Jem Hall comes full circle and finishes his fundamental flirtation with the 360 family by arcing about downwind...
To conclude business with our fundamental carving theme (for the moment, anyway), I am now asking you to aspire to learn and improve the downwind 360. This is with a view to keep you on your toes in flat water and in the waves as we look to work towards getting your frontside riding even better. It is also, of course, building on the light wind love you should now be embracing, and all of the front to sail action and tacking you’ve been doing.
The carving downwind 360 in the straps, or ‘strapped 360’, really gets you to commit to your carving and helps you to feel the rails of a board. It’s one of the top ‘old school’ carving freestyle moves that all good sailors should have in their repertoire.
So, let’s all seek to improve our carving, as the better we go through the gears and the more we understand the subtleties of carving, the better our wavesailing. I use this move heaps when testing boards and to boost up my flat-water sessions. You cannot fail to be impressed when you see Messrs. Dunkerbeck and Goya bang one of these when flying around the break between waves.
We’ll use our tried and tested formula to cover the whys and wherefores, so let’s get into it.
Who? This move is for anyone who can carve hard, sail backwinded and tack. This move will not only improve your frontside waveriding, but also your gybes.
Why? Any carving in both straps will improve your ability to keep speed and counterbalance the rig’s movements. The strapped 360 will call into account just how smooth your carving actually is, and also how aggressive you are. Carving hard downwind on the front foot will give you more competency in your frontside riding and help you to ‘hold a rail’ when carving fast as you look to adjust and absorb your arc.
What? You sail downwind to get your speed up, then carve really hard right round as you drop the sail to the water and backwind it on the new side, finishing off just like the end of a tack.
Where? In space with good wind and flat water. Between waves is perfect – and be sure to do them going out and coming in so your carving gets better both ways!
When? With a good amount of speed and power so that you can carve hard in your chosen space of water. Speed and doing it in the right place really are the keys. I seem to remember saying “Right move, right time, right place, right kit and done in the right way" once or twice, so please take this on board. [It was 3,126 times the last time we counted, Jem. Ed.]
How? Let’s look at this now...
This move was performed in Jeri, Brazil, at the main break and in between the waves. The wind was cross-shore and I was on an Ezzy Wave SE 5.2 and RRD FSW 90: 59cm wide with a 22cm fin and big, big straps. This kit provided the speed and float required, while the smaller fin loosens up the board for the required hard carving and gives me the ability to aggressively tighten my arc.
1. Check you have the space and time to squeeze in the move, and get some speed up by scissoring the board downwind to enable you to carve hard with speed after you have unhooked. The grip should be shoulder-width. You must go very broad to minimise the amount of time you have to carve for:
2. Ensure both feet are wedged in the straps tight so you can carve hard. After getting your speed come over the rail and start to carve hard as you begin to lay the rig down. As you come over it’s really important to hold the rig forward and carve off the front foot. The sail is held much further forward than for a regular 360 in order to hold the speed. While carving ensure your back hand is up the boom and that you have got the sail flat to the water and are really bent over through flexed knees and ankles. Start to look up at the top of the mast:
3. Aim to get the sail flat to the water and ensure you are really bent over through flexed knees and ankles. Start to look up at the top of the mast to help initiate the tightening of your carving arc:
4. Stay in your dropped right over the rail position and continue to carve hard, looking back and towards the mast tip to help you maintain and intensify the carve. (Note: this looking back is later than in a regular 360.) The rig stays low as your weight begins to shift. The rig begins to be brought back as the body moves forward:
5. The move slows down here and the rig can power up or fall in the water, so it’s important to keep the sail down and back as the body moves forward through bending the front knee and shifting the head and hips towards the mast foot:
6. The rig is away and back with your front leg bending to bring your weight forward. This will flatten the board off and stop the tail sinking! This is where your backwinded skills become very important. Keep the rig away on extended arms:
7. The end is nigh. To come up from your carving position you must push out on the back hand and start to bend the front arm. This will get you back outboard and ready to scissor the board through the wind. Your bodyweight should still be forwards to keep the board flat:
8. As you let the rig power up front-to-sail your bodyweight can then move outboard in anticipation of thrusting the rig forwards to bear away the last bit. This bit makes the 360 and stops it being a 270! As your feet are in the straps it is much easier to scissor the board, so start to pull in with the back leg and push with the front foot:
9. This last part is just like coming out of a tack. Twist and throw the rig forwards and across you as you hang down off the boom. With your feet anchored in the straps you can be really aggressive in scissoring the board, so do just that. Open the sail, weight your toeside and get planing quickly – all much smoother because you’re already in the straps. Well done! Now go and learn it going the other way:
• Prepare and get speed downwind fully strapped in.
• Ensure back hand is up the boom.
• Come across and carve off the front foot.
• Drop the rig to the inside and commit to the carve.
• Look back and at the mast tip as you carve harder.
• Shift your weight forwards as the board slows down.
• Come back up and outboards by pushing out on the back hand.
• Twist and throw the rig forwards as you scissor the board.
I now find this move easier than the classic 360 as you can carve so hard in the beginning and be more aggressive at the end. However, it’s good to try both when you’re learning downwind 360s so you can experiment with the rig’s positioning and how hard you can carve – but please persevere more with the strapped 360. Now go on, impress me!
As you are now equipped with the knowledge to perform carving moves up and downwind I am now empowering you to whip these in both in your flat water and wave sessions. Since it is that time of year where a few extra kilos may mysteriously slip on and sailing sessions can become well spaced, it’s definitely the time to get on the road or track, in the pool or down the gym. The fitter you are the easier your sailing is – it’s as simple as that.