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Planegybe opener


Planing out of a carve gybe is solid evidence of polished technique. Never planing out despite thousands of attempts, by definition therefore, proves that virulent bugs have infected the system.  In a piece that will surely talk to the vast majority of windies out there, Peter Hart, looks at every stage of the arc, identifies the common peccadillos and tells you what to alter in order to nail that speedy exit.  

Story PETER HART // Photos Simon Bassett/2XS

How would you describe not planing out of a carve gybe despite weeks, months, years of trying? Here’s a selection of the few printable analogies dreamed up by friends on a course. They express both humour and frustration … but more of the latter. “It’s like trying to master the Rubix cube – as soon as you get one bit right, another falls out of place.” “It’s like walking 100 miles across a scorching desert only to collapse 3 feet from a pub selling ice cold lager.”

“It’s like taking a girl out on a series of dates to the most expensive restaurants only to be rewarded with a peck on the cheek – very little interest from investment.” If you can get round a good number of your gybes, surely, with practice, the Holy Grail of the planing exit will organically evolve? And then, when you’ve done one, will not rows of light bulbs illuminate and the mystery be solved? Apparently not. Doing a planing gybe is less like riding a bike for the first time (once achieved forever remembered), and more like the golf swing. Through perseverance (monkeys and typewriters) you may indeed connect sporadically with power and accuracy only for the next shot to dribble 6 inches in an explosion of mud, turf and profanities. But for it to be repeatable, many basics have to be solid – the grip, the stance, the back lift and … that I’m afraid is where my golfing knowledge runs out.

Likewise with the gybe, happy circumstances – a fortuitous gust, a downslope – may combine to propel you occasionally to a rapid exit; but you weren’t aware of doing anything differently and, like a will-o’-the-wisp, that magical moment evaporates. And there’s a deeper problem. The measures you discovered to help you survive those first gybes are the very ones that all but eliminate the chance of a speedy finish. For example:

> washing off speed on entry so it feels safer.

>  dropping back against the rig so all the way round you feel a reassuring counterbalance.

> coming out clew first for the same reason.

> delaying the rig and foot change because surely you have more chance of staying in balance with the board stationary and stable?

They’re all defensive instincts, which in windsurfing terms inevitably involve resisting the power source rather than going with it – and sailing off the tail rather than the middle of the board. The bad news, therefore, is that to achieve the planing exit often demands a complete rebuild. But the good news for those who are nearly there is that the difference may just be a technical tweak – a shift of the hand, a drop of the heel, a turn of the head. So coming up is not a complete lesson in how to gybe. Instead I’m going to select elements from each stage of the gybe that specifically influence the chances of planing out. But lets set the scene with some generalities.


Fear lies at the heart of most mistakes. Flat, shallow water you can beachstart away from after a fall and a stable, solid-but-not-over-powering wind, will free the mind and help you attack with greater speed, drop your body in the void and commit in directions and to an extent you haven’t before. Seek out that glorious 18-25 knot wind window (force 5-6). Much less than that and the planing gybe becomes very technical. You have little reserve power and are being pulled along by a thread, which is all too easy to break. You overtake the wind as you bear away, at which point the sail depowers. With little backhand pressure the big rig swings round ponderously. The longer the board remains unpowered, the more time it has to slow down. A planing exit is possible, but there’s no room for timing and trim errors.

And with much more than 25 knots, you start to have control issues. The wind is strong enough to destabilise the board and, in all but a few special places, kick up a vicious chop. You’ll have to depower the rig with a committed over-sheet, which is advanced stuff. And that feeling of full-on power can encourage that succession of defensive reactions listed above. The right sail choice is the one that allows you to sail 120º downwind powered up. Many people play safe with sail size to the extent where they can only plane across or just off the wind and slow down as soon as they bear away. For a planing gybe you have to get that feeling of being shot out of a gun as you foot off.

And the best conditions? A cross onshore 20-knot breeze and a clean, well-spaced lazy swell. Bear away onto the swell so you’re doing the rig and foot change (where most mess up) going downhill – but that’s cheating.

