Maneuvers and self made

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Planing is usually a point of no return in windsurfing... If you have had the patience to overcome the first difficulties and learn the basic maneuvers, the thrill of planing will make you definitely addicted to this sport. So, let us understand how to achieve and maintain this magic mood.


Windsurf theory - Planing

After posting the articles on fast tack, power jibe, and waveriding, we dedicate this article to a fundamental windsurf technique.

I often hear beginners, or little more than such, say they got planing for 10 seconds ...... But are we sure? Or, have they only experienced the emotion of a momentary acceleration?

So let's clear, first of all, what planing is (from a physical point of view), trying not to be too much complicated. If you want to bypass the theoretical explanation, skip directly the part in italics that follows.

Planing occurs when the windsurf board does not float on the water just because of the Archimedes strengh, but when, while striking the water as it goes forward, the board receives an upward push by the water (as well as a resistance strengh to the progression, called friction), which adds to Archimedes force (the latter actually becomes negligible, especially at high speeds). The origin of this new thrust is to be serched in the wind energy that is transmitted from the sail to the board, which (being almost unable to drift because of the resistance due to the fin and the shape of the board itself) proceeds forward, progressively gaining speed. Advancing, the board impacts on the water that partially moves. Part of the impact energy remains "trapped" (because of the forces with which the bodies interact) between the board and the water (you can imagine there is a kind of spring between them), and then return to the board by lifting it. This is the result of what is called 3rd Newton's Law (also known as the principle of action and reaction) in physics, according to which if a body applies a force to another body, the latter reacts with an equal and contrary force to the first.


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If the board speed is sufficiently high, the reaction force generated is such as to lift the board definitely from the water, so that the board rides almost exclusively on the stern. In this way, moreover, by reducing the board surface in contact with water, the friction force, which would tend to slow down the board, is also greatly reduced. Therefore, the board acquires even more speed, emerging even more from the water. The extreme example of the application of these principles are the foil boards, which are now being seen in the spots more and more often.

The result, then, is that you are sailing at full speed, with the board bouncing on the water, being immersed roughly by half, or when you go really fast, just with the stern. 




Once made this theoretical introduction, let us now explain how we get and keep the planing.

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In a few words, except in special spots where the wind is really steady, you will ride by drawing an S-shaped route, pointing on wind in the gusts, and bearing away in the lulls. Route changes should not be sharp and rough, as if you wanted to tack or jibe, but they should be timely.

Before closing this article, a last tip for the correct straps setting. This is a fundamental thing that can change the quality of your sessions. So, do not be rough about this. Personally, I think the straps are right adjusted and tightened, when the foot can enter just beyond the fingers. They should not be so large that the foot can slip into, and the strap can touch the ankle. In the latter case, you will find difficult to properly charge on the board with your heels (because the foot will end up in a too central position on the board); you will also have difficulty in maneuvering, as it will be easier to get the foot stuck in the straps when you try to pull it off (especially for the front one), before tacking or jibing. So whether you wear your surf shoes or not, always spend two minutes to fix the straps correctly before you start the session (or, do it in the water if you realize that you're not correctly trimmed from this point of view).


Hang loose. Fabio

Read also the guide to beginners for equipment choice.


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