New to windsurfing?

Disciplines

Community

More

Waves

When you windsurf with a wave, you either ride it or you jump it.
 
 
  
  
 
Jem Hall
started the Wannabe a wavesailor? series in 2007. Appearing in Boards Magazine, the series is almost 40 articles long, covering in detail "all things wave sailing."
 
All the articles are now found in the Learners guide... https://sites.google.com/site/learnersguidetowindsurfing/wannabe-a-wavesailor
 
Jem highlights the links from your fundamentals to how these help you wave ride a Free Style Wave board:  
 

 
 
Windsurfer international 
WI TECHNIQUE: Wavesailing 101 with Kevin Pritchard
 
Part 1: Getting Ready To Rock ~ Wavesailing can be the most exciting part of windsurfing and when it all lines up on a magical day you'll never forget those sensations. In the first of a new series from Kevin Pritchard here's some quick tips to get you going on the ride of your life. This first article covers safety, gear, rights of way, heading out, wave selection and coming in: http://www.windsurfermag.com/magazine/windsurfing-wavesailing-technique-basics-preparation/?params=MjJ8MjQwfDY1MA==
 
 
Part 2: Frontside Wave Riding Technique ~ In the first lesson we looked at getting in and out of the surf, being prepared and the rules of the road. Now it’s time to have fun. Let’s look at the funnest way to ride first – frontside - that’s downwind with your chest towards to the wave face. This second article talks about dropping-in and setting-up, bottom turn, top turn, snap and cutback.  Includes video... http://www.windsurfermag.com/magazine/windsurfing-wavesailing-technique-basics-frontside-wave-riding/?params=MjN8MjY4fDA= Watch just the video: http://vimeo.com/30383795
 
Part 3: How To Wave Ride Backside ~ Last time out we looked at riding frontside, with our chest to the wave, this month we’re gonna give ourselves a whack on the backside…Also known as riding on your backhand - with your back to the wave, so riding left if you’re a regular foot – backside is an underrated part of Wavesailing and fun to master. It’s also particularly useful for getting upwind, or in onshore conditions, as the main method of riding breaking surf. Includes video... http://www.windsurfermag.com/magazine/windsurfing-wavesailing-technique-basics-how-to-backside-wave-ride/?params=Mjh8NDAxfDEwMDE= Watch just the video: http://vimeo.com/39753108
 

 
Matt Pritchard    How to Ride a Wave
 
 
 
