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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Onshore frontside - New vs old school

    We keep coming back to the issue of how to hit a lip frontside in really onshore conditions. One reason it's hard to reach a consensus is the typical insistence that "every wave is different and you just have to get out there". Although both is true - and I do actually get out there more than most people on these shores - I believe there may be a second reason why we (well Basher and I really) can't agree. Even if I've never seen anything other than pictures of his sb/severne kit lying on the shingles, I'm starting to suspect that Basher is a sort of old school rider. Whether or not that's true, let me start this thread by describing the two said techniques the way I see and understand them.

    What I label old school for the sake of illustration is really more of a Hookipa-style dtl riding that's adapted to onshore conditions and works best when the waves get a bit bigger and faster. Both due to the speed and the windshadow generated by such a wave it can sometimes make sense to lay the sail down low and even swing it a bit back to the INSIDE of the turn. The downsides to the this approach is that you'll lose most drive in the sail and also get in a great hurry to open the clew as you reach the lip and get exposed to the wind. It's still very stylish and arguably also more closely related to pure surfing than the new school riding technique is. If you can do it well. I haven't even tried.

    The new school style - which is the style of most pwa-sailors like Alessio, Victor or Alex - makes more use of wind power and allow the top guys to do big aerials. For mere mortals like myself it may allow us to hit that lip at all.

    I've repeatedly tried to convey the essence of this style by speaking of "swinging the the rig out of the turn and back while the body goes in and forwards". For those who can't understand or agree with this description there's an alternative. Imagine that after oversheeting at the initiation of the bottom turn you effectively just "turn your board under the sail" without changing sheeting angle much. How and why would this work?

    How: To turn the board around more than 90 degrees "under the sail" you need to push the clew open by extending your boom arm while rotating your body and shoulders to the limit. It's a sort of continuous movement that'll ultimately be governed by the turning radious but also influenced by windshifts or shadows, wavespeed etc. But you get my point if you want to. Not everyone can physically do this.

    Why: Imagine heading off down a wave on a broad reach with a well sheeted sail before oversheeting hard as you approach "straight down wind". In my imagination this will leave the rig in a good position to power you back up the wave in clew first mode. The rig was oversheeted and tipped into the turn on approaching down wind. But as you move through the turn and reverse the flow of the wind over the sail, what was effectively a very oversheeted sail in "normal mode" becomes a well sheeted sail for heading back up the wave.

    Now I'm not saying that one technique is always and everywhere superior. Most good sailors adjust their technique quite a bit to suit the conditions and the sort of turn or wave move they intend to do. As noted in my recent "biggest wave"-thread I layed the sail down more than I usually do and suspect it was because I got all the speed I could handle from the wave and didn't want to deal with too much sail power. But the ability to keep the power on through the turn by turning yourself inside out is an important skill for everyone that sails in crappy wind driven waves. According to Peter Hart that's what 84,73 percent of us do until we hang up our split-toe boots for good.
    Last edited by boards_Tomas; 23rd September 2017 at 07:20 AM.
    The infamous wavewriter

  2. #2
    Senior Member Silicon Beach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    El Mdano, Tenerife
    You remind me of a politician sometimes, Tomas :-) You keep doggedly insisting on your agenda whatever anyone else says, whatever question the interviewer asks ... so, full marks for persistence! (have you ever had, or thought about a career in politics?). Whether we agree with you, or not, is a bit like which politician we choose to agree with. But I certainly think that we know where you stand on the onshore wave-riding issue, and I wish more politicians could be as clear and forthright.

    You'll notice that I haven't said anything about the actual topic. That's not because I don't have my own opinions (I have, and I've posted them on similar threads) ... just that I think it's all been said before (and it happens to be blowing 4.2m weather this morning, with the tide about to hit the mid-tide sweet spot for the waves :-)
    Currently writing the World's first Windsurfing Novel: 'Too Close to the Wind' - watch this space!
    ps check out my musings from El Medano: Life on the Reef
    Boards: Quatro Supermini Thrusters: 94 & 85
    Sails: Severne Blades.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    I totally see your point SB, and have a good one on the water! But isn't this after all the most important issue for advancing windsurfers that want to ride waves? Everyone I meet on my beaches are loaded up with expensive gear and high hopes for the next session. But whenever they finally get onto a rideable wave they keep their sails sheeted for too long and/or streches it too much forwards. (I'm obviously not talking about the onshore specialists at Pozo.) I know I've said it too often but I'm pretty convinced that the glossy big wave images we've been fed are to blame. If I can help just a few sailors to crack the onshore turn it's worth it I think. Basher and probably a few others too have been uncomfortable with the idea of actively swinging the rig out and back. So I now try to explain the same thing in a different way.

