Tuesday, August 05, 2008


First update. Go the end of the post to read the update and see the new videos.


Jibing on a shortboard ain't an easy task. Specially on choppy waters.
Without having the pretentious goal of being a complete and extensive treatise on the subject, here's a brief list of the three most common mistakes I encounter.

1) Too much weight on the back foot. This is very understandable, since a planing jibe happens at fast speed and it's just scary to lean forward into the turns the first times. As a reaction you tend to lean back, put too much weight on the back foot and slow down the board. Once you lose your speed, you can eventually still close your jibe, but everything will be more difficult. For example, flipping the sail won't feel neutral, like it would if you flip it at full speed.

2) Not sheeting in enough. Sometimes this is caused by not sliding the back hand back on the boom before initiating the jibe. Sometimes it's caused by being overpowered: the better you are, the less sail you need to get planing, so when you're learning you tend to need a little more sail than strictly necessary. Oh, and sometimes it's caused by the fact that... you just forget about it!

3) Bad foot work. I personally believe that jibing switching the feet first (and then flipping the sail) should be illegal. 99% of the students I get have learned this way. The thing is that it's extremely hard to switch your feet without having your board wobble a bit, hence losing that pressure on the inside rail and/or losing the plane. Jibing flipping the sail first (like in the video below) is way more fluid, even though it may seem odd and intimidating at the beginning. Its main difficulty is to achieve that complete independence between upper body (that's flipping the sail) and lower body (that doesn't move an inch and keeps pushing on the inside rail).

One thing that helps a lot is to have a friend filming you from the shore, so that you can look at yourself. If you do so, put the video on youtube and send me the link. I'll be happy to comment it.
Today, after having filmed a bunch of my student's jibes, I had him filming three of my jibes on his gear. video

Flip that sail first you guys!
And learn on a Superfreak... EVERYTHING will be easier. I'm sure that Michael (who's the guy in the top photo that I just stole from Sharon's blog) would agree.
By the way, look at his harness lines...
Without getting to those levels, using too short harness lines (22 and under) is another quite common bad habit. Longer harness lines give more freedom to sheet out when hooked in and can save a few catapults.

The wind in Maui is about to get nuking. Today it wasn't light already, as you can see from the Kanaha Iwindsurf.com graph...

Hopefully we'll have some windswell waves to ride too. Get your small sails ready...

------start of first update--------------------
A reader sent me a little clip with one of his jibes. It's a perfect example of what can go wrong with a feet-switch-first jibe. Despite the fact that the carving, sheeting in and speed are ok, as soon as he switches his feet the board immediately stops. As a result, the sail flip becomes difficult, since sheeting in a sail in strong wind in precarious balance on a small board that has no speed at all is a very difficult task.
Since he said he can do sail-flip-first jibes on the other tack, I suggested him to start trying to flip the sail very early in the jibe (like at the end of sec. 9 of the video) at full speed. Eventually even to try not to switch his feet at all and sail switch stance for a while... If anyone feels like trying this, please make sure to move that sail towards the back of the board once you grab it on the new side, otherwise you may risk some nasty switch stance catapults...
Thanks Benjamin. FYI, you're in good company. I've seen exactly the same mistake thousands of times...


Don't believe me? Here's another one... looks familiar?


Dan Robinson said...

Hey Man,

Been reading through a few of your posts & pictures. Pretty Cool.
I am wondering if you can help me out a little.
What software are you using to edit your gopro footage?
Each time I try to edit my footage using WIndows movie maker I don't seem to have any sound.
Can you flick a few directives if you have the time?

cammar said...

Dan, I use WMM and I always have the sound.
Click on tool-audio levels and make sure that the switch is halfway between the two settings.
If it is, then I would recommend to google "windows movie maker audio problem" or something like that and look for a solution on the net.
Good luck!

Andrew C said...

About to get nuking? Wow, we are here on Maui on vacation this week, and yesterday's wind was cranking. Was out at Kanaha on a 75l with 4.1m and way overpowered!

cammar said...

Wait until Friday!
Oh my poor students trying to learn how to jibe... and poor me trying to teach them in these conditions!!!

Michael said...

On the more advanced level, do you see the pros carve jibing or step jibing when hitting wave faces or swell? It seems much more elegant and fun to ride the wave/swell face WITHOUT switching feet first. Thoughts and observations?

For small board sailing (5.5 and below), I'm amazed that many teachers still insist on step jibes...yuck.

Griffin said...

If you don't switch your feet first then you have to deal with sailing switch stance, a very difficult task! The PWA slalom guys all switch their feet first as well so leaving your feet certainly won't help you plane out of the jibe.

cammar said...

jibes on the wave face (in order to catch it) at Hookipa are 99% with the sail-flip-first. IT IS much more elegant.
Slogging jibes on the inside are 100% feet-switch-first. There's no advantage a flipping the sail first if you're not planing and it would be extremely awkward.
Also if when you start the jibe planing, but lose the planing halfway, you have to switch your feet first. You flip your feet first only if you're full speed and planing.

