In this series Simon Bornhoft reveals the secrets of windsurfing body mechanics. How we angle, hold, reposition and ‘mould’ our body on a board has an immediate impact on our sailing, so read on to learn how, why and when we need to apply specific forces to become more purposeful, efficient, controlled and dynamic on a board…
To get things started, we’re going to play a game! Here are a number of situations where we’ve removed the board and just shown the body position/stance. Take a good look at each one. Note how some of them are quite similar. I’d like you to think about what situation each stance represents. This is just scratching the surface for now – we’ll get far more detailed in the rest of the series – but I want to illustrate how certain stances reappear in different situations:
I hope you didn’t cheat. So now here are the actions in the same order, but this time showing the whole picture to establish the scene more clearly. We’ve also added a few extra situations to show how similar these stances and actions are!
Super-7 Drop-&-Dig Stance:
Super-7 Drop-&-Push Stance
Note how these different situations all rely on using what I call a Super-7 stance. The key points of which are:
• Vision – i.e. looking forward.
• Extended front leg and flexed back leg.
• Shoulders outboard of hips.
• Arms comfortably extended.
However, there is a slight difference in how the forces are directed through the front foot. In the fast blasting and gybe setup shots (pix 1 & 2) I’m using a Super-7 ‘drop (hips) and dig (heels)’ stance to lock the board flat for maximum control at speed. In the remaining pix I’m using a Super-7 stance, dropping the hips down, but this time pushing through the front leg and especially the toes of the front foot to drive the board forward. (For the front footstrap shot, I was pushing through the toes, but I’m just moving my foot into the strap.)
Tucked Super-7 Stance
Whilst more committed in the following situations, the core of the stance is from the Super-7 body position.
Now note how in more extreme situations (of varying levels) we accentuate the Super-7 style stance.
• Vision looking forward.
• Extended front leg and far more heavily flexed back leg.
• More hunched shoulders, but still outboard of hips.
• Arms gripping harder but still relatively extended.
These two shots show how similar the body position is when rotating a rig, be that a full planing carve gybe or a non-planing situation (e.g. non-planing gybe, clew-first beachstart or helicopter tack). You’ll soon be far more aware of how and why the body needs to be angled, directed and trained for all aspects of a transition:
These two shots illustrate the common body position that leads to a dismount and loss of control of the rig. These are actually quite close to the gybe stances, but they always end in failure. This is primarily down to the fact that you can flex at the waist in windsurfing in certain situations IF you also bend your knees. But if you flex at the waist and straighten the legs it almost invariably leads to a dismount:
As the series progresses we’ll pick these and other stance related issues apart and show you exactly how your body works on a board, and, most importantly, the easiest way to know when it’s right. But for now I hope you see these two key points.
• It’s worth focusing on developing key actions and stances because many are replicated in different aspects of the sport.
• Secondly, it is vital to know how the body should be positioned, because we are not passengers. If we want to develop our skills we need to drive, direct and change our stance – sometimes massively, sometimes subtly – and we need to know how so we can work towards making it happen.