Boardseeker Problem Page

Boardseeker's Problem Page

We are happy to introduce our new windsurfing saviour, and the man who is here to help you with your windsurf Problems, Jem Hall, our technique Guru for many a year. This is your chance to field questions to the mighty bald yoda and let Jem Fix it for you to take action and move your sailing forward. 

Kicking off we have Will West from the South coast, Portsmouth area (who so far has been fortunate enough not to bump into Jem in any of his local dodgy pub hideouts). First the problem, then it’s over to Jem to Fix It for you.

Dear Jem,
I am stuck on gybing and it is driving me mad. I am making sure I master light- wind gybes before going for planing carve gybes but tentative attempts at both hit the same snag.

I can get the board to bear away sharply and head downwind using pressure on the downwind rail, and angling the rig across whilst scissoring with my feet. But when I get before down wind the turn stops, and usually the board starts to want to turn back upwind! It is always the same, I can never make the board complete the turn through the wind.

I have watched all your vids and tutorials for help and feel like I understand the technique, but can’t seem to turn the board beyond a certain point.

It must be something simple, please help!


Hey Will, 

Thanks for your question and congratulations for your targeted approach thus far. You have sourced imagery from which you can visualise and then copy and you have also sought to understand what these images and words are saying – oh yes, knowledge is power my friend. You have also identified the simple requirement that we all need (and should want) to walk before we can run, this is highlighted by you working on your downwind turns (gybes) in light winds. 

The way I go about coaching and teaching gybes on my clinics is to get people to feel the movements that are necessary and give them drills that polish their skills. Your first drill would be to practice turning the board up and downwind through scissoring the legs, steering the rig and looking in the direction you wish to go. This is in ‘Beginner to Winner’, in the Carve gybe Preparation chapter. 

As you steer the board up and downwind look to exaggerate your actions, by getting the rig more across you and really pushing through a straight front leg as you get down (James Brown) and outboards (bottom towards the water) over a bent back leg. 

Where you look is where you go and as your leg scissoring gets more powerful and effective you can think about the hands more. Hands apart, back hand waaaay down the boom, as you go downwind and hands come together as you go / turn upwind. This simple technique is what you also use in your wave riding, so your light wind steering really will build your ability to wave ride one day, or even improve it if some of you are already enjoying this. 

Jem on the RRD stand up 11′ and getting ready to turn, in this case on a wave, he is looking downwind and moving back and out with the back arm sliding down the boom.

This is more a carving scissor downwind and so their is more pressure on the inside rail, the important points are rig forwards and moving across, body moving back and out as the back leg pulls the tail in and front leg pushes the nose downwind and away.

Although Jem is light wind wave riding here the parallels to a light wind gybe are body back and getting down like James Brown, legs scissor by pushing and pullling and the back hand is way down the boom.

Jem is gybing on the way out to pick up a wave here and you can see the position of the rig moving across and the front leg scissoring to push the nose downwind through a straight front leg as the body moves back.

Please note that I am covering all the Moves that Matter, like gybing and riding, in my latest technique feature over on Boards Mag online.

So now that you are working on this drill with more understanding and focus lets look at what I propose to be the actual problem:

From what you say;

I can get the board to bear away sharply and head downwind using pressure on the downwind rail, and angling the rig across whilst scissoring with my feet. But when I get before down wind the turn stops, and usually the board starts to want to turn back upwind! 

I would suggest that as you steer downwind through scissoring you are going forwards with the rig. It is important to put the rig forwards and across you, and you are doing this already so well done, however, you should look to get your body back and out so it is in a strong position to push through the straight front leg. 

When you are back and out and pushing the board downwind it may be that you begin to stand up in the middle of the turn and any back leg straightening will sink the tail and turn the board back upwind. Think get down James Brown and stay down. 

Lastly, as you are scissoring the feet and steering with the rig pull in with the back arm to keep the power in the sail and somewhat twist the rig. This can be likened to using a bow and arrow and getting your back thumb in your ear, you can even say, “Robin Hood” to your self here : ) 

Good luck with the gybes, keep at it and if you want my coaching live and direct then please join me on an overseas coaching clinic

Photos by: Dave White

Jem Hall is sponsored by RRD boards and Ezzy sails, Flying Objects softwear joy, and Pro Sport 44 sunblock. 

Please submit your questions for Jem to

Bonus Material

Here are a couple of classics we have dug up that may help further with this problem. If you have your own problem then scroll down for details on how to get in touch.




Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.