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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

Click here to read more: Tushingham



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.


Click here to read more: Tushingham






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.

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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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Ten Steps to Gybing with Harty and Whitey

For those looking to crack or improve the carve gybe, this is the one. In ten chapters, it focuses on what’s really important. Excellent demos along with freezes, slow mos, graphics and an enlightening commentary, highlight the key areas. 

Harty’s instructional style is legendary, whilst Whitey is the original motivator and a huge inspiration.

Filmed professionally by Acrobat TV in full HD, this program is in a class of its own. It’s informative, clever and, as you’d expect from these two, highly entertaining. 

Here is a quick taster to whet your whistle! 

To get you hands on one of these just email

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Weight loss


(This feature originally appeared in the June 2014 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!)

Harty peruses the controversial subject of weight loss.

To the question “What can I do to improve my windsurfing?” I would, if polite society permitted, almost always reply: “Lose weight.” Losing even a couple of pounds, suddenly you tack without crushing the cockroach. You can uphaul that 95L FSW, you have more energy and, of course, you will plane earlier. And as I mentioned elsewhere in this magazine, being able to plane early is your passport to windsurfing’s most exotic avenues. 

In all sports that require dramatic movement, what is most important is your strength to weight ratio. In broad terms it describes your ability to move, support and lift yourself. There is a graph. Small people are more likely to have better ratios. Flyweight weight lifters for example can lift over two and half times their bodyweight – heavyweights only one and a half.

The support team worked out that the already skeletal, ‘lungs-on-legs’ Bradley Wiggins, would have to lose 5 kg. if he were to have a chance of winning the Tour de France. The top 10 male competitors of the male Olympic fleet at the London Olympics were all over 6’, but none weighed more than 72 kg. In sub and semi planing conditions, they basically have to row themselves around the course. The scientists have worked out that for every kg. they carry over about 70 kg., they have to exponentially be a lot stronger to justify the extra weight.  Yes, the top slalom sailors, the likes of Dunkerbeck, Albeau and our own Ross Williams, are 90-95 kg., or more, but they always compete on the plane where the weight acts dynamically. And they are all fiercely strong. There is no blubbery excess. The old adage, ‘fat is fast’, coined unsurprisingly by fat fellas, is nonsense. My fellow speedster Dave White has constantly said he was fastest when he was lightest (by ‘lightest’ we mean 104 kg …)

When it comes to improving your lot, the simple truth is that it’s easier to lose weight than it is to gain strength.” But how?

The first step on the way to Skinny Central is surely to take more exercise? However, one of the riddles of physiology is that exercise alone is not a guarantee of weight loss. In a recent study in Australia where 58 obese men and women were put on the same 12-week fitness regime without changing their diets, some actually gained weight. So much depends on day-to-day living and the nature and intensity of the exercise. Why in the 500 words left in this article I should have the answers that have eluded the weight loss industry for centuries is a mystery. However, let me at least pick out nuggets from recent studies that may shed a little light – and a few pounds (not that you need to of course …)

You can lose a lot of weight windsurfing – and not just from falling in open-mouthed near a sewerage outlet. I lost 7 kg. in one week following a pretty disastrous speed/slalom even in Fuerte. It turned out that unwittingly I had adhered to the perfect modern weight loss regime. The wind was brutal. I was racing up to 7 hours a day. I kept breaking things and repeatedly had to sprint the 1 km back to the rigging tent. I was wearing a weight jacket. I didn’t have access to food in the morning or early evening. This is why it worked (I say ‘worked’ – I really didn’t want to lose weight.)

Energy deficit and the sneaky body.
‘Burn more than you put back in’ remains the over-riding diet principle. However studies have shown that when the body goes into energy deficit, it‘s ever so clever at clawing back the calories. For example, in anticipation of an exercise session, studies have shown that people rest and become sedentary and they stock up on fuel. In Fuerte I could do neither of those. You use twice as much energy standing as you do sitting. Don’t be sedentary and don’t snack!

Intensity, fat burn and hunger.
There is a fat burn myth perpetuated in gyms that low intensity exerczise burns fat. It doesn’t. Muscles turn to carbohydrate as their preferred energy source. And a 20-30 minute session on a step machine will only burn about 300 calories. Eat one Mars Bar as a reward for your effort and it’s all back on – and a little bit more. It’s only by really pushing yourself that you burn calories. Repeated long sessions teach your muscles to burn fat.  And resistance exercise (weights) burns a lot more than aerobic exercise. Sailing over-powered is resistance training on a grand scale.

