How to tack in a Wingfoil?
How to tack in Wingfoil ? The tack is a manoeuvre that allows you to change tack by turning into the wind. It is the opposite of the jibe where you take ground to windward. Tacking is a fairly technical but very practical action. It allows you to move upwind and therefore gain ground when changing tack, it’s very efficient !
In this article we explain step by step how to make a frontside and backside tack.
First of all, here is the vocabulary you need to know to understand this article :
- Heelside : This is the “normal” riding position. The heels are facing the wind and the toes are downwind of the board. The weight of the body is therefore directed towards the wind.
- Toeside : This is a position where you switch the position of your feet with your body weight on your toes. This position is often used to change direction or to sail against the wind. The position of the feet is reversed from the normal sailing position. The front foot becomes the back foot and vice versa.
Prerequisites for a wingfoil tack
- Be comfortable with wingfoil and master the basics : Pulling boards, accelerating, changing direction quickly, being balanced on the board in all conditions, knowing how to jibe, toeside and switch.
- Start with the right equipment : To learn to tack you need to be sufficiently topped up, or even over-top, to have a good speed of movement.
- Learn on a calm water surface : A water surface that is too agitated risks creating imbalances and making learning to tack more complicated. Therefore, choose the flattest water possible to learn how to tack.
How do you tack on a toeside (frontside)?
This is the easiest technique. It involves a toeside approach, with the chest facing forward and the feet in an inverted position. To do a frontside tack you must reverse your feet before starting the manoeuvre.
Step 1 : the approach
To start your tack, you will need to arrive with maximum speed, crosswind.
You will then need to toeside, i.e. switch your feet on the board. To swap feet, we advise you to start by flying low and pushing on your back foot to bring the board up. This will give you more flying time to switch feet and will make it easier to switch feet without the board touching the water.
Step 2 : Initiate the transfer
Now that you are in toe side, maintain maximum speed and enter the turn by pressing on your toes in a progressive and continuous manner. The aim is to tighten the turn more and more without losing too much speed. Your turn will not only depend on your starting speed but also on the front wing of your foil. A wing with a high aspect ratio will force you to make a slightly wider turn, while a faster, more swept-back wing will allow you to make a tighter turn.
Step 3 : Pull the sail over your head
When you arrive close to the wind’s axis, or slightly before, push the wing over your head. This step is fundamental to accompany the wing in the tack change. It is important to position it as high above your head as possible.
In this step, you should grab the front handle with your new front hand. If you don’t raise the sail enough, the wind may push it down and throw you off balance. This is a common mistake.
Step 4 : Finish the manoeuvre
To finish tacking, your back hand should quickly grab the back handle and then tuck in the wing, regain power and re-accelerate. Wait until you have finished tacking before tucking. The tack is complete when your board is on the beam or slightly upwind. As long as you are facing the wind, do not tuck the sail. We advise you to keep it wide open as it may slow you down.
Our tip : Just before releasing the back hand, push on the back handle to help your front hand to tip the kite over your head into the wind.
To make a quicker toeside turn, the ideal is to anticipate the hand change and grab the front handle of your wing with your back hand, while staying upwind. This variation allows you to change hands earlier and to accelerate the passage of the wing over your head. In this way you can get away in the other direction more quickly. The turn is tighter, the manoeuvre is faster and the loss of speed is less. This still requires very good upper body coordination.
Practising a tack toeside
- We advise you to start by practicing toeside on the same edge. Repeat this step several times to get the foot coordination right.
- Then let yourself glide over the foil without leaning on the wing in toeside position. To do this, put your wing over your head and let go of the back hand. Then glide until you touch the water. We advise you to repeat this exercise several times to get the hang of it. The objective is to be well balanced on your supports and your board in toeside position, without using the kite as a support or as a “crutch”. The body should remain straight over the foil axis.
- Once you are comfortable with the first step, reposition yourself in toeside and then lean on the tips of your feet to move towards the wind. Your eyes should follow the movement. By looking in the direction you want to go, you will have more balance and the manoeuvre will seem easier. Repeat this third step until you are over the wind line and successfully moving in the other direction. As you gain a little more speed, you will be able to stay in the air and begin to do 3/4 of your turn in the air.
With a little practice these three points will seem easy and you can start tacking by following the four steps outlined above.
To practice, you can also test all these manoeuvres on the beach by walking or on a skateboard for example. This will allow you to better understand the different hand positions and actions to perform with your wingfoil.
The key to success ? Speed of navigation, speed of execution (especially in the change of wing tack) and a constant curve.
How to do a backside tack ?
This turn is a little more technical because you have to succeed in twisting your upper body while having an excellent speed of execution with a good precision of support. In this technique you will start heelside, i.e. with your good foot at the front (“normal” sailing). You will finish your turn in toeside, with your body weight moving on the front leg. This is a bit more complicated than a frontside tack, but with a bit of practice anything is possible !
Step 1 : The turn
You should approach the turn with more speed than a frontside tack. This way you will maximise your flying time and get through this manoeuvre more easily. If there is not enough wind, you can drop slightly to gain more speed to complete this first step and climb sharply upwind.
The turn is initiated by pressing on your heels and leaning your body towards the inside of the turn. You have to press on your heels for a large part of the curve until you are past the upwind position. Then you have to balance the pressure on the tip of your feet in order to stay balanced on the board, otherwise you risk falling backwards.
Step 2 : Swap your wing
Unlike the frontside tack, here you have to get past the upwind position before switching your wing. You have to make the most of the curve before sending the kite into the “upwind” position as quickly as possible. The wing change to the other tack is done overhead in a quick manner.
Then the overhead transition is done with the front hand, unlike the frontside tack. Only after the wing has passed the other side can the hand be changed. The back hand takes the front handle as quickly as possible and the front hand becomes the back hand by taking the back handle.
When you think you have enough speed you can switch feet on the board.
Important tip : Most riders ride with their front hand palm up, which is fine, but when tacking a wingfoil we strongly recommend that you point your hand downwards. This will make it easier to get the kite over your head.
The key to succes ?
- Approach this turn with a lot of speed
- Be very precise with your footing, especially in the transfer of weight/heel to weight/toe.
- Wait until you are over the windward side to swap hands on the wing.
- Quickly transfer hands.
What is the best foil for a successful tack ?
- The advantages of a high aspect ratio foil wing : A front wing with a high aspect ratio will have a better glide ratio, so you will glide longer once the wing is not pulling. This will give you more time to perform your manoeuvre.
- The advantages of mid and low aspect foil wings : A front wing like our classic foil range will be just as suitable for learning to tack. Indeed, their shape is more compact and offers more manoeuvrability. You will carve more easily.
Things to remember :
- Choose a calm water area.
- Make sure you are not in the way of anyone else before starting your tack (look behind you, to windward, before starting).
- Start your tack with enough speed to have more time in the air.
- Raise your wing well above your head to avoid the wind pushing it down and towards you (risk of the wing inflating against you).
- Keep your wingfoil open until the turn is complete. Do not overbuild with your back hand.
- Do not tuck your wing too soon. Wait until you are in the final direction to generate power.
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