Practice for the real thing

Severne Team Rider and International coach Simon Bornhoft have helped thousands of recreational sailors to get into or improve their wave sailing skills on his Windwise courses. So if you’re on the cusp of venturing into any wave environment here are some skills that can be learned on flat water and transferred into the rough stuff. Follow these wise words to increase your enjoyment and success rate in 2022!

Obviously, if you’ve also got yourself a Dyno then you couldn’t be better placed to start your adventure into the third dimension. Ranging from 85-125L there’s a board size for everyone.

Photography: Windwise & Louis-arnaud Lavasier

Who’s it for?

  • Are you moving onto smaller boards and looking to gain confidence?
  • Are you an intermediate sailor looking to move into rougher conditions and try waves? 
  • Are you an intermediate-advanced sailor wanting to move your level up in waves? 
  • Do you want skills you can master on flat water and then transfer into the waves?

Then this is for you…

Dyno Freewave Set Up 

Thrusters & Inboard Straps: Easy getting going, extra manoeuvrability, and ease in waves.

Boom & Footstraps: Drop the boom slightly compared to freeriding and loosen those inboard straps. 

When you watch videos or live action of competent wave sailors, it looks like they just nip out, jump over the waves, turn round and ride them back in. In reality, riding a wave is actually far easier than gybing, what is tricky is some of the unseen and often overlooked skills that you need to control and position the board in tricky situations. So over the next few features, we’ve going to give you some Windwise wave skills that will make your whole experience so much better. 

For this issue, we’ll show you some underrated exercises you can learn on flat water and transfer into your wave sailing. The quotes are feedback from real windsurfers who went from trepidation to triumph in the waves. 

This is for you

  • How to ‘Warrior’ Uphaul a smaller board to cope with marginal conditions and safety.
  • How to ‘Hover’ in preparation for catching a wave.
  • How to gain control and steer out of the harness and in the straps, off the plane.

SKILLSWISE WAVE SAILING 1:  Warrior Uphaul Reminder

“I didn’t realize how little wind there was between waves, I often couldn’t get planing going out or waterstart before the next wave got me.”

It could be 4.5m weather, but between waves, you can easily be underpowered. This is especially true in cross-on or cross-off shore conditions, where the wave acts as a slight wind barrier. It’s very common to have difficulty flying the rig to waterstart. Also, if the rig is lying downwind of the board it’s far quicker to uphaul than swimming the rig round before the next wave hits you. So it’s well worth practicing our short board ‘Warrior’ uphaul to get you away quicker, reduce kit breakages and avoid the walk of shame.

Warrior Short board Uphaul 

I know we mentioned this in the last feature, but make this part of your wave sailing plan.  Remember, standing on a board across the wind, feet either side of the mast base, ‘like a beginner’ is simply not going to work. So align the board more into the wind to ensure that the rig comes out of the water from the rear to the front of the board, which helps to sheet the rig in more easily and means any swell or small waves don’t hit the board side on. 

Most importantly, adopt our Windwise ‘Warrior’ stance = wide foot spread – ‘looking and leaning’ over a heavily flexed front knee with your chin on your forward shoulder horizon gazing for extra stability. Try to avoid looking at your hands when you grab the boom. 


“It was harder than I thought to actually catch a wave.”

In the YouTube perfect world, you effortlessly plane onto the swell and off you go down the line. But if you miss the wave, the wind is light or the waves aren’t that regular you often end up having to stop or wait and try to catch the next one.

Hover Out Of Straps & Harness

This is the basic hovering position version where you turn the board upwind, heavily tilt the windward rail and keep the front arm extended to oppose mast/rig for counterbalance.  When doing this, apply pressure on your front foot to keep the windward rail locked down and track upwind waiting for a wave to form behind you. 

Warrior Hover Out Of Straps & Harness 

If you need to ramp it up when driving smaller boards upwind or cope with choppy conditions and that submarine feeling, switch into an accentuated Warrior mode. Exaggerate looking and leaning over the front knee and force the rig right back to create a stronger locked in counter balance for trickier situations. 

Flat Water Stalling ‘Try to avoid this!’

