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Welcome back pt 2 04 FEATURED

For those returning to the sport Peter continues his overview of modern windsurfing. Last month he looked at what’s happened with board designs. In this issue he focuses on rigs, setups and, crucially, how you need to adapt your old techniques to blossom in the modern era.

Just last week at the NWF (National Watersports Festival) I felt like that doctor who is approached by a patient keen to discuss the problem ‘his friend’ is having with his … you know … ‘thingy.’ A guy started chatting about sails and then slipped in an anecdote about his ‘mate’ who thought ‘bottom-end’ meant the bottom half of the sail and ‘top-end’ meant the head.

(This feature originally appeared in the Otober 2013 issue of Windsurf Magazine. To read more features like this first, Print and Digital subscriptions are available. Prices include delivery globally for 10 x issues a year!)

We chuckled, where followed a pause in which I think I was supposed to explain the real meaning. He was desperate for an excuse to bear his soul without feeling a fool so I casually asked him about his own windsurfing. He hadn’t ever given the sport up as such but, due to various commitments, for the past 10 years or so had lived in a bubble only sailing for 2 weeks a year on his summer holidays in Cornwall.

So he’d stuck with the same old kit, which seemed to do the job. But all that was about to change. On his last holiday he’d met an old windy friend (a real one) who’d let him have a spin on his more modern combo. “So you suddenly saw the light. What a difference eh!? You must have been blown away … I mean in a good way, not out to sea …” I enthused.

“Well, sort of … yes it was good … but then again … it all felt very weird … I’m sure it’s just me …” Long story short (and it was a very long story), as the imaginary friend with the dodgy bottom-end gradually evaporated, a torrent of queries and general confusion burst forth.

Why was the board so short? The rig felt somehow ‘spongy.’ He couldn’t get planing as early on the new borrowed kit at which point his friend (the real one) mentioned the ‘bottom-end’ of the old sails being better. The boom seemed high, the lines felt very long. He then tried his friend’s waist harness and how weird was that? 

New and worse?

You upgrade from a Morris Minor to a Ferrari and your first comments are that you can’t find the ignition and the radio doesn’t have long wave. You tend to focus negatively on how it isn’t like the old one rather than embrace its potential. Tooling up again after a spell away from windsurfing, you need to accept that during you time away the sport has come under many new influences.

Design elements from freestyle and wavesailing will permeate all the ranges. Rigs are designed around a different shape of board and a different breed of sailor. So open your heart and do not mistake ‘unfamiliar’ for bad. In every case I can possibly think of, new kit will take you more comfortably and way far further than the old stuff. But yes, you do have to adapt your style.

However, all the changes you’ll be forced to make, standing taller, being more even footed in the moves, more subtle with your sheeting angles, are wholly positive ones that you should actually have made with your old kit. I’ll look at techniques later, but after last month’s overview on boards, I’ll start by looking at rigs, how they’ve changed and what’s available.

”When you get a dyed-in-the-wool freestyler like Ricardo Campello moving into slalom and testing race kit, he is bound to bring a completely new influence to the designs”

Welcome back pt 2 05


Rigs have actually been pretty good for a long time. The 40-knot barrier was breached at the end of the 80s. To reach that speed, lofty even by today’s standards, a rig has to deliver a lot of power very efficiently to a very small board. Rig stability was once achieved by setting the sail on a ramrod, alloy mast and shoring up the leading edge with rows of cambers. Nothing moved. We described the feel as ‘solid’ and ‘locked-in.’ What we really meant was ‘brutal,’ ‘over-powering,’ ‘heavy.’

These sails really tugged and a lot of people liked that – but even more didn’t, notably those without the biceps of Popeye, who wanted to rig a sail in less than an hour and do something other than overtake. The drive from the end of the 90s to today has been to narrow the gap in speed and performance terms between cambered race sails and recreational sails – to make them easier to rig, easier to tune, easier to handle.

What sparked the change was the development and improvement of carbon masts. We’ve always known about leech twist. It’s the ability of a sail to bend off and let the wind exhaust off the leech, which softens the jolts of gusts and chop and gives the sail a greater wind range.  For a sail to breathe the mast has to flex and return.

The problem was that using standard materials you couldn’t make a mast flexible, light AND strong. Alloy is light, but rigid. Fibreglass is flexible, but too heavy and so slow to react. Enter carbon … A squillion hours of R&D later, altering luff curves, plan shapes and tensions, designers gained more and more control over the twist pattern to the point where they could achieve incredible stability in the bottom half of the sail without the help of camber inducers. As a result rigs have become ever more efficient.

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The full, solid rigs of yesteryear generated a ton of sideways drag, especially upwind. In the absence of good big fins, you needed a long edge and/or a daggerboard to resist that force. Today the proportion of forward force to drag is far greater in favour of force. You don’t need so much resistance (freestylers almost sail without a fin.) hence boards have become shorter and shorter. So what does all that mean to the returnee looking for rig guidance? Here are some general observations.

1. Less hardware. To look at, rigs are shorter, more compact, less triangular, more rectangular. They need less hardware, set on shorter, softer masts, which means they’re lighter in terms of dead weight and handling. For example a 6.5 in 2000 would require a 460cm mast. Today it will take a 430 or even a 400.

2. Beautifully Big. Big rigs are bigger and SO much lighter, easier, better. A decade ago, hairy-backed men whimpered at the prospect of a 7.5. Today 9 sq m is a common recreational size. Sails as big as 8 work without camber inducers. As an improving freerider do NOT be afraid of them. They are very cuddly.