Planegybe 01
Stage One – the set-up
In terms of planing out, this is the most important frame of all – the preparation phase.  Say you started with 25 knots of speed when you were hooked in and hooning, you want every one of those knots now that you’re unhooked and ready to pounce. This is where most lose speed and stability. Disturbing the rig as they unhook. Sheeting out as they move the back foot out of the strap. Forgetting to move the back hand back. Doing all this after bearing away when the board is accelerating and especially sensitive to movement. It is SO much easier and safer if you prepare across the wind where you can hang off the boom and move feet etc. without upsetting the trim. The main points here are anticipation and body position. You’re like a 100-m. runner straining in the blocks, body in front of the feet ready to explode forward. You’ve born away a few degrees off the wind just enough for the sail to power up and pull you forward. So important now is to project forwards by softening the front knee and moving the head and hips almost level with the mastfoot. And where is your back foot? Don’t put it too near the inside edge or the toes will drag in the water and slow you down.
Top planing point.Take a couple of moments to let the board settle and make sure you are strong, stable and balanced. Taking the back foot out is NOT the trigger to give the rail a hoof.
 Planegybe 02
Stage two – initiation and triggers
So what initiates the carve? Clue: it’s not the back foot. This requires a major change for most people. You want the board to stay level nose to tail. You want the front section of rail to grip. You do that by rolling the front shoulder onto the boom, extending the front arm and dropping the rig forward and to the inside – at the same time holding the tension with the back arm (don’t sheet out!). That powers up the sail, loads up the mastfoot, drops the nose and ‘lays the rail.’ And how much pressure do you have on the back foot at this stage? Virtually none. Loading up the back foot too early and lifting the nose is death to the planing gybe.
Top planing point. By dropping the rig to the inside you create space for you to move into, you reveal the path ahead and can see where you’re about to gybe. If the rig is always blocking your view, you’re bound to be defensive and drop back.
Planegybe 03
Stage 3 – commit and drive
Every speedy manoeuvre has a moment where you just have to man up and drop your body into the void. This one such moment. As you drop the front hand and twist the rig, the sail wants to pull you over the centreline to the inside. Every instinct is to resist that pull and sit back – and there ends the chance of planing. You have to go with that pull. Yes there is a sensation of being catapulted – embrace it. But here’s the key bit – as your hips overtake your feet and make themselves the centre of the circle, that’s when you can drive off the back foot to steepen the carve. But with your body forward – and in – you’re not stamping on the tail, you’re driving the rail out behind you – it’s weight forward, pressure back and suddenly the board catches up with you.
Top planing point. Check the direction of the knees. They should be pointing at the centre of the circle. If they’re pointing at the mastfoot, you’ve sheeted out and will be centred over a flat board.
Planegybe 04
Stage 4  – preparing to change
Dead downwind, the gybe is less than 2 seconds old but already you’re into the transition as the backhand starts to open out. Downwind is where so many stand up and level out. No! This where you must be most committed, increase the rail pressure, tighten the carve, go yet deeper in the knees and increase your position to the inside. See how much rail is still engaged. If you’re analysing your performance from a photo, examine 2 things at this stage. What’s the angle of the mast? If it’s upright or, worse still, leaning back, you’re gybing off the tail and are soon to grind to a halt. Tilted way forward is the right answer. And look at the spray. There should be an even spray coming off the whole rail, not just a rooster tail.
Top planing point. As you accelerate downwind and the pressure drops, throw the front hand even further forward to maximise the power and create yet more space for you to step forward into.
Planegybe 05
Stage 5 – getting turned
If we just watch the board it should show no signs of anything going on.  Try to move the feet without making an elephantine weight transfer. We have close ups of that coming up, but the trick is to hold your position to the inside so your weight acts dynamically.  If you open the rig and let it turn your shoulders, your feet will want to follow and drop into the right positions. If the front foot doesn’t want to twist out of its strap, then you’re guilty of standing on it and letting the hips drift back over the centre-line.
Top planing point. The hips should already be in the right position to sail away on the new tack – all you have to do is rotate your feet beneath them.
Planegybe 06
Stage 6 –  the full-speed foot change. 
With the gybe just 3 seconds old, the feet have switched with the board only just through the wind as it’s hitting top speed. If you do nothing else but switch the feet earlier, you will smell the sweet scent of a swift exit.  And check the body position – moving forward on the board, not looking for the rig for support.
Top planing point. Switch early!


Someone says to me “I need help. I don’t plane out of all my gybes.” Well nor do I –mostly through choice (well that’s my excuse).  The right situation doesn’t always present itself. Nor is a planing gybe always appropriate. To plane out, you generally need to widen the entry of the arc for maximum speed. But if the road ahead is a maelstrom of sloppy bumps, you’re asking for an explosion. Better in that situation to wash off speed and gybe tight. If you’re not fully planing on entry, you certainly aren’t going to be fully planing on exit. In situations where you feel the rails sticking and where the board hasn’t completely released, that’s the time to move to the back foot, crack it around on the tail to avoid a rail trip and forget the speedy exit.


When people are learning to forward loop, they head out looking for the smallest wave off which to stumble half-heartedly into a rotation. But when they can do it, they look for the steepest lip, because, with height, they realise they have time to complete the rotation – and completing the rotation is a lot less painful than half completing it. Basically they’ve changed their relationship with the wave – it’s their friend. For the less-than-confident gyber, their trigger to gybe is when they feel the pressure drop in the sail – i.e., when they’ve ridden into a lull. It’s an anti-catapult measure. But the planing gyber initiates when they enter the gust and feel the extra drive in the sail. Drive equals speed and speed leads (can lead) to a planing exit.  The sensation of a planing gybe is that of being pulled through the turn all the way up to the foot change. Change your relationship with the power – it’s your mate – and gybe on the front of the gust, not the back of it. The most useful training you can do is just speed runs, bearing away into big gusts, sailing broad, enjoying the feeling of the front of the sail loading up, extending the front arm to sheet in and resisting the instinct to choke power by bending it. What I’m trying to say here without resorting to vulgar parlance, is that you’ve got to grow some ‘cojones.’

