Wannabe a Wavesailor with Jem Hall: Gybing

Duncan Slater

Better gybes make better waveriders – fact!
Better gybes make better waveriders – fact!

In this instalment of his comprehensive series examining every aspect of wavesailing, Jem Hall looks at gybing, the positioning thereof, and the crossover benefits towards competent riding…

Throughout this series I have been offering simple tips and drills for you to take on and practise. I have also empowered you to be the master of your own improvement, so if you have done these drills and heeded my words then you’ll be jumping higher and definitely riding sweeter. Now we’re moving into off-peak wave season it’s time to get our gybing sorted so we’re ready to improve our riding when conditions and, of course, time permit.

Potential clients often approach me and ask what’s the best way for them to become better wave riders and wavesailors. They are expecting me to say “Come on a wave clinic mate”, which I do to some of them – but only after I’ve assessed their basic fundamentals. My main recommendation is always to get the basics done well. Yep, good old early planing and stance. And to get really proficient at step gybing and tacking.

Through my coaching and observation of ALL sailors I’ve seen that the better gybers make the better riders. Simply put, how you gybe is how you ride. If you hug the rig like your bedclothes on a cold night and stand up like a tin soldier when you gybe, well then, here’s a free tip: your waveriding will suck big time! Riders who gybe smoothly and with speed are more likely to get more committed in the bottom turn and arrive at the lip with more speed. They will also have the ability to get more vertical (dude).

This never struck me so much as during a spring clinic in Ireland in May ’07. We had some mellow down-the-line days that were interspersed with bump-and-jump sessions due to the wind being there but the waves having a rest. The whole group’s riding transformed as their gybing improved, both through their hard work and an inevitable amount of my deconstruction and reconstruction.

Building wavesailors is my job, and with this in mind I do steering drills with all levels from beginners to winners (good phrase, that). These drills free up the hands and get the head and hips moving, nay, even dancing. Simon Bornhoft has written oodles of great articles on how to get your gybing better, so please do check those out in combination with an overview of the game plan for gybing right here…

Click here to read Jem’s Wannabe 243 article in full…

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