Clew First Beach Start with Jem Hall

The Clew First Beachstart / Waterstart

Now that you are a waterstart master, it is time to take it to the next level and address getting up and away in a clew first style. This technique gives you another starting option and is very useful should you happen to fall mid gybe and manage to keep the rig flying.


It is a good idea to build up to clew first waterstarts by starting with deep water clew first beachstarts.

For the purposes of practicing clew first beachstarts, you will need to position your equipment into a clew first position.  One method for doing this is the DRY GYBE and is demonstrated in this video clip.

You can see that in waist deep water, the board is turned to the new tack whilst you walk around the back of the board and gain control clew first. Through steering with the rig in the beachstart position, the board can be taken through 180 degrees.

Once into the clew first position, the move can be broken into 3 key stages:

  • Positioning – Keep the board off the wind
  • Up and away – Getting on the board and continuing clew first
  • Controlled exit – Sailing away clew first


  • Try controlling your sail in a clew first position on the beach before trying it on the water.
  • Be competent in sailing in the clew first position before trying clew first beachstarts and waterstarts.  (We will be covering this technique in detail in a future issue but in the meantime, checkout FUNDAMENTALS for some pointers)


Look where you want to go – As in the waterstart we are moving forward and in doing so, we look at the mast foot to get up and away.  In order to have a smooth controlled exit you will then be looking forward.

Rig away – In order to exit the water with a relatively less efficient rig (due to the clew first position) it is paramount to extend the arms.  The rig will continue being kept away in the controlled clew first exit. This will enable us to control its power in the unstable position, whilst clew first.


With a wide hand spread the board is held downwind on a broad reach (keeping the board pointing downwind allows the sail to be controlled more easily). You are at the back of the board BUT well upwind of it.
With your front foot on the bottom, your back foot is placed on the board. It is positioned between the straps,  just behind the front foot strap. The heel is placed to windward of the centreline in readiness for the foot straddling the centreline upon sailing away.


Note the subtle shift of the back hand towards the mast in order to get the rig more upright. The board is pulled in with a bent back leg as the heel moves towards your bottom, whilst simultaneously extending the arms. To help you do this look at (and crouch towards) the mastfoot.
Your clew hand will be extending and you can pull in with the mast hand for more power. Added upward propulsion comes from kicking with the extended front leg.
The front foot will land on the board close to the mastfoot and pointing forwards.
Clew first control comes from sliding the back hand towards the clew, check out how far! You will be looking forwards and balancing the rigs power by keeping the rig away and sinking down.
Looking to gain more control as the wind increases; body sinks lower and clew hand sheets in more. After sailing a moderate distance the rig is flipped whilst you keep looking forwards.  Check out the helicopter tackfor rig flip visuals and tips.
  • Point board downwind to increase sail control
  • Back hand moves towards the clew for control and towards the mast to get up and away
  • Back leg to bum as arms extend
  • Look at (and crouch towards) that mastfoot to get out of the water
  • Once up, look forwards and keep the rig away
  • Get low to control the power
  • Flip rig and keep looking forwards


Terry Luxton K-688“The windier it gets, the more I put my back hand down the boom (towards the clew) to help me control the rig.”
Phil Horrocks K-303“Make sure that you learn this technique on both tacks.  A lot of people are very one-sided but this is a technique that is definitely worth learning on both tacks!”
Ben Proffitt K-800“Learning to clew first waterstart is a must for anyone learning to carve gybe!  When a gybe goes wrong, the rig often remains flying and a clew first waterstart gets you up and going again in no time!”


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