Planegybe 07
Stage 7 – carving off the heels
It’s confusing in that to change the feet you need to unweight them – but once changed the key is to drop the hips and load up the heels so keep the board carving. To linger downwind at this stage is to lose all your speed. If you stand too tall, the board will level out. The back hand has just released and so important at this stage is to maintain your outboard position, keep looking out of the turn and let the rig come to you.
Top planing point. Don’t go looking for the rig or you’ll drop towards it and stop carving.
Planegybe 08
Stage 8 – sheeting in broad
Assuming the wind isn’t nuclear, to plane out you have to sheet in off the wind – and the more off the wind, the more power you get … and the greater the chance of a catapult … but then, in the planing gybe, you’re constantly flirting with that balance tipping-point. But the fact is, it’s out of your hands. You can only sheet in broad to the wind, if you’ve maintained speed and the apparent wind has swung forward. The faster you carve, the broader you can exit. Duck gybes have a greater planing success rate because you get the power back on earlier – that’s what we’re trying to emulate.
Top planing point. Only sheet in when the boom comes within easy reach. The faster you’re going the broader to the wind that will be.
Planegybe 09
Stage 9 – exit planing
That last frame caught the moment just prior to sheeting in where the front hand is still forward on the boom following the rig change. If you sheet in then, the rig will be too far back and will sink the tail. A subtle but vital detail is to slide the front hand back on the boom just before you sheet in so the rig drops forward and powers the nose down and away. At the same time as you sheet in, actively level the board off with the toes to minimise drag and stop yourself over-rotating.
Top planing point. Hands back, rig forward, board flat, mission accomplished!

About that gybe. 

It’s a step gybe in nicely powered up conditions. There are no ‘showy-off,’ lay-down, one-handed, ‘look-at-me’ bits. Laying the rig down and over-sheeting is only necessary if you’re stacked. If not, the game is to reduce the rig movements and just hold it at its most efficient angle to the wind all the way round, to maximise power rather than kill it. The more movements you make with the rig, the greater the chance of upsetting the trim.


Flipping rig and changing feet IS where the planing gybe is under greatest threat from wayward feet and hands. Turning yourself through 180º atop a fast moving object, while keeping it on its edge, as the sail swings round, pressures changing all over the place. It sounds like a tall order. So lets turn the camera round, get closer and identify the issues.

Planegybe 10
// This is a key set-up position for the foot change. Sail opening, shoulders following the boom and most important, pressure moving from front to back foot. With the hips to the inside, the front foot is weightless and ready to make its move. 
Planegybe 11
// It twists out of the strap and the heel moves right over to the inside edge to take over the job of carving from the toes of the old back foot.On a bigger wider, board with outboard straps, it’s a big move.The feet may end up in this ‘demi-plié´ ballet position, but isn’t essential as the feet can move almost simultaneously. Note too the front arm has bent for the first time in the gybe. It’s to pull the rig upright for a moment and allow the front hand to slide to the front of the boom before the release.
Planegybe 12
// Here’s the frame that most clearly displays the key points of the planing exit. If you can get to this position, you WILL plane out. – the rig is swinging away on a straight front arm so there’s plenty of room to move hands to the new side of the boom. As the boom swings back, the hips ease forward to stop you being pulled onto the back foot.The board is still carving through heel pressure. The shoulders stay outboard and you let rig come to you – don’t bend forward to get it! The trigger to release the rig is the front foot landing. If you power up clew-first, the pressures in the sail suddenly change and you have to drop back to resist them. Coming out clew first is a good training step and a way to save a gybe but, unless you’re a practised freestyler sailing very broad to the wind, you’ll quickly lose speed. 


In the photo sequence I point out various details. You can’t possibly crunch them all – and don’t try to either. One at a time maximum. What helps more in the beginning is to approach it in broader terms, change the mind-set and focus on concepts, which, if grasped, make you automatically take up better positions and do the right things. Here are five such concepts.


Economists will like this. It’s just a numbers game. Most boards begin to plane at about 10 knots. That, therefore, is the amount of speed you need to exit with to bag a planing gybe. So the more speed you’ve got to start with, the more you can lose and get away with it. Enter at 35 knots and you’ve got make a series of major mistakes not to come out at least semi planing. Enter with 15 and you’ve got to be bloody brilliant to keep it going at the end.

Trim for speed.

It’s all about maintaining speed. So lets turn it the other way round. What do you do if you suddenly need to slow down? Sheet out, stamp on the tail and head up. Surprisingly that’s what many do when they start to gybe even when they intend to plane out. So do the opposite. Gybing fast is very similar to sailing fast in a straight line. It’s all about keeping a constant source of power flowing into the board and holding a constant trim angle, nose to tail. In the gybe, of course, you keep the board on its edge, but the other elements are the same. It’s sudden trim changes that cause imbalance and drag, so think about giving the board the smoothest contact with the water.

Control the Nose

Those three words contain the nub of the challenge. 94.3% of control problems occur because people lose contact with the nose. It’s an MFP (mastfoot pressure) issue. When you sheet out suddenly or let your hips drop behind your feet, you lose MFP, the nose flies up, the tail drops, you drag the bucket and stop. Gybes that stop before the finish, or over-rotate, invariably involve an upturned nose. Think of the mastfoot as the front foot of your body. You’ve always got to have pressure on it, which you maintain by dropping forward and pulling down through the boom.

