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Forward Loop Part 2

14:37 2nd October 2012 by Boardseeker
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The Forward Loop PART 2: The Head Game

Here are some facts about the forward loop:

  • If you can chop hop you are technically equipped to tackle it
  • Statistically, rigging up is more dangerous than doing a forward
  • Many of the pro sailors in Britain learned to forward before they could carve gybe
  • It is by far the coolest looking windsurfing move
  • The whole move can be learned in a day

 

Strangely however, despite all this logic, our brain still has a very nasty habit of saying NO WAY right at the crucial moment. It happens to us all (without exception) and that is why the forward loop is windsurfing’s biggest mental barrier.

So how do we get past this mental barrier and not spend the rest of our windsurfing career thinking about it but never actually doing it?

We decided to ask around the UK’s top pros to see how they managed to tackle their first forward loop and see how big a barrier it was to their sailing. The results are very interesting!

How pros got through the mental barrier…

   
Sailor: James Cox
Sail Number : K-106
Year Started Windsurfing: 1992
Year Started Looping: 1998
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
4
How did you overcome it?

I think I tackled it pretty rationally.  I really wanted to improve over that particular summer and decided that I needed to forward loop to do this.  I was booked for a leg operation towards the end of that year and really wanted to have them under my belt before I had the operation, so that was my motivation. 

I started off by just sailing back and forth visualising doing forwards off every suitable bit of chop.  I then set myself a spot where I would ‘make myself’ do them.  There was a small patch, where little waves formed and that was going to be the area where I would do them.  I knew if I didn’t do this, I would just keep putting it off.  After picking this little patch as my looping spot, it then took me about 5 sessions before I actually picked up the courage to try one.  Each time I sailed and failed to try, I would get really angry with myself to the point where I knew it was going to be less painful to actually do one.

On session 5, I tried my first one, and then just kept doing them.  I was happy even to just catapult with my feet out of the straps (as long as it was intentional!) as I knew that I was breaking down the fear barrier with every attempt and chipping away at the technique.

Any injuries sustained from forwards?

I have never injured myself doing a forward.  In fact I think they are genuinely one of the safest moves to try so long as you don’t let go of the boom.

Top Tip?

Never let go of the boom no matter what happens!  If you keep hold of the boom, you won’t ever get hurt.  Even doing big forwards you are still totally safe as long as you don’t let go of the boom.


   
Sailor: Ben Proffitt
Sail Number : K-800
Year Started Windsurfing: 1987
Year Started Looping: 2000
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
4
How did you overcome it?

I used to do IMCO Longboard racing and we went to a competition in New Caledonia where the French guys were doing flat-water forwards on their long boards and 7.4m sails.  I think that kind of gave me the kick to try them.  I had actually tried a few half cocked attempts before but never really knew what to do so would just jump, lean forward and then let go as I started to catapult towards the mast.  I asked a few guys who knew how to do them and they told me to look back. As soon as I was told what to do, the fear barrier almost disappeared.

I got home from New Caledonia and went straight to Rhosneigr.  I was on a 4.2, and on my first run out, I hit a waist high wave and just sheeted in and looked back.  I went all the way around and landed on my back.  The second one I did in front of one of my friends and landed bolt upright fully planning (although I have to admit it took about 12 months before I managed another one of those)!

Any injuries sustained from forwards? Never.  I recently hurt my foot doing a tabletop forward in Tiree, but have never hurt myself doing regular forwards.
Top Tip?

Just sheet in and look back!  If you look back, it is much less scary and the whole move just happens without you really having to do anything.

Sailor: Andy King
Sail Number : K-100
Year Started Windsurfing: 1994
Year Started Looping: 1996
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
4
How did you overcome it?

I had wanted to do one for a few months. I had been thinking about them whilst on the water but never managed to muster up the courage to try one. The thing that made me try it was following someone in at Calshot who was a worse sailor than me and he just did one in front of me. Without thinking, I just did it! The result wasn’t exactly pretty as my feet came out and I just catapulted, but it was enough to get through that initial fear barrier. I spent quite a while trying them with my feet coming out of the straps until I realised that taking off further downwind stopped this. The main thing is to get through the fear barrier. The technique will come afterwards.

