Old 23rd July 2007, 02:40 AM   #1
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Default Harness Safety Question

The other day, I used a harness for the first time, and something a little scary happened.

The wind died while I was hooked in, and I fell backwards pulling the sail on top of me. Once I was in the water, I panicked and tried to swim out from under the sail while I was still hooked in. In my disorientation, I wasn't prepaid to unhook myself underwater. Being upside down also allowed water to enter easily through the nose, causing me to swallow water and eventually surface choking.

Anyway, just wondering how to avoid that kind of thing. Any tips for gracefullly falling while being hooked in, both forwards and backwards?


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Old 23rd July 2007, 04:09 AM   #2
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Default RE: Harness Safety Question

What happened is a common thing. You should be prepared for the coming lulls. Look upwind to see them coming. When in a lull, I bend my knees and hang on a boom, and transfer my weight back to above my board. Maybe others do it in a different way, I don't know.
If you do fall backwards while hooked in, don't release the sail until you are in the water, then unhook and swim from under the sail in one direction. Don't change it Being under the sail I swim forward to the mast, find it with my hands and use it a support and reference point when to swim up.
Often I get unhooked somehow before I fall into the water so I hit the water with the sail above me in the air which lets me waterstart immediately
When falling forwards while hooked in do not release the sail for a different reason. Feet remain on the board, too. You stay in the push-up position. Thus you cannot tear the sail with your body.
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Old 23rd July 2007, 06:33 AM   #3
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Default RE: Harness Safety Question

I agree, make sure you look upwind all the time to spot gusts and lulls so they don't hit you unexpectantly. If I know I am going to fall backwards, I usually just sharply pull the boom towards me and I unhook. that way I can land in the water and really extend my arms to keep the sail flying. Saves a lot of work recovering the rig.

When I know a lull is coming, I bring my hands closer together to get myself further away from the rig, and lift the hips while pushing the boom away. this action brings you more over the board and won't result in a splash if done correctly and in anticipation for a lull.

If you are underwater with the sail ontop of you and you are hooked in, try tapping the boom 3 times to ease some of the panic away from the situation. After that, calmly move your hands towards the lines and raise your hips towards the boom and manually unhook the lines with your hands. After that, blow out through your nose so water doesn't come in and you are ready to resurface. ahahah just remember not to kick the fin

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Old 23rd July 2007, 09:45 AM   #4
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Default RE: Harness Safety Question

Hi Juan,
Nick and Thomas have given you some good ideas here.
MOst of all you need to avoid panic. Best way to do that is as Nick suggests.
I recommend that sailors at your skill level actually "practice" getting themselves unhooked from the harness with the sail on top of them.
Do this ""practice" in shallow water, where you can simply stand up to get some air if you have any problems. You can make it safer if you find someone learning the same skills and you have them be your "spotter" until you have a "learned response" pretty well dialed in.
Then you can return the favor and spot for them as they learn the same skills.
If you practice getting unhooked and the best way out from under your sail (usually following the boom to the mast is the shortest distance and the easiest/fastest way out) when you find yourself under your sail in the future you will (without any panic) simply use your back hand to clear the harness line off the hook, then follow your front hand along the boom and out from under the sail.
Also, a Nick and Thomas suggest, you need to kep a sharp eye upwind and ahead to "anticipate" whether you're going to have to deal with a gust or a lull.
The strategies suggested should serve you very well.
If you fall forward, on top of your sail, do not let go of the bbom.
Better to bend your boom than fly uncontrollably into the sail/mast/boom with your out of control body.
As Nick suggests, hold onto the boom, keep your feet/toes on the board, and ride it down to the water.
Practice is more important for getting out from under your sail quickly,
so work on that first.
But you also need to work on riding the boom down in leeward falls and how to turn catapault type falls into simple leeward falls.
You can always simply "bail out" but this has some risk involved as well. Boards have been known to sail for quite a ways without the sailor so you need good swimming skills.
Also, your board and rig become somewhat an "unguided" missle, and can do damage to the board/rig or to others sailing nearby if you simply "let go".
Try to learn where the "point of inevitability" is for each type of fall, and learn to ease up on your sheeting angle, fin pressure, etc. BEFORE everything comes apart.
Hope this helps,
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