3. Beautifully small. The increased efficiency of sails (less drag more power) has had a topsy-turvy effect on how we view sizes. At the racing, speed, freeride end you can use bigger sails in more wind and gain more useable power. But at the manoeuvre end of the spectrum, that efficiency means wave sailors and freestylers can get away with smaller sails, which is essential for crazy tricks. In 15-18 knots of wind a good freestyler will get away with a 4.7-5.2. In the same wind a slalom sailor could be using a 9. Both would be happy.

4. Less of them. Rigs now have a far greater wind range. You don’t need as many. Good for you, bad for the industry (and yet good for them if you’re happy and keep windsurfing). For example, a standard  8.5 freeride sail will get you planing in 10 knots and still hold its shape in 18, at which point you can change to a 6.5 or less. Below that people tend to drop by 0.7 or 0.5 because as the sails get smaller the percentage drop is greater.

5. Wider sheeting angle. Softer masts and more twist gives modern sails a more forgiving sheeting angle. Rather than the power being either on or off, it comes on gradually as you close the sail. You’ll especially notice it with the smaller sizes, which used to be horribly twitchy.

6. Wider matches. The stability of big rigs means that one board accommodates a greater range of sizes. For example a 130L freeride board will boast a rig range of 5.5 up to 9 sq m.


As with boards, selecting a rig is easy when you’re following a competitive discipline – racing or freestyle for example. You buy the specialist tool. In the middle, ‘do-a-bit-of everything’ domain, where most people live, it’s more nebulous.

Most sails are incredibly versatile, the differences very subtle. As with board design there is a speed vs. manoeuvrability spectrum with slalom sails at one end, freestyle sails at the other and the crossover/all-rounders somewhere in the middle.

Two terms, which may help you understand the designs (and that confused our friend at the beginning) are ‘bottom-end’ and ‘top-end.’ Think of your rig having a five-speed gear box. ‘bottom-end’ is gears 1-3. It’s the raw power needed to get you up and planing.

‘Top-end’ is gears 4 and 5. It’s overdrive – the rig’s ability to keep on going to reach a nutty top speed. It’s not quite the case that a sail with good top-end will have poor bottom-end – but a little bit like that. All-round sails seek the perfect compromise. Size has a large bearing on the design but here, to point you in the right direction, is a brief guide to the categories.


Fully cambered, technical, expensive. These sails are made to do a very specific job, which is to plaster a slalom board to the water with as much controllable power as possible. They don’t feel right unless you’re totally powered up/over-powered all the time.

That’s the only way to win a race. The bottom-end comes from using a much bigger size than you would for recreational sailing. The luff tubes are wide, accommodate a lot of water and, inevitably with all those cams and battens, the rigs are heavier.

You need to be out of the habit of randomly dropping them. They’re tricky to rig and need a lot of tension and constant tuning – but racers tend to love all that stuff. And boy have they got some top-end. Formula Racers have specific race sails governed by class rules (max 11 sq m) – as do Raceboards (max 9.5) and the Olympic RSX class.

FREE-RACE twin cams - 5.5-9.5.

At the speedy end of freeride category you have de-tuned race sails. Having just 2 micro camber inducers that fit into a narrower luff tube, they’re lighter, easier to rig and don’t need to be used so powered up.

Camber inducers support the leading edge and so extend the sail’s upper wind range. Just as importantly they allow the sail to keep its shape and produce drive through the lulls. But because of that fixed foil shape, they are ‘clunkier’ in manoeuvres.

The general feeling amongst those in-the-know is that standard rotational sails work well up to about 8.0. Above that they tend to break up under load and really benefit from a couple of cams. Twin cam rigs are perfect for those wanting near race performance without so much expense and hassle.

FREERIDE no cams – 4.5-8.0

This is a vast category with every manufacturer offering various all round, vice-less designs aimed at the intermediate who just wants to go windsurfing and will decide what he’s going to do when he gets to the water – but it will probably involve trying to get planing and working on carve gybes.

The rotational design with its narrow luff pocket lets in little water to help uphaulers and waterstarters. When you sheet out the sail flattens right off and depowers, which makes it float round more gently in tacks and gybes.

Where it sits on the speed/manoeuvre line depends largely on its size and also how much rotation is built into the bottom battens. The more they rotate, the more shape is locked into the bottom half of the sail and the more raw power it generates. Less rotation equals less power but more instant power control.

WAVE SAILS 3.0-5.8

The obvious difference in a pure wave sail is its build quality. It has to be bulletproof with layers of exotic laminates reinforcing the high stress areas. We are now in the area where small is beautiful. Bottom-end is achieved through a tighter leech, which means that more of the sail produces power at the expense of some top speed.

It’s still very quick but struggles when over-powered. However, the ethos in waves and freestyle is to get going and immediately do something, NOT to blast. Compared to a slalom sail the centre of effort is higher and lifts the board out of the water rather than shove it down. 

There are so many offerings in this department. The decision to be made is whether you’re truly wave-sailing or sailing around in waves. The pro looking to push the limits and manoeuvre into the hollowest, most destructive pockets of the wave face, where the wind is all over the place, needs a sail that offers the most instant on/off power control.

In the hands of someone less practised, such a sail feels a bit flat and twitchy. If you’re more into jumping and bumping in messy onshore conditions, a powerful, cross-over sail will afford you more joy.

Four-battened ‘compact’ wave sails (5 is more usual) are now well established, although quite confusing to many. Losing a batten saves weight and makes you feel like throwing it around. It’s also softer. You can ‘bag it out’ more easily for extra power and is especially good on Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) in waves or for those non-planing ‘bog-and-ride days.’