Any injuries sustained from forwards? Never
Top Tip?

If you don’t try one, you will never be able to do one! You should learn off small waves and just don’t think! If you are thinking, you won’t do it – simple as that. Just sail along, hit the wave, sheet in and look back – no need to think!

   
Sailor: Phil Horrocks
Sail Number : K-303
Year Started Windsurfing: Properly in 1997
Year Started Looping: 1999
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
2
How did you overcome it?

For me it wasn’t such a big deal because I hadn’t really considered doing them.  I went to Margarita for 2 weeks to learn to gybe.  Whilst I was there, one of the instructors was doing a clinic on forward looping and I asked if I could join in.  Before I knew it I had done my first one and then spent the rest of my time there trying one after another.  By the end of the 2 weeks, I could pretty much waterstart away from every one but had to contend with an extremely bruised back on the flight home!  My first days looping was done on a 4.2m with knee high chop.  

Any injuries sustained from forwards? I bashed my nose on the boom landing one about 2 years after I learned.  I think it happened because I was looking down instead of back and bent my front arm on the way round instead of keeping it straight.
Top Tip?

Go and sail with people who can do them.  If you are around people who can do them, they seam so much easier than if no-one is doing them.  Get someone who can do them to spend 30mins mentoring you through your first few.

   
Sailor: Sonia Pavelin
Sail Number :

K-278

Year Started Windsurfing: 1996
Year Started Looping: 2001
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
5
How did you overcome it?

I had been thinking about doing them for a while but kept putting it off.  I went for a trip to Maui where I met Louise Emery on the beach at Sprecs.  The two of us had a chat and decided to go out and learn them.  Unfortunately, by the end of the day, neither of us really got anywhere.  That night, I was really frustrated and disappointed to the point of crying. 

The next time I went out sailing at Sprecks (with no definite intention of trying one), I got into one of those mind sets where you feel very comfortable and safe (due to conditions, favourite kit, friends on the water etc) and start to get a bit ‘cheeky’!  I made the decision to try one, span round and landed on my back.  I then did about 30 a day for the rest of the trip. 

My back was getting really bruised so I bought a crash mat from the local sports shop, chopped it up and stuffed it down my suit.  I also got concussed from doing too many whilst wearing a helmet.  The extra area of a helmet increases the ‘slap’ that you get when your head hits the water so I now prefer not to wear one.

Any injuries sustained from forwards?

Only concussion from the helmet incident and a bruised back when learning!

Top Tip?

Make sure your board leaves the water!  It sounds really obvious but the biggest reason for your feet coming out of the straps is that the board hasn’t actually left the water.

   
   
Sailor: Greg Martin
Sail Number : K-113
Year Started Windsurfing: 1992
Year Started Looping: 2000
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
4
How did you overcome it?

I had done a few ‘lame’ attempts before where I would take off, bear away and then let go. I had come to the conclusion that all I need to do was the same again, but instead, keep hold of the boom.  The worst that would happen would be a good slapping of my back on the water. 

I was out at Rhosneigr on a 4.0m and made up my mind to do one.  I headed straight out, spun around and landed on my back.  I did a few more that day with similar consequences. 

The mistake I made is that I did them like this for a while, but never really did enough to feel comfortable with them.  I then kind of stopped doing them for a while, convincing myself that I didn’t need to practice them anymore which meant I virtually had to start from scratch again a few months later when I wanted to crack them properly.  Once you do your first one, keep doing them one after another until you are confident with them!!

Any injuries sustained from forwards? Never
Top Tip?

Don’t think them through, just do it!  Get ready to beach start and just accept that you are going to do one and then sail out, hit the first wave and do it no matter what. 

