Sunday, November 7, 2010

Loop practice, Day One

It transpires that whilst I was waiting for Kate to get back from Exmouth before beginning the loop challenge proper, sneaky Kate had availed herself of a new "how to" video and had been secretely practicing by herself. No accounting for the competitive spirit, as I said to someone today, I don't care who gets there first, just if we can motivate each other to keep trying.

Anyway, the new video breaks the spin loop down into four steps, turning the exercise more into a series of techniques to master, rather than the usual testosterone powered Nike inspired slogan, "just go for it"!! And mostly the technique is mastered in underpowered, off the plane speeds, meaning hitting the water doesn't hurt. For us two lasses, this is right up our alley.

Now both of us are very good sailors. We jump big ramps for big air, we ride waves down the line, including in cross-on conditions, and have no trouble keeping up with the lads. But the forward loop is the move that shows you've really made it, even if it's more about guts than technique.

When learning to windsurf, once you can get going with some speed you learn to use a harness and footstraps so that you can use your body as a fulcrum and conserve energy. But during this delicate stage of learning to "hook in" you get your first taste of the pain of being catapulted forwards over the handlebars into the drink, at speed! And sometimes you fall on your kit. Either way, it hurts. So you spend alot of effort making sure you don't get catapulted ever again. Yes, ever again!!

Then you progress further, you're gybing and tacking, then you learn to carve gybe and then you enter the waves. It's time to learn jumps, to work out how to turn on waves and ride them in and then it's time to start doing some fancy stuff. Yes, it's time to loop.

Back loops are harder technique wise, but nowhere near as scary to do. Most people master them before the forward loop. I've even done a couple myself, but neither was planned and I didn't sail away so they don't really count. But the forward loop, well that's about balls.

Remember the catapult you were never ever going to do again? Well a forward loop is essentially a controlled catapult, with your feet still strapped into the board so the whole kit and caboodle comes around with you as the wind flips you through it's eye and out the other side. At speed! Off a wave! Possibly at height!! Sounds scary doesn't it??

Kate's new video, however, makes it alot less scary, and today I had my first try of the off planing gybe in the footstraps technique which is stage one. And no, it doesn't hurt when you hit the water, it isn't even scary. I'm pushing my front arm forward, my back arm is sliding down the boom and sheeting in and I'm even looking behind me. And around I go, sans board, and land without pain on the other side of the board. It's a revelation!!

But it's important not to get too cocky, coz if you try too hard, and then try with a bit more speed, well it does turn into a catapult and yep, the slam of a helmetted head into the drink at speed gives the brain a mighty fine shake up. Whoa my head hurts!!

Time to give up for the day before I lose my bottle.

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