The slow-down zone

Clock the wind direction. Look at the area from broad reach on one tack to broad reach on the other. Imagine it infested with sharks and mines. It’s a place where you don’t want to be. You need to be massively powered up to plane in this area (think Formula kit) so the longer you stay in it, the more you slow down. If you think about getting through it as quickly as possible, you instinctively carve and get on with it – and getting on with it is the greatest gybe-planing tip of all.

Focus on the ending.

Talking about getting on with it, this thing is only going to last 4 seconds if it’s to be a planer. You haven’t got much time to pratt about. So as soon as you initiate, you’re projecting both mentally and physically towards the ending. You’re looking for the exit and you’re immediately moving forward and across the board to where you need to be to retrieve the rig, sheet in and power away on the new tack. It’s when you have to make adjustments to gather the rig that it all stops.

Time now to let the images do most of the talking. What should become clear is the knock-on effect of the good and bad. “Why don’t you plane out?” “Because I mess up the rig and foot change.” Possibly, but it’s a symptom not a cause.  The rig and foot changes are scrappy and awkward because you’ve lost speed, lost commitment, bent the arms, choked the rig, are standing over your feet, looking down at them too far back on the board etc., etc. The situation is an accumulation of errors so, it’s to the beginning of the gybe we look for the root causes. ‘Start well, end well’ is the mantra. Oh yes, and one other thing … initiate the rig and foot change about half an hour before you think is sensible.

By happy coincidence Harty’s new DVD ’10 steps to gybing’ which he made with Dave White, is now available by contacting him on It discusses in beautiful moving Technicolor all the above and more. To find out more about his legendary clinics email him for his newsletter, check the website or ‘like’ his Peter Hart Masterclass Facebook page.

The post PETER HART – PLANING GYBES appeared first on Windsurf Magazine.

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The April 2015 Issue of the world’s only monthly English-language windsurfing magazine is out now! Subscribe or grab your copy now in either App or Print  versions! (Prices include delivery anywhere globally 10 times a year.)


Legends! // Dave White – The Last Time // Ho’okipa – Day In The Life Of // Keith Teboul – A Shaper’s Story.

016 HOOP

John Carter documents 24 hours on one of the best days of the season at the world’s most famous windsurfing beach.

The mighty Whitey undergoes Windsurf’s toughest test – the infamous questions of the ‘Last time’ !

Josh Stone takes his son Harley on his first windsurfing Trip to Josh’s old stomping ground, Diamond Head with trusted wingman, Brian Talma.

Boujmaa Guilloul scores big at home, we get the low down on one of the best days of his winter and windsurfing in his beloved country.

JC discovers an unspoilt Caribbean Island that’s perfect for families, has great freeride windsurfing and makes us all in the office thoroughly jealous!

Timo Mullen and John Carter take a devious detour to score some Gower Power at one of Wales’s finest wavesailing beaches – Horton.

Master shaper, legend windsurfer, Keith Teboul tells his story of life in foam dust and salt water.

We review the ‘Swiss Army Knife’  board size. Designed for all round fun, we test the claims.

FANATIC Freewave 96,
Goya One 95,
JP Freestyle Wave 93,
Quatro Tetra 99 Thruster Freewave,
RRD Freestyle Wave 94,
STARBOARD Kode Freewave 94,

Tabou 3S 96,

From flat water to waves and everything in-between, we review the sails that have the job of doing it all.

Ezzy Elite 5.7,
Gaastra Cross 5.6,
Goya Eclipse 5.7,
Naish Boxer 5.8,
North Sails VOLT 5.9,
RRD Move 5.7,
Severne Gator 5.7,
Simmer Apex 5.7
Tushingham The Bolt 5.75,

066 Harty Technique
A real world journey. Harty plots the progress of Chris Grainger – a recreational windsurfer on a comeback mission.

Jump Higher !, Jem Hall brings us his top tips for flying without wings !

A look at the world of Freeride fins with buying tips, a designer’s inside line and of course, wise words from our master teacher, Peter Hart.

From family friendly, flat water destinations to high wind hotspots, we highlight some of the best spots in the Med. to hang from your harness in!

The island of windsurf champions goes under the micro guide microscope

All that funky new stuff wrapped up on proper paper – bang tidy !

Who or what are the legends in windsurfing ? The Editor sets out his case for the not so obvious answer.

Hot tips for Cold Comfort. Statistically UK waters are at their coldest this time of year – Love it or hate it ? Harty ponders the nature of cold water windsurfing.

Get your copy by App or in Print now!

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”Hear Ye, Hear Ye People, lend me your ears..we mean eyes sorry !, as you may know Windsurf HQ is in Great Britain and we are proud of our island nation ! What better way to show it, than our completely made up, absolutely scurrilous and  potentially libellous homage to all things British and some of our best windsurfing characters and beaches. Read on while we disconnect the phones and hide behind the filing cabinet – PS – anyone know any good lawyers ??”

Let’s face it, the UK isn’t the rest of the windsurfing world’s normal idea of paradise. Our beaches aren’t lined with palm trees, we don’t sail in turquoise water or have  warm constant trade winds fanning along any stretch of our vast coastline but here at Windsurf we like to think, North, South, East or West, British is still best !