Bill Bell - beginner wave sailing guide
.
 Have confidence in your gear and abilities - If you are not comfortable waterstarting, jibing, or use gear which is old and may fail, it may be best to remain in sheltered waters. Also, its best to be comfortable in the ocean since it is a big, deep body of water. One of the worst things to do if down in the surf zone, is panic. Best is to remain calm, and take your time to regroup, especially if separated from you gear. Suit up correctly for conditions as well. Wear a helmet, and a good wetsuit depending upon water temperature. I would recommend avoiding drysuits when wavesailing, and rather use a heavy regular modern wetsuit. Of course, summer OBX wavesailing is usually trunks only!
  1. Attack shorebreak, and get past it ASAP - One of the biggest fears with OBX wavesailing is ominous shorepound at the launch. Shore break can be quite intimidating, especially when trying to work a windsurfing rig though it. If you do have to deal with shorebreak at the launch, your best bet is to work fast, "throw" your gear over the pounding section, and swim/waterstart to clear the area. Do not stand there or timidly handle your gear in the shorebreak. Quickness is key to getting up and out of that area ASAP. Note that timing is also important, especially when judging set waves. If a set is rolling in, wait until the set and its accompanying shorepound pass before launching. When its time to go, do it quick! The critical shorepound section is usually quite narrow and once you are past it, you should be in the clear.
  2. Look for side-off conditions - Side-off winds usually provide the least amount of shorebreak, though this is completely dependent upon the size of the surf. If conditions are small (waist high or smaller), you could likely successfully launch in either onshore or offshore winds. Though if conditions are bigger, side-off is best.
  3. Navigate around critical sections - On smaller days, this may not be as much of an issue, but it is good practice for bigger days. Try to avoid the pitching section/whitewater by pointing upwind or downwind while navigating out. Never look at the critical section, or you will likely sail right into it. Rather, look for a clean line out by catching a shoulder or weak section of the incoming wave. Basically try to avoid the whitewater in the main surf zone. A downwind heading is always the first choice since this will provide the most board speed, especially considering Hatteras' inside windless zones.
  4. Ride top/back of shorebreak when returning to beach - If there is sizable shorebreak on the day you are in the ocean, when returning to the beach, always keep the board either on top or just behind the shorebreak wave. This will ensure you hit the sand furtherest away from the pounding area. Never set up with a shorepounding section behind you. That setup equals crunch time!
The above tips give you some key advice for launching and getting out/returning to the beach. Regarding actually riding waves, here are a few pointers:
  1. Look for an outside swell - Once out past the main surf zone, look for the incoming set waves. Note to always take the third or fourth wave on the set as compared to the first or second. This is especially key on bigger days since if you go down in the impact zone, its always best to keep the beatings to a minimum. Often, if you pick correctly and go down in the zone, you will likely have smooth water for the run back out to the outside. Note, on small days however, set wave selection will likely not be an issue since the sets may not even be noticeable.
  2. Ride upwind on the wave swell - If you do find a swell approaching, jibe ahead of it or on its face, and ride it upwind. The swell will drive the board forward, and help keep you upwind to remain in the area where you launched from. Though if you are doing a "downwinder," this may not be as important.
  3. Approach the wave zone on a swell - Approach the wave zone while on the front of a swell. As the swell begins to rise and become steep, turn downwind, race down the swell face, and set up for your first bottom turn.
  4. Approach the wave zone on a swell - Approach the wave zone while on the front of a swell. As the swell begins to rise and become steep, turn downwind, race down the swell face, and set up for your first bottom turn.
  5. The Bottom Turn - The key to the bottom turn is solid board and sail control. Very similar to a jibe, the bottom turn is simply turning the rig downwind and using the wave energy to drive the momentum. Like a jibe, the bottom turn is all about setting the rail, controlling the fin with both body weight placement and sail positioning. The only difference is that you do not remove your back foot from the strap, and you do not "flip" the sail, unless you are trying some radical move.
  6. Approaching the wave face and timing - Once though a solid bottom turn, next is the approach to the wave. The ideal setup is a near perpendicular run up the wave face to attack the lip. However, often the approach is at an angle up the face heading down wind. Timing is key with the approach since if you are too early, the wave is not quite formed for a hard cutback, and if too late, you may be crunched by the pitching lip. The key is to "see" how the wave is forming and attempting to place the board in the ideal spot to fully maximize wave energy at the cutback. Timing is likely the most crucial aspect of wave sailing, and is usually only perfected by experience and understanding how wave dynamics interplays with board/sail handling.
  7. The top turn and cutback - The top turn or cutback is one of the most visual aspects of the wave ride. It can be a mellow experience or quite aggressive. The level depends upon the sailor's style and the position of the board at the top of the wave. Timing again is key with the cutback as well. Turn too early, and you only approach halfway up the wave. Turn too late, and you likely go out the back of the wave, or stall/flounder at the top. The key is to turn at the optimum moment when the board is at the lip of the wave, but not slicing though it. Another key element of the top turn is hand positioning which controls the sail angle. Usually it is best to slide your back hand forward when initiating a cutback to ensure the sail opens and depowers enough to keep you on the wave. If you keep your back hand further back on the boom, you risk the sail being too powered often causing an "out the back." Of course if you are going for a wave aerial, you may not slide the hand forward, but the ideal wave aerial is driven by wave energy at the lip and complemented by sail/board control in the wind.
  8. Drop in - The drop in after the cutback is all about body position. Keep your body weight back while maintaining control of the sail. Main goal here is to avoid pearling the nose of the board, or diving the mast forward. Balance, body position, and control are key to maintaining composure upon reentry down a steep wave face following a sharp cutback.
  9. Kick Out - Often, you repeat the above steps a few or a number of times depending upon the wave conditions. However, the last step is always the kickout after a successful wave ride. The kickout is simply a jibe over the weak end of the wave, or if you are in big conditions, perhaps its about remaining in ideal position for the trek back out through the wave zone. Main thing with the kickout is to maintain control, look what is behind the wave you were on, and try to maintain power to work back out.
Those are basically the key steps to riding waves. I am not a professional wavesailor, but have plenty of experience enjoying and surviving the surf in Hatteras. Hopefully these tips will help those interested in wavesailing to better understand the dynamic and if you get the chance to try it, well...go for it! Its quite an experience, and there is nothing like catching a wave on a windsurfer! Oh yea, one more key tip...always know what is behind you in the surf!

Additionally, here are a few flat water tips for wave sailing preparation:
  1. Try jibing while remaining in the footstraps - This technique helps learning control while bottom turning on a wave, and also gets you used to riding aggressively in the straps. Also, loosen the straps somewhat when wavesailing. There should be some room to move your feet when you are working the waves.
  2. Sail with your back hand further back on the boom - Much of wave sailing is sail control, and optimum control is found with a wide grip. This is especially true when bottom turning...when jibing, practice with a wide boom grip. This also helps oversheet the sail which is ideal for the bottom turn.
  3. Sail out of the harness - Try sailing out of the harness, and specifically try downwind S-turning on the board. Slide your back hand forward and back while practicing this maneuver. This technique helps feel sail control in your hands rather than though the harness. 90% of wave sailing is done out of the harness. Source http://obxbeachlife.blogspot.com/2008/05/beginner-wavesailing-on-obx.html
 
Wave Etiquette As for the concept of etiquette in the waves, here are some of the basic water rules: http://obxbeachlife.blogspot.com/2008/07/wave-etiquette-follow-up-to-beginning.html
 
 
 
 Graham Ezzy, Danny Bruch, Flo Jung
 
 
Ho'okipa by Jimmie Hepp
Peter Hart explains why and how the sailing sup will teach you the skills of wave sailing: Wave Riding - The Long & SUP of It
 
