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Duck Jibe

Jan 28, 2008

Author: Mac

So you have a few years of windsurfing under your belt and can carve a halfway descent jibe, but you still want more. Next time you go sailing, why not try a Duck Jibe? It will impress your friends and is safe and easy when properly attempted.

This trick has been around for a while and still looks awesome. It's one of the reasons I learned to windsurf 18 years ago. Before going out, it's best to consider which conditions will make learning the easiest. Moderately shallow flat water is ideal with the wind blowing 15 to 20 knots, allowing you to be on a 5.0 to 5.7 m2 sail. If it's blowing any harder, you might be too scared to try. Whereas if you're forced to use a bigger sail in less wind, the boom will be too long for comfort.

Ultimate Setup

Use the same head-to-toe setup as you would for a regular planing jibe. Here is a little reminder in case you forget. Start at your head by looking down wind and behind you to make sure it's safe to turn. Moving next to the shoulders, slide the rear hand back at least a foot and a half down the boom to help keep the sail sheeted in. Slowly let the sail's power shift into your hands. The hips come next, so lift your pelvis, as subtly as possible, to unhook without bending the elbows. Lower your body down and out so that your eyes are at boom level. Use leg strength to keep the board away from you. This keeps the sail sheeting in and the board at speed and in control. Finally, sneak the back foot out of the strap and place it on the leeward rail just behind the front footstraps. Now you're in the best possible position to enter any jibe with speed and control

 duck jibe 01 Duck JIbe 02
duck jibe 03


Start carving the board downwind by moving back up your body, from toe to head (ankles, knees, hips and shoulders), gradually allowing yourself to be pulled in over the board by the sail. Just as you start carving and your posture is upright over the board, initiate the "ducking" motion. However, this does not mean you literally duck with your head. Instead, reach the front hand over back, pushing the sail forward, allowing the rig to fall to leeward (to the inside of the turn). Keep your body balanced and still. If the mast doesn't fall to leeward, you're probably ducking too late. Once the mast falls to leeward, pick the sail up, throwing the clew back and away from you and grabbing the new side in front of the harness lines. Your goal is to get the mast past your back shoulder and keep the sail sheeted out.


Keep the sail sheeted out and let the board carve past downwind before switching your feet with normal jibe footwork: pivot the front foot out of the strap across the centreline and step forward with the new front foot. Now, sheet in and sail smoothly away, impressing all your friends.

Tips to Rip

1. You can never "duck" the sail too early.
2. The handwork during the "duck" should happen in front of you.
3. If overpowered, bear off slightly before starting the move.
4. Do not sheet in too soon at the exit, or else you'll stall and fall in backward.

by Nathaniel "Mac" McFarlane / Photos by Pete DeKay


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