WRONG: You’ve just got gear, and, for the first time, you’re hauling it on your car to sail somewhere else besides your local site. Standing on the downwind side of the car, you untie the last strap and “Aaahhhrrrggg!” You get buried by your gear.
RIGHT: Always remain upwind of your equipment. This is true when you’re in the parking lot, on the beach, carrying your gear to the water or in the water. It’s always the safest place to be.
WRONG: Having successfully unloaded your gear from the car and rigged your sail, your attention turns to your board. Meanwhile, a gust picks up your sail and wipes out the family picnic just down the beach from you.
RIGHT: Never leave a rigged sail unattended. Always attach it to something, preferably your board. Even when attached to your board, leave the mast across the wind with the clew straight downwind so the breeze can blow through the sail and not against it.
WRONG: Launching from a seawall, you drop your board in the water and then grab your sail and jump in. Immediately, the current sweeps up your board, and you end up using half a day’s total energy chasing after it while towing your sail around for the ride.
RIGHT: If you’re forced to launch with your board and sail disconnected, put your sail in the water first — sails tend to stay put in the water — then follow with your board and attach them in the water.
WRONG: You’re always ready, gear always on your car, wind pager at your side. Suddenly, you get the word. You arrive at the beach, rig in a flash and break into a run toward the beckoning whitecaps. Zigzagging through the parking lot, you’re at full tilt with your rig under one arm, board under the other. Then WHAM, a gust hits and you’re reduced to an ugly pile of flesh and monofilm sizzling on the hot concrete.
RIGHT: When carrying your gear separately, always stay upwind of it. Keep the mast across the wind and hold the boom at the point between the harness lines, with the clew lower than the mast. Stand between your board and sail, holding the board by the front foot strap and keeping the windward rail slightly lower than the leeward rail to allow the wind to spill off. Do not expose the deck to the wind. Be aware that alleys, buildings and even parked cars can create wind shadows and squirrelly conditions.