If you think it through, you will ‘talk’ yourself out of it every time.  It is also important that you are either of the mindset to ‘do it now no matter what’, or decide to ‘do it at a later time’, otherwise you will just sail around punishing yourself all day and getting really frustrated!

   
Sailor: Terry Luxton
Sail Number : K-688
Year Started Windsurfing: 1986
Year Started Looping: 1989
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
5
How did you overcome it?

I learned in a time when there were only a few people in the UK who could actually do them.  I spent months sailing around, wanting to do them but was just too scared of throwing myself over the front.  One day at school I decided that I was going to do them that night. 

I went sailing after school with the sole aim of doing a forward.  I sailed around for about 30 minutes on my 5.7 trying to psych myself up to do one over the chop but still struggled to do it.  However the thought of going home that night and not having done one was just too much to bear, so round I went!  My first one I spun around and landed on my back and all the fear was gone.  I shouted to my dad to watch and I did another and then another 40 or so before the end of the night! 

Any injuries sustained from forwards?

I have been doing them now for 15 years and never hurt myself.

Top Tip?

When you do decide to do it, go for it 100%.  People who hurl themselves around manoeuvres with full commitment rarely get hurt.  It is the people who play it too cautious who end up hurting themselves.  I have actually just gone through the whole rigmarole again for double forwards. 

I have spent years wanting to do them but being too scared to try.  The other day I went sailing, everything was 100% comfortable and without really thinking it through, I just went for one!  Now all the fear has gone again and I am throwing myself around them as often as I can.

   
Sailor: Chris Audsley
Sail Number : K-505
Year Started Windsurfing: 1990
Year Started Looping: 1996
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
4
How did you overcome it?

My friend Nigel and I had a bet over who would be able to do one first.  We had 2 weeks of no wind and then he went on holiday to Lanzarote.  I was sure that he would learn whilst he was out there so the next day of wind, I went down to Hillhead with my head set on doing a forward.  It took 2 days of face planting into the water until on day 3 on my 4.7, I did one without really thinking, spun all the way around and landed on my back. 

After that, I landed in waterstart position pretty much every time.  Even better than learning was to find out that Nigel hadn’t learned them in Lanzarote so I won the bet as well!  I was a little worried that the next time I went sailing, I would have to go through the whole fear barrier again, but luckily the wind came through a few days after and I spun around one on my first run. I think its important to do as many as you can, as quickly as you can after learning to make sure that you are fully through the fear phase.

Any injuries sustained from forwards? Never
Top Tip?

Watch videos of them over and over again and try to visualise the whole move before trying it on the water.  If you can’t visualise it on the land, you are unlikely to be able to do it on the water. It’s important when you do try one that you don’t think it through too much.  You need to just spin without thinking. 

Finally don’t try it half heartedly or you may put yourself off.  Give it 100% and you will be encouraged by the results!

   
Sailor: Robby Swift
Sail Number : K-89
Year Started Windsurfing: 1987
Year Started Looping: 1997
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
3
How did you overcome it?

I was in Lanzarote and lots of the boys wanted to do a forward. We all talked about it all the time and someone had to try one! I was the youngest(13), but I fancied my chances of being better than the other boys who were all quite a lot older than me. No one had ever told me how to do one, all they said was jump and sheet in. I thought that if I went high, it would be easier (wrong!) so I just jumped off a big wave out on the reef, went right up in the air and sheeted in.

I actually made the first couple because I did go pretty high. All the boys saw them and were impressed. I didn’t even know that you had to move your hand back on the boom to do it, so I was rotating really slowly! I didn’t hurt myself till I tried to do one off a small wave. You really need to move your hand back to do them like that!

I didn’t get the hang of them properly till I had watched the video RAVE with Sean Ordonez. He told me to put my back hand right back on the boom and from that moment on, there was no stopping me!!! Haha!

Any injuries sustained from forwards? Not that I can remember. Quite a few snapped boards though!!!
Top Tip?

