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"THE BEST JIBE TIP I EVER GOT" by Mike Fick
a world-class expert at jibes. Missing them, that is. When I was trying
to learn to jibe, none of our regular local sailors could jibe, and extensive
travel failed to find good lessons, videos, or magazine tutorials.
1. Sail "faster than you've ever sailed", 'til your eyes bleed, you pee your pants, and your shadow is two seconds behind you. (If you don't at least feel like you're going that fast, you don't have time to bobble and recover before you coast to a halt. Recovering from bobbles to complete a jibe is a good sign you're developing a feel for jibes, rather than just memorizing the steps.)
2. Bear off, still sheeted in, to gain even more speed and to steer from a beam reach into a very broad reach. (A jibe is a 90-degree turn; you SAIL through the first and last 45-degree segments of the total 180-degree turn.)
3. Move your back hand about a foot farther back on the boom, switch your front grip to palm-up to greatly aid throwing the mast across your face and into the turn, unhook without disturbing the sail, and set your back foot on the lee rail behind the front strap. You are still sheeted in, sailing in a broad reach with your sail foot near the back of your board. (Some expert jibers bear off still hooked in, letting the harness pull them forward into the correct weight-forward position. The few times I've tried it felt good and worked well, but it has obvious hazards.)
Now all in the space of about one or two heartbeats - virtually simultaneously
when possible - point and drive your knees further downwind and into your
turn, curtsey (you never bow; you CURTSEY, dropping your butt down and
forward until your knees are bent at least 90 degrees and you're looking
forward from BELOW the booms; in especially rough water I think and do
a big "Sit"), aggressively move (or let the sail pull) your
weight forward over your toes, thrust and lock your front elbow out straight
as though you were stiff-arming a tackler, tip that front hand (and the
mast) downwind as you bend your back elbow hard to sheet in until your
sail foot nearly brushes your back leg (this oversheeting switches the
power off), and look at the water well out in front of you where you will
exit your jibe (I look at some downwind horizon landmark to gauge my progress
in my turn and time my sail jibe). Your weight is riding evenly on the
ball of your front foot and your flat back/inside foot, so you're not
carving the turn yet.
FRAME: Notice your arm and hand positions. They're cocked as though ready
to fire a bow and arrow at a target downwind of your present path (inside
your turn). Your back hand is cocked near your downwind shoulder as though
it were holding the bowstring and arrow feathers, your front hand is way
out there at full extension holding your bow and supporting the arrow.
own modification helped me time the sail jibe. Rather than simply and
subtly shifting weight to my lee/back foot on the inside rail to initiate
the carve, I shove my hips sideways into the turn HARD -- as though trying
to bump the car door closed while standing beside it with my arms full.
This carves a very tight, smooth turn and puts my body into an excellent
position to exit the turn with full power on the new broad reach, maybe
even automatically hooked and sheeted in if everything falls into place
fact, I consciously and forcefully focus all my power into my hips and
thighs to POWER the board through its carve, then bring the rig with me.
Not to worry; my torso and upper extremities will follow where my hips
lead them . which is why football defensive backs are taught to watch
Try this hip swing, but be forewarned; before you even have time to THINK about jibing the sail, you will whip through the full 180 degrees in two heartbeats, get backwinded, and crash. THAT'S GREAT, because you FINALLY carved (jibed) the board all the way through the turn. Now all you have to do is jibe (flip) your sail and jibe (switch) your feet within that same couple of heartbeats, and you're jibin'! This turns the board so quickly that part of the problem now becomes jibing the sail before the board completes its jibe. Piece 'o cake, if you do it the following way:
5. Just after you shove your hips into the turn, long before you're pointing downwind, the pressure will leave your sail as your fast swerve off the wind generates an apparent vacuum. NOW fire the arrow [i.e., jibe (flip) the sail].
Right here is where millions of carved jibe attempts fail. The magazines once told us to release the back hand, grasp the mast with it, let the wind blow the sail around the mast like a barn door blowing around its hinges as we coast to a slog, and when the sail wanders around far enough we take the new side of the boom and sail away.
BS! That has a MAJOR, fatal, inherent flaw: If you outrun the true wind throughout your jibe, as you should, there won't BE any tailwind to push the sail around. You feel tailwind only after your speed drops below the true wind speed, well on your way to dropping off a plane, at which point you're standing there at zero speed holding a fully powered-up sail. In the 15th century this position was known as a loaded catapult - hence the application of that term to this sport.
The sailor, not the wind, should jibe the sail. We should SPIN that sucker around its natural center like a top, not wait until we slow down so much the tailwind pushes the sail around the mast like a $1,500 barn door. A jibe is a very aggressive mindset and process which WE, not the wind, should control.
This is where "Monte" changed my life, when he said, "THROW, THROW, GRAB, and GO!" Only the sailor can spin the sail inside its boom length; the wind's surely not going to do it. At the hip thrust, just as you feel you and the sail are heading in opposite directions and before your board is pointing at that distant downwind landmark (the end zone goalposts, so to speak), you THROW the back of the boom away like a hot shot-putt. A millisecond later -- way before you complete that first THROW -- you THROW the front of the boom way across your face and past your downwind ear, right into the new very broad reach. This motion of your old front/mast hand is much like throwing a football to a receiver going long into the end zone corner towards which you should exit your jibe. (This is why you inverted the front-hand grip; this second, or mast-hand, throw is much easier and has better follow-through with your palm up. Imagine trying to throw a long pass with your palm on TOP of the football.) The sail spins untouched before your heart beats again, leaving the new side of the boom floating in the air in front of you. GRAB it with both hands and GO (i.e., sheet in and sail away on a screaming broad reach, often sailing faster that you were going before you began the jibe).