Words & Photos JOHN CARTER

We don’t need those superfluous prerequisites that the less intelligent conjure up when dreaming of the perfect playground. Our windsurfing scene in the UK may not resemble Hawaii or the Caribbean but nonetheless we are an Island surrounded by water, albeit mostly brownish and instead of day in day out boring trades, we have wild gales and sea breezes that blow in all directions, plus if you don’t mind driving, it is fair to say we have the quality and variety of waves, speed strips and blasting conditions on par with anything the rest of the world has to offer. Yes Britain stand up, hold your harness high and wave your tea bags, Union Jacks and copies of Windsurf proudly as this is our time to say just how blooming brilliant Britain is. With tears in our eyes and Rule Britannia on loop on the office ipod, here at Windsurf Towers we decided it was time to pay homage to a few of our National Treasures. So without any further ado, its time to salute some of the inspirational characters in our sport; drool over Britain’s finest beaches and revel in some of our nation’s finest traditions and idiosyncrasies that we think put the Great into Britain.


First off, we want to say bravo to some of the characters and unsung heroes on the UK windsurfing scene.While many key figures are on the front line, several of these guys are down in the trenches behind the scenes quietly going about their business and genuinely being involved and promoting the sport for all the right reasons.

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Peter Hart is returning to Safaga on the Red Sea from 14-21 April 2015 for a Red Sea windsurfing clinic to get your spring sailing in gear. “It was the first Red Sea resort I visited in the 90s and was my chosen spot for clinics, sail testing and for the Carve Clinic video series.” says Peter. “It’s a classic training spot with flat water, rolling swell and great trips out to fabulous Tobia island. Staying in the classy Shams hotel on a keen all inclusive deal with Club Mistral right on site. What is there not to like?” To get the best out of this clinic you should be able to plane in the harness. The course covers ‘General skills’ such as improving your technique for faster tacks, carve gybes, duck gybes improving on what you can already do. Peter tailors the programme to suit you. There’s a little bit of beach theory, loads of on water sessions with immediate feedback.

Club_Mistral_Safaga 480px

Date: 14-21 April 2015

Clinic Price: £1,399pp

INCLUDING – 5 days Peter Hart Masterclass. – Return flights from London Gatwick, UK. – 7 nights ALL INCLUSIVE 4* Shams Imperial Hotel on twin share basis. – Round trip airport transfers & assistance. – INCLUDING 1 week windsurf board hire.

Land only price £1,095pp  (Includes above except flights.) To book contact Sportif on  +

44 (0)1273 844919 or email


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// 11 year old Finn Carmichael loving a sport he will always do, when he can afford it.


Question. Why don’t more young people windsurf? Well they do – but not yet. Harty explains.

I think I’m a fairly easy-going kind of chap. But as I get older, I seem to be less and less tolerant of doomsters. Life chucks enough detritus in your path without some glass-half-empty misery-guts taking the gloss of your day by pointing out the potential awfulness of apparently benign events. “Always look on the dark side of life – that’s what I say – then you’re never surprised or disappointed.” Oh p*ss off!

Just recently, as has been extensively covered in the pages of this magazine, we enjoyed a marvellous National Watersports Festival. The whole place simmered with a warm glow of optimism, not the desperate positivity of a trader with a warehouse of last years boards to shift, but the raw enthusiasm of people getting into it for the first time, coming back to it or just looking for the next thrill.

But one of the comments I kept hearing was: “but where are all the young people? It’s all old buggers at our spot. The sport will die unless you get the kids in.”

You know those times when someone is telling you something, which appears correct and you nod in agreement but which instinctively you know is … wrong. I look at the age profile of the people who attend my courses, even the wave courses which you’d imagine appeals to the young and athletic, and it is indeed mostly, although not exclusively, males between the ages of 35-60. It seems to back up the pessimist’s observation. It’s not until you examine the numbers and individual stories that you uncover the truth.

35-60 is the age bracket of people who get into high performance cars and motorbikes. They’ve actually always been interested in them and, no, it’s got nothing to do with this mythical mid-life crisis – it’s just sometime around that age, they might finally be able to afford them!

Here’s a typical story. Ben, aged 34¾, learned to windsurf as a boy c/o a fanatical dad. He was reluctant at first, because, well that was something his dad did so how could it possibly be anything but fuddy-duddy, dull and painfully uncool. But when he burst through puberty and stopped seeing the world through hormonal eyes, he realised he actually really enjoyed it.

But then life took over. He went to college. As a student you are by definition poorer than a church mouse. At his last year in college he’d saved up enough money from various evening bar jobs, to buy a car. That meant he was now a church mouse on benefits. Windsurfing was still in his sights but it wasn’t until he was 5 years out of college and into a proper job that he could tool up and re-kindle his passion. Move on 20 years and the poverty situation for the youth, is even worse. It’ll cost an 18-year-old 2.5k just to insure a heap of a car, if he gets a deal, which leaves very little disposable loot to fill it up with gas, let alone buy a freestyle board and a quiver of sails.

Adolescent Poverty
I do not see it as a ‘problem.’ It’s just what it is. You can only do equipment driven sports, wealthy and generous benefactors notwithstanding, when you can afford them. Or you need to be a bit determined, resourceful and lucky where you live.

