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99 Ways to Get and Stay Upwind

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Joined: 12 Dec 1999
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:26 pm    Post subject: 99 Ways to Get and Stay Upwind Reply with quote

To avoid polluting that other thread, Iíll respond in this new thread to coachgís suggestions on the broader topic of getting/staying upwind.

In that other thread on HOW to tack shortboards, coachg wrote:

I see lots of other methods of getting up wind by people like you who canít tack. Here is the list I've seen, many of which I'm sure you have already done many times.

A) Drop in the water & swim your gear if the tide is not that strong.

B) Wade through the muck or rocks if the water is shallow enough.

C) Walk of shame.

D) watch other people sail until the tide changes or wind picks up to accommodate your limited skills.

F) Drive to a different location.

I'm sure I have missed some other techniques you have used. These are just the ones I have observed non-tackers using. Coachg

A. HELL, yes. Beats the pants off slogging a small sinker and a 4.2 in 4 mph breezes. Better yet, if I see it coming and am upwind when the wind pukes, I may just sit on my board and run straight downwind for a mile to shore. Itís when I get caught downwind that I prefer swimming to the isometric hula, especially when I canít even fly the sail. Riding swell, including occasional planing, while sitting on your ass is fun and saves energy, and if the wind picks up you can just pop to your feet on a plane. I believe in letting Mother Nature do much of the grunt work while I skim off the fun.

B/C. Rocks and muck Ö or flat sandy bottom and waist-deep water. I prefer the latter, and it affects my choices of venue, gear, techniques, and precautions, as mentioned below.

D. Why on earth would I want to be on the water if conditions are significantly outside my skill (or interest) range? 10 mph sucks and 60 mph at sea level is dangerous. (Are you implying your skills are UNlimited? The only person Iíve heard imply that was Ken Winner, when he told me he had mastered it all and was giving up WSing for kiting.)

F. Another HELL, yes. Why launch into crappy conditions when there are FAR better conditions one or forty miles down the road? Thus the extremely common midday mass migrations from the Hatch to Dougs on windy days, for example. I know many sailors who sail 3 or even 4 sites on one day to grab great sessions, and driving past a dozen sites to find good conditions is very common because it often really pays off. Iím retired, dude; I donít HAVE to sail $#!++y conditions, and every site on the Columbia (and many other lakes and seashores) is different from the next.

Thatís 4 ways. We got 95 to go.

OK, OK Ö all I got is the following 30; you guys will have to contribute the other 65.

5. Bigger board and/or sharper rails.

6. Larger (in area), more upright, thicker, and/or longer fin with a straighter leading edge. Buy or borrow a variety of fins and learn first hand which ones are suitable for a session, a venue, and your priorities. They make a huge difference. They cost less than a pizza at Hood River swap meets.

7. And/or learn to drive your small wave board and fin combination upwind better. I hear it often: ďBut Iím on a sinker; they wonít go upwind.Ē

BS. (I wonít count this towards the 99.)

8. Rig a bigger sail. Itís often worth more than fin or board in getting upwind. I routinely gain a kilometer of ground upwind (by Google Earth, at various low-to-no-current Gorge locations and in New Mexico lakes) in three reaches connected by jibes when powered up properly on a sinker wave board and wave or B&J fin. Thatís part of recovering from downwind riffs of one or two kilometers. Compared to that, what difference do a few meters (if that, assuming both jibes and tacks are a sure thing) make in getting/staying upwind in any venue other than a crowded surf competition lineup? (#7 is a prime example of one disadvantage of rigging for efficiency.)

9. Learn to sail powered way up, so you can confidently rig big enough to rip upwind and downwind at Will (just donít hit him.)

10. Learn to read the proper board and sail sizes more accurately for each session (I very often see good sailors rigging little over HALF the proper size). Then Ö

11. Walk, slog, swim, and/or butt-sail to the windline rigged properly for the sailing zone.

12. The minute you hit the windline, hook in and rip high upwind. I.e., put some ground in the bank.

13. Stay upwind for a few reaches to evaluate the wind and your kit.

14. Know the forecasts and the usual local daily cycles of that venue, and look for clues in the sky upwind. Ordinary clouds are way overrated, but T-storms can make or break the wind by 100% Ö effectively hundreds of percent if they change the direction from sideshore to offshore and cut the speed from 30 to 3 mph.

15. Only when confident in the wind and our gear selection should we take off downwind, and it still fools us all too often.

16. Know your siteís topographical wind holes and peaks. Many remain consistent over a wide range of wind directions, yet still suck people in every day who arenít paying attention or donít ask.

17. Learn to pinch higher and faster. Guy Cribb is one good source for that.

18. Learn to jump and play while climbing upwind without losing ground, so you arenít forced downwind in search of fun in iffy conditions. (E.g., You can jump and land planing pointed WAY above a beam reach.)

19. Learn tighter, faster jibing techniques. Even jibing from a beam reach can be done with only tens of feet of ground lost, and it can get most mortals upwind faster than the handful of tacks Iíve seen in the Gorge (but then I havenít sailed the Hatcheryís Kodak Point recently). The slight extra ground lost in a tight jibe is more than made up by planing through the jibe instead of stalling and having to start over in a tack.