WHEN should we jibe the sail/fire the arrow? Just as the old step jibe technique calls for us to step forward at the same time we release the back hand in the old barn-door jibe technique, this technique works best if we jibe the sail as we thrust the hip. The board will turn so fast with this hip thrust that we'd BETTER fire the sail into the turn that soon or it will get left behind.
With luck and minimal practice, you will switch your feet simultaneously within or immediately after the heartbeat in which the sail rotates, and will exit accelerating hard in the new broad reach. You should lose no perceptible speed in the whole process because a) it's all off the wind - the fastest point of sail -- and b) you're coasting unpowered for only a second or two. If I haven't spun the sail by the time I'm pointing downwind towards my landmark, I'm late and must stop the carve and spin the sail NOW, or I'm going to be on the new beam reach before I've jibed the sail, and grabbing a sail at full power on a dying beam reach before getting that back foot strapped in is begging for a tumble.
Jibing quickly like this doesn't give you TIME to hit three rows of swell, lose speed, get nailed from behind by the true wind, and lose your balance or crash. I don't think my sail flip, from throwing the back hand away to sheeting in on the new tack, takes a full second when I do it right. The whole Throw/Throw/Grab/Go business is just one continuous, fluid two-handed sweep of my hands and forearms, as much like a Kung Fu move as I can make it. The same process works for 3.0s and for 6.8s; the 6.8 just takes harder THROWS and takes two heartbeats rather than one.
The first one of those I tried was the greatest revelation and revolution in my windsurfing life. No more barn doors eating up precious seconds, board speed, and two boom-lengths of space while I fight for balance over three rows of chop in a monster tailwind! I must assume this is partly why leading ABK instructors have begun teaching the boom-to-boom approach to jibing.
Oh, yeah -- the feet. My foots is too far from my brain to access and analyze all them komplykated textbook footwork options, let alone access a menu and select and implement a footwork method in mid-jibe. The classic step jibe, for example, requires we pull the front foot mostly out of its strap, twist its heel across the board centerline, shift weight from the back foot on the rail to the front heel across the centerline to maintain the carve, and step forward with the back foot to avoid sinking the tail, all while we do equally complicated things with our hands. That footwork was too demanding for me. Besides, the step jibe's purpose is to get our weight forward to avoid sinking the tail after we slow down, and we want to accelerate, not slow down, in our jibes.
I find it simpler to just take my weight off both feet and switch 'em
simultaneously during any old quarter-second I'm not steering with 'em.
That works at any speed, in any chop or swell, overpowered or underpowered,
planing or slogging, Sunday or Wednesday, before or after the sail jibe,
during any instant I'm not footsteering. If I'm barely planing, I slip
my new front foot further forward on the board, into the step jibe position,
before reapplying weight to it. Unweighing my feet and jibing them simultaneously
sent my jibe success rate way up. It ranges from merely sliding both feet
across the deck on smoother water to hopping a foot off the deck in huge
chop. I'll jibe my feet before, during, or (usually) immediately after
jibing the sail -- whenever it feels natural; no thinking required. In
the GOOD'uns the rig is spinning untouched in mid-air at the same time
I'm spinning in mid-air untouched, and we all meet again in the new broad
reach, at top speed and ready to strap and hook in. In the very best ones
the line and one foot enter the hook and strap automatically.
this all comes together properly, as it did consistently before I lost
an inner ear, and when I'm powered up at full speed, my jibes may go like
If I'm truly powered and wide open, I'll often dispense with all that bearing-off, setting-up business and just jibe from the beam reach. Just Bend Zee Knees, throw the hips, throw the rig, engage the new interfaces, and sail away, and you can jibe from beam-to-beam about as fast as you can say this sentence.
Now that you've got that mastered and are blazing all the way from the old beam reach to the new beam reach with no loss of speed more often than not, add this to the scenario: way, WAY too much power. You're fighting hard yet barely able to stay on the board, way too petrified to even think about bearing off into a jibe . yet the shoreline is approaching and the gust is still building.
solution is to very quickly, from a beam reach:
all this does is:
my bad days, for several reasons, I might still miss many jibes. Here
are my more common errors:
The boom-to-boom sail jibe helps cure the following aborted carved jibe that I see every five seconds at the amateur end of the Gorge's Hatchery: They enter the jibe fast, DELIBERATELY sail off the wind until the board stops planing and the sail yanks their back hand, release the back hand, let the sail take its own sweet time blowing around the mast as the board coasts to a standstill, then grab the new side of the boom and try to get planing again. While that is a jibe, it is NOT a carved, or planing, jibe, by definition. And it's tough to do in big chop. Aggression and commitment are virtually required to carve planing jibes. The wind has already done its job in getting us up to speed; the actual jibe is OUR responsibility, AFTER which the wind comes back into play.
Try this. It sure made my decade.
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