The effort is even higher and further back and so lifts you into a more upright ‘ready-to-carve’ stance, which is especially suited to multi-fin boards where you’re trying not to drive too hard against the small fins. The downside is that they don’t have the same wind range as their 5-batten counterparts.


So much freestyle takes place in the waves these days that there is bound to be a strong cross-over with wave sails. In many cases they are interchangeable. But freestyle is constantly evolving to the point where, at the top-end, sails change almost daily via team riders to help facilitate new tricks.

For example, the current crop of power moves like the ‘Culo’ and ‘Kono’ involve ducking the sail and initiating the pop and the rotation on the leeward side. The pros want a sail that ducks easily and so which is pretty flat with lots of tension in the back end and which produces explosive power when back-winded. The best also want to do tricks at full speed 25-30 knots plus, so they have to be stable and not too tight-leeched.

Those getting into freestyle just want a sail that they feel confident about throwing into unusual places, hence a light 4 batten design is popular. So much of a sail’s suitability for waves, freestyle or blasting depends on the tuning.

For example, increasing the downhaul and decreasing the outhaul of a freeride rotational, you increase the power down below and the twist up top – and with it the top speed. By easing off the downhaul and increasing the outhaul, you’ll tighten the leech, put tension in the back of the sail which will make it pump better, give it more bottom-end and float through moves. 



End use is one thing, but the most important influences on design are size and the wind strength it’s to be used in. The priority around the force 3-4 mark, has to be early-planing power. As the wind increases and the seas chop up, the accent falls more and more on control.

When you get down to 4.0s and under, control is everything and the difference between the designs is very small. Recognising this, a few brands now have a range where the sail mutates as it changes size. For example, the 9.5 down to 8.5 are twin cams.

The 7.0 -7.5 are freeride rotationals with a slalom, low foot outline and the accent on speed. 6.5 down to 4.0 are classic freestyle/wave cross over sails with enough power to blast around on flat water and enough build quality to survive the surf. Because of smart design moves like that, sail ranges have been condensed and the choice is a lot easier.

Critical sizes

A crucial decision needs to be made around the 6.0 to 6.5 size. Perhaps you have a nifty freeride or freestyle wave board around the 95-115 mark? Are you just focused solely on speed and fast gybes or do you seriously want to get into basic waves and freestyle (old or new school)?

A speed-biased freeride sail has a lot of area under the boom, usually supported by 2 battens, which gets thumped by white water and that clouts your face if you try to duck the sail (the problem of our friend on page one).

A more manoeuvre-biased sail has a higher clew, just one batten below the boom and offers way more space to the ambitious ducker. The outline alone makes a huge difference.


Every sail is designed around a specific mast. The nearer your chosen mast is to the recommended length, stiffness and bend characteristic, the better the sail will behave. And the higher the carbon content of the mast, the lighter, and more responsive it will feel. Using masts that are too stiff stops the sail breathing and makes it feel over-powering and ‘pully.’  Too soft a mast will make it break up under load and feel spongy, unstable and gutless.

The other choice is between SDM (standard diameter mast) and RDM (reduced diameter mast or ‘skinny’). Skinnies have thicker walls, are stronger and hence have been the first choice of wave sailors for some years.

They’re also easier to grab in mid manoeuvre especially for those with small hands. They’re becoming increasingly popular across many sail ranges. In terms of pure performance the jury is still out. Most race sails and the bigger recreational sails (but not all) still set on SDMs.


It’s a subject we’re sure to return to, but I’m going to finish this month by singling out 5 ways you need to change your game to make the transition to, and enjoy the more modern kit.

1.Harness Set-up 

In 1996 I used a chest high boom with 26” harness lines and even for general sailing I used a seat harness. Today my boom is shoulder high (for boards under about 120L), my lines 32” and for general sailing I use a waist harness as do 80% of the windy population. You don’t have to copy that but the change reflects a general move towards more manoeuvre-oriented sailing and the desire to have more freedom to trim and move within your hooked-in stance.

26” lines (= loop from my elbow to wrist) locked you to the rig. It was all about speed. You and the rig moved as one and the aim was to move as little as possible. In a seat harness you hook in, drop the weight and engage the power. It works beautifully for speed, but can make you defensive.

In a waist harness you actively have to drive the power into the harness with the legs. It encourages you to be more active, and thanks to the high boom and longer lines, to stand taller. Standing taller you naturally share the pressure more evenly between toes and heels and have more instant control over the leeward/leeward trim.

Your centre of gravity is also nearer the centre-line leaving you in a better position to drop spontaneously into carving moves. But waist harnesses are not for all. They don’t suit every shape (you need a waist) and most racers still favour seats for efficiency.

The extra width of the board is going to feel strange to start with and affects the set-up, especially boom height. As you step way out into the outboard straps you effectively lower the boom and need to put it up to compensate. On an 80cm wide board I raise my boom to mouth height. Formula races on their 1m wide boards will run with it at eye height or higher.

2. Stance and Trim

The major difference from yesteryear is mastfoot position. Today it’s much further back. Older designs were like a seesaw with you at one end and the rig at the other. The slightest move would change the fore aft trim. Today that seesaw is a lot shorter so the board is more stable and less sensitive to fore aft movement.

The extra length of the old boards also made them more prone to ‘pearling’ (nose diving),  which persuaded you to lean back. We were also obsessed with getting the nose up and flying on the fin, which also made you favour the back foot.