And on the subject of intensity, after exercise, hormones are released to increase appetite and replace calories (more so in women unfairly). However, when the exercise is lengthy (over an hour) and intense, leptin is released into the blood and decreases appetite. In Fuerte, despite the exertion, I just wasn’t hungry. If you can, do your thing before breakfast. Exercising in a fasted state burns more fat. And after exercise, protein assuages hunger better than carbs. Eat one Jaffa cake and you’ll definitely scoff the whole packet.

But of course we’re fighting a losing battle. Most windsurfers do it because it makes them hungry and thirsty.

PH  23 May 2014

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Peter Hart Up and Riding in a Flash

Getting up and going is not just a ‘tick the box’ skill – it’s one that should be refined and adapted all the way through a windy career. Peter Hart reveals the fundamentals of early planing. 

Right, before we go any further with this subject, lets get the weight issue out of the way. At the very mention of early planing, I wager those of you with fuller figures are throwing your arms in frustration, cursing your genetic disadvantage. I mean it’s simple physics isn’t it? A big thing needs more power to make it move than a little thing.

Hence women, children and scrawny blokes fly around in a fart while you wallow. And so it is you sail like a big person and sit there like a sack of potatoes waiting for the next hurricane gust to shift you. And I should know, because I was (and still am) that big person. 

When I started racing I’d throw the towel in the moment the wind dropped below about 15 knots and watch stick insects like Barrie Edgington twinkle towards the horizon. It wasn’t until I started doing a few World Cup races and witnessed 95 kg. man mountain Bjoern Dunkerbeck turbo boost off the line ahead of the flyweights, that I understood that bulk is just an excuse for poor technique or a lack of effort.

Weight, of course, is a factor (in fact it’s the topic of the back page) but shedding kilos is a long term project. It’s not going to happen overnight. So lets focus on the early planing factors you can influence here and now. For a start we need to define what we mean by ‘early planing.’ It’s not just a contest to get going in the lowest wind strength.  Whatever the wind, force 3-10, whatever the kit, raceboard or 60L wave board, it’s about how quickly you accelerate, how quickly you get into the straps and release; how much sail you need to do it. (And by the way, big people take heart that the flyweights often aren’t as good at early planing as their larger cousins because they don’t have to be. They’re usually sailing bigger boards relative to their weight so can just get in the straps sheet in and get blown along.)

If you cut the time it takes you to plane AND the amount of power you need to plane, ALL aspects of your windsurfing WILL improve

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that early planing is the cornerstone of windsurfing. There are so many reasons to be good at it.

Energy saver. The most tiring place to be is in a state of semi planing in planing winds because there’s so much drag going through body and arms.

More control. If you don’t have to rely on enormous kit to get you planing, you have better control in tacks and gybes.

More practice. Apologies for stating the bleeding obvious, but you can’t practise planing moves unless you’re on the plane. So much of so many sessions are wasted because people aren’t able to make use of every gust.

New Skool. Moving up the scale, freestyle moves, especially those from the new ‘skool’ of derring-do, are only really achievable with sails under 6.0 (and preferably a lot less than that) – and you need to be using that small sail in a relatively light force 4-5 wind. It sounds brutal, but freestyle if off limits to those who can’t get planing with small sails.
The same goes for wavesailing. Big rigs in the surf limit your manoeuvrability and they break.

Better, more frequent jumps. The number one reason for floppy jumps is that people aren’t planing where the ramps are. In typical beach break conditions you need to be up to full speed by the time you meet the first barrage.

Better Racer. Part time or Olympic – acceleration onto the plane is a more potent racing weapon than top speed.

More security, less falls. The most precarious place to be is in ‘mid something.’ Mid tack, mid gybe, mid ‘Kabikuchi’, that’s where you’re going to lose it. It’s same with early planing. The longer you spend not quite planing with the board grinding through the water rocking from edge to edge, the more likely you are to catch a heel on the chop and catapult. And if it’s taking you an age to find the straps, you’ll look down and that will be when you get smacked by the unseen gust.

