Windsurfing Instruction for Tacks

The Standard Tack is a functional maneuver for turning your rig around and sailing in the other direction by heading upwind. This allows the sailor to make a directional change without moving downwind which is especially important in waves because you are often fighting to stay upwind.   In addition, the tack is a move for safe and responsible sailing because when all the Jibe-Only sailors are downwind, you can avoid possible collision by Tacking upwind and away from the congestion.   In my humble opinion, responsible sailors commit to learning the short-board Tack shortly after learning to jibe.  The more options the better!

1. Helicopter Tacks

After learning the Standard Tack most sailors want to learn a trick and the Standard Heli-Tack seems to be a favorite which involves backwinding and flipping the sail. This is actually a fairly difficult maneuver to learn. There are variants of the Heli Tack which include the Stiffy, Clew First to name a few.

2. Advanced Tacks

Moving forward the advanced sailor usually learns one or more of the following Tacks: the Haas Tack, the Duck Tack, the Backwinded Tack, the Conca Tack, and the Nose Tack.  The Nose Tack has two versions: The  Standard Nose Tack  and the Clew First Nose Tack.

3. Creative Tacks

There are many other creative tacks including yours truly, the  Fakee Tack.   Others are the Air Tack, the Pirouette Tack, Jizz, and Jizz Inside the Booms.


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Video Play List

  • Backwinded Tack
    Play This Video
    This is an example of a backwinded tack on the starboard reach.   I am using a 5m sail and 100L freestyle board.   The beauty of this tack variation is that you can bear slightly off wind and draw out this transition for a smooth and stylish tack.   Kind of like those cool cats in the 1950's who slicked back their hair with Brilcreme. I guess this a tack the Fonz would perform.
    Rider = Royn Bartholdi
  • Duck Tack -   classic high wind example
    Play This Video
    This Duck Tack is performed on a direct reach across the wind on a short board in high wind. Notice the aggresive hop to the switch stance position and the sail duck. Also notice the sail hits the water but pops back up by pushing on the sail with the rear hand and grabbing the boom with the mast hand.
    Rider = Sean Aiken
  • Haas Tack -   one handed tweak version
    Play This Video
    This is a one handed variation of the Haas Tack. You will notice that once I am backwinded and the clew hand is windward (the leading edge into the wind), then I can remove the windward hand from the boom (I raise the hand in the air) because all the control is with the clew hand until I am on the other reach and need power in the sail again.
    Rider = Royn Bartholdi
  • Haas Tack
  • Standard Tack -   light wind variation, freestyle board
    Play This Video
    This Standard Tack demonstrates leaning the sail back (oversheeting) to initiate the maneuver and to drive the nose into the wind. This is followed by stepping the forward foot in front of the mast base, stepping to the other side of the sail, and pulling the mast forward. Remember to keep your body weight over the centerline of the board.
    Rider = Royn Bartholdi

Move Definitions for Tacks

Tack: A transition from one direction to the other (turning the board around) by heading upwind and through the eye of the wind. The sailor steps across the nose of the board to the other side.
Haas Tack: A Duck-Tack & Heli-Tack fusion by heading into the Heli-Tack in the switch stance position (out of the footstraps). Sometimes called (erroroneously) a Push-Tack. Inventor: Haas Jahrmarkt of Tangier, Morocco
Clew 1st Haas Tack: Performing a Hass-Tack but sailing clew-1st into the maneuver, Also known as a Conca Tack.
Duck Tack: A tack transition by heading across the wind, positioning the body in the switch stance position (but not in the straps); carving upwind, and then ducking under the sail to complete the tack.
Helicopter Tack: A tack combined with an upwind board and body 180 to complete the transition. More specifically, a tack where you carve through the eye of the wind and step forward on the board to backwind the sail. Then you bear away from the wind so the board is well directed in the opposite direction and push the clew through the wind so the sail rotates, as well as you body, to finish the transition.
Helicopter Tack Stiffy: A Heli-Tack with a sail rotation after you and the board have rotated.
Clew 1st Helicopter Tack: Rotate the sail 180 so you are sailing clew 1st into the Heli-Tack.
Jizz Helicopter Tack: A Heli-Tack with your back to the sail when performing the sail rotation.
Double Helicopter Tack: Rotate n times around the mast base.
Helicopter Tack Pirouette: A combination move where the sailor performs a Helicopter Tack then a body Pirouette.
Backwinded Tack: While on a beam reach, jump around the mast to the leeward side of the sail slowly carving upwind into a tack. A style maneuver.
Nose Tack: Step on the nose of the board to force the board rotation before flipping sail.
Clew 1st Nose Tack: Clew 1st nose tack.
Fakee Tack: The Fakee tack. Head up wind in the straps. Backwind and push the clew thru the wind.Head out of tack clew first and switch stance. Rotate sail and switch feet later.
Air Tack: Switch stance and stay in the straps.
Jizz Tack: Jizz.
Jizz Tack Inside Booms: Jizz Inside Booms.