There are many different styles of sailing today. But the shorter boards rarely nose-dive. On boards with big fins (and fins are really big these days, 50cm plus even on freeride board) of course we drive against it to exploit the lift, but we tend to sail more even-footed and are more in contact with the mastfoot to the point where we regard it as the front foot of our body.

However, the latest sailing style developed through freestyle and wave boards with tiny fins, is to unweight the tail and sail completely on the front foot. Upwind sailing was once all about ‘railing,’ getting the fin to lift the windward edge and use the leeward edge for extra grip (it still is with big finned racy boards).

But using multi finned boards or freestyle boards it’s just the opposite. You drive off the heel of the front foot and use the windward edge for upwind grip. Very different.

3. Early-planing

It’s still about maximising rig power and minimising board resistance but we have new methods. We always look to exploit the board’s volume. Back in the day it lay under the mastfoot, so you stayed forward on the board, gradually crept back as you accelerated and then only got into the straps as you planed.

On the modern designs, big and small, there is much more width and volume under your feet, which allows you to get into the straps earlier. And here’s a thing, some of the shorter, speedy designs wont actually plane until you step back.

The entry to the rocker line is only just in front of the straps, so by standing forward you push a curved section of board into the water and create drag. But as you step back, the nose lifts and the board suddenly releases onto the flat surface under the straps. It’s a light bulb moment.

Multi fin boards and freestyle boards demand a different approach as the fins produce no low-speed lift. The trick is to bear away more than you might to release all that sideways pressure.

It’s actually the best technique to use on all designs of boards. The new set-up has taken the effort out of early planing. Long lines allow you to hook in and hold the rig upright and forward. Just bear away, tweak the back hand and away you go. The tight, reactive leeches of the latest wave and freestyle sails help acceleration but you do have to work them a little.

4. Sailing Mode – moves or speed – straps in or out?

It’s something I’ve alluded to throughout the rig and board overview, but in the last few years two distinct sailing styles have evolved. If you’re after speed, you’re like a performance dinghy sailor, standing outboard, heels pushing against the apex of the rail, taking the power from the harness and driving into those rails and the fin. It’s all about making the most efficient power transfer.

And now, on move-oriented boards under 115 litres, there is a surfing style, where you stand with both feet right in the middle of the board straddling the centre-line in the best position to move pressure from edge to edge, drive it through carved turns and control it in the air. And the biggest difference to the returning windsurfer using the latter style is how we open up the front straps and, like a surfer, use the front foot to initiate turns. Talking of which …

Carving gybes

Well the good news is that despite 4 decades of development, the good old carve gybe remains at the top of most windsurfers wish list. The further good news is that the basics remain identical. If you enter with speed and keep constant pressure on the inside edge to draw a smooth arc, you will get round.

But there are differences. In the past most learned to gybe on longer boards, 3m plus. The biggest danger was tripping a rail. If the edge in front of the footstraps caught the water, that, generally, spelt the end. You had to keep the nose up and gybe off the tail, which encouraged you to lean back and use a lot of back foot pressure.

On the latest boards, even the big ones, you can engage most of the rail in the gybe and it keeps on going round. You keep the board more level nose-to-tail. Less tail sink equals less drag and more speed on exit. Lean back too far and the short modern designs pivot and over-rotate.

Today we focus more on leaning forward and feeling our weight drive through the boom into the mastfoot. Mastfoot pressure engages and controls the front section of rail, your feet the back section. On the wide boards (75 cm +), the back foot has to stretch a long way over onto the inside edge, which feels a bit weird to start with. Place it forward on the rail to minimise the stretch.

The big difference of wave and freestyle wave boards is how much more we use the front foot to turn. But despite the design advantages, the cries from the instructor are much the same. “Bear away! More speed! Lean further forward! Don’t bend the front arm but DO bend your bloody knees!!!”

Next month Harty pursues a similar theme broadly entitled STUCK in your WAYS suggesting ways people can shed bad habits, find a new track – and a new level, without having to be totally deconstructed. 


His clinics remain as popular as ever. Check his website for the schedule and his Peter Hart Masterclass Facebook page for updates. Email him on  for his monthly newsletter.

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The April 2014 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.)

   FINAL FC 334


REDBULL2 final

Even if you made it down to Cornwall to watch for youself, you need to read this report of the momentous series showdown here in home waters.


Levi Siver is the pro sailors’ favourite wavesailor and most windsurfers’ top-rated rider. John Carter profiled the smooth-sailing, Aloha Classic winner.


Even heavy-water specialist Jason Polakow gets himself into trouble from time to time. Alone at Sunset Beach after a serious beatdown at Backyards, the legendary Aussie gives a gripping account of how a pro of his calibre still needed assistance from the North Shore Oahu lifeguards.


Our series documenting the best action and most picturesque locations around the British and Irish shorelines feature Neal Gent, Steve Thorpe and Ross Williams taking on the infamous Cornish big-wave spot The Cribbar.



The ‘wide and thin’ revolution continues with slim-railed, carvy freeride shapes with all the stability benefits of boards 15 litres bigger – and the performance of hulls with 15 litres smaller. We took five of the top contenders for a thorough examination in Egypt.



The performance of rotational freerace sails continues to skyrocket. This time we’ve reviewed 11 of the latest 7.5 no-cams that’ll widen your wind range like never before.


POINT-7 AC-X 4G 7.5


102-103 WS334 FINS

A selection of foils with easy-to-access performance to help you maximise time on the water.



Pro freestyler Maarten Van Ochten knows Crete like the back of his hand and, luckily for you, he’s unveiled a handy spot guide of the island’s best flat-water finds.


All the best resorts, spots, clinics and operators for a memorable break in the sun this summer.



