How to perform a windsurfing Backloop
Jump vertical, hit the apex and spread back hand, have a look and pull the kit through the wind, get the nose down and tail up, be ready to adjust on landing. Photo Karel Tyc
This feature we are going to look at perhaps one of the most elegant and aspirational jumps out there, the back loop (‘backie’). Let’s kick off by saying that this is a very challenging move and you have to be ready to take some pretty hefty ‘learning experiences’ on the head in order to progress to sailing away from it. The backie requires utter focus and belief and constant reflection but is perhaps the best jump out there as you know you earned the landing and satisfaction of sailing away from it. It is a beauty and a beast of a move, you can fly peacefully up, rotate and land and yet some days she just gets away from you.
Photos: Martin Schoppler & Karel Tyc
(This feature originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Windsurf Magazine. To read more features like this first, Print and Digital subscriptions are available. Prices include delivery globally for 10 x issues a year!)
THE SUM OF ALL PARTS
Now I have your attention and respect for the task at hand, let’s give you some positive skills and drills to best prepare you for nailing the backie. Please feel the belief lifting inside you from now!
Before we kick off I recommend you reread my wave strategy pieces and jumping higher articles in order to give you a good game plan and a solid technique base.
Skills and drills:
- Vertical high jumping: this will equip you with the ability to control your higher jumps and getting comfy and controlled whilst up there. Height equals time (to rotate) so ensure you are very competent at boosting height. Tips here are to select steeper ramps and wave sections, get speed and take off looking high and upwind to the sky. The top tip is to ‘take off on a strong front leg’ as this will give you vertical height and ensure you are not already spinning / veering into the wind. On the way up get compact, lean back and pull the boom in as you ‘keep looking high to fly.’ Level the board off at the top and float down tail first.
- You got the look: after competency in high vert jumps is attained, next on the journey is having a look over your shoulder and down at the top of the jump and then steering it back around. This gives you a feel for your shape at the apex of the jump and the power of ‘where you look is where you go.’ You will go slightly through the wind; at that point it is important to look forward to steer back to your original course across the wind as you float down tail first.
- Nosies: the back loop landing requires you to land nose first and off the wind. Therefore you need to equip your skill set with slick nose first landings. The tips here are to push down on your front arm (just prior to landing) and your front leg and then on landing sheet out, get your weight back and carve (look) upwind slightly to stop you going round the front.
- Keep it simple: look where you wish your kit to go to way more in all your basics – sailing upwind, looking out of tacks and top turns etc. Your vision is crucial in the back loop steering and acquisition technique!
- Flip the sail effectively and efficiently all the time. Again, we work with the wind.
“ The backie is a beauty and a beast of a move, you can fly peacefully up, rotate and land and yet some days she just gets away from you ”
MAKE IT BACK
It is important to understand that the backie is in three parts:
- – Vertical jump.
- – Rotation through the wind at the apex of the jump, pulling the rig in and close, looking over your front shoulder to steer you round.
- – The landing, which is where you spot your landing and get the rig forward to touch down nose-first and on a downwind course.
You are already quite equipped for many of these skills with the previous drills presented. However, there is one cheeky last part which is where you finish off the rotation under the water by opening the sail and weighting your heels, what I call the underwater top turn.
My first big tip is bite off the backie chunks one at a time. This is actually the great thing about backies as you can see some steady progress without having to fully go for the whole move. The trick here is to under-rotate at first and slowly try to add a little more rotation with each attempt and through this process you will inevitably be landing a lot on your back but you will not be doing the very damaging over rotated suicide backies. You can increase and add rotation but you can’t take it off easily!
The best tips for the backie are once again to use your vision, and really look where you want to go.
- Look up to go high, and if you do this with your hands relatively together then you will go higher still.
- The rotation comes from looking over your front shoulder and it is here your arms spread wide at the apex of the jump.
The next tips would be:
- Maintain a compact body, close to the boom.
- Don’t over rotate on the way up.
