Heli Tack

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.


Hot Tip
“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.”



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