Peter Hart returns with part two of his comprehensive guide to successful tips on jumping and a supplies a few handy case studies of DOs and DON’Ts.


Introducing the first in a new series that welcomes coaching Guru Jem Hall onboard the Windsurf Mag technique team. To kickstart his series, Jem outlines the Carving 360 – that contains some core skills and movements for use elsewhere for your sailing progression.


New brands and all the tastiest toys to tempt you for the coming season.

People to see – and places to see them at!


Spring is the perfect time to make a new start in your windsurfing approach and the perfect conduit for a better work/life balance.

Harty wonders whatever became of Super-X and argues that the sausage-hopping discipline of the past would make windsurfing perfect prime-time TV material.

Get your copy by App or in Print now!


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Harty challenges WindGuru and the nature of the perfect day. 

We were sat in a pub in Donegal (imagine that in Ireland?) having a laugh at the expense of John who had decided to drive home a day early because “the forecast looked crap” thereby missing out on a very special day – a mistake for which he was now copping an avalanche of derisory texts.

One of the most difficult tasks of a coach is managing expectations, notably those produced by WindGuru’s star rating system, which in its monotone way states: “big wind good, small wind bad.” And so doing, grossly misinterprets what it really is that makes windsurfers glow with post-match contentment. Many men declare they prefer blonds end up with a brunette. Hair colour isn’t, in the great scheme of things, that important.

We were discussing our day when the group asked me about my most memorable trips and sessions.  I was out to prove a point and told about the time I was invited to coach on the über-exclusive island of Mustique. A private plane collected me from Barbados. Landing was like dropping into a film set – virtually everyone I saw, I sort of recognised. I was the guest of Stuart Devlin, goldsmith to The Queen and eminent designer – of the Sydney Olympic medals amongst many other things – who was also a keen windsurfer and had a holiday home there.

The first morning, we walked down the hill to his local beach – turquoise water lapping over the whitest sand. “This is where we rig up.” Said Stuart pointing to a shady space under a balcony. “Mick doesn’t mind, do you Mick?” he said waving up at Mick Jagger prostrate on a sunbed.

“Enjoy yourself boys.” Replied Mick in that unmistakeable drawl.

About to launch I was collared by a very nice man who asked for a few tips about beachstarting.

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“Now come on David.” Stuart jumped in; “Peter is here for a break, leave him alone.”

“That David Lindley – always trying to muscle in” Said Stuart.

“Not David Lindley as in nephew of the queen?” I said

“Same one. Oh by the way, Jenna said she’d join us later.”

“De Rosnay?” I enquired jokingly.


So we had a lovely sail and later that evening I was invited along to a small cocktail party, where sat in a corner having a chat were Brian Ferry and David Bowie and the guest of honour was none other than Princess Margaret.

So that was a pretty memorable day.

Then I told them about my last trip to Maui, where thanks to my American wife who can work there, we managed to rent a house on the beach in Stable road for 3 months. My neighbours were Jimmy Diaz and Ricardo Campello, so we sailed in fine company. My 4.7 and 5.2 lay perma-rigged on the lawn. From March through to the end of May it blew 25 knots + every day. I went sailing in the same pair of shorts I slept in. Life was easy.

The group gave a collective, approving nod as if to say … wow!

Then I scratched below the veneer.  Mustique was beautiful, but in a highly manicured way with a strong hint of Truman Show. Conditions in the bay were pretty choppy and chop is still chop whether it’s azure or brown. And then at the cocktail party, these rarefied folk looked at me as I’d crawled in from under a rock. I had no idea what to say to them, nor them to me – different leagues. It was only after 3 rum punches that my feelings of deep discomfort began to dissipate.

Then in Maui, the 3-star wind, same strength same direction, was fantastic to start with but soon it was Groundhog Day on a grand scale. I got lazy. I’d get the call that Ho’okipa was going off, but when you’ve got the option of taking three steps to get to the water rather than packing up the van and sitting in the Paia traffic jam …

I’d be knackered and sore but felt I had to go out again because it would a crime against humanity not to too – but deep inside I ached for a break, for a change.

And one other thing … that house on the beach, dreamy … but not when you have a terrorist for a landlord who banned visitors and continually threatened to throw us out if anyone dared to park behind the unit and come in for a cup o’ tea. It was paradise with clauses.

When someone on a course asks me (and it is favourite question) “where is your favourite place to windsurf and what was your favourite day?” The answer they don’t expect is “here, today, NOW!”

So back to the pub and between sups of Guinness, I added. “But I’ll tell you about the best day ever …. (pause for dramatic effect) … here, TODAY!”

Stunned silence. Everyone was really happy but they weren’t quite sure why. According to WindGuru, who hadn’t even granted this day a star, they should have been miserable. This is what happened.

It was unseasonably warm and sunny as NW Ireland lay in a strange SSE airstream. With only 9 knots forecast we drove an hour west to find the west facing beach of Dooey, which might catch a little swell and where whatever wind there was, would be side-off. And with sun and mountains around, there’s always a chance …

We arrived to three miles of beach all to ourselves – and stunning scenery. There was a small, clean wave and a very light wind. We rigged SUPs and sails and then gradually, out of nowhere, the wind steadily increased to 18 knots. Within an hour everyone was semi-powered on 5.5s and ripping waves that had grown to shoulder height. It stayed like that for three hours. The wind then dropped so we went SUPing … in shorts.

On the way home we stopped in an Irish pub.

So what were the magic ingredients?

It was all so UNexpected. We had a hand in our fate, making the day happen, taking a risk, heading out. Enjoyment is always proportional to effort.

