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Carve Gybes

A FORMULA for that Perfect Carve Gybe!!!


Fed up with reading all the articles, watching the videos and collecting bits & pieces of advice on the carve gybe and still getting nowhere? If so then this article may help, although I'm not guaranteeing anything!

The carve gybe is possibly the most difficult move in windsurfing, for an intermediate sailor such as myself anyway. According to some, it's even tougher than the loop, as you could do the loop with your eyes shut, but not the carve gybe! A lot of articles have been written on the subject and many videos produced, but to my knowledge there isn't a simple and concise sequence of key events or a formula which one could use, remember and then regurgitate on the water. To help me improve my gybes from ~25% to ~75% success rate, I generated the following list of key events, which I now want to share with you. Please feel free to alter and expand it as you see fit, then print it off, laminate it and even take it to the beach or the water!

The idea here was to keep it simple and concise and cut out any waffle, which could add to the confusion. Like a golf swing, if you try to remember too many things or change too many factors at once, then you'll most probably just fluff the shot. And if detail is what you want, then the magazines/videos will be the perfect source of information.

The best way to approach it would be to read each point, then stop and VISUALISE the move in your head, followed by perhaps watching a video of a pro and comparing your imagination to his/her moves. Ideally, you should get a video of yourself on the water and then tick off from the list the key steps to see if you're doing everything and in the correct sequence.

It is important NOT to neglect the relative duration aspect of each sequence, in order to appreciate how quickly things can happen, although the exact timing depends on the wind strength, sea-state, your ability and the kit size/type. The figures shown in the relative duration column can be indicated as seconds, as Peter Hart typically gybes in less than 7 seconds! The relative duration should also give an indication of the distance travelled for a given speed or if the speed is actually on the increase. A larger radius of curvature tends to give you more time and space to work things out and remember that good gybers always look like they've got all the time in the world!

The key to a successful gybe is SPEED and the only way to achieving good speed is to SHEET IN hard during the approach and initiating phase of the turn (bend that back arm). The reason why speed is so crucial is because if there is a relative difference in speed between you and the wind, the sail powers up which means that it'll be a good chance that you get flung off the front!

My advice is NOT TO TRY TO RUSH EACH STEP but to make all transitions and movements as SMOOTH as possible, whilst the board is still travelling FAST, i.e. stay light, low and nimble on your feet. Always look into the turn or towards the exit and never down at your feet, which can deteriorate your form. Most competent carve gybers fail to come out on the plane because they stand up during and after the rig flip; stay low, hanging off the boom to keep the board flat ready to accelerate out of the turn. Finally, I would suggest, as would all the experts that it is best to attempt to learn your gybes in flat-water conditions and in the shallows, so the tiring water starts are taken out of the equation.

GOOD LUCK and remember "practice does not necessarily make perfect, it makes permanent".

stages of a carve gybe a b c d e f g h

Click on a stage to jump to the appropriate page

Formula/Key sequence of events for a carve gybe (*For strap to strap gybe move these steps to (g)).

relative duration






carve gybe image1

  • Comfortable in footstraps/harness and full planing speed

  • Rig raked back and sheeted in

  • Both hands now using over hand grip on the boom




carve gybe image2

  • Check behind for clearance

  • Move back hand back by ~10 inch for added leverage to help sheet in through steps (c), (d) and (e)



carve gybe image3

  • Unhook

  • Get low

  • Take back foot out of strap and place just in front of it, over the centre line

  • Gently start applying pressure to your toes to tilt board



carve gybe image4

  • Bear away down wind to keep up speed or even accelerate

  • Keep front arm straight, elbow down and MUST sheet in back arm (bend)

  • Apply mast foot pressure by pulling down through the front hand to stop the board from bouncing

  • Bend knees to take up any chop/bump

  • Front foot - lift heel, drive weight forwards (almost as though you'll get flung off the front - but centrifugal force should keep you on!)

  • Back foot - increase pressure towards toes - thereby increasing board tilt




carve gybe image5

  • As the board turns, back hand sheets out to ensure the sail maintains a constant angle to the wind, providing power in the sail to maintain momentum

  • Keep weight FORWARD & into the CENTRE of the turn (body should be facing the rig, with rig now parallel to the board)

  • Lean rig into centre of turn & perpendicular to the board (stiff UJ)

  • Back foot pushes out hard to progressively tighten the turn

  • VERY IMPORTANT to be looking at point of exit rather than DOWN



carve gybe image6

  • Back hand sheets out

  • Front hand slides closer to mast as it rotates and pulls rig more upright

  • *Place front foot (was in the strap) at the centre line of the board

  • *Place old back foot just behind the mast towards the inside of the board

  • VERY IMPORTANT to stay low and keep knees bend to keep weight OFF over the back of the board

  • Let go of the back hand, allowing the rig to pivot in front of you at arms length

  • Board should still be tilted and turning



carve gybe image7

  • Grab new side of boom using original back hand in an over hand grip, i.e. pass the old back hand under the front arm and place it on the new side of the boom. (Do not hold mast as you'll SLOW DOWN)

  • Grab back of the boom with the original front hand into a normal sailing position




carve gybe image8
carve gybe image9

  • BEAR away and pump if slowing or stalling

  • Note: gybing is a ~130o turning process rather than 180o

  • Get into footstraps and harness and sheet in


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Sailor: Neroli Long
Board: Starboard Acid77
Sail: Tushingham 4.7m Rock
Location: Moon Beach, Egypt May 2006

This page last updated: 13th Aug, 2020.

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