- Go up and down on a strong front leg – i.e. not taking off with too much weight on the back foot!
- Lastly, did I say really look round and then down to rotate and spot your landing?
LET’S GET AN OVERVIEW OF THE MOVE…
- Spot your ramp, unhook and get down. ready to spring off the wave.
- Carve slightly into the wind to initiate the first part of the rotation.
- For a lower loop you carve more and earlier, and when you go higher, it’s less and later.
- You’re aiming to kill all of your forward speed as you take off so that you go straight up – so look high to the sky and that is where you will go.
- Pull the sail in close and sheet in to give yourself more lift.
- Keep leaning back and looking to the sky, aiming to point that nose fully vertical as you reach your apex.
- As you reach the apex of the jump, you should be halfway through the rotation and facing into the wind.
- Move your backhand way down the boom and look over your front shoulder to initiate the next part of the rotation.
- This is that weightless, peaceful part, and feels amazing.
- Really exaggerate looking forward and down, which will pull the rig and board across and even further through the wind.
- This is where you must keep thinking ‘spot your landing’.
- Look at where you’re going to stick the nose into the water and your shoulders and hips will do the rest.
- Now you’re into that ground-rush feeling and are aiming to get the rig forwards to push the nose down, so keep pulling the rig across you and start to extend your front arm.
- It is crucial now to get your rig forward and your body back.
- So extend your front leg to push the nose down, and keep your back leg bent, as you glue your arse to the tail of the board!
- Maintain this nose-first landing position while on a downwind course.
- Hold on tight and point your toes.
- On a good one you’ll go under the water a bit where you finish off the rotation in what we call the ‘underwater top turn.’
- With your back arm down the boom it helps you control the power as you come that last bit through the wind.
- Open the sail and weight the heels while staying low over the back foot, then start to look forward. Yep, that’s the top turn bit.
- You should now have completed the final bit of the rotation with a bit of submersion and use of your waveriding skills.
“ Take off on a strong front leg as this will give you vertical height and ensure you are not already spinning / veering into the wind ”
THE FINISHING TOUCH
If you’re overpowered at the apex then pull the sail in really close to you to take all the power out of it. This is very very effective! You can also control the rotation on the way down by sheeting out and extending your front arm to slow the rotation. Or you can sheet in and rake the sail back more to turn you further through the wind to increase your rotation
THE BACK END
Now you have an overview of the move and the main tips, let’s give you the end game. We cannot overstate how important it is to use your vision and slide your backhand way down the boom at the apex. I often forget how effective this is and berate myself for not doing it more in my own self-coaching. With this wide grip you can hold all the power on landing and open the sail afterwards to finish the rotation off.
There is a lot going on in the backie, yet as you get more oriented you can start to get more control out of them. Lastly, please understand and visualise that the backloop needs vertical height to depower the rig and the majority of the rotation is done on the way done. Good hunting as I know you will ‘Bring it back.’
JEM’S REFLECTIONS AND TARGETS
In the last few years I have looked to get my backies higher and better. Whilst I have crashed more, I have gained some key insights. The main one, gleaned from Mr. Jamie Hancock, is a strong front leg. This has helped immensely and is now my key focus. The next area I am now focusing on is hitting the water with my arse more on the tail of the board with a bent back leg and keeping this all the way into and through the landing. I love backies and so too I hope will you.
// Coming in to land so keep that tail up and get your nose down. Photo Martin Schoppler
// Hit the pocket straight and take off on a strong front leg as you look to the sky. Photo Karel Tyc
Medium sized ramps that have some kick and steepness to them but not that threatening. Clear space before the ramp so you can set up and choose your take off spot and keep speed and be settled. Side shore to side on is best. Go to the right spot to get the right conditions.
// All the looking may be good but I must be more active at pulling the kit through the wind with my torso and front arm. Photo Karel Tyc
// Close but I need to look over my front shoulder way more and have back hand way further down the boom. Photo Karel Tyc