Jack is 13 and sails off my local ‘secret’ spot of …sorry it’s a secret. It’s a not a gnarly point break, just a stony bay lying at the end of one of the legs of Chichester harbour that fills up a couple of hours either side of high tide. He’s there whenever wind and water coincide with time off school, not because a doting mum has bought him a lot of kit and acts as permanent chauffeur but because he saved his pocket money to get a serviceable 10 year board and rig for £70 off eBay; and because he built a trailer for his bike out of a set of old pram wheels. It also helps that he lives just 450 yards from the shore.

I was talking to my friend Harvey this morning, a sometime inhabitant of Tarifa, where kites can be counted in their thousands. He told me that this year he’s noticed a lot more kid windsurfing lessons going on despite the fact that it’s not a great place to learn, too choppy. The local youths kite however because they can strap a rucksack to their back and cycle to the beach. On a similar subject a friend told me of a young colleague at work who had to admit to him that she’s been on a holiday to learn to kite even though she knew it would wind him up. She said she would have preferred to try windsurfing and still has a mind to, but couldn’t see a way to do it at home until she’d found a place to live with a garage and could afford a car.

Look in the right places.
When people say they can’t see kids windsurfing, I have to tell them they’re looking in the wrong places. It won’t be in the shorebreaks of Bridlington or Llandudno. Go and look at a morning session in Vassiliki in July and August where the shallow waters are so full of little mites whooping and a-tricking you can hardly launch without copping a kiddie rig on your head. Visit any one of the UK T15 clubs on one of their sessions. I helped out one day at the club on Tiree, population not very many and over 25 kids were involved. And if you really want to get inspired, get yourself to the Bic Techno Worlds and not only see how many there are but how good they are.

Middle class parents seem keener than ever to expose their kids to as many activities as possible (some a bit too fervently but let’s not go there.) Although we try to let them make their own decisions, we secretly push them towards areas where we’d like to hang out. My boy plays rugby because I took him there because the bar was far friendlier than the one at the football club. You’re unlikely to get parents to take a kid windsurfing if they’re not into it themselves and like hanging around windy shorelines. The way to get kids into windsurfing is to get their parents into it. There are a lot of kids into windsurfing but you tend not to see them until they’re 30.

PH 26th Sept 2014

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10 STEPS TO GYBING WITH HARTY – another clip

In this the second step, Harty and Whitey describe the non-planing (a.k.a. ‘flare’) gybe highlighting which elements are common to the carve gybe.

The full version available through Tushingham or by emailing

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Those looking to work on their overall game will be particularly drawn to three general skills courses he’s running in spring and summer of 2015.

14-21 April SAFAGA Red Sea. Fabulous, warm flat water. Understated luxury in the Shams Hotel. Call Sportif on 01273 844919

18-25 June RHODES. Reliable side-shore winds. Beautiful venue near Rhodes town. Call Sportif on 01273 844919

28 June – 5 July VASSILIKI. Europe’s windsurfing HQ. Flat water and afternoon thermal winds. Staying with Neilson in the fabulous Cosmos Hotel. Call Neilson (attn Ellis): 01273 666106

The required standard for all 3 clinics is planing in the harness. You’ll also get a chance to try the latest Tush and Starboard kit.

Check out details on
For more info email Peter on

Pic Get the most personable attentions of the master in the most beautiful conditions.


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The January February 2015 Issue of the world’s only monthly English-language windsurfing magazine is out now! Subscribe or grab your copy now in either App or Print  versions! (Prices include delivery anywhere globally 10 times a year.)


018 JP.indd
Jason Polakow goes XXL at Cloudbreak. Read his hour by hour account and drool on the mast high +++ shots

JP’s advice on how to equip and survive monster surf Pozza style !

The art of sponsorship from top pros to shop support, advice from those that either give or wear the coveted sponsored t shirt !

JC sits down with the affable Frenchman and new wave world champion for a candid tête-à-tête on his stellar year

107 Boardshorts 342.indd
Fasten your seat belts as we talk training, titles and travel with the first lady of freestyle, Sarah Quita.

Join us for a whistle stop tour round the world as we guide you to the warmest and windiest beaches to fly to this year.


The inside line from Robby Naish and all the main protagonists in the most dramatic and hard earned PWA wave title fight in years.

JC goes trackside to report on the red hot racing from the PWA slalom event of the year and the battle Royale for the Title.


We review the go to board size for most wave sailors, professionally or recreationally from all the top brands.

Fanatic Tri Wave 81L
Goya Custom 84L
JP Radical Quad 83L
Quatro Sphere Thruster 85L
RRD Hardcore Wave v5 88L
Starboard Kode Wave 82L
Tabou Da Curve 86L


066 Peter Hart Technique.indd
Video or stills, the camera can be an invaluable teaching aid. Peter Hart has advises how.

074 Jem HALL2 .indd
Jem Hall kicks off 2015 with some windsurfing resolutions to help you move forward into a ‘New Year’s Revolution !’


