View Full Version : Sailing overpowered

sam 2007
3rd November 2007, 11:01 PM
I have always had a problem with my arms getting tired right away on windy days.

Three days ago I was fully powered on my 6.5 Retro and RRD 165 Z-Ride in 15 - 20 knots. It was a little gusty with some chop. I was sailing comfortably except that my arms got tired and ached most of the time.

I think what I do is to oversheet the sail with my arms and then lean back too far. I keep having to pull myself back up with my arms. I also do the tug of war pulling first with one arm and then the other. I tried setting my harness lines close together but that seems to make the sail more twitchy.

Even when the wind dropped I'll be sailing along ok but over and over I start to fall backwards and then sheet in hard to come over the board. I get set and lean back a little and then have to oversheet again a few seconds later.

Why I am so dysfunctional and is there any hope? My arms will thank you for any wisdom you might share! :)


4th November 2007, 04:40 PM
hey, i had the same problem in the beginnig.
The first problem are your harness lines: rather then moving them closer together, move the entrire thing about 5 cm to one side or the other, most likely towards the clew of your sail. Keeping each side of your line about 1.5 fists apart (don't try to put them closer then one fist appart, you lose a lot of controle and gain unnecesairy powe which you won't be able to controle properly)
Second problem is your position, you lean in to early first of all and when you do, i think you put too much weight on your back foot which will make you lose your plan and have to go oversheet to pull yourself up again. Try to move your front foot somewhat more inwards, more towards the mastfoot before the plane, once you can fell it coming first lean hook in your harness, lean somewhat back, move your front foot outwards, then bend through your rear legs knee keeping your weight on the front of your board and leaning in at the same time, this should set of your plane right asway because by doing this you tug the mast over the nose of your board, you open your sails and your wieght displacement is ideal. Whilst you're doing all this you should slowly be moveing more and more to the back of your board and try to maintain this position untill you feel fully powered and then your can alter your course to where you want, strech your legs if you can and lean in. Always look in the way you want to go and keep your front knee pointed towards the sailingdirection (it sounds weird but you do it automatically)

I hope this helps


ps: be carefull with the big boards in strong winds .... they can handle to be overpowered but you need to keep them as such else they start to catch wind and waves which can make surfing hellish

5th November 2007, 08:22 AM
Hi Sam,
I sort of agree with some of what Haiko suggests, but I think you may be confusing some harness line issues with arm strain issues.
Did you just start wearing more of your winter gear recently? Are you wearing gloves yet?
Before I launch into why changing to thicker winter wetsuits and sailing in gloves tires your arms out much more rapidly than when you sail in board shorts and a rash guard, please tell me if you recently made this change to thicker warmer gear?

Also there is the phenomenon of sailing powered up to overpowered, vs sailing less than fully powered up.
When you get fully powered and start going quite a bit faster, there's a tendency (with pretty much all sailors I think) to begin to grip the boom much more tightly, not lean back with your hips to take the pull off your arms, and to begin to take over some portion of the load on the boom directly with your arms (meaning you begin to bend your arms and pull rather than keeping your arms fully extended and loose, so you can "Play the Piano" with your fingers on the boom).
If you are indeed "oversheeting" when you sail into a lull (whether due to a natural tendency to "fall back" away from the rig and bringing the rig with you, or just because it feels like you are falling into the water backwards so you pull the rig in in an attempt to pull your self up over the board).
Either way, oversheeting the sail kills it's power and actually makes the situation a bit worse as you are decreasing the rig's ability to hold up your body weight.
What to do about this...... corrective action so to speak.....?
Train yourself to look ahead an a little upwind to see what's coming your way (a gust...
or a lull).
If it's a gust, head a little higher, sheet in a little more and use the extra power to get upwind, or.... stay on the same course and don't sheet in much allowing your board speed to increase significantly.
If you see a lull coming, head off a little, sheet out a little and start bringing your weight in over the board BEFORE the lull reaches you. In other words, look ahead and upwind, and anticipate gusts/lulls while you have the time to respond without falling back or falling off plane, or getting jerked over the handlebars.
Hope this helps,

5th November 2007, 05:42 PM
just a little note to "thicker winter wetsuits and sailing in gloves" you have to make sure you get a wet suit intended for WINDSURFING. The arms are much more elastic and don't cut off circulation, normal wetsuits just don't help there.

sam 2007
5th November 2007, 11:06 PM
Hey Guys,

Thanks for the replies. I'm going out again today in 15 -25 and will try to use your suggestions. I'll let you know how it goes.