The downside of hovering ‘out’ of the straps is there’s still a lot to do as the wave approaches. So you’ll see people trying to hover or balance IN the straps, but the tail often sinks. This reduces the chance of catching a wave and it’s also a real energy burner. So we’re going to show you how you can learn to master hovering IN the straps and keep the board flat, to save energy and make sure you’re ready to catch that wave.

Warrior Hover In The Straps Upwind (image sequence. Use arrows to navigate)

If you’re trying to hold your ground upwind it’s vital to shift the hands forward, lean really far forward, in Warrior, to keep small boards flat and stable. You’re then poised and ready to go when the swell comes from behind. This is also a very transferable skill to maintain speed and balance on a slack slow wave, so get amazing at it.

Simon Says
“On my Dyno, I’ll set the footstraps forward inboard and have them really loose so that I can get my feet right the way in, which makes all of this so much easier.”

Warrior Hover Harness & Straps

A natural extension of this hovering technique, and an energy saver, is to do it in the harness as well. Whilst it initially feels quite contorted, the Warrior hover will help keep smaller boards flat when they’re barely planing. Plus it will save your arms just before a wave picks you up. 

Hover In The Straps Downwind

Conversely, if you feel you need to head downwind and catch a wave and you’re off the plane, you can learn to stay in the straps without the tail sinking. To do this, massively accentuate ‘opposition’ by forcing the rig forward to counter balance your weight on the tail. Adopt an upright tight torso 7 stance, with all the weight on the front foot, and expressively force the mast arm forward, to put pressure down through the mast base. 

SKILLSWISE WAVE SAILING 3: Steering Out Of The Harness In The Straps

“I didn’t realize that you can’t or don’t want to blast between the waves, you need to stay on the wave, often out of the harness, even when under powered?” If you hook in and blast normally, you’ll easily zoom ahead or miss the wave entirely and probably stall on the wave in front. The secret, once you’re on the wave, is to unhook from the harness and ride along the length of the wave either upwind or downwind, not straight ahead! Sailing upwind (backside riding) is a bit like going into a tack, sailing downwind (front side riding) like going through a gybe. It’s easier when you have the speed to steer in the straps, but so often you’ll find yourself underpowered or needing to steer in tricky situations, whilst still in the straps. So it is so worthwhile learning it on flat water first.  

Simon Says
“As ever, use our Windwise Warrior ethos to help create counter balance and a really purposeful stance, using vision to spot the wave and lead the board where you want it to go.” 

Flat Water Steering Upwind In The Straps (image sequence. Use arrows to navigate)

Shift your hands forward on the boom, force the rig back as the body leans forward heavily in Warrior, pulling down on the mast hand for extra stability. To then turn off the wind, draw the rig forward and adopt a more upright 7 stance. 

Flat Water Steering Downwind In The Straps (image sequence. Use arrows to navigate)

Shift the hands back on the boom, force the rig forwards and out of the turn as the body leans, heavily in Warrior, into the turn. Pull in and down hard on the clew hand for extra stability, like you’re talking into a microphone.

So time to try these skills to prepare yourself for all the waves in 2022! 

What’s Next?

Enjoy getting to work on these skills, re-think your strategy when sailing on flat water. In our next Windwise Dyno feature we’ll go into full Flat Water Wave Riding Training at planing speed, but if you work on this skill first you’ll learn much faster.

As ever any questions and we’d love to see you on a Windwise session in 2022!

2022 Windwise Winds Of The World Tour Dates Announced!

Improve your windsurfing and try some Severne gear?

Freeride + Freewave + FoilWise

Tenerife Freewave 5-12th Feb

Bonaire Freeride 10-19th March 

Bonaire Freeride 19-27th March

Bonaire Freeride 9-16th April

Alacati Freeride 11-18th June

Alacati Freeride 18th – 25th June

Prasonisi Freeride 9-16th July 

Prasonisi Freeride & Foil 24th Sept – 1st Oct

Prasonisi Freeride & Foil 1st – 8th Oct

Mauritius Freewave 15th-22nd Oct

Mauritius Freewave 22nd – 30th Oct

Tenerife / Bonaire / Alacati / Prasonisi / Mauritius

Copyright: Simon Bornhoft Windwise 2022

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