    So let me have another go at it: Enter the bottom turn like you use to. Then sheet in hard with with both hands far back on the boom and drop your hips deep into the turn. As this will make the board turn very fast you'll need to rotate your body (exept your head which should be turned to face the lip) and - importantly - your shoulder joints - equally fast in the opposite direction to maintain the sheeting angle and let the sail drive you back up the wave. Keeping (even) the mast hand straightish for as long as possible will help you handle the power and stop you from pulling yourself out of the turn. Sailing with bent arms is never a good idea, and especially not when you're unhooked and clew first.

    Now if at least five of the more credible posters on this forum (you know who you are!) comes forward and says that Tomas, the infamous wavewriter, is here actually giving sound advice I'll promise never to mention it again. For what that's worth!
    Last edited by boards_Tomas; 26th September 2017 at 12:46 PM.
    The infamous wavewriter

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by boards_Tomas View Post

    So let me have another go at it: Enter the bottom turn like you use to. Then sheet in hard with with both hands far back on the boom and let your hips dip in deep into the turn. As this will make the board turn very fast you'll need to rotate your body (exept your head which should be turned to face the lip) equally fast in the opposite direction to maintain the sheeting angle and let the sail drive you back up the wave. Keeping (even) the mast hand straight for as long as possible will help you handle the power. Sailing with bent arms are never a good idea, and especially not when you're unhooked and clew first. .....

    I'm tempted to say this is complete gobbledygook. I can't say my hips ever 'dig deep into a turn'. In truth it's more a misunderstanding of what happens and a poor description of one sort of bottom turn on one sort of wave...

    As for the arm thing, when wavesailing on a wave, one or other of the arms is usually partially bent, even when the rig needs to be outstretched.
    The key is not about whether your arms are bent or not but whether the board and sail are working well together, with you the sailor not choking the rig with an incorrect sheeting angle or by holding it too close..
    Now back in the UK.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    I wrote dip, not dig, but have rephrased to drop your hips deep into the turn. My poor english has always been a problem. As for arms I usually write straightish. Of course we always use both elbows and shoulders on both arms to continuously adjust sheeting angles. The take away is that pulling in much on the mast arm early in the clew first phase like many do is not smart. I actually used to recommend this myself. It was a mistake and I admit it. Thanks for allowing me to clear that up again!
    The infamous wavewriter

  6. #6
    Well done for trying to explain wave riding in words.

    I'm sure many here want to get better at waveriding, but it's one thing to put in the time, progressing in good conditions, and it's another skill to be able to describe it, or to analyse a turn.

    When I watch the TWS technique videos – which are pretty good – I still sometimes cringe at the way a pro sailor describes what he is doing, because it's clear he can do the move but when asked to explain what he does in a helpful way he's often lost for words.
    Just because you're a great windsurfer doesn't also mean you're a good teacher.

    That's why we like proper technique articles, with writing from people like Peter Hart – who not only does the moves but his coaching allows him to write about wavesailing from a learning perspective. After years of coaching he has the language skills to describe best what is happening and where the common mistakes are.

    Wave sailing however, is about as advanced as you can get. And to talk in beginner's language about 'mast hand' and 'back foot turns' and 'dropping the hips' etc is not really gonna cut it.
    Wave sailing stance is also so critical that we usually need visual evidence to back up what we say – with photos or YouTube links etc.
    Now back in the UK.

  7. #7
    Well Basher, you are wrong and right. I too cringe at how some pros describe technical issues. And at how shapers describer boards too for that matter. It is true that operational knowledge - how to carry something out - does not imply predicative knowledge - how to describe things. Nor do being able to recite a description ensure operational knowledge.

    However, trying to describe things will very often help you get better at doing it. And in particular, making your actions explicit (put them in words) will make your knowledge more generalizable and of course also possible to talk about which means you can dive into other's experience and knowledge.

    Doing this with something as complicated as wave riding is not easy. But I reckon Tomas is surely on the way. Obviously, images and videos help. But you do quite a bit of wave riding talking yourself and I don't remember seeing many videos or photos of your riding. If you can get someone to take some pic or video, it is in fact quite interesting to compare your own feeling of doing something with imagery of how it really looks.
    Ola H.

    Simmer Style Boards and Sails

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