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Matt's Monday #18: Jibing - Part 2

Mar 22, 2010

Time to turn!

The first thing I want all of you jibers out there to do is “GET IT” in your head first and foremost. If you can’t visualize it, how do you think you are going to make it happen? Maybe by sheer luck it might happen but seeing yourself complete a jibe will greatly increase your chances of success! When I am working on learning a new move, that is all I think about sometimes. I stare off into space and pretend I’m out on the water..... I go through it all step by step and analyze each part of the movement required to make it happen.  Once I get on the water, I’m already ahead of the game. By the end of our jibing lessons, you will have the tools to jibe in your heads and take that onto the water!

Last week we talked about how important it is to have speed. Speed usually gets you out of trouble in windsurfing unless you are getting real close to shore! This week we are going to talk about the first stage of the jibe- The Entry! I believe the “entry” to the jibe is the most important stage of the jibe. If you get that right, the rest of your movements will be much easier. In a perfect world, the best conditions to learn to jibe in are smooth glassy water, 20 knots of breeze, sun shining and nice warm water.... In the real world, most of you guys are in pretty cold water, gusty and choppy water conditions either underpowered or overpowered- did I get that right? Well ok-

Once you decide it is time to turn, take things real slowly. Don’t get all huffy and stomp around. The first thing I like to tell you to do is watch the water- see what is happening and look for a smooth place to initiate your turn. If you are in big swells, make sure you get over the top of the swell and then begin your turn going “downhill” rather than uphill. In short chop, you are going to want to find a place that you can carve “in between” the bumps. So take you time and get comfy and prepared to turn.

Matt in actionWhen you are ready to go, do one thing at a time. Look downwind and behind you to make sure you aren’t going to smash into one of your buddies. Slide the back hand back on the boom about 2 or 3 inches (this gives you better control of the rig).  Take your rear foot out of the footstrap and put in on the leeward rail just ahead of the rear footstrap. Do all of this while you are still hooked in. When you take your rear foot out of the strap, try not to lift it up very high, rather drag or slide it to the leeward rail. Any abrupt movements to the board will disturb the flow so keep it smooth! Now you are ready to initiate- Unhook, bear off the wind and look for that smooth spot and downhill slope that is going to help keep your speed up. Sheet in with your back hand, bend your knees and extend the front arm and pull down on it in order to transfer the power of the sail into the board. I like to have you think about the mast being forward of the centerline of the board- a lot of people pull back on the sail and bend their front arm too much. This action causes you to slow down- you lose the power of the sail going into the board with the bent arm- things are getting LOST IN TRANSLATION!!!! You want to be able to keep the energy going forward- thus the straight front arm, the weight on the balls of your feet. Any time you straighten your legs or bend your arms too much you are most likely pulling back on the sail and moving all your weight to the tail section of the board- Not Good!

In the photo here, I am right at the end of what I call the “Entry” part of the jibe. I have followed all my rules- I picked my water, put my back hand a couple inches further back on the boom, SLID my rear foot out and over to the leeward rail just in front of the back footstrap, my knees are bent, I’m putting weight into my toes, my front arm is extended, my back arm serves as a “crutch” just in case I need some balance help- I keep it extended so if I need to pull in, I CAN pull in. If my rear arm was bent and I needed some help, I would have nothing to pull on..... Notice my head is looking to where I want to go- I’m watching the water down wind to make sure I’m going to keep my speed without hitting any uphill bumps. This photo taken by Darrell Wong is what I would consider to be a perfect shot of where you should be when approaching next week’s topic... the ALL IMPORTANT Transition Zone! That is where it all happens.


Three-Time World Champion, Matt Pritchard is sponsored by Gaastra Sails, Tabou Boards, Da Kine, Kaenon Polarized and Camaro Wetsuits. Matt will start doing monthly clinics on Maui towards the end of each month- to find out more about getting signed up, contact Matt by




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