20. Learn to swerve upwind -- as though preparing to tack at flat-out speeds -- but instead jibe above a beam reach. It costs virtually no ground, tames extreme wind gusts with timing instead of effort, and is a major KITA.

21. Pay close attention to the windspeed envelope Ö its reach-to-reach average speed trend. If it backs off and fits any expectations, get your butt upwind or to shore. E.g., if your spot often pukes at midday or near dusk, and you see/feel the wind backing off then, REACT as appropriate. Donít just stand there until itís too late. The difference can be a major swim.

22. Know your siteís current variations. My usual site has two fairly consistent upstream flows/eddies near jetties which are stronger than and oppose the open riverís current. They can either help or hinder our objectives at the moment. Even outside those eddies, including many ocean shorelines, there are zones of less or greater current such as riptides. Position yourself to use or avoid them, depending on your goal.

23. Read the water. If heading into a wind hole as you approach shore, turn around early to stay powered up so you can point higher.

24. In slight currents such as wider/deeper parts of the Columbia or near slack tide in a bay, visually line up a near and distant pair of fixed objects to gauge your progress. This makes an otherwise imperceptible current slightly useful if you can find a zone thatís flowing upwind, if only slowly. However, if thereís enough wind to plane, pinching usually trumps drift in a slow current.

25. If an upwind current is strong enough to help but the wind wonít let you plane, use those sight lines to decide which gets you upwind faster Ö slogging, or hiding in the water to minimize exposure of your kit to the breeze. Even a slightly exposed sail can make a significant difference in your drift direction and rate.

26. Know your sitesí walks of shame. In or out of the water, some are very difficult, some are pleasant strolls, and knowing the difference can highly influence your motivation to stay upwind and how you get back upwind if walking is an option. I prefer strolling to slogging ALL to hell.

27. In coastal riptides on highly gusty shorelines, for example, carrying assembled WSing gear upwind is a nightmare even on a nice beach. It becomes a simple stroll if your beach extends into the ocean even just 10 meters without shorepound, rocks, or ankle deep water. Just walk out to flat water a little over fin/calf deep, set your board on the water, grab the mast somewhere, and walk upwind almost effortlessly.

28. Walk upwind before launching, if itís an easy walk and provides a significant advantage. This is especially rewarding if it avoids shoreline obstacles.

29. In stronger Bay or river upwind currents but with sub-planing winds, use your head and the current rather than muscle power. I.e., sit on your board or lie in the water and drift upwind rather than busting your butt slogging for no advantage. Again, let Mother Nature do the grunt work.

30. If you canít jibe yet, you can always do what many of us did at that stage: jump in the water, turn around, and waterstart.

31. Donít do what I see MANY otherwise very good sailors do season in and season out with no attempt to improve: bear off, run straight downwind for dozens of yards (Iíve seen >100 yards) until they come to a stop, then manhandle the sail around, then start all over from scratch. Theyíd lose much less ground with #30.

32. Some people claim they can slog a sinker upwind (Robby Naish once said he couldnít, and Iíd like to see anyone with advanced Meniereís disease do it).

33. If all else fails, try a different launch site or even a different body of water. Shoreline topography and/or wind direction can make a huge difference in sailing conditions including the ease of staying upwind.

34. Oh, yeah Ö some sailors tack. Its pros and cons were beaten to death a year or two ago. More recently, Manuel initiated a thread full of stoke and technique for folks who are interested in tacking. This doesnít belong in that how-to thread, and considering the slight advantage it might provide compared to the thousands of meters these other 33 or the mythical 99 techniques offer, it still looks like a freestyle trick, walks like a freestyle trick, and quacks like a freestyle trick. Not saying it CANíT offer an edge, but Iíve never personally seen one used to get upwind. The few Iíve seen were jibeatorium tricks.

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Joined: 28 Sep 1994
Posts: 1076

PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rig big..Go down wind to get up wind...twist your hips and lean forward...point your toes to rail the leeward of the board....make short sappy turns...
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Joined: 21 Dec 2008
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Location: The eye of the universe, Cen. Cal. coast

PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, snap gybes, are almost as good as anything else.
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Joined: 02 May 2000
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Location: Jersey Shore

PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The best way to stay upwind is to not let yourself end up downwind in the first place (sometimes easier said than done).

Use a landmark on the beach (radio tower, water tower, building, etc.) to guage your position. If you start slipping downwind, then it's time to focus on pointing upwind (no jumping, no slashing, etc., get the rig raked back, hike hard and get yourself going upwind). If you are trying to stay upwind and find that it isn't working, then you need to bail early and head back to the beach before your 50 yard walk becomes a half mile hike.

Learn how to read the wind speed on the water. Gusts will allow you to point higher - take advantage of them. Lulls will force you to bear off in order to stay on plane. If the majority of your time is spent only marginally planing, then you are likely to start slipping downwind and won't be able to make up the ground. Time to bail and reassess the situation and your gear.

Sail powered up. A slightly bigger board, fin, and/or sail will keep you powered up which makes staying upwind easy. Learn how to properly tune and handle your equipment so you don't get worked over in the gusts when sailing with bigger gear.

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