Posted on Aug 25, 2014

“Take me to the river

And wash me down… ”   Al Green

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Over the past few years many of our guests have asked Matt and I to bring our teaching style to the Gorge. Finally this summer we brought our Aloha to ‘The River’ for a four day weekend event. We ran the clinic out of Rowena on a beach front property. The location was superb with ready rigged gear, endless array of boards and sail sizes, rolling greens for rigging with easy access to the water. The beauty of the surroundings painted a perfect backdrop, nestled amongst the towering red hills and the gurgling flow of the current.

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The famous nuking Gorge winds did not rear its head during our long weekend event, but we did have enough wind to work on what needed to be worked on. As far as the teaching side of things go, we prefer no wind in the morning with gently planing winds for the afternoons. This gives us plenty of time to teach properly and for our guest to do their on land simulator work in the morning, non planing winds are useful for further understanding the dynamics of a move that can then be translated into more perfect form in the planing winds later. The real point of a clinic is to absorb as much information and get it grounded into our muscle memory so that when those winds scream back on again we will be able to sail in perfect harmony with the elements.

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When it comes to learning new physical movements or steps there is only one true way to learn them. Slowly and repetitively. Whether it’s martial arts, dance or jibe steps for windsurfing.

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There’s no way anyone would put a solid talented dancer on stage as a back up dancer with Beyonce for one of her shows without first working for hours doing slow step by step practice. Imagine pushing that dancer out on stage in front of millions of people at a concert and just saying to them, “Here’s briefly what you need to do, just follow the others.” It would be a disaster! Even the most talented back up dancer would not be able to stay in sync without the choreographed routine practiced over and over again before the event of a show.

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How is it that windsurfers will start going for jibes in high winds before they’ve spent any real time learning the routine first? Before perfecting basics? Not only is it practically impossible to pull off a move without knowing the mechanics of the footwork, handwork and timing- It’s incredibly dangerous. It’s how things get broken. Either you or the gear.

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A quote from a martial arts guru “Without the foundation arts you have no martial arts.  You only have ego trying to balance on air.”

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Learning to jibe or any other complex windsurfing moves is a routine you must first learn on land. Like for dance or any sports evolving steps, these tips are useful…

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-Perform the same sequence of steps over and over again.

-The more you practice, the better your routine will be.

-It is more important that you be able to correctly perform the routine than learn it quickly.

-Don’t try to memorize the entire routine at once; set a more reasonable pace for yourself.

-A good way to learn is to first watch your teacher demonstrate the steps and then follow along with the teacher as he demonstrates again. Finally, the teacher should allow you to demonstrate the steps on your own, giving suggestions and corrections as needed.

-Good teachers will demonstrate these steps in the first few classes to help instill them in your muscle memory.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

The key to learning any routine is to continue to practice it until you have it memorized.

-At first, it may seem like you cannot remember the steps, but you will improve with time and practice. Set aside a few minutes every day to go over the routine. At home, you can practice by yourself in front of a mirror.

-Not only do you need to remember certain step patterns, you need to remember the order and timing.

Practice every technique you are shown until it becomes second nature, and then some…

And interesting quote from a Tai-Chi instructor:

“Learning is about learning new things and achieving new depth.  Unfortunately, for many people, opportunities to learn are diminished in value when people show up and instead focus on showing that they already know something”-Key to Success: Laughing at Yourself – Having realized that, dive deep into practice, knowing you have nothing real to lose, and everything to gain.

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During our Aloha Clinic we take photos of our guest in the light winds and the planning winds. It’s always interesting how the errors we make in the light winds if not corrected with happen in the high winds. For example here, one of our guest continues to reach over hand when he flips the sail in the non-planing conditions. This causes him to stand up during his planing jibes as well as make it difficult to reach far enough down the boom on the new side of the sail causing the sail to fall back and weight the back of the board- Instant stop…

Incorrect light wind practice

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Things that can Happen:= Lost of mast-foot-pressure- and sinking the back of the board (just slightly for a second)- The board veers out of the turn and upwind. Making it hard to plane out of jibes especially in light winds.  Also-If you don’t reach underhand it’s hard to reach far enough down the boom when grabbing the other side of the sail. Which makes it harder to throw the sail far enough forward. Sail falls back and weights the back of the board. Imbalanced situation. Cannot plane out… Also if you catch the sail near the mast you can sheet out more easily and and lose mast foot pressure again on the new tack.

…Can bring trouble in the planing winds:

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When this happens repeatedly in the high winds. The only way to corrected it is to go back to the drawing board and repeat the move on land or in non-planing winds until we’ve muscled memories ourselves out of the habit. And that’s exactly what our guest did and ended the week flying out of his jibes without a bother!

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Flipping the Sail and Planing Out of Jibe

Correct light wind hand work.

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In high winds it looks like this:

The sail remains forward. Hand reaches far enough down the boom on the new tack. Nothing falls backwards. Looking into your turns. Come out low and in ‘rescue stance’ to handle power of the sail and keep board trimmed and off the winds slightly for a full planing jibe.

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Lots of Aloha! Have fun!!!