A badly tuned car uses a lot more gas that a tuned one. Those slow to plane are wasting a lot of energy and hence need more of it in the form of more sail and more volume

To plane, a board – or boat for that matter – has to overtake its own bow wave. Smaller boards – and boards with a steep rocker line – push more water in front of them and so need more power to drive them up and over. A board needs more power to make it plane than it does to keep it on the plane. It’s like an over-laden speed boat. To start off it’s full throttle, props churning a massive wake, passengers running to the front, carbon footprint growing by the second until finally it climbs over the watery wall. But then as it releases and glides effortlessly (although still a bit noisily) you can throttle right back. If you hook into a 120L freeride board with a 7.5 sail across the wind and do nothing, you’ll need about 18 knots of wind to drive it onto the plane. But when you’re on the plane, you’ll only need 10 knots to keep it there. So to get on the plane in less than 18 knots, you have to do something to create an artificial surge of power. Pumping is one way but by no means the only one. As David Brailsford, Olympic cycling coach, famously stated, their multiple successes came from the ‘aggregation of marginal gains.’ It’s the same deal with planing. A lot of small adjustments can amount to a big advantage. But it has to start with the kit. The ramifications of kit choice and tuning are so vast, that I hope you’ll excuse me if I just hone in on a few specific areas that seem to make the biggest difference to the most amount of people.


Early planing tests every aspect of your game. You have to select and tune the kit to an optimum level. You have to read the conditions and coincide your effort with a gust and down slope. It demands a level of fitness. Tight limbs and a solid core are needed to transfer the power directly into the board.  In strong winds especially you have to be committed and bit brave. And of course it’s the ultimate test of your stance, power control and trimming skills.

It seems that this whole conundrum could be sorted with one sentence: “take out a bigger rig.” And for the timorous, that may well be the answer. But it may have the opposite effect, especially if you can’t fully sheet in, or the rig over-powers the board.
On a 12-knot marginal day last week on the beach lay a 125L freerace board with an 8.5 and a similar 120L board with a 7.8. They were both set up well and the carbon content of the hardware was similar. Surprisingly perhaps, the smaller combo planed earlier because board and rig felt a better match. It just slipped onto the plane. Both the 7.8 and the 8.5 rigs fell within their board’s recommended range. However the 8.5 was on the limit for the 130. The ends of the scale are rarely the sizes that work the best.


There are many personal, quirky techniques to help planing like rocking the board from side to side to unstick it, hoofing the fin, shaking the sail to get the air moving etc. Ultimately you’re trying to bounce it onto its planing surface by driving it into the water with rig and foot pressure – and then releasing it. Letting go of the front hand off the boom, as well as being mildly cool, stops you choking the rig and forces you to extend away and drop the hips behind the feet. 


// The toes of the front foot press down on the sweet spot of the board just in front of the entry to the rocker. The friction creates lift. The board pushes back against the foot…


// …so as you release it, it pops up and onto the plane. Because the hips are right back, putting the front foot in the strap is just a case of tucking it under your knee.


The feet will always try and match the hands. If you commit the cardinal sin of placing the front hand at the front of the boom, the front foot will move forward to keep balance and stop you heading up. But he’s now standing directly over his feet so his weight and all the power from the rig is acting down rather than forward. Planing is now a hurricane away. But if he moves the front hand back, the front foot will move back, the nose will rise and the board has a chance of releasing.  


With the 8.5 it felt as if the advantage of the extra power was cancelled out by the extra dead weight, which made the board displace more water and create a bigger bow wave. It was crying out for the support of an extra 10L of volume. Water state also has a big influence. The day before, Irish Ned crawled from the water and declared that his rig, and I’ll quote his own vernacular, ‘felt utter sh**e.’ He was using his 5.7 on his favourite 80L wave board – a combo he loves on his windy, mostly flat, bump and jump patch back home. But in the onshore winds of Scraggane Bay it felt totally different. The relatively big rig was pushing the thin, soft rails deep into the chop and stopped it releasing – and that’s what made the rig feel heavy and ‘sh**e.’ He needed a bigger board. When we’re talking matches, so much depends on the design and, above all, the width of the board and the skill and weight of the sailor. However, in the disciplines where early planing is top of the list, e.g., marginal wind sailing, new school freestyle and wavesailing, a little extra board volume is a more potent weapon than a great tractor of a rig, especially now since bigger boards, of all categories, are so much more controllable. Smaller rigs are also easier to work and pump – more about that shortly.