BWA CORNWALL All the buzz from Gwithian beach on who was racking up the top points from the  final BWA event of the year

New Year, New Gear, we gather the freshest and finest kit from the wonderful world of windsurfing


Tourists can only dream of the possibilities our sport gives, why windsurfing is a passport to meaningful adventure.

AN ERA ENDS. Harty assesses the impact of Bjorn Dunkerbeck’s extraordinary career

Get your copy by App or in Print now!

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Harty sings the praises of a true survivor…

Cloudless Irish days are all the more special for their rarity value, but actually Kerry had been bathed in warm autumn sunshine all week. On this particular day, the wind and swell had dropped, so we took a boat trip out to the Blasket Islands that lie off the tip of the Dingle peninsula – about as far west as it’s possible to go on the island of Ireland. Any part of the Irish Atlantic coast in the sunshine is breath-taking, but the Blaskets are a step beyond.

On the way back I eulogised to Padraig from Cork, a relative local, about the crystal, turquoise waters caressing the whitest sands, the peace and the stunning rugged beauty of the place and suggested how great it would be to abandon over-populated England and move there. He said nothing but as we stopped in Dingle for fish and chips on the way home, he disappeared and returned holding a slim hardback book. “Read that.” He said.

‘Peig’ is the autobiography of Peig Sayers, one of Ireland’s greatest storytellers who lived on Great Blasket in the early half of the 20th C. While there are moments of joy, it basically describes the unrelenting misery and drudgery of trying to eek out a living in rural Ireland. Padraig’s thinly veiled message read: “the grass may be greener Johnny Tourist, but it’s wet and very slippery.” We are all prone to ‘holiday habitation envy syndrome.’ You fall in love with your holiday destination and imagine that to live there must be eternal bliss, forgetting of course the small details like how to make a living. We love holidays because of the difference. When ‘different’ is no longer ‘different’ attitudes change. For ‘peaceful and unspoiled’ read ‘dull and boring’ as suddenly you pine for a row of shops and a wedge of cash to buy something frivolous. But despite Padraig’s warning, I’d always entertained the idea of moving to Ireland. Born to an Irish mother I was under no illusions and felt the warmth of the people would more than make up for the weather. In 1984 I ‘discovered’ Brandon Bay on a road trip and thought one day that would be the spot to start something ‘windsurfy.’

So when some 4 years later I found out that a certain Jamie Knox had done just that, I must admit to a pang of mild jealousy. Windsurfing was booming. There was the chance to make a buck, but more than that you had some world-class waves on your doorstep. The fact that, 25 years on, I am no longer so envious is in no way a reflection of the place or the people. But having plotted Jamie’s journey, I realise it took a very special skill set and character to survive and prosper in the way that he has. How to describe Jamie? Hewn out of granite, with a soft squidgy core. A wild, unpredictable force of Nature with an infectious laugh somewhere between an angry warthog and a hyena with bronchitis. I first met him when we shared a cottage in Tiree at one of the first wave champs. He was (and still is) a very solid performer on the water. The fact that he didn’t always reach the top of the rankings was less down to a lack of talent and more down to a fuse, which could be measured in nano-millimetres. Verbal explosions of atomic proportions would detonate daily when a race official didn’t quite share his point of view. His nickname should have been ‘Etna.’

No one knew from which planet he’d landed. But in between eruptions, we discovered a heart of gold and a wild imagination. In the evenings he would entertain us with crazy tales of adventures at sea, boats he built, voyages he’d made. We estimated that if he’d done all the things he said, he would have to be about 90. But although guilty of applying a drizzle of poetic licence, it turns out that a lot of it was true, and that he is incredibly capable and practical. He certainly needed to be.

JK Watersports has no right to still be in existence. We talk of ‘Perfect Storms.’ Over the years he’s suffered financial ones, personal ones and most recently, real ones. As a business potential, those Dragons in their Den would split their sides. He’s in a pricey minority sport based in a place that’s remote and expensive to get to. He’s selling to a tiny local population and has to make 80% of his turnover in a six-week summer period (and I use the term ‘summer’ loosely). The Internet helped him spread the Knox message, but his shop suddenly couldn’t compete with the direct sellers and all but collapsed. And although now an inseparable and dearly loved part of the Maharees fabric, he was, in the beginning, an outsider setting up a business in a tight, local community. The scope for treading on toes and ruffling political feathers was huge, especially since he didn’t exactly have a wilting-violet personality. The financial storm of 2008, that saw the end of so many businesses, was followed this winter by a real one, so severe (check out the Red Bull Strom Chaser in Kerry) that it picked up his containers, destroyed the contents and basically wiped out his school. His insurance company inevitably found a way of wriggling free. So when I called in March or organise my clinics I expected to hear the voice of a financial receiver. But no it was his ever-affable manager Jeremy. “Where’s Jamie?” “He’s out there welding.” By the time I got there in May it was all back together. “You just gotta get on with it!” He said beaming from ear to ear in his Essex-meets-Kerry brogue.

sandy bay phSo how has he survived and prospered? Among his many skills Jamie is also a blacksmith. The things he can make, the trailers and trolleys and racks and systems that allows his school and kids club to run so smoothly, would be unaffordable. On top of that he has an amazing system – and a great spot – for teaching beginners. He reckons he can get anyone beachstarting and using the harness within a week. People love his courses and in the season he is busy enough in the school to need 14 instructors and helpers.

