Sometimes simply changing the way you think about something is enough to turn a trouble spot into a welcomed encounter. Take tacking, for example. A lot of sailors tend to think of it as stepping around the sail to get to the new side. Admit it: Sometimes you even peek your head around the mast to see where you're headed. But stop and think for minute. If your feet are on the centerline and the boom is in your hands, then there's really very little board left on the other side of the sail. If you think of tacking as shifting your weight, stepping in front of the mast and then stepping back into the same spot that you were in before - only this time facing in a new direction - then the tack becomes merely the illusion of your body going around the sail. You just step forward and back in a straight line. There's no side-to-side leaning involved. So, to tack a longboard, begin by over-sheeting the sail to get the nose of the board through the eye of the wind. Then, when you step forward, the wind will blow the sail across the centerline for you. To finish, lean the sail forward and step back to a clear centerline, which is really your old spot but in a new direction. Although the shortboard tack requires some different maneuvering to get there, the outcome is much the same. During a shortboard tack, you try to get to the new side before you've reached the eye of the wind to maintain a plane or at least prevent the nose from sinking. Because the board is not straight upwind yet, you have to actually push the sail across the centerline toward the wind. The wind at this point is really no help. In fact, the wind only resists your tacking during this phase. However, when the sail does cross the centerline, you can step back to your old spot just as before. Unlike in a longboard tack, throwing the sail forward doesn't give your body room on the centerline and will turn the board downwind with you on the leeward side of the sail. Decide which way to lean the sail once you've stepped back on the centerline. If you find yourself backwinded, lean the sail back or forward. There's no magic involved. Just walk a straight line.
EXITING A TACK
When you step around the mast and exit a tack, the board is almost straight upwind. This position leaves your sail in an almost powerless position. Keeping your body over the board and hanging down stabilizes the rig and prepares you for the increase in power as the board bears off the wind.ight="0" style="display:none">idth="0" height="0" style="display:none">idth="0" height="0" style="display:none">