I’m all for detailed rigging instructions, but if you’re to excel, there comes a time when you have to dump the fundamentalist scripture and trust your own feelings and instincts. If it doesn’t feel right and you ‘aint going, change something until you do. At risk of sounding like a train service spokesperson, you may have a lot of power, but it may be the wrong sort of power. You sheet in, the sail fills and pulls. Eskimos have 50 words for snow. Practised windsurfers should have 50 words to describe ‘pull.’ Was it a grunty pull? A draggy pull? A jerky pull – or a soft, springy pull? (Soft and springy is good.) If your chosen rig isn’t quite getting you there and you don’t want to/can’t change up, the received wisdom is to ‘bag it out’ by easing off the outhaul and/or the downhaul. More shape surely equals more power. But bag it too much and the sail turns from a foil to an umbrella. The skill is in tweaking and feeling whether the sail is powering you along or just driving the board under the water. My first adjustment is usually to ease off a centimetre of outhaul, which puts a bit more shape in the battens just above and below the boom, where most of the power is generated. If you let off too much to the point where there’s no tension in the back of the sail, on non-cambered sails particularly, the foil billows onto your back hand. With an unstable centre of effort it’s hard to pump effectively and deliver the power precisely into the board. And on boards with titchy fins the tail will keep breaking out. The downhaul needs to be handled with care. Easing it off a little, you put more shape into the top part of the sail and tighten the leech. That can be good. A tight leech is more reactive when you pump. But ease it off too much and the leech stays closed. The sail traps the wind but doesn’t release it. You sheet in, loads of pull, here we go … no we don’t. The sail keeps on pulling instead of softening and becoming lighter as you accelerate. Unless the wind can escape from the leech, you’ll get all the misery of being over-powered, aching muscles, blisters, but none of the joys – instant acceleration and speed. Brendan was out on his 6.0 yesterday. He was slow to get going despite easing off the downhaul. Actually it was because he eased off the downhaul. Big diagonal creases spread from the leech to the mast end of the battens – a sure sign that the leech is trying to open but can’t. Somehow it seems counter-intuitive to increase downhaul when you’re struggling to plane – but in this case an extra inch transformed the sail.


The surest way to gauge progress is with a stopwatch, real or imagined. In a solid wind, time how long it takes you to get hooked in, strapped in and released fully onto the plane.

If it’s more than 5 seconds, there is work to be done.

A last thought on kit: People ask whether the 100% carbon mast is worth it – or will the cheaper one do? With absolutely no support from the carbon growers association, I have to say it IS worth it, for the early planing alone. Power to plane doesn’t just come from a full belly. It comes from a reactive leech. When you sheet in and pump, the mast flexes and the leech opens and the wind exhausts. The lighter, full carbon mast returns more quickly, which allows you to pump faster and more often.

This won’t last long. Ready. Put the boom up. That’s it. Don’t go silly. It has to be within the range that works, which for planing sailing on 70-cm-wide (ish) board is around nipple to shoulder height – a little higher for wider boards where the straps are further from the mastfoot. With a higher boom, you feel the balance of power shift from feet to mastfoot and the board lighten up. Looking for more power to plane, I put the boom up an inch and release a centimetre of outhaul. Nine times out of ten that does the trick. If it doesn’t, I’ll just hope the pubs are open. And my very last word on the set-up matter before we head to the far more important business of technique, concerns harness lines. The most efficient way to power up the sail and get planing is to use the harness. If the harness lines are short, you’ll drag the rig back as you move to the straps, depower the sail and sink the tail. If the lines are long, the rig stays forward and upright. You’ll power up the mastfoot and the board will stay level – your choice.

The sign of a well-rounded windsurfer is being able to adapt her skill according to the kit, the conditions and the moment. For example, a good gyber will shape the arc of each turn depending on how powered up she is and what’s in front of her. The slick waterstarter employs a different rig recovery method depending how and where the rig is lying. It should be the same with early planing. The sequence and technique changes for different designs of board, light and strong winds, calm or rough seas. An obvious example is where someone moving from a big freeride board to a small waveboard tries to get going by sheeting in across the wind and hoofing against the fin. But for all the many variations, it’s best to approach the challenge with broad concepts and relate it to skills you already have.

What gets you out of the water in the waterstarts is creating a sudden surge of power. To begin with, if it’s windy, you just bear away. Then you learn to bear AND extend from the shoulders to raise the rig. Then you start pumping as you come up and kick the front leg and time the effort with a gust and as a wave lifts you – until finally you’re popping up in a zephyr. It’s exactly the same with getting planing. You need a burst of power to overtake that bow wave and break free. Success comes with co-ordinating all your lift devices – kicking off the wind on a gust, sheeting in, tilting off down a slope, bouncing the board, working the rig – all pretty much at the same time. And back to waterstarting. When it doesn’t work, the thing absolutely not to do is hang there, arms raised high waiting for the next depression to pass through and blow you up. Instead you have to lower the rig again, head back upwind and create another burst. Trying to plane, if you bear away, go for it and it doesn’t happen, don’t tootle off downwind cursing your ill fate. Turn back upwind and look to explode again.