On top of that Jeremy, a milder less confrontational version of Jamie, but no less resilient, has turned the shop around. It’s competitive and mutates in high summer from a body board, bucket and spade emporium to a hard-core windsurfing and surfing shop in spring and autumn.

And would he change anything? I asked just yesterday. And as usual I had one of those surreal conversations with him that left me none the wiser.

“I wish I’d stayed in the UK – more people to draw on – I could have really made it work. And the winters are hard – often too much wind to windsurf.”

“But what about the lifestyle, the waves, the surf, the craic?”

“Yea Yea Yea – I wouldn’t want to miss out on that …”

“So I guess I’ll see you next year …”

Some 30 miles from Blasket on the north side of the peninsula lives a modern day Peig Sayers –  larger, hairier and altogether more masculine, who also enjoys a good day on the reef – and tells a good tale of life in rural Ireland.

PH  25th July 2014

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BOLT and/or ROCK

Where Tushingham has differed from other brands is that we’ve only presented you with one wave sail range. For the past 10 years it has been the much loved Rock.

 It’s our belief that a good wave sail, with a little tweaking, can be made to work in ALL conditions. I mean, say you bought a dedicated, down-the-line riding sail and you arrive at your local spot to find it howling onshore, what are you supposed to do? Go out and buy another set? Nice idea but you’re going to need a bigger van.

But we do seem to have gone back on our word with the release of the Bolt – but sort of by mistake. The smaller Bolts, 5.25 downwards, have 4 battens. Although they were designed to be ‘light in the hands’ all-round, freestyle and free-ride sails, team riders and magazine testers alike have given them a definite thumbs up for the waves. 
So which is it to be, Rock or Bolt?

I took a set of Rocks and 4 batten Bolts on my recent 6 week wave clinic tour. I used both in the same conditions. I gave them to my charges to try and now have a very good idea who they suit and in what conditions.
Here are some thoughts.

Over or under-powered?
The fifth batten of the Rock is there to support the foil and lend extra stability. So the Rock over-powers better and has a slightly wider upper wind range. I personally like that for those crazy days when the wind is unstable. I can rig a little bigger in the knowledge that I’ll plane through the lulls and be able to survive the gusts no problem – a big advantage if the sea is crazy and unpredictable.

This isn’t necessarily a big person small person thing but those who liked to sail slightly over-powered, favoured the Rocks.

With one batten less, the Bolts ‘bag out’ a little more and can generate more low end power. You can get a way with a smaller sail, which increases your manoeuvrability and allows you ‘hide’ and depower the sail more easily at critical moments during the wave ride. 

It’s not just a wave sailing issue. I gave a Bolt to a 50 kg lady, who found herself planing ecstatically with a 4.5 in 18-20 knots and with NO dead weight in her hands. The less battens you have the more information you get from a sail both visually and through feel, which again is a plus in critical situations but also for pumping and trimming in lighter winds. The pay-off is that ‘feel’ turns to instability in the big gusts. If you genuinely are going to do a lot of wave riding on proper swell often under-powered in fluffy winds, look at the Bolt. 

If you favour powered up wave sailing, the extra stability you get from the Rock, especially launching into and landing wild jumps, may suit you. 

Both the Rock and the Bolt make great freestyle sails. But if you’re genuinely looking towards new school tricks (Vulcans, Flakas and beyond) you might favour the Bolt. It’s so light in the hands that it makes you want to go for the tricks – and the mental ‘go for it’ battle is the one to win.

In Tarifa last week I was using the 5.2 Bolt on the 103 Kode in 18 knots of wind, a combo I would never have used before. For manoeuvre oriented sailing, it was magic. I handed it to a few die-hard old skoolers and they all immediately felt that a bit of popping and sliding could be on the cards!

Failure to nail even the more ‘basic’ moves – carve and duck gybes for example – is often down to nothing more than big blokes trying to hang on to too much sail. Having a go on a smaller Bolt was real light bulb moment and gave them a taste of how you should feel approaching a move.

So in summary I would say:
Don’t agonise too much – whichever one you go for, the choice won’t be wrong. Both sails work across the board. 

Talking teccy, the Rock depowers better from the leech – you can set it with more downhaul so it’s easy to oversheet get the leech to open.

The Bolt depowers better from the luff – i.e. you can spill wind instantly by sheeting out. 

Go for both! I’m only half joking. For waves most have a ‘go to’ size, especially for riding, which is generally a 5.2 depending on their size obviously. If that sail gets trashed at the beginning of the session, you’re screwed. I will always have both a 5.2 Rock and a 5.25 Bolt with me, because I enjoy the different feel AND so I have a spare. The Bolt also makes a great SUP sail.

Rock 1

Rock 1.  The Rock – super versatile in all conditions – the extra batten widens the upper wind range.

Bolt 1

Bolt 1. The Bolt – so light in the hands – it can bring a new ‘freesyley’ element to your sailing.

Bolt 3 Bolt 2

Bolt 2 and 3  Harty on a 103 Kode and a 5.25 Bolt, a big board, small sail combo he would never have got away with before.

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