 
 
 

Phillip Koster

Kauli Seadi 
 
Boujmaa Guilloul
 
Maui
 
Cabo Verde
 
Oahu
 
Peter Hart digs deep with this brilliant and illuminating article: The Challenge of Wave Sailing
 
 
How to Wave Sail ~ Text from the former Windsurfing Magazine
 
Pop over a wave (getting out) ~ Minimal board speed can pop you over most waves. As you approach, keep a wide stance on the centerline with your front foot open. Point the nose at the wave. Right before the wave hits, weight your back foot, raising the nose, while simultaneously sheeting in, initiating the climb. Throw your body weight and the rig forward to maintain power. Get low and hang off your front hand. If there’s no chance of making it over, chicken jibe in front of the wave. With a small board, switch your feet before initiating your jibe. Put your weight into the boom to switch your feet without disrupting the board, then flip the sail. If the wave hits you while you’re clew first, surf the white water to gain speed and balance. Flip the sail and sail away, harm free!
 
 
 
Set up your ride ~ Catch your wave where the swells are building but not breaking. Look over your shoulder to select the swell you want. Don't sail out ahead of the wave: go only as fast as the wave is moving. Use the power of the forming wave to help you pinch upwind. Dig in your heelside rail and head up the line --- you can head much higher than normal. This allows you to stall and wait for the wave to make sure you are posistioning yourself in the best possible spot. Continue looking down the line (around the mast or through the sail) at the forming wave. As you see it take shape, plan your ride. Don't drop in too early and outrun the best part. Look for the wave getting steeper with the hint of white spray blowing off the top, then sheet in and power up the sail to accelerate down the wave face. 
 
 
Pick your spot, pick your gear ~ Down-the-line wave sailing is easiest to learn with side-shore to side-off winds and ground swell. While this may occur near your home spot, consider taking a trip to a place like Maui, Jericoacoara, Brazil, or Punta San Carlos, Mexico, where these conditions happen consistently. Contrary to other disciplines in windsurfing, the goal when picking wave gear isn’t necessarily being comfortably powered at all times, but rather just when you’re on the wave. Sometimes we find ourselves in light winds and big waves. If you opt to take a rig that would let you plane on the way out, the added wind the wave generates, plus the acceleration from the drop-in, can make the rig difficult to control once on the wave. Instead, opt for a smaller board and sail, so you can be comfortably powered when on the wave. You’ll slog on the way out, but you’ll have more control on the wave, and thus more fun wave sailing. Good technique can help your light-wind slog. Position your feet in an open stance on the centerline of the board with the inside of your front foot pushing against the base of the mast. Keep the rig in a forward and open position. Put most of your weight in your front hand and front foot, which helps you maintain an even balance of weight over the middle of the board — between the mast track and front foot, where there is the most volume.
 
Bottom Turn ~ It is crucial to maintain your speed through your bottom turn or you will be left out in front of the breaking wave with no ability to get up to the lip. Slide both hands farther back on the boom to help you drive the mast forward, and oversheet the sail to dump the power. Keep your body weight forward over your front foot and dig the full rail of the board into the water. Remember, your turn comes from carving with the curved rocker line of the board, not from weighting the back foot and pivoting the board.
 
Top Turn ~ How vertically you head back up the wave is dependent on how fast you are going and how aggressive you want to be. As you approach the lip, straighten up your rig, dig in your heelside rail, rotate your head and shoulders in the direction of your turn and slide your hands toward the mast to snap the sail open again to power up. Shifting your weight forward or back here can create a cool tail slide or throw buckets of spray.
 
 
Set Up An Aerial ~ An off-the-lip aerial starts with a great bottom turn that returns you to the peak with speed. As you head back up the face, aim for the steepest part of the wave — the area where it is just starting to break. As you hit the lip, shift weight to your heels and expose the bottom of the board to the white water so the power of the wave projects you up into the air, instead of rolling over you and putting you through the rinse cycle. Rotate your body to face back down the wave and sheet out to power up the sail and prolong your flight.
 
Land An Aerial ~ Position your body weight over the board. Often sailors will extend their back leg during an aerial, but if you land in this position, your body weight will be over the rail, which can cause spinout. Tuck in your back leg as you’re about to land, bringing the fin directly under your body, reducing the potential for spinout. As you land, roll your weight forward onto your front foot and into the boom through your front hand to smoothly transfer your speed into your next bottom turn.
 
Take One On The Head ~ Sometimes you might have to duck under a few waves. Put yourself between the wave and your gear for safety. Point the tip of the rig into the wave and use your body weight to sink the rig. Get a solid grab on the mast, then duck underwater. The initial tug won’t be too bad if the rig is underwater. Don’t be tricked! The board is floating on the surface, and the wave will grab that, so keep a tight grip and expect the stronger tug. Kick against it, and pop up on the other side with your rig in hand.
 
 
 
 
 
Robby Naish riding windsurfing's biggest wave: Jaws 
Photo by Jimmie Hepp   JAWS...1ST BREAK OF 2012    
 
Comments