The kono was one of the hardest moves to get my head around for the take off but once the sail duck was sorted, the move itself is relatively easy. The most important thing is ducking the sail, of which there are two techniques, I’ll cover both so you can try them out and choose for yourself.
The sail duck:
1 – Learn to sail the board fast and in control on the windward rail.
2 – The sail moves around you, not you around the sail!
3 – When ducking, stand over your board like a normal paddle-surfer does when they ride waves, do not lean back like a beginner snowboarder/skiier.
1 – The ‘delicate’ duck.
I really don’t have a name for this kind of sail duck so this is the best way I could describe it. Essentially when you duck the sail like this you are sailing along close to the wind with as much speed and power as possible and you carefully feed the sail into the wind like threading a needle, it looks pretty gay but quite useful at times (bit like sailing in booties). It’s not so hard to do but can be hard to maintain your speed and as a result some moves become a little tricky. Where I use this kind of sail duck is normally on moves where I want to stay close to the wind and take off quick as the power always remains in the sail. For instance it can be pretty good for the kono. The technique to duck the sail like this is really as it says in the text above, you simply feed the sail forwards into the apparent wind, using the clew of the sail to guide the mast low to the water, then guiding it back until you have both hands in a comfortable position on the other side of the sail.
2 – The ‘full-power’ duck
I’m more into this one and use if for most my moves. It is simply a case of sailing as fast as you possibly can across the wind and then throwing the sail through the duck. Two key points for the setup, the first is to sail in a slalom like position before you duck, go fast and put pressure on the fin (this can be very hard with modern day freestyle fins in chop) for lift. The second point is to pump the sail to pick up that last bit of speed before you duck, this can really help you save the duck if it goes a little wrong. Personally I don’t always pump the sail but I do more often than not. The technique for the full-power sail duck then is to do it across the wind, you want to transfer your weight from putting pressure on the fin to carving off the windward rail (so you start turning into the wind) and you essential rock your body forwards as the sail pumps to the back then throw the sail forwards and into the apparent wind FAST, making your way around the boom and pulling it back onto the opposite side of your body. Remember to put the sail around you, not you around the sail.
1. Once the sail is ducked make sure you get it low and towards the back so you can turn into the wind and swing it high. To get it low you simply apply pressure on the front hand and pull close to you with the back hand, it will get you more over the sail and ready to spring on take off.
2. As you carve into the wind you want to do two things, begin to feed the mast further into the wind and up with the front hand, let the back hand follow briefly (be sure that your hands are just slightly closer than normal). Do not just push up and out with both hands at the same time, the back hand has to pull the sail in a little before going out to give you that extra bit of height. It is a very short part of the move but I find it quite crucial, makes the difference between landing like the one in the video and a wet landing. The second thing to do is to begin to lean back and spring off your back leg, you are essentially falling backwards in this move as you take off.
3. At this point you should be reaching well above your head and have already pushed out hard with the back hand. If you are completely stacked then you push out a little less with the back hand but just reach higher with the front hand.
4. When you are first learning, this is the point to look over your shoulder for the landing, similar to a backloop, in fact most wave sailors see this move as being a flat water clew first backloop, which essentially it is.
5. As you come round for the landing pull yourself close to the boom and tuck your legs under your bum just in case you come up short on the landing, this is the best way to save it and still come out of it without dipping in the water. There are a few ways to land, the first you extend the clew into the wind and sail away clew first, the second you flip the sail on landing (like in the video above), the third you flip the sail before you land and sail away. That order is also their order of difficulty and how impressive they look. Sometimes the way you land dictates what you do but where possible try and flip the sail as early as you can. It’s just a matter of pulling the mast close to your body so the clew doesn’t catch the water.
– Pump hard, swing your body weight forwards, sail to the back then throw the sail forwards to duck it. Meanwhile make sure you keep sailing on the windward rail
– Catch the sail with the front hand first and pull in a little on the back hand to start turning into the wind.
– Throw the sail high (front hand leads the way followed by back hand then push out on the back hand) and start to lean back to fall under the sail.
– Pull in close with both hands and tuck your legs under your bum.
– Flip the sail by swinging the mast as close to your body as possible.
– Sail away
Still going wrong? Additional tips.
– There is quite a bit that can go wrong in this move from ducking the sail to taking off, once you have mastered the sail duck then it makes life a lot easier, so be sure to focus on that as much as you can. Here are some common errors I’ve experienced and learnt from.
– Probably the most common of them all was not being at the right angle to the wind, too far downwind and no matter how high and hard you throw the sail you are going to flop into the water. You need to be taking off as you are carving into the wind from across the wind. Be wary that your surroundings may take you off the wind more than you think. Try to remind yourself from time to time where the true wind is coming from, especially if you are somewhere flat where you can sail fast (i.e. certain places in Fuerteventura).
– Still getting wet then try pushing the sail higher and harder and looking over your shoulder more.
– Still dipping in, then a bigger sail will solve it, you need to have plenty of power when you duck the sail. If you do it to the point where you are almost scared then you are getting in the right territory.
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Got a question? Leave it in the comments below and I’ll answer when I’m off the water.
Disclosure: All boards can only take a certain amount of strain so this is my disclosure where I say that I hold no liability for snapped boards/masts or injury if you follow these tips. Actually if you follow them word for word you should avoid that but I have no idea if the board/mast you are using is weak from previous attempts or if it’s poorly manufactured. All I can say is you will improve your chances if you get on a VERY strong Patrik Diethelm board and use the bomb proof and light weight Sailloft sails.
like the Disclosure dude… 🙂