The Heli-tack

This is an excellent move

to learn. Primarily, it is a very useful move, but

it also has excellent skills transference to many

other moves. So why do we do it? Its great in light

winds and is often said to be easier than a regular

tack when the board is going slow, eg. on the inside

in waves. The move also retains power in the sail

and, therefore, keeps the nose afloat, which is very

handy on sinkier boards.

If you attain this move then it will significantly help

you to improve or make tacks, gybes, carving 360s, trick

gybes and spocks.

The move has 3 phases and you should aim to acquire competence

at each phase in order to ensure progression. We can also

work towards successful completion by improving our FUNDAMENTALS,

which will be covered in future articles. The phases are – Taking

the board through the wind / Front to sail stability /

Rig transition.

Take the board right through

head to wind to a close reach on the new

tack. Push with the back foot and pull with the

front foot (FUNDAMENTAL). The rig is back and the

body is forward and you are LOOKING FORWARD.

The rig comes across with the front

arm extended and the back hand neutral i.e. NOT PUSHING,

in order to fill the sail with wind on the new side.

The weight is more over the front foot, keep LOOKING


At front to sail, you must now

establish stability (FUNDAMENTAL). The rig is back

and the body is forward with the front hand keeping

the rig away and the back hand controlling the power.


weight is on the toeside (TOP TIP). LOOK FORWARD

to assess your point of sail. Your choice is to

pause here briefly or sail a while front to sail

but you must be stable.

The rig transitions by swinging

around the nose. The board is flat and your weight

moves more over the back foot as you resist the power

by keeping the mast away. Your back hand will go well down the boom and will

be drawn in (TOP TIP).

The rig is going around the nose as the feet change. This footwork is similar

to the step gybe. The mast arm will bend to bring the rig back upright as it

goes to leeward of the board. LOOK FORWARD

You can pause here or continue to flip the rig. Solid clew first sailing will

greatly assist you here (FUNDAMENTAL). Keep LOOKING FORWARD and to assist the

flip the mast hand can slide up (FUNDAMENTAL).

The rig continues its journey back as the body comes forward, keep LOOKING FORWARD.

The feet are wide apart to keep you stable.

The rig comes forward and the body moves back. Nice one. You are now ready to

plane or head upwind and will hopefully be dry.

"Try to approach and gain control during

each phase. The animated / movie sequences

will help with visualization,

check out the FUNDAMENTALS of front

to sail and sailing clew


View video of this move:

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John Skye K-57

"This move is the most important move anyone

can learn. It is the basis of

the spock, the flaka and also nearly all other combinations of moves.


key is to keep the back hand tucked in to the body and the front hand

extended. Learn this well and you are ready for everything!!"

Ben Proffitt K-800

"Make sure it's not too windy otherwise you'll probably

end up chopping your legs off with the mast."

Robby Swift K-89

"Helicopter tricks are cool because it is a way

of turning around while keeping upwind and still

looking cool! They are actually easier than normal

tacks when there is a lull and you have to turn around

not planing."

Phil Horrocks K-303

"Start on the land, then on a big board and finish

on a little board! swifty foot work is key and it's

the feet that have to change before the sail otherwise

you get in a backwinded pickle and fall! so get those

feet sorted first."