When thinking about going for a Heli tack in 5kts or in 25kts I try and think of the movie The Color of Money. If I'm teaching, I put on my best Paul Newman and try to imagine my student as a young Tom Cruise. Thats because the best advice I can give anyone is to "reach back" on the boom and "slide the sail into the wind." But invariably everyone thinks about the heli tack and how the sail moves around... and they think the sail goes everywhere except into the wind (like hitting every rail but not a single ball in the pocket). So If we think of The Color of Money and you have a big sweaty pile of greenbacks sitting on the rail, which by the way if you sink the 8-ball you get to walk away with, we achieve a slightly different focus.
Enter our cue — the boom! Our front hand is the guiding hand and our back hand is the striking hand. Now we don’t play pool with our hands 3-inches apart, so we are going to reach WAY back on the boom!
Our Guiding hand, is going to keep the sail de-powered and pointed straight in the wind.
That Striking hand (which is WAY BACK on the boom) is going to propel our cue/boom towards our target moving the head of the boom straight and true through the wind.
Once the head of the boom (or the Cue ball...in this analogy) has moved enough into the wind (i.e. harness lines in front of body) our ball has been struck!
We are going to stand tall, arch our back in triumph and release the pressure from our front hand, still grasping our back hand “WAY BACK on the boom!” We are not going to watch our stick/boom but follow the cue ball strait to the 8-ball! And we'll continue to follow the 8-ball into the corner pocket. The sail will harmlessly move around us as we stand proud and tall. All thats left is to level our boom, flip our sail and collect that big wad of sweaty money sitting on the rail.
Tips to Remember to pocket your next Heli Tack:
Never let go of your cue stick! I know its a big temptation to throw the stick to the ground, or to release it after a big shot, and announce to everyone “yeah, I made that shot” but we have more money to win later....so stop with the sail clew first!
Follow the ball into the hole. After striking your ball you are not done! Keep looking forward and into the wind despite how cool it looks when the sail flips around. Learning that this shot is for everyone else to watch with a jaw dropped, but not for you to watch!
Use the granny stick. You get no extra points trying to making this shot the hard way, so go out in light wind using a big board to get all the motions down. Then start making it harder. You don’t win the big game with out hustling on the streets for a while.
"You gotta have two things to win... you gotta have brains and you gotta have balls.”— Eddie Felson. We have taken care of one, so go out there and rack them up!
Brendon Quinn (aka the Windsurfing Gypsy) teaches full time for ABK Boardsports and is sponsored by RRD boards and sails and Ocean Sunglasses.
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