May I crave your indulgence and ask you to imagine you’re water-skiing behind a dodgy, faltering powerboat off the coast of S. Africa. The rope has frayed so you’re being pulled by just one thread. You look behind to see a hungry Great White shark following you with intent. What would you do? Instinctively you would extend the arms, give to the power, come up on your toes, suck your guts up under your ribcage, make no jerky backwards movements against the rope and reduce the drag of the skis by riding them as flat as possible.
That’s early planing – in brief you’re trying to present the board to the water in such a way that it creates the east drag, whilst at the same time maximising the available power. But how do you do that?


A few simple checks on the beach to give you the best chance of getting going with the least effort.

Harty 336 early plane 05

// Set the boom height to the top of the workable range, which for a wave board is around shoulder height.

Harty 336 early plane 06

// Place the board close to the wind and the lines should be long enough that you can hook in with the front foot by the mastfoot. But there’s a feeling of being slightly suspended in the harness with the weight coming off the feet.

Harty 336 early plane 07

// Then, in the straps the ultimate early planing test is that even when you move back into the straps, the set up allows you to stand tall on your toes and hold the rig upright. 

Coaching lower intermediates in the art of early planing I urge them to do less. Aspiring experts I encourage to do more. Less, in this case means keeping it all solid and constant, committing fully to the harness, holding the rig still and bearing away gradually to deliver a calm constantly increasing force into a level board. That opposed to gyrating hither and thither, on and off the power, rig flying all over the shop so the board surges and stops like a learner driver kangarooing down the street. More, means getting more active, in a good way. You keep the power on but add little surges to help unstick a reluctant board. We’re talking pumping. Pumping – sheeting in suddenly and releasing – is a controversial subject in that while it’s potentially the best way of releasing a board, done badly is also a way to make sure the board never planes ever. The way to introduce yourself into the feel and rhythm of pumping is to do it hooked in. Committed to the harness, the board gets a constant flow. Then give little pumps with the back hand. Every pump creates a surge, which you drive into the board with the toes and then release. It’s as you release the pressure that the board bounces up onto its planing surface. I don’t really want to talk about pumping as it’s like trying to describe juggling. It’s all about feel and timing. Other things are far more important.
Of all the important things that are the most important, this is the most important of all. The key to getting going is working within the wind angles that provide the useable power for that wind strength and the amount of sail you’re carrying. It’s bearing away into a gust that is your most effective weapon – but how much? In less wind you need to bear away more. In more wind you bear away less. Perhaps it’s easier to describe the effects of heading off on the wrong tack. In a marginal wind, if you don’t bear away enough, you just don’t generate the power to get going, simple. On a small board with a small fin, if you don’t bear way enough and start pumping, the surges of power are lateral and you’ll slip sideways. To pump effectively on any board, you have to bear away off the wind. Off the wind the pulses of power drive the board forward. In a strong wind, if you bear away too much, you can’t close the sail and get pulled too much over the board. At best the board lurches from edge to edge. At worst you get catapulted.

Crusty windies from another era have been bamboozled by the planing quirks of modern kit. Back in the day boards were up to 4m long and had a constant rocker line. To plane you made the long journey to the tail, via several sets of straps, stopping for tea and Kendall mint cake on the way, as the board gradually lifted out. To move back a moment to soon was to sink the narrow tail and stall immediately. Above all else you stayed forward. Today, many boards will not plane if you stand too far forward. On the shorter, racier models, the entry point, where the board first makes contact with the water, is only just in front of the straps. If you stand in front of it, you push a curved section of board into the water and stop it gliding. It’s a case of, get into the straps in order to plane. On your own board, feel for that entry point by playing around with the front foot position. A inch forward and back is critical to the trim.

And so to the body. It is the transmission. It takes the power from the engine and transmits it to the wheels. Ultimately it’s the vital link in the chain. The biggest change occurs though practice and confidence. It’s where people go from being blown on the plane thanks to big kit and a bit of luck with some local weather, to actually driving the board onto the plane. In the first instance, they just stand over their feet and the volume of the board sort of makes sense of the power. In the second, they drop their hips behind their feet, take the power from the sail, through a tight stomach into, the legs and actually slide the board forward.

You can get the same words plus actions from the horse’s mouth by joining Peter on one of his internationally acclaimed, game-changing clinics, catering for everyone from planing novice to jumping, riding fanatic. Lots of info about the 2015 schedule on And get regular updates by liking his Peter Hart Masterclass page.

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