The drive was spectacular and nothing brings more joy than a convoy.

The conditions weren’t huge, but they were right. 15-18 knots is the perfect wind to ride waves, not 40. Everyone was on kit they liked and were used to, not trying to blag a 3.5 and set it on 460 mast.

We were the ONLY ones there. Crowds ruin a place and an atmosphere. If someone dropped in or ran you down (and it did happen) you knew it was friendly fire.

The day was a complete change to the past four – variety produces much spice.

Oh yes, and the sun kept shining.

WindGuru, as yet, doesn’t have columns for ‘unexpectedness,’ ‘backdrop,’ ‘crowds,’ ‘variety,’ ‘surprise factor,’ or ‘friendliness of local hostelries.’  When it does, we’ll have a far better chance of choosing the moment. I’m working on it.

PH 16 Oct 2013

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Harty’s courses are legendary. He has the most sympathetic teaching style. He finds out how you as an individual learn and perform and then eases you up to a level you never dreamed was possible – and always whilst having the most amount of fun.

And he always has a selection of the latest Tush and Starboards with him which he’s delighted to share.

For lots more details about ALL his courses go to 
Or email him on


Click here to read more: Tushingham






(This Technique feature originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Windsurf Magazine. Print and digital subscriptions for readers worldwide are available HERE.)

If you’ve been away from this wonderful sport of ours for a while on account of intensive parenting, a bad back, prison, whatever, you may return a little confused. In a two-part series Peter Hart notes the changes in kit and sailing style, explains the thinking behind them and steers you towards good choices. Even if you haven’t been away, he may well answer the questions you’ve been too embarrassed to ask …

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(This Technique feature originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of Windsurf Magazine. Print and digital subscriptions for readers worldwide are available HERE.)

Signing up to a clinic can be a life-enhancing journey so long so long as you do more than just turn up. Peter Hart, who has been running specialist courses since the mid 80s, offers (mostly) impartial advice on the joys of tuition and how to get the most out it. 

Words Peter Hart // Photos Hart Photography

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Hart Affairs Aug

(AUG 2013 Issue – Print and Digital Subscriptions available.)

In between competing and making the odd DVD, Harty has spent a good chunk of his life coaching. It hasn’t always gone according to plan.

I dedicated the main feature this month to the joys of signing up to a windsurfing clinic and how to get the most out of it. If ever there was scope for abusing my position and turning the whole thing into an advertorial, that was it. I did my best.

However, in the interests of balance and impartiality, I offer the other side. You can’t spend 17 weeks a year travelling to remote, often troubled, locations without the odd mishap – some funny, some plain nightmarish.

Margerita, April 2002 – The Coup
The thing about Margy at that time of year, I told everyone, is that you don’t even have to think about the wind. There it is every morning, howling cross-shore under clear skies. And the food is great and the people SO laid back. Oh yes.

The day before we left there was a violent political coup in Caracas, Venezuela, to oust president Hugo Chavez. When we touched down it was raining. Our taxi had a hole in the windscreen. I looked at the driver, pointed to the hole and said jokingly:

“Bang bang!?”


It was indeed a bullet hole. The coup wasn’t popular amongst the majority to the point where it provoked a general strike.

When we arrived at the hotel there was no electricity and no food and rationed water. It was still raining. Morale was not high.

The next morning it was still raining and there wasn’t a breath of wind. We drove to the other side of the island for a surf where we not only found no surf, but also that the run off from the rain had turned the blue sea beige.

Mutiny was on the cards.

And then the next morning Chavez was reinstated. Everyone went back to work. The sun came out, water and food flooded into the hotel. Half the clinic who’d been stuck in war-torn Caracas finally made it to the island – and, best of all, the wind got up and didn’t drop for 12 days. Don’t you just love South America?

Maui, 2001 – Bloody Twin Beds.
We had booked 5 houses in the dreamy Andy’s Cove on the north shore. The rooming was a logistical pain as we had to fill all the beds at same time keeping amorous couples together and gender-non-compatible ones apart. Eventually we got it sorted.

We arrived tired as you always are after 24 hours of travelling but euphoric.

Everyone had been billeted and we were just about to head off to Jacques in Paia for out first beer when a disgruntled Brummie voice rang up from the foreshore: “if yow think I’m sharing that bed with that blowke yow must be bloody jowking!”

The ‘blowkes’ in question did know each other, but as I looked in their room, there was just a double bed and it was very very small. I was straight on to the phone to Manu the agent.

“You told me all the rooms had twins! What’s going on?”

“They do.”

And indeed they did. Did you know that a ‘twin’ in the US means a small double bed? Not two singles. I didn’t. This problem wasn’t going to disappear.

I had no choice but to try and buy in another apartment at 10 p.m. It was photo-shoot time. Everything was full – apart from one penthouse suite just up from Baldwin. “How much?” I asked, like I had a choice.

“$5000 for the two weeks sir.”

It was fine. We had a great time. And I met my wife – quite an expensive week then …

Lake of Thun, Switzerland, 1980
It was one of those ‘I can do that, gis a job’ type interviews. I had worked that winter with the owner, Walter, teaching skiing.

He told me he needed help running his ‘Surfschule’ down the valley in Interlaken in the summer.

I told him I was a windsurfing expert, which was only a little lie since, in that era, if you could go out and come back, you were an expert.

Walter used to open the season with a sort of clinic where a bunch of beginners and not quite beginners would camp by the lake and have a full windsurfing tuition weekend.

My first victim was a Swiss guy named Kriegel. We talked about skiing. He looked fit and agile and was raring to go so we by-passed the land based stuff.

