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Learn to Backward Water Start

Learn to Backward Water Start

In the spirit of being thorough, let me remind you what you have to do to water start the regular way:

1. With the luff facing the wind, get on the windward (upwind) side of the board.
2. Grab hold of the mast; place your hands just above the boom.
3. Draw the rig up over the board’s tail. When the water drains from the sail, it must be able to flap freely.
4. Point the nose of the board leeward (downwind). Use your foot to push against the board, while at the same time keeping hold of the mast.
5. Place one of your feet in the foot strap.
6. Slightly lift the sail and allow it to catch some wind. At the same time place your hands on the lower part of the boom.
7. Get the rig to catch some wind by pushing up and pulling back. The power of the wind should smoothly lift you up and out of the water.
8. Once you are out of the water you must place your other foot on the board.

Now here is what you have to do to backward water start:

1. Start out as you normally would, but with the board facing the opposite way.
2. The board’s nose must be by your back leg. Put your back foot on the centerline of the board. Step up with your front foot, making sure to pull the board under your body with your rear foot.
3. Transfer your body weight from your back to your forward leg. Next you must tilt the mast heavily toward the tail and to windward. See the word of warning below.
4. Sheet in gently. To improve tracking you have to sink the windward rail.

A word of warning: even a tiny amount of pressure on your rear foot (step 3) can cause the board to snap around, to boomerang on you. Make sure you don’t hurt anyone while practicing the backward water start. Give yourself plenty of room, just in case.

Why would you want to do a backward water start instead of a regular water start? Here’s one answer: to save expensive fins from bottom rash. And here’s another” you can easily sail away in very shallow water.