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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2009
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    Deep downwind over chop.

    OK. I'm 9.0m, 56 fin and 85wide futura and going (for me) very fast.
    I'm trying to emulate the slalom guys and go really deep. I'm OK going down the channels between the swell but going directly down over the swell means I "hit the wall" at the bottom of the swell and am living in fear of going over the front. It's scary enough going deep without the additional fear of effectively stopping dead when hitting the back of a downwind swell.
    What's the trick for surviving this please?
    Many thanks

  2. #2
    Obviously you are on big kit, but that's the sort of gear to go course racing on.
    It's important to understand 'apparent wind' here – the mixture we sheet in our sails to, made up of the 'true' wind of the day and our board speed or 'created wind'.

    To get downwind you do need to be well-powered up – so as to keep sheeted in when heading broad off the wind.

    The amount of power you have actually determines how broad you can go, and it's a constant battle (or game) to keep the board moving downwind so as to keep sheeted in on the apparent wind. Because if you slow up, then the real wind takes over and your rig stalls.


    So the key is to take a snaking course with your wits about you – and this is serious driving.

    You bear off in the windy bits or gusts, and to head up (point higher) in the lulls in the wind. You also steer a 'snaking' course through the swell or chop, taking the path of least resistance and trying to head 'downhill' as much as possible.
    If you steer into a wave – and therefore head up a slope – then the board slows, you have to sheet out, and the true wind takes over from the dominant created wind.



    This is a difficult skill to learn, but marks out the top racers from the also-rans. It's no wonder they include a downwind leg in many Formula or RS:X courses. These downwind legs are tactical as much as they are about board speed.


    You really SHOULD feel you are on the edge, and about to go over the front if you get it wrong. On the plus side, that's quite exciting.
    The stance can also feel weird – on my board when going deep I've got a lot of weight on my back leg which is very bent at the knee.
    Last edited by basher; 18th June 2017 at 11:02 PM.
    Now back in the UK.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2007
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    2,376
    Have you actually gone over the front yet?
    Looking ahead and trying to avoid the biggest lumps is a good idea. Keeping the board flat in relation to the swell so the nose rocker stops the nose from spearing the swell will help.
    When I collected my Exocet S3 110l I thought it had really low shoulders and nose rocker and that sailing downwind would cause a few catapults but it hasn't actually happened yet but does keep my attention on the way ahead in swells/chop.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Graemef's Avatar
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    May 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by richarli View Post
    What's the trick for surviving this please?
    Many thanks
    Learn to pump the sail, if you're racing and show any sign of slowing due to say swells that you can't avoid because you're heading towards a mark, unhook and pump the sail vigorously to get your speed back up. Sometimes you might have to come out of the straps if it's big kit and you're sailing really deep, unweight the back of the board.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2004
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    1,247
    Formula expert told me to go as fast as you can and find the mast foot position to help air get under the board so you skim the water and peaks. TWS slalom videos and watching those PWA guys in real it seems to be about getting the board to "fly".

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2004
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    2,488
    I'd be terrified on that sort of kit but I guess the general principles of steering applies. You want to snake between the swells trying to go downwave or flat most of the time. Efficient steering comes from coordinating weight shifts and changes of sheeting angle. Sheet in by pulling on boom hand and pushing on mast hand to power up the front foot and mast foot for turning down wind. For turning upwind - and in this case to avoid stuffing the nose into the back of a swell - you reverse the arm movements and move weight to the rear foot. The more coordinated you get the faster you can change direction and the better you can snake through. The latter sort of response will also help you depower quickly and lift the nose to avoid catapulting into the back of swells. Sorry for being so gerneral. I really don't have a clue.

    Yes, and MTFU! If you can. I rented a room this winter from a guy who thinks that riding small waves are boring and therefore trains slalom in Pozo going well over thirty knots in two meter waves. These guys are a different breed.
    Last edited by boards_Tomas; 19th June 2017 at 08:36 PM.
    The infamous wavewriter

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Maker View Post
    Formula expert told me to go as fast as you can and find the mast foot position to help air get under the board so you skim the water and peaks. .......

    I find that a very odd description of what I do – but then I'm not on a formula board.
    You are trying to go fast by riding off the fin just as you are when sailing across the wind, and mast foot position probably controls the railing effect on the fin. But it would also be fixed or pre-set for that fin and sail size, and I doubt I'd shift it just to go broad off the wind. That's longboard thinking.

    You DO want to go fast, simply to be able to stay sheeted in.

    On a shortboard, the key is the snaking path you steer, and how low you can go depends on the power you have in the sail and on how helpful the wave or chop pattern is. You continually bear away when you can but then luff up to a slightly higher course when hit by a lull of when facing an obstacle like an upward slope.

    I also found grumpf's suggestion to pump the sail a bit off the mark – but then he's probably talking about on a longboard.
    I'd certainly pump downwind in a dinghy, if the class rules allowed it. Some do, some don't.
    Last edited by basher; 19th June 2017 at 10:42 PM.
    Now back in the UK.

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