High Flyers

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Julien Taboulet is one of the Worlds top windsurfers. We saw him sailing at Whitsand, South Africa this winter. It was a fairly gnarly day, cross onshore, logo high waves and plenty of other Pros out sailing. However, despite the abundance of talent on the water, it was Julien who stood out. Why? Because his jumps were absolutely MASSIVE!!! (Check the videos to see him in action on that day).

During a brief visit to sea level, we caught up with Julien to ask him how he manages to go so much higher than anyone else. Here are his words.

Going high is all about technique. I practice a lot and have increased the height I get in my jumps by at least a meter each year over the past few years.

The two key points are speed and hitting the peak of the wave, but there is a lot more to it than that!


Equipment is important. You need to have a board that is FAST and a sail that gives you plenty of POWER, particularly on the back hand. I used to use the Neil Pryde Zone, but now I use the Neil Pryde Search as it gives more pull on the backhand to get height. I now jump higher because of this. Anyone over about 80kg needs a lot of power from the sail to get height.

I am about 85-90 kg, but I try not to use a bigger sail as it makes it more difficult to land jumps and waveride. Instead, I use a powerful sail. It is very important to choose a type of sail with the right amount of power to match your weight.

The HIGH! back loop (double click to play)


Speed is extremely important. To go fast, you should try to use longer harness lines as they keep your body away from the sail, get your weight out more and allow you to use your legs to absorb the bumps when pre-jumping waves on the way out and building your speed towards the take-off ramp.

I used to use 28 inch lines, but now I use 32 inch lines and I go a lot faster!

Also as you jump over the smaller waves on the way out, try to land your board relatively flat to keep your speed up for the main ramp.


You should look for the STEEPEST peak on the oncoming wave, ideally a bit downwind of where you are heading. This allows you to bear off towards it for even more speed. The more peak there is in the wave, the more power it has to launch you skywards!

As you approach the peak of the wave at top speed, you must make sure that you gain ‘feeling’ in your sail. If you are going very quickly and quite broad off the wind, you may have to carve up slightly and sheet out a little to get this feeling (power) back into the rig.

As you go up the wave, you must bend your legs in readiness to PUSH off the peak with your back leg. The timing of this is absolutely crucial. It is an extremely dynamic move and if you do it too soon or too late, you will lose a lot of your power and reduce your height significantly.


When I hit the wave, no matter what kind of jump I am going to do, I always think about doing a high jump first. This means that once I get in the air, I PULL in with my back hand and TUCK up my legs, which helps me gain height. The more you tuck your body into a ball and pull in with your back hand, the more you are going to fly. If your body is straight, you are not going to go high at all.

If I am doing a back loop or forward, I try not to think about the rotation on the way up because it kills your height. As soon as you start to rotate, you reduce your height, so jump up to maximum height and then rotate.

On the way up – I usually LOOK upwards. When you jump high, you watch the sky because that’s where you are going. (Jerome Houyvet, Juliens room mate and top windsurfing photographer, interrupts with – “You should be watching the photographer Julien!”)


I stay sheeted in and tucked in a ball until I reach maximum height. When I can’t go any higher, I OPEN up the sail a little. This keeps everything leaning back. If you don’t do this, you may start to get pulled forward which is going make for an unpleasant landing!

Once you start to sheet out, you must try to SPOT your landing (unless you are going for a loop). For me on a regular jump, I see my landing spot between my boom and my backhand. I always look for it – every single jump. If you have jumped high (over about 5 meters), you have to make sure you land on the tail of your board because if you land flat, your board will be finished!

Where you look is always very important in windsurfing – when you go up, you look up, when you go down, you look down.

Good Luck!!

Julien Taboulet F-100

I always try to do a fast gybe at the beach, this means that I am starting at the beach with a lot of speed. A lot of sailors tack at the beach to stay upwind, but this means they are starting from zero speed and have to accelerate a lot more before reaching the jump ramp.