How to Windsurf – Lesson 5 – Planing

Plowing through the water with our big windsurf board will start to become boring sooner or later. What we really aspire to is experience the thrill of gliding over the waves.

What is planning?

Planing is when the trailing edge at the back of our board does so with a laminar flow rather than a turbulent one. To put it another way, when we are sailing over the water like a speedboat instead of pushing through it like a barge.

How to start planning

We start off standing upright on the board, making sure we do not bend our knees. Bending our knees will just make our weight be a drawback rather than a benefit by weighing down the back of the board rather than leasing back to use the power of the sail and turn it into forward motion.

Now we need to simultaniously (or in quick succession):

Bear away from the wind so that the relative wind increases and we have the full surface of the sail available to turn into motion. At the same time we want to lean our body back, into the wind, as far as we can to get our body as horizontal as possible. This does two things. Firstly it allows you resist the pull of the sail and secondly it allows us to push forwards (rather than down) on the board to make it accelerate. To get our body in this position we need to push the mast away from our body by leaving the shoulders back and keeping the front arm straight. while we do this we close the sail to get as much power into the sail quickly but gradually.

It is important that we push our hips forward so that our front ankle, front knee, hips and shoulder are all in one line and keep it stiff. If we do this we can make use of all the wind power of the sail .

Once we are planning we must keep an eye on the correct angle of attack of the sail . I insist, keep your body "stretched" (as in straight) so that you can continue to push as horizontally as you can with the front foot.

The only variant to our sailing post is when we are sailing upwind in which case we will do three things: shift our weight from the back foot on to the front foot and put pressure on the mast-foot while leaving the sail to the back of the board. The weight on the front foot avoids the board from getting a spin out, the pressure on the mast-foot keeps the wind force transmitted into the board and the sail retaining back mains the correct angle of attack on the closed reach ..