Getting into the Straps:

Your sailing position

by: Marc A. Lefebvre

Getting into the straps may be one of the most fundamental skills besides harness use to get the most out of your windsurfing experience. This not only will allow you to be faster but will also give you more control over your board in a variety of conditions. Getting there depends on two main factors, the wind and your sailing position. Your sailing position of course will help you get the most out of the wind conditions.

When trying to get to that optimal sailing position you are going to need to play with your set-up (mast position and harness position and length) to try to end up with your feet next to the straps. This means your back foot should be next to or on top of the rear strap, perpendicular to the board, and your front foot should be out on the windward rail next to (in front of) the front strap pointing forward (about 45 degrees). Once you can do this it will take minimal effort to slip into the straps.

Before any of this can happen you must be doing the following things to ensure success:

  1. Sailing fast enough on a plane to allow you to move back on the board.
  2. Sailing sheeting in enough to sail on a plane and leaning out over the water.
  3. Sailing with your weight committed to the harness so that your front foot can be on the windward rail and you are not rounding up into the wind.

With these three points, you will be ready to get into the straps.

Here are some common problems and solutions to your set-up:

  1. Sinking the tail when moving back into the straps. This is commonly caused by not going fast enough or on a plane. You must be planing or about to get onto a plane to get into the straps. If you're not planing work on that, not getting into the straps. A common tip to get yourself planing in minimal conditions would be to pump and hang from the booms. If you are planing and this still happens you need to sheet in more so that you can commit more weight to the booms and not the board.
  2. Always rounding up when getting into the straps. This can be caused by having too much weight on the board and not on the booms. You will need to hang from the boom through your harness or your arms. Be careful not to put a lot of weight on the windward rail, this too will cause you to round up into the wind. Also committing more of your body out over the water while pointing your toes will reduce the tendency of the board to round up.
  3. The board feels like it's out of control, like you are going to fly off of it. Well, my friends, this is a state that some people like and some people don't. In this overpowered condition you can reduce your speed by either heading up a little into the wind or sheeting out by pulling the front of the boom towards you rather than pushing out with the back of your boom. In really powered-up conditions most people will move right into the straps and get there in a split second before coming up on a plane. This is because they know there is plenty of wind to get there.

The bottom line is not how to get into the straps but how to attain the correct sailing position. Once you're there this will allow you to move your feet around the board while maintaining speed. If you're hanging from the booms, fully sheeted in with your body out over the water, you should be flying and in the straps. Once you are in the straps you will be able to handle heavier wind and bigger waves. Your next step, chop hopping and jumping waves. So good luck and work on that sailing position.

Marc A. Lefebvre (