Roger, I'm wearing my 4/3 suit now with my summer gloves. I do know that heavier cold water gloves can be extremely tiring but I'm not using them yet. I have the problem with arm fatigue in warm weather sometimes too.


6th November 2007, 07:11 AM
Some of this thread seems relevant to recent trouble I have been having. I have recently switched to a winter suit and _very_ thin gloves. At the same time, I've been getting some days in with higher than usual winds for me. For example today, I was well powered up with a 4.7 (forecast was for 30mph gusts of 40). Anyway, I am finding that I can only ride for 15 minutes before my hand is seemingly paralyzed (i.e., loses all grip strength). I did notice that at times i was holding the boom with my front arm with it noticeably bent (like lifting a weight). So I seem to have a confluence of factors that have converged and so today, I was just taking a few short runs, coming in to rest and warm up (40 F), repeat. Any thoughts about what is the biggest cause of this and what to focus on to correct it?



6th November 2007, 07:51 AM
Hi Sam, and Jeff....
Gloves (any size gloves except the palmless kind) really add to the diameter of your boom.
Also, when the weather gets a little colder and the wind comes up a bit there is a tendency for you to bend your arms and get in a little closer to the rig. This causes the pull from the rig to transfer from your harness and the big muscles in your hips and thighs to the much smaller mucsles in your arms and shoulders.
Also, the higher the windspeed the more likely you are to "gorilla grip" your boom.
Learn to use your hands as simple "adjusters" and try to relax your arms and forearms so that you can "play the piano" with your fingers on top of the boom.
I know this is hard to retrain yourself to do. I still tend to tighten my grip when the wind gets stronger and the water/weather gets a bit colder.
Also, the cold causes arm fatigue.
So, there are a variety of factors.
Ist) Get the smallest diameter boom yoiu can find to use with your gloves in winter or cold weather sailing.
2nd) Learn to trust your rig to hold you up so that you don't oversheet, and learn to anticipate the lulls so you are already moving your weight inboard as the lull takes the power away from your sail.
3 rd) Try to relax your arms. Think of them as simply "ropes" that connect your shoulders to the boom but do not take the load of the sail pulling. Use your arms in conjunction with well balanced harness lines so that you use them to simply make adjustments. The harness takes 90% or more of the actual force generated by the rig.
Hope this helps,

6th November 2007, 07:55 AM
excellent, roger thank you.
I think, for me, working on relaxing my arms will be key.

sam 2007
6th November 2007, 11:31 PM
Roger, Haiko,

I sailed more confortably yesterday both powered up and not. For the first 20 min I was competely overpowered on my 6.5 and it was tough to relax. Then the wind dropped just enough that I was able to plane without oversheeting so much. After 30 min the wind dropped way off so I was underpowered for the next hour. Then for the last hour it picked back up and I was planing off and on. So, it was a good day to practice your suggestions.

I sailed with less arm effort when planing by moving my harness lines foward 1 1/2 inches and kept them about 5 inches apart. The sail was much quieter than when I had the lines 2 inches apart. I moved the lines forward because I think I was oversheeted in the past with just harness pressure. I sailed more upright most of the time and didn't have to pull myself back up nearly as often.

When the wind dropped to 8 knots, I did better too. I didn't lean back so much and focused on not oversheeting the sail.

I had a much better day than last week on the same board and sail in about the same wind so thank you both for your help. I even sailed for 3 hrs without a snack or water break and that is unheard of for me.

Roger, thank you for saying everyone pulls too much with their arms in windy conditions. I really thought it was only me and was pretty depressed thinking that there was no hope of getting better. :)


7th November 2007, 03:31 AM
your welcome mate. As long as your not drinking the salt water you can sail ages, but once you get to waterstart you'll see you won't last more then an hour without fresh water :p i know i don't ;) Anyway, glad to be of service mate