I took him into the shallows, held the board while he sorted himself and then let go as he sheeted in. Off he flowed with a lovely upright stance. What a brilliant instructor I was! I’d always suspected it.

50 yards on he tried to tack, fell in and … disappeared. A worrying amount of time later he surfaced some way from the board thrashing the water to foam.

It was May. The water was still glacial. He was only wearing a shortie so I imagined he was having a cold fit. I got to him and he did that thing that drowning people do and grabbed me and tried to drown me too.

After a Die-Hard type struggle, I got him into his depth and, when the shaking stopped, asked him in my best Swiss-German, what the Donner-and-Blitzen the matter was.

“Ich kann nicht schwimmen!”

He couldn’t swim.

Why didn’t you tell me? You didn’t ask. Why didn’t you take one of the life vests? I didn’t know windsurfing involved swimming.

So my first client on my first day of my first job in windsurfing nearly drowned. Learning on the job and all that …

And those are just three from a choice
of 3,567…. PH



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Alone or in a group, with or without a coach, to make the most of a windy session, the way to improve is analyse and challenge every aspect of your technique.<br />
Photo Dave White


(This Technique feature originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Windsurf Magazine. Print and digital subscriptions for readers worldwide are available HERE.)

A run of consecutive windy days, usually on holiday, brings the all-too-rare opportunity to really improve. But, if you don’t, what’s happening?

In Part 1 he looked at the environmental and equipment factors that can help and hinder progress – and in this issue, Peter Hart focuses on the technique and methodology of being an effective self-coach.

To read the whole article please click below to expand or on an iPad or some Macs Click Here

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Sportif 2014 Windsurf Clinics

Thinking of taking a windsurfing coaching holiday? Sportif have announced their programme of clinics for 2014.

There are early booking offers with £50 OFF per person on some dates. But you’ll need to book before 31 December.

Peter Hart Masterclass

Peter Hart has been taking Masterclass groups around the world with Sportif for over 20 years As a former British windsurf champion and leading authority on windsurfing technique with monthly articles for Windsurf Magazine you’ll be in good hands.

Marsa Alam, Red Sea 2-9 April 2014 1 week clinic for intermediates+ – minimum requirement sailing in the harness. General skills – perfect your waterstarts, tacks, gybes & freestyle.

Ialyssos, Rhodes 8-25 June 2014 1 week clinic (int-adv). Stay in 4* Hotel on the beach. right next to the launch and Pro Centre £50 OFF (£25 Land only) Book by 31 Dec 2013.

Mauritius, Indian Ocean November 2014 – 10 days (int-adv). Covering everything from water starts to wave sailing at this tropical beach paradise. Friends & families welcome.

Brazil Jan 2015 10 days (with 7 days coaching) for entry level wave sailing plus general skills Less crowds, more waves. 2014 Full already so sign up for 2015!


Simon Bornhoft Windwise Coaching Holidays

As one of the leading pro coaches, Freestyle and windsurfing endurance champion, author of the RYA Fastfwd, Intermediate & Advanced Windsurfing technique hand books, Simon has also written extensively on technique for many windsurfing magazines.

El Yaque, Margarita 27 January – 07 February 2014 2 weeks at this stunning Caribbean destination for uncrowded February sailing. (Int-Adv). There are only a few spaces left now.

Marsa Alam, Red Sea 19 – 26 March 2014 week flat water/swell coaching (Int-Adv). 24 Sept – 01 Oct 2014 50 OFF (£25 Land only) Book buy 31 Dec 2013.

Moulay, Morocco 18 – 25 April 2014 Learn how to wave sail, jump or loop (Int-Adv). Essaouira, Morocco 8 – 15 May 2014 NEW Easy intro to waves, flat water combi. (Int-Adv).

Alacati, Turkey 7 & 14 June 2014 For improvers – get planing, tacking & gybing.

Sotavento, Canary Islands 5 – 12 July 2014 NEW All round technique tune up with 4* Hotel (Int-Adv). Ideal location to bring friends and family for an excellent beach holiday.

Mauritius, Indian Ocean 20-30 October 2014 10 days of shallow flat water blasting inside the huge Le Morne lagoon and try out the waves on the outer reefs.


Jem Hall Performance Boost Coaching Holidays

As a qualified Sports Science coach, RRD & Ezzy test team developer & UK Brand Manager  and magazine technique editor, Jem has successfully coached all over the world and produced technique videos. You can join his crew on these dates.

Marsa Alam, Red Sea 5 & 12 March 2014 Move on up to water starts, gybes, tacks, freestyle &jumps. Enhance early planning & speed. (Int-Adv).

Moulay, Morocco 01 & 08 May 2014 NEW! Advance wave clinic staying & sailing in Moulay. Last 1 space on each week now.

Prasonisi, Rhodes 11 & 18 June & 27 Aug 2014 3 x 1 week camps for improvers, intermediates & advanced. Covering tacking, gybing, duck gybes, freestyle, waves, chop hops, speed & looping. Co-coach Rachel Tucker assisting in June – come on you girls! £50 OFF (£25 Land only) Book buy 31 Dec 2013.

Jericoacoara, Brazil Nov/Dec 2014 (10 days) Sublime wave sailing, freestyle and general technique plus infamous nightlife! Pre-register for this hugely popular trip.


For more information visit or  call +44 (0)1273 844919 or email International bookings welcome.


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Peter laments and champions the explosion of the GoPro.

(This Technique feature originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Windsurf Magazine. Print and digital subscriptions for readers worldwide are available HERE.)

