Jessica Gent progressing with her gybes in Barbados

TECHNIQUE: HOW TO GYBE

Deep Blue Barbados owner / instructor Paolo Perucci explains his method for learning to gybe (turning downwind), which he began practicing just a week after starting to wing foil. The video was shot in Barbados with flat conditions and winds of around 15 – 18 knots. Paolo is using an Ozone Wasp V1 five metre wing and a 5’11’’ 60 litre board with a 1,250cm² front wing. Everyone’s learning curve and approach can differ, so get out on the water and just start trying!

Jessica Gent progressing with her gybes in Barbados

TECHNIQUE: HOW TO GYBE

Deep Blue Barbados owner / instructor Paolo Perucci explains his method for learning to gybe (turning downwind), which he began practicing just a week after starting to wing foil. The video was shot in Barbados with flat conditions and winds of around 15 – 18 knots. Paolo is using an Ozone Wasp V1 five metre wing and a 5’11’’ 60 litre board with a 1,250cm² front wing. Everyone’s learning curve and approach can differ, so get out on the water and just start trying!

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THE SET-UP Although I can initiate a front gybe with minimum speed if required, I like to initiate the turn with a lot of speed because it gives me more balance and flow during the whole turn. To achieve good speed before the turn I focus on foot position and wing power. If the wind is light I usually pump the board to increase speed. A wing pump is done by pumping down with both your legs and simultaneously pumping the wing with your arms. ENGAGING THE TURN Once I have achieved the desired speed (pretty much as fast as I can go) I usually move my back foot a little closer to the tail of the board. This means that my centre of gravity subsequently moves to the rear of the board, almost directly on top of the foil, helping me gain more control during the turn. I release the wing just as I initiate the turn with my feet and engage the turn using only the foil. At this point I like my wing to be on top of my head and as neutral as much as possible; not full of wind. MID-TURN I look at what the board is doing, but most importantly I should be looking at the chop or small wave and where I want to go. In the video example I’m riding flat water, but I will usually try to find a piece of chop or a small wave to help me during the turn. Unless the water is 100% flat, using chop is an excellent way to maintain momentum of the foil during the turn. The chop adds speed and also ‘carries’ the lift of the foil around, so the foil doesn’t drop during the turn even if the speed changes. Note: at this stage the wing will be neutral or close to neutral, so you will have to keep the momentum going by trying to keep the foil driving forward using the board and chop only. WING FLIP As I prepare to flip the wing it should be in the neutral position over my head. A big tip here is that I am also SHIFTING THE WING INTO THE WIND before flipping it. If you look at the video my wing is to my left (into the wind) at the time in which I release the back hand. My focus at this point is really on speed and maintaining the flow of the foil, not on the wing. In the video you can see that once the wing is in the right position it easily whips by itself and flips around. The wind almost automatically does that for you. There are different ways to flip the wing and some are more efficient than others, depending on your level and wind conditions. It’s fun to play around with them, but get comfortable with the basic flip first. If everything is going according to plan your wing will almost flip by itself and all you have to do is switch your grip and grab the wing on the opposite tack. Lighter wind flip tip: you will notice that I seem to push the wing with my back hand in order to achieve a quicker flip. Sometimes in light wind conditions your speed of turn is greater than the speed at which the wing rotates, so I use my back hand to accompany the wing into a quicker flip.

HAND SWITCH Once I have flipped the wing there comes a moment when both hands are on the front handle, which on my Ozone Wasp is the very first handle of the boom / strut. I prepare to switch my front hand so that my back hand can become my front hand while the wing is neutral. As the wing completes its rotation it naturally gets into the right position for me to grab it with the back hand. From there the wing is pretty much in front of me in the natural sailing position. FEET My feet remain in the same stance throughout, so I exit the turn in ‘switch’ stance (or ‘toeside’ if you’re used to kiting terminology). Toeside riding means that most of my body weight is on the back foot so keeping the wing in front of me helps with balancing the board. Toeside riding is always back foot heavy. Note: riding out of my gybe I always stay toeside after the jibe. That is my surfing stance, so especially if I’m riding in waves I do most of my riding on the same stance to ensure maximum control. I’m a ‘regular’ footed rider, which means I’m more comfortable with my left foot forward. You may feel stronger to have your right foot forward, which is known as ‘goofy’. I can ride along in toe-side very comfortably for a good distance. If I decide to switch my feet after the gybe I always end the turn first before slightly decreasing the foil speed and height. I then make a quick foot switch (a separate article). The only reason why I would switch my feet these days would be to give my legs a rest, or if I am focusing on going upwind. Toeside riding doesn’t allow me to be at my most efficient when going upwind, so I’d switch my feet if I was trying to maximize my upwind performance. COMMON PROBLEMS: The most common mistake is focusing on the wing too much when turning. Your focus should ideally be on your turn and board; i.e. foot placing. The wing will flip almost naturally by itself during a turn. All you have to do is grab it once it has flipped and leave it high overhead until you’re ready to grab it on the other tack. If possible focus on carrying more speed in to the turn and let the wing do its job. Another common mistake is holding on to the wing too much with your back hand during the turn. I think an early release of the back hand helps to keep the balance, especially when learning. If you are coming from windsurfing you know that you can keep the sail in the same position until after the completed turn. But it’s not the same with the wing. Once you let go of your back hand, lif the wing overhead with your front hand, as this is the most neutral position and the where the wing will naturally rotate with you as you come out of the turn, heading in the new direction. Finally, choosing the wrong turn radius is a very common mistake. Too wide and you will lose speed; too tight and you will likely be thrown off balance. Try to find a personal happy medium to maintain flow and speed. Normally I let the chop or the wave decide that radius for me, but if I’m turning in flat water I will just focus on speed and flow, trying to achieve a turn that feels ‘cruisy’ and not too radical. Foiling equals gliding to me, rather than performing radical moves, at least when turning. This is my personal approach to basic downwind turns / gybes on the wing and I hope it works for you!

Paolo Perucci moved from Rome in Italy to Barbados 18 years ago to windsurf, surf and start a family. After retiring from 20 years in the airline industry, Paolo started a surf school and accommodation business on the island. He loves it all: surfing, windsurfing, kiting, SUP and now teaches wing foiling, too: www.deepbluesurfbarbados.com

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Travelling to Barbados recently resumed from the UK / Europe and the US. Barbados closed its borders fairly early in March and thanks to a very strict lockdown virus infection numbers remain low and, so far, only seven deaths. There are protocols in place for travellers wishing to travel to barbados, any information can be found consulting the National travel office websites and the Visit Barbados website here. GoPro filming in the video: Stefano Porcu

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