming clinics. Email him for his monthly newsletter on or like his Peter Hart Masterclass page.


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The September 2015 Issue of the world’s only monthly English-language windsurfing magazine is out now!

Subscribe or grab your copy now in either 

Digital or 

Print  versions!
(Prices include delivery anywhere globally 10 times a year.)


The Mad men issue; we report on the best PWA Pozo comp ever. Interview Philip Koester on triple loops and more!. Ricardo Campello writes on life as a pro. Cross the Atlantic with an eco purpose with Flo Jung. Interview speed queen Zara Davis. Freeride round UK landmark Old Harry, with Andy Chambers; Antigua trip; Air taka how to; Waterstart technique; curing bad habits with Harty and winter travel guide.




Triple loops, meeting David Cameron and his love of pizza – a must read interview with the greatest jumper in the world.

Nuking winds, insane jumps and the best ever competition at Pozo, Finn Mullen reports from the beach.

Boat trip
Florian Jung makes an epic voyage of discovery and purpose across the Atlantic to highlight conservation of our ocean playgrounds in the company of Boujmaa Guilol and Camille Juban.

Ricardo Campello talks candidly about life as a pro and an insight into the ups and downs of travelling the world, listing windsurfing as your occupation.

Sean cook
We caught up with Shaun Cook to learn more about his new found talent for racing and experiences as a first timer on the BSA slalom circuit, leading the amateur series.

Beautiful Azure waters and truly a ‘Caribbean Dream’, JC brings us the lowdown on Antigua, a freeride destination to take your breath away.

John Carter and Andy Chambers take a trip to showcase a jewel of the Jurassic Coast – the chalk stacks of Old Harry.

Kevin Pritchard talks us through the air taka and how to spin it to win it.

zera davis
The fastest women windsurfer in the world and Queen of speed tells us all about her gift for sailing fast.

our guides to winter sunny shores from the short haul favourites of the Canary Islands through to the exotic seas of Borocay, Bonaire, Hurghada and Argentina.

Ezzy travel
Graham Ezzy explores the nature of windsurfing travel, reflecting on why we sail on distant seas.


ARE YOU GETTING WORSE? Peter Hart investigates how and why bugs get in the system and what you can do about it.

IGNITE YOUR WATERSTART Waterstarts are key to windsurfing progress, Jem Hall shows us how.

LATEST & GREATEST The finest, freshest, not oldest but newest news on the windsurfing world.


Mad Men. The editor celebrates the madness of windsurfers but wonders if it’s the rest of the world that’s really mad?

TO RACE or NOT TO RACE …As the competition season returns from its summer holiday, Harty addresses the subject of competitiveness and competitions.


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Print or 

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In Praise of the BOLT

When I’m based at a centre doing a clinic, my over-riding priority is to get everyone set up well on the right kit – because nothing good will happen on the technique front unless you’re balanced, comfortable and confident. Many centres have a wide choice of designs. Marvellous … but too much choice can be a burden. You get used to a rig; then the next day the wind has changed and/or someone has nicked the one you tuned so finely. You’re forced to take another design, which is good … but different – and so you waste an hour tweaking and getting used to it. In Vassiliki this year the place looked like a ‘Bolt-fest!’ Neilson and Ocean Elements are just two of the centres, which have majored on Bolts. Why?

1. Because they are so easy to rig, tune and use
2. And because they eliminate the burden of decision.

I was based at the Neilson centre. Over the week we were blessed with winds ranging from 12-25 knots. As my clients asked me for sail advice on day one I basically said, “follow the Bolts, and all will be well.”


Neilson racks full of Bolts

People agonise over sail type a they change sizes – “do I need cams?” “Do I need a free-ride/freestyle or wave sail?” The Bolts make that decision for you, gradually mutating and getting more manoeuvre-oriented as they get smaller but still maintaining the same easy feel.



When you change up or down size, you just want to feel that someone has turned the power up or down – you do NOT want to have to totally readjust to a new design. The Bolts offer consistency and familiarity across the whole range  from the 9.5 down to the 4.0.

Smaller sizes
The area of most confusion currently lies in the sizes of 5.7 and under. How many battens? Where do you want the effort? How full? What feeling – crisp or soft? And the answer you get depends on whether you ask a freestyler or a wave sailor or a speed merchant.
One situation last month in Vass illustrated the glory of the Bolts perfectly. In 18 knots of wind Tim (88 kg) was hammering up and down on an Atom 120 and twin cam 7.8 Bolt – and next to him and holding her own was Kirsty (60kg) on a 103 Kode and a Bolt 5.0. Kirsty, as with many improving free-riders, was still on a relatively big board for her weight (in case the waterstarts didn’t work out) but was getting planing easily and screeching along thanks to a small sail that is both light but still enough low end power to drive a big board.



PH mid duck gybe with 6.5 Bolt

But before you cast it is as just an easy entry-level tractor, on the same stretch of water we had Max, a Neilson instructor, busting out every new skool trick in the book on the same Bolt 5.0. He ‘d just rigged it with a little more outhaul to tighten up the back end and make it neutralise more easily.

Not surprisingly, 3 of the people on the Vass course went out and immediately bought a selection of Bolts the moment they got home. 


PH standing with 5.8 Bolt with James Neilson centre manager


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