Get all your mates into trying them so that you all do them together, then you either feel like you are the man because you did one first or you feel like an idiot because your friend did one before you, so you try one anyway! If you really try hard, you will definitely do one, and after that one, they are easy!

   
Sailor: John Skye
Sail Number : K-57
Year Started Windsurfing: 1990
Year Started Looping: First attempt 1993, first landed 1997
How big a barrier?
(5=scariest/biggest)
5 (only thing equal has been double loops)
How did you overcome it?

Learning with friends was the best way for me. Peer group pressure is the best motivation. The most important thing for me was that once I had tried one, I made sure that I did as many as possible that day and then made sure I tried at least 1 every time I went sailing (pretty much regardless of the conditions!!)

Any injuries sustained from forwards? I burst my ear drum, but it was being really stupid. I was trying to impress the local shop owner whilst I was a kid and tried a forward underpowered on my lake in about a force 3-4. Plus I did the cardinal sin and let go of the boom!!
Top Tip?

However far your hand is down the boom, put it further!!!

   

So there you have it! Pretty much every one of the UK’s top pros was scared of learning the forward loop but they all made it eventually and all through different methods.  It becomes apparent from reading the above that there were several methods of ‘persuasion’ that lead to the ultimate result.  These include:

Competition – Trying to learn with someone else of the same standard is great for those who thrive on competition.

Logic – The more calculated prefer to plan and premeditate the whole situation and then switch the brain off once everything is in place

Comfort – Most people perform best when they are completely comfortable with their surroundings, set-up and situation.  Trying to force a loop when you are not comfortable is pointless.  However when the time comes you must be prepared to do it!

Bullying – A few people respond well to their mate shouting abuse such as ‘come on you poof, just do it!’  If it works for you then great, if it doesn’t, then just tell them to f*** off and get on with your own method!

Lunacy – There are a select few who simply don’t think.  They have no fear (usually because they are not bright enough to weigh up the situation) and they will do just about anything without hesitation.  If you’re one of these…… well you’re probably still struggling to turn your computer on!

So, now you know the environment you need to learn in, any more excuses?  How about these?!

Common Excuses

COP OUT

REALITY CHECK

I’m not good enough yet….

If you can chop hop you are!

Its too windy, rough, flat etc…

You can loop in pretty much any conditions. If you are powered up and there is any sort of ramp, it’s perfect!

I’m not on the right kit…..

If you’re on a 5.5m or smaller you are! If your not, why not practice some slow speed catapults looking back, with your backhand right down the boom and your back leg tucked up?

I don’t want to learn…..

If you’ve read this far you do! You will feel soooo good when you do crack it, so give it a go!

I can’t afford to hurt myself….

No-one can and like we said earlier, statistically it is more dangerous to rig up!

I don’t want to wreck my equipment….

You are no more likely to damage your equipment than with any other manoeuvre. If you’re that worried, get insurance – its less than £100 and well worth it!

It’s too cold to learn things at this time of year……

You don’t get any colder just because you are trying loops – if it’s warm enough to windsurf, its warm enough to loop! Short sharp sessions are ideal for looping practice.

I’ve got dodgy knees…..

If you land on anything other than your back for the first few months, you are doing well!

I’ve hurt myself in the past…..

I’m sure you’ve hurt yourself catapulting in the past, but that doesn’t stop you sailing in a straight line! Read the looping hot tips (below) to avoid any more disasters.

Conclusions

Find a method that you think will suit you, switch your brain off and JUST DO IT and as Andy King said earlier, “If you don’t try one, you will never be able to do one”!

And remember this… If anyone tries to tell you they are dangerous, difficult or you’re not ready yet, just show them otherwise!

GOOD LUCK!!

If you follow these basic tips, you will stay safe and learn fast

:

  • Never let go of the boom

  • Learn off waist high waves or smaller

  • Use a 5.5m sail or smaller to learn

  • Get your back hand a long way down the boom (full reach)

  • Look backwards as soon as you take-off

 

 
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