UPHALING THE SAIL
THE VERY BASICS
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- Begin with the board at approximately a right angle to the wind, and the sail on the leeward side of the board (i.e., downwind of the board). Crawl up on the board. Take the uphaul in your hands and stand up slowly. Your front foot should be just in front of the mast, and your back foot about shoulder width apart from your front foot. Both feet must be on the centerline of the board, and your knees slightly bent.
Slowly, lift the sail with the uphaul until it is about a foot out of the water and wait until the water drains out of the mast sleeve. Then finish lifting the sail, all the time keeping the mast at a right angle to the board. Take your time, uphaul slowly.
Continue lifting until the sail is entirely out of the water. Then you should be in the following position, which is the "heave-to" position for sailboards:
1. Feet on centerline of board
2. Arms straight
3. Knees slightly bent
4. Mast at a right angle to the board (very important)
Unfortunately, sometimes the sail falls on the windward (wrong) side of the board. Here are three different strategies for getting the sail downwind of the board (on the leeward side).
1. Swim the board around. (It is easier to move the board through the water than move the sail).
2. Muscle the boom and sail to the correct side.
3. Uphaul with the sail on the wrong (windward) side. The wind might whip the sail around to the correct side, and cause you to fall. However, if you keep your arms straight and the sail "away" from you, you might put this off. You shouldn't be afraid of this strategy because you already are wet. This method is the one we often use, falling and all.
Back to the 'heave-to' position: arms straight, sail out of water, knees slightly bent, sail at right angle to the board. Hang out in this position.
If you have the mast at right angles to the board, the board will always swing around to be at a right angle to the wind (beam reach). This fact is very handy. If the wind is very light and you can't tell exactly where the wind is coming from, heave-to and the board will swing around to a right angle to the wind (i.e., wind at your back - a beam reach).
You will almost always want to start to sail at a right angle to the wind (beam reach). However, from the standard heave-to position, if you swing the mast forward, the nose of board will head downwind. If you swing the mast backward, you will point upwind.
If you want to "park," not move forward while in the heave-to position, try putting one hand one the boom and back wind the sail very slightly.
A Safety Hint
If you are upwind of where you want to be and for some reason have trouble sailing downwind, heave-to and just stand there (knees bent, arms straight). You will drift downwind eventually. You will also probably sail forward to some extent. When you've gone too far on one tack, head back the other way and heave-to. When the wind gets strong, many sailors find themselves upwind of where they want to be. You can use this technique to get home. Just stand there and let the wind do the job.