Get your settings right

Windwise coach and Severne Team Rider, Simon Bornhoft, continues his quest to help you get the most out of your precious time on the water and your kit. For this feature we continue our ‘Hang In There’ harness line series, looking at different disciplines and styles in windsurfing and drawing on the speedy talents of Team Severne top riders.

For this feature we’ll discover;

  • How Team Severne pros set their harness lines for Slalom / Freeride
  • How you should set your harness lines for Slalom or Freeride blasting

Read on to answer all these questions and more….

In Part 3: We’ll look at Freestyle + Waves + Foiling

How To Set Harness Lines For Different Disciplines 

If you put all the top sailors (and coaches) in a room and asked them to agree on the best way to set harness line length and ideal position, it would end up in one giant knot! There are many kit variables, sailor statures, ‘personal preferences and styles’. In a typical year, I jump on hundreds of rig set ups of different level, stature and ability of sailors. And yes, there’s no doubt that between disciplines and kit styles, harness lines set ups will vary, but ultimately we all want them to do the job of controlling the rigs power, sheeting it in and saving our arms from fatigue.

Considering how much time we spend in them, it’s vital to understand the differences in line set up and learn what’s right for you and your kit selection. So, don’t just copy someone else! You wouldn’t wear the same size T-shirt as your windsurfing idol if it didn’t fit you! So, ‘wise up’ and get them right for you, with how and why Pro’s and recreational sailors adapt and tune to different conditions and kit. 

Slalom / Racing / Freeride Blasting

Lets kick off with the flying Italian, Matteo Lachino, and the powerhouse blaster from Bonaire, Amado Vrieswijk. 

Sailor: Matteo Iachino

Style: Race + Slalom catch him if you can!

Severne Lines: Adjustable 26-32″

I use adjustable SV 26-32″ lines in lighter conditions when I’m using my 9.0 HG4 / 8.6 Mach4 and 7.8 Mach4 rigs.

Severne Lines: Adjustable 28-34″ & 36/38″ Fixed

Then, when the wind increases I set my booms with longer lines, so 28-34″ adjustable lines for 7m Mach4. When it gets really windy, I’ll go to 36″ fix lines for 6.2m and 5.5m. Sometimes on 5.5m I even use 38″ fixed lines.

What About Tuning?

I don’t really measure them exactly, I’m an unusual slalom rider on this, I’m not super precise, I feel better just sailing out and feeling how comfortable I get with different lengths. I’ve sailed for so long I just feel it if I need a little longer or shorter line to suit the conditions. 

Shorter lines give more power and lift while longer lines give you a comfortable lower body position, with more room for the legs to move so you can read and steer the board over chop and waves without losing control and contact with the water. For ease of adjustment along with the boom, I set them a little loose so they don’t move alone, but I can still slide them with one hand. I sail and adjust them to the conditions, stopping a second to fine tune and get the maximum performance out of the rig and work on sheeting the rig in.

Now lets hear from the Bonaire blaster Amado Vrieswijk…

Pic Amado Vrieswijk

Sailor: Amado Vrieswijk

Style: Race/Slalom/Fast Blasting

Severne Lines: Adjustable 28-34cm Adjustable

I use adjustable 28-34″ SV lines for my all my slalom sails and booms. (In comparison Amado uses 30″ fixed lines on his freestyle and wave kit.)

How do you measure and set up your lines?

In lighter winds I’ll set the lines slightly shorter and in strong winds I’ll set the lines longer, so about a 2-4cm difference. If we’re racing say on a 7.8m slalom set up and the wind gets really stronger I’ll make the lines longer to help with controlling the gear, gusts and rough water, enabling me to sail faster for longer.  If the wind gets lighter I’ll shorten the lines to adopt a more upright stance.

How do you position them on the boom?

I normally set my harness lines in the ‘centre of effort’, so when sailing if I let go of the boom the sail should stay neutral. If there’s a lot of backhand pressure, I’ll slide the lines a bit further more back, we’re talking about a 1-2cm. In the light winds or if I feel I’m over sheeting, I’ll bring them forward again.

So how do we translate this into recreational blasting or weekend racers wanting to fine tune?


Racers like Matteo & Amado, want and need to feel marginal changes in the wind and also accommodate more varied and deeper sailing angles upwind and downwind. So they will often leave a little more power adjustment on the clew arm to make micro sheeting changes to suit their sailing lines. Plus, full race and slalom set up is always super loaded for maximum speed. Basically if they’re not on the edge, then they’re not in the game. Where as for most Freeride blasting up and down across the wind, we just need the rig locked in solid, easy to handle and not too sensitive or unstable.

When you’re out blasting and just going fast, be that on Freeride kit or slalom gear, the focus is on creating maximum drive and, crucially, sheeting the rig in. As Matteo and Amado have described, pro sailors tend to just know what they like and get a feel for the rig and quickly notice the nuances in wind changes and board trim. Unless you’re super strong, or doing micro sheeting adjustments for top racing performance, you want the harness lines doing the work for you and most importantly sheeting the rig in through body weight/position, not arm strength. You want your legs, lower body and harness to be doing the work!