As for the instructors, see my considerations below.

sailing switch stance is a very difficult task, but sailing clew first ain't that easy either.
PWA slalom sailors: when you're racing on a 7.0 cambered sail you ONLY have one option: to switch your feet first. Why? Cambered sails (or big sails in general) are so powerful when sheeted in that if you would flip them first and sheet in switch stance you'd fall most of the times...

Here's a few considerations about teaching jibes.
Most of the times (unfortunately not always) people who want to learn how to jibe on a shortboard have already learned how to jibe on a longboard (at least they should!).
The jibe on a longboard is made by switching your feet first.
That's why when they start trying jibes on a shortboard they automatically switch their feet first... their body is used to that.
The more the try, the more they get used to that and it's hard to make them change.
When I get a jibing student, I ask him for how long he's been attempting to jibe. Then, depending on the answer, I explain that there's two kind of jibes and the advantages/disandvantages of both.
Then I say that I personally think that flipping the sail first is better, but that since he's been trying feet-switch-first for a while, he will actually feel like he will be regressing with his technique and I underline that there's no way in the world that he will master the sail-flip-first technique in just in one lesson.
At that point I let him choose: "shall we work on getting your feet-switch-first jibe better or do you feel like changing everything and entering the new world of the sail-flip-first jibe?"
99% of the times, they're so scared to regress that they prefere to keep working on their feet-switch-first jibe...
Last month instead I had a student (a girl from Slovenia) who chose to switch to the sail-flip-first technique. Clearly she didn't successfully jibe by the end of the lesson. But I met her again after a week and she ran towards me with a huge smile full of stoke:
"Hey GP, thank you so much... I closed ten jibes today! And these jibes are so much more fun!"

In the end, there's not a best option that works for everyone. Students are all different. That's why before I even do the whole speech mentioned above, I just have them show me a few jibe attempts and then I assess what's best for them. If I see that there's hope (like with the Slovenian girl), I push the sail-flip-first jibe. If I see there's no hope, I may not even do the speech!
Teaching windsurfing... a very psychological job. Love it.

Sharon said...

God-maybe I just stick to waterstarting.....

Visir said...

Surfando in questo mare digitale ho incrociato la tua tavola da blog.
Non ti conosco, non so nulla di te, leggo poco e male l'inglese, ma mi piace la tua storia.
Tutti vorrebbero lasicare un lavoro aberrante per seguire le onde dell'oceano, tu l'hai fatto quindi: si può fare.


cammar said...

Sharon, finally the subtle subliminal message contained in this long post arrived to its recipient...
Just kidding!!!

Visir, tu e i tuoi amici state fuori come citofoni!
Ebbene si, si puo' fare...

Anonymous said...

Switch the feet first! Tough thing for people learning to jibe to do but it is proper technique. For confidence sake any completed jibe is a good thing when learning. But once you make them consistently you should be accelerating clue first after the foot switch and then flipping the sail. Even on wave faces.

cammar said...

I take your good point about the confidence building for jibe newbies.
But please, not on the wave face were a more advanced sailor is supposed to jibe!

Anonymous said...


I forced myself to learn jibing by flipping the sail first. As you say feels awkward at first, but makes for a smoother jibe. Some would say it's old school, and very few jibe articles even discuss it. It was interesting to see your take on it.
Btw has anyone figured out what happened to the trades this summer?
El Nina , Global warming?

cammar said...

Whatever it was (I say was, because right now the trades are back to the usual ugly strength and gustiness), god bless it!
Strong winds are waaaay overrated. I'll take light winds forever.
..specially if you're trying to learn something...
Unless, of course, you're Ricardo Campello trying to learn the triple forward

3sheets said...


I'm learning to jibe and switching my feet first. A few times I've "accidentally" flipped the sail first and planed out of the turn better, but then my front foot ends up at a weird angle and stuck in the footstrap switch stance--and then I crash.

Any suggestions? Thanks.

cammar said...

just leave that foot in the footstrap and sail the whole reach switch stance... :)
I'm kidding, but not so much. Sailing switch stance is a great exercise to train that independance between upper and lower body, every freestyler will agree.
But sooner or later you have to take that foot out of the footstrap.
Suggestions? Let's see...
1) Practice on the beach. If you don't have steady wind enough to do a simulation holding the sail, find a tree or a wall or something to lean against and just practice with the board only twisting your body and leaning against the tree.
Even if the angle is weird it is possible to take that foot out of the footstrap and once you learn it's pretty easy.
2) Maybe your footstraps are too loose or too tight? Play around with that a bit. Your toes should be all the way out on the other side of the strep when the foot is in.

pao said...

I saw the light!
I've attempted for 2 days sail first since reading your post.
I'm hugely nearer closing a planing jibe.

Thanks Gianpaolo.
Remember that I owe you a beer, when you come back to Italy :-)