Helicopter Tack

The Standard-Heli-tack was first performed in the later part of the Jurassic period and, as a ritual to the glorious history of windsurfing, most sailors are indoctrinated into freestyle by attempting this trick first. But make no bones about it; this little bugger of a move can be very challenging as the sailor tries to figure out the changes in backwind pressure, followed by some fancy footwork, and a sail rotation that can throw them off the board.
Step 1 instruction for Helicopter Tack
Step 2 instruction for Helicopter Tack
Step 3 instruction for Helicopter Tack
Step 4 instruction for Helicopter Tack
Step 5 instruction for Helicopter Tack
Step 6 instruction for Helicopter Tack
Step 7 instruction for Helicopter Tack
Step 8 instruction for Helicopter Tack
Step 9 instruction for Helicopter Tack
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Rider: Royn Bartholdi


Tips for step 1)  With lots of speed, unhook, get out of the foot straps and rake the sail back toward the tail of the board so the nose drives into the eye of the wind.
Tips for step 2)  Make sure the nose carves way through the wind and then place your forward foot in front of the mast.
Tips for step 3)  Backwind the sail by bringing the mast windward into the wind and extending your arms to present the back of the sail to the wind. You are also shifting your weight to the middle of the board where the flotation is balanced.
Tips for step 4)  Allow the board to bear away from the wind so it is well positioned in the new direction. This is accomplished by keeping the hands extended and the mast tilted toward the nose of the board, yet controlled.
Tips for step 5)  Open your hips to allow the board to swing downwind while shifting your weight to the back foot. Swing the mast toward the nose and down wind, away from your body. The clew hand maintains an even pressure.
Tips for step 6)  Now quickly shuffle and switch the feet into the new position while bringing the mast completely windward and vertical with the clew pointing into the eye of the wind.
Tips for step 7)  Push the clew completely out while pulling the mast toward your body to make it vertical. The power of the wind will rotate the sail.
Tips for step 8)  \Grab the mast with the free hand just underneath the boom where you have lots of control. Then grab the other side of the boom with the other hand.
Tips for step 9)  Put both hands on the boom, trim, adjust the board with your feet, and sail away.


  • You can enter this move with your feet slid slightly forward to the mast so the backwinding is easier.
  • Be sure to carve through the wind as much as possible before attempting to backwind the sail.
  • Most people get stuck when trying to do the foot work so start the feet switch just before you move the mast vertical. The timing is important. The feet should be in position before the clew passes thru the eye of the wind.
  • Many sailors get backwinded only to get slammed into the water onto their back. This happens because they try to throw the clew into the wind instead of leading the mast into the wind and applying slight pressure to the clew hand.
  • Focus on keeping your heels down on the board during the backwind section of this move.
  • Make sure you have enough room to try this maneuver... at least a mast length all around you.