Here’s some help to get your Fast Freeride / Slalom set up working for you.

If you’re blasting fast, you want your harness to be really snug to the body, so that when you move weight down into the harness or have to adjust your body position there’s a direct response and you maintain total control of the rig. If the harness is set too loose, or the spreader bar is riding up, you’ll have less control at speed and it will damage your stance. If this is a constant issue or you like a really ‘seated position’, it’s worth trying a SV CRM seat harness for fully locking down powered up rigs. If you do this, then you may find you (counter intuitively) need a slightly shorter (1-2cm) your harness line compared to a waist harness.

Harness Line Set Up & Tuning Guide

I get clients to use this method to develop a feel for harness line settings actually on the water, it’s simple and teaches you where the ‘centre of effort’ is and how to then fine tune to suit your style.

Blast along in the straps, slide your rear-hand/thumb to TOUCH the REAR harness line. If the clew lifts, the sail opens or you feel unstable, it could well mean your lines are in the wrong place.

If the apex of the harness line is angled towards the tail or you feel you have to quickly move the backhand back down the boom or you’re constantly sailing with your rear hand well down the boom, then your harness lines are most likely too far forward. So move both lines towards to clew (1-2cm at a time), until you can sail with your rear hand close enough to touch the rear harness line (with an out stretched thumb). Sometimes you might sail with the backhand further down the boom, but you should be able to blast comfortably with your rear hand within light touching distance of the rear harness line. The front hand sits between the mast and front harness line.

Once you have set your lines, you’ll then be free to move your back hand around on the boom and the sail will still remain comfortably sheeted in. If you constantly find the rear hand is well down the boom, then the lines need shifting back slightly. If the mast arm pulls, then shift them forward slightly.

** It’s worth noting that on` camber induced rigs the lines will be set marginally further forward than a rotational sail as the power is locked in further forward.

Why Do I Accidentally Hook Out?

Particularly when full tilt in chop, you’ll hear people say, the harness line ‘jumped out’. In reality this due to pulling on your arms and momentarily taking the tension off, which instantly causes the line to drop out. If the body remains truly weighted in the harness, it’s impossible to ‘accidentally’ unhook. However, if you harness lines are overly long this will increases the chance of this happening, so try shortening them and also making sure your harness is tight enough.

Are my lines too long if I hook in mid gybe?

This has nothing to do with harness line length or position, it’s simply due to over bending your mast arm and getting too close to the boom during the foot change and rig rotation. So a ‘wise’ tip is to make sure you extend the mast arm, just before, during and after the foot change.

When To Move Your Lines Back (slightly)

  • Constantly pulling on clew/rear hand.
  • Rear hand is placed well down the boom.
  • If you raise the boom – lines go back slightly.
  • Over powered – lines go back slightly.
  • You are struggling to sheet the rig in or keep control.
  • You want more drive and speed.
  • You’re sailing upwind for a long period of time.
  • You use the same boom on a larger sail.
  • If you switch from a slower freewave/wave board to a faster Freeride / slalom board.

When To Move The Lines Forward (slightly)

  • Constantly pulling on your front/mast hand.
  • You want a more on-off sensitive feeling from the rig.
  • The wind is light and there’s a risk of over sheeting.
  • If you lower the boom, slide the lines forward.
  • You use the same boom on a smaller sail.
  • You’re switching the same rig to a slower more inboard footstrap style board.

Are My Lines Too Long?

  1. Constantly dropping out of the line.
  2. Arms hurting despite harnessing.
  3. Sailing very hunched all the time.
  4. Make sure your harness is done up tight enough, especially for freeride blasting.

Are My Lines Too Short?

  1. Feel like you’re getting catapulted.
  2. You can’t extend away from the rig.
  3. Hard to hook in.
  4. Your arms are constantly bent.

Next Issue

We’ll take look at how Wave & Freestyle harness line set ups to Freeride / Slalom set ups. So expect to see longer fixed length lines and further forward on the boom and once again with more insight from the Severne Team top riders.

Pic Want More Photos & Detail On Harness Line Length?

For even more details on how you set and fine-tune your lines, check this out to fill in any questions you still might have.

Also check out…

Hang In There Part 1: All You Need To Know About Harness Lines

Ask Simon

If you have any questions about your harness lines or other aspects of your windsurfing, you can ask Simon @ Also worth joining a skill enhancing Windwise experience to get the most out of your time on the water and try some stunning Severne kit under the guidance of your personal coach!

Windwise Winds Of The World Tour 2022

Freeride + Freewave + FoilWise

Tenerife / Bonaire / Alacati / Prasonisi / Mauritius + Australia + More 

Copyright: Simon Bornhoft Windwise 2021

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