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The Art of Sail Chi

Oct 27, 2008

Author: Andy Brandt

Boom boxing1. Boom Boxing Basics
Find a clear location with steady, light wind and rig up a sail. Don’t rig too big, as you need only minimal power to practise. Secure the sail by attaching it to an old “drag” board or piece of plywood on the ground. Set the angle of the drag board to the wind at about 30 degrees (the board’s nose points slightly upwind). Position yourself on the board to the leeward side of the sail. Start with the sail balanced and backwinded, your hands equally spaced around the balance point on the boom. Push (or punch) with each hand independently without ever gripping. This pushing with the front hand followed by the back around the sail’s balance point is like sparring or boxing with it. The sail should fall toward the ground when pushing with the mast hand and rise back toward you when pushing on the back-clew hand.

2. Boom Boxing Drills
Now, try staggering your hands away from the balance point. The farther you reach away from the balance point (or closer you get to the mast and clew), the easier it is to get the result you want. Understanding leverage helps you in all aspect of windsurfing. The ability to reach back on the boom to sheet in, or forward to sheet out, can give you the confidence to do many basic skills as well as advanced tricks. Next, try boxing on the sail below the boom. You should find it easy to push the sail down with the front hand and float it back up to you with the back because the maximum width of the rig decreases the lower you get. The sail’s leading and trailing edges are closer to the balance point, making sail control easier. This movement can give you great saves during tacks and leeward sailing.

3. Luffing from the Clew
Controlling the sail’s power with only your back hand is essential for many manoeuvres, from beachstarting to Chachos. Set up a real sail land simulator with the board perpendicular to the wind. With the sail luffed in a balanced, upright position over the board and you standing on the ground just downwind, reach back on the boom halfway between the clew and the harness lines. Release the front hand and try to keep the sail flying in this luffed position with only the back hand. If the mast falls away from you, pushing with the back hand will make it float back up. If the mast comes toward you, pulling in on the back hand will make it fly away. Try to react slowly and gently. Once you’ve mastered the basic skill and can keep the sail still, try switching from one side of the sail to the other while maintaining this luffed floating position in front of you.

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