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Flare Gybe

As you progress through windsurfing, the flare gybe is usually the first dynamic move that you learn as you start to explore more advanced ways of turning corners. A tack turns round by passing the nose of the board through the wind; a gybe turns by passing the tail through the wind. By turning the tail through the wind, the sail will be fully powered up on one tack as you start the turn, then will quickly flip round and be powered up on the opposite tack. This power in the sail means that through out the turn you have something to balance against and thus is the preferred (non-planning) method of turning the board for most sailors.

The disadvantage of a flare gybe versus a tack is that you lose ground down wind when gybing as opposed to making ground upwind when tacking. On the face of it this may seem like a very significant disadvantage, however when you get proficient with the flare gybe and start to exaggerate all the movements, it is easily possible to perform a flare gybe is less than half a short board's length, so the overall amount of ground lost down wind is relatively small.

During a flare gybe, you use a combination of weight on the back and outside of the board together with power in the rig to rotate the board quickly down wind. A flare gybe can be performed successfully using just foot pressure, or just the sail, however to perform a quick, dynamic flare gybe, both must be used at the same time. In all cases, it is important to bend the knees, to stay low for stability and help absorb the additional power in the rig.

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Start on a reach, sailing across the wind.

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Power up the rig by moving the rig forward and sheeting in with the back hand. I recommend moving the front hand back to the front harness line or between the harness lines and move the back hand back by a similar distance to allow you to really push the mast forward (forward along the current direction of the boom) and power up the sail. This power in the sail really drives the nose round for a quick dynamic turn.

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As the sail starts to power up, move the front foot back so that it is level with the back foot, both facing outwards with toes close to the rail and heels close to the centre line. This gives you a wide stance across the board allowing plenty of control over the board angle by adjusting the weight distribution over the heels and toes. Bend your knees to help provide balance and stay low to absorb the increase in power of the sail. When in this position at the back of the board, it is important to have plenty of power in the sail so that you can hang off the boom and stop you falling off the back of the board.

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Place your weight on the foot on the outside of the turn to angle the board and assist the turning action caused by placing your weight so far back on the board.

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The board's nose lifts due to the weight on the back of the board, the further back the weight, the shorter the waterline of the board and the quicker the turn. As the board turns, sheet out the sail, so that the sail maintains a constant angle to the wind through out the turn.

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After the board passes through the wind, step forward with the new front foot to level out the board and slow down the rotation. Keep the sail clew first.

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Once the feet are correctly placed on the new tack, move the front hand up close to the mast ready for the rig flip.

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To rotate the rig, let go with the back hand and immediately drag the mast across the body into an upright position to encourage the sail to rotate. Cross the old back hand under the front hand (helps to stay low) to grab the new side of the boom with an overhand grip.

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Keep the mast moving forward so that you can hold the boom in the normal sailing position, ready to sail off and celebrate.

Sailor: Steve Powell
Board: Starboard Carve 131
Sail: Tushingham 6.5 Thunderbird III
Location: Moon Beach, Egypt May 2006

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