Some weeks ago we had wild conditions with strong gusty wind and vicious chop. I rarely fall off on my gybes but on this day, found my hair getting wet. The problem with this type of sailing is that you are typically way overpowered and the size of the chop makes it impossible to reach a decent speed. The wind is therefor trying to rip the rig out of your hands as you try to bank the bucking board through steep chop. Not easy!
I spent another day in similar conditions really concentrating on the gybes, noting what works and what doesn't. Here is my take on the essentials for this type of gybing:
One of the most important things is to get round quickly. You don't have the luxury of high speed/smooth water of the usual slalom gybe. You need to jam the board round and get going quickly. Dillydallying results in things falling apart (apologies,WB Yeats) every time.
The other important thing is to edge the board aggressively and keep it banked through the chop. This is counter intuitive in these conditions where your brain says "be happy that you haven't crashed, don't do anything to rock the boat (in any way)". You need to override this however, because edging the board allows it to cut through the chop as you carve and actually creates some stability.
So to achieve these things you need to do the following:
Get as much speed as you can going into the gybe. This gives you a better chance of planing out
Bend you knees more than you would in a wide slalom type gybe and allow them to react to the chop like shock absorbers.
Slam the board into the turn keeping your weight far forward. This allows the front shape of the board to carve you round quickly through the water. Remember mast foot pressure (previous posts) which is easily maintained when you are far forward, pulling down on the boom. Consciously keep the board banked through the chop.
As soon as you have flipped/stepped/grabbed, drop your backside to the windward on the new tack, keeping your weight as low as possible. The best way to do this is to ensure that you look forward to where you want to go, looking under your front arm. This is important so I'll say it again. LOOK FORWARD WITH YOUR HEAD UNDER THE LEVEL OF YOUR FRONT ARM. This gives you stability and leverage on the boom.
Talk to you soon.
(The new Select fins are due this week and Andy and I will try to persuade Anthony to allow us to do some back to back testing of specific models. I'll explain in the next post)