I  was drafted in the other day to help edit a movie of 4 mates driving their Porsches up and around the French Alps (I wanted to join them but apparently just being the owner of ‘porch’ didn’t qualify).

Robin, the leader, already had a rough cut on his computer. Play. Good start -  “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel…” sang Jim Morrison of the Doors as we faded from black to reveal a spinning front wheel taken by a point-of-view camera mounted on the wing. And that was pretty much it.

For 40 bloody mind-numbingly dull minutes we watched that bloody wheel go round.  OK I exaggerate, they swapped the camera over to different cars but it was pretty much the same shot – and the soundtrack did change from The Doors to Meatloaf.

I looked at Robin trying desperately to communicate my feelings through tired, half-closed eyes.

“Bit long is it?” he said.

“By about 39 minutes 50 seconds,” I replied doing little to soften the blow.

We compromised and hacked it down to 20 (minutes not seconds sadly). Fore those who’d been on the trip and were happy to relive every twist and turn on that road, apparently it went down quite well.

For the rest of us, it was a brilliant cure for insomnia.

These are the situations, which in a windsurfing context fill me with most bone-chilling dread. Swimming after kit in a shark-infested ocean with a bleeding foot. Snapping a UJ a mile out to sea in winter, in an offshore wind, as the sun is setting.

But here’s a recent entry at number three  – enthusiastic bloke approaching me on the beach with a laptop uttering: “let me show you the helmet footage I just got with my new GoPro!”

If you’ve already been subjected to 32gbs worth of scenery drifting past, you’ll know what I mean. The will-to-live deserts you in a flash.

The GoPro, is the most amazing bit of camera kit – and how I wish I’d bought shares in them ten years ago. Amongst adventure sports enthusiasts, it (and similar compact, robust waterproof POV cameras) have become an indispensable accessory.

But it is just a tool. You can buy the most beautiful fountain pen in the world, but in the wrong hands it writes trite garbage.

This is a subject I’m sure we will return to but for now, here are some general tips on how to get the most out of the unit and avoid subjecting friends and family to death by a thousand boredoms.

1. Identify an audience
If the footage is to be seen by you and only you, perhaps just to record a day, then you can do what you like!

But if you have an audience in mind, then you have a DUTY, to make it watchable, especially if they’re non-windsurfers. Too short is WAY better than too long.

2. The power of impact
POV cameras first came to prominence in Formula 1. The TV coverage looks like big boys Scalextrics.

Then suddenly the viewer is lifted from their armchair, plonked in the driving seat and for a few seconds is given an impression of how crazily fast/stupid/scary/dangerous it really is.

The power of the point-of-view shot is in its impact. The longer the shot, the quicker the ‘wow’ factor is lost, hence the smart vision mixer cuts back to the wide shot after just a few seconds.

There is a general rule in editing that for a shot to last much more than 5 seconds it has to be VERY interesting.

It’s the same with windsurfing. If you’re making a movie, try and give yourself some cutting options. A mate on the bank with a standard handycam is all you need.

He pans as you go past. That looks pretty quick, but then if you cut to 5 secs of GoPro the audience can relate to where you are, what you’re doing, feel the speed and something of the windsurfing buzz.

3. Helmet Woes
When you get your first GoPro, the ‘go-to’ shot is to stick it on a helmet. It’s easy. You can reach the buttons, turn it on and off and  … it can be disappointingly dull depending exactly where it’s pointing.

Water rushing by (obscured mostly by the sail) loses its appeal after about 1.5 seconds.

This won’t delight the egoist in you, but you get a far better impression of speed and dynamism if you use it to film someone else.

Put it on the side of your helmet and let them overtake you close to windward. Or leave it on top, sail very close just behind and to windward of them.

I say ‘close’ because the wide angle dictates that unless you’ve almost got your board up their backside, they’ll be dots in the distance. And of course there are safety concerns following someone so close.

4. The flattened waves.
The wide-angle lens allows you to mount the camera pretty much anywhere on your kit and still get the whole subject in shot.

What the wide angle also does, much to the misery of the big swell-rider, is to flatten waves out and make them look much ‘slopier’ than they really are.

Similarly skiers and boarders lament how hard it is to convey steepness from a wide-angled headcam.

For waves, the best tool remains the camera on shore with a monster telephoto. The big lens foreshortens everything and makes the waves look bigger, closer and steeper than they really are.

When it comes to impressing friends, are we that bothered with the truth?

Space is short so here are three instances where the Go Pro shot for me has been impressive or technically useful.

1. Camera on head mounted backwards. Get someone to sail up behind really close in your wake and then over-take. The coming in and out of shot with the wide angle accentuates the speed.

2. Camera on a mast-mount pointing downwind. Sailing upwind of someone as we both ride down-the-line on the same wave, it looks like a ridiculously close helicopter shot. It was in Ireland. The whole reef was in shot and it was scenically stunning.

3. Camera on the end of half a mast.  I was standing up in the surf getting people to jump at the camera. The wide angle makes the jumps look stratospheric. Takes a little practice and perseverance to hold footing and operate.  

4. Mast-mount pointing at sailor. For finding out how about your gybes, whether you’re projecting forward and in – the progress of the hips, how and where the feet move, this is a wonderfully informative angle. Also reveals bald spots.

PH May 2013

“ I used a forerunner of the GoPro in one of my earliest vids ‘Towards the Limit’ in 1988. The production team gaffer taped a complete broadcast camera in a waterproof housing to the front of my Mistral Screamer.  Maybe it was just a tad heavier…“



Click here to read more: Windsurf Magazine