Push Tack

The Push Tack

This is the next step up in freestyle tacking. The Push Tack builds upon many of the principles of the Heli-Tack.  It is also similar in that the move can be learned in light winds and then progressed into planing conditions.

Once proficient, you can enter the Push Tack full planing, going downwind to de-power the sail and giving you the necessary distance through which the board has to pivot in stronger winds. This month we are examining the non-planing entrance – lets get into it!!



  1. Sailing Switch – Getting the feet in a switched position, planing or non-planing, and maintaining speed and stability.
  2. Clew First Front to Sail – Controlling the sails power in this position and directing it towards steering into the wind.
  3. Clew First Bear Away and Sail Rotation – The exit where the rig moves from being back and down to coming up and forward. Then moving onto rotating the sail.  Many people think they have it at this stage and then drop the sail in the water!


With the move being broken down into its key parts, we can see that proficiency in the entrance and exit phases will give you the best chance of pulling off the whole move:

  • Sailing switch – This can be practiced many times, sailing along on a beam reach in both directions. Being stable at this will mean you enter the move from a solid base, and it leads you on to duck tacks!
  • Clew first sailing – Very important as this is often where the rig is dropped or the move flamed. So close, yet so far! Therefore you need to be practiced at steering clew first, so you can bear away at the end of the move. Then it’s the all important rig rotation that needs to be smooth and consistent.


Front to sail sailing – The sail can be very powerful here and being clew first adds another dimension to the power control. You must apply the same principles of keeping the rig away with the clew hand well down the boom.

Scissoring the board – The back foot is weighted heavily with the toes pulling the tail around whilst the front foot pushes the nose towards the wind. At the transition point, the front foot is then weighted as you gradually fall back into that familiar dropping and pushing position like the end of any tack.

Clew first sailing – The hands are well spread and the rig needs to be kept upright when the wind fills in from the new side. You need to be off the wind to rotate the rig!!!! Finish the move!


A floater with a medium sized sail and a relatively small fin for fast steering. I am using a big freestyle board, 25cm fin and a 5.7 in approx 10 knots. The shorter and wider style board pivots fast and gives me plenty of stability.
Top tuning tip – when learning any front to sail action trim your sail quite flat for more control.



With the board flat and settled, turn off the wind a touch. Open the sail slightly and start to bring it forwards and across you in preparation for the switch.


Continue to bring the sail forwards and across you. The front foot comes back and switches with the old back foot. The foot change is akin to the step gybe foot switch. There are a few variations, find what works for you, just make it smooth.



Sailing switch now with the new front foot in front of the mast foot for stability and easy scissoring of the board. Keep your course off the wind, which will enable you to sail off the front foot with the sail open. You should be good at this, as you have practiced it a lot!!!


Here we go, spread your clew hand right down the boom, ready for the exit! Begin to sweep the sail down to the back of the board. Keep the rig away and the head is already starting to look where you want to go.


Continue sweeping the rig down and back. Aim to get the head looking at the tail.


More into the wind and you can see the head is really looking back now – very easy to spot, look at that shine! The back foot is pulling the tail round through the toes. As the rig is moving back the body is moving forward.


The board is continuing to scissor, back foot pulling and front foot pushing. Get the rig back and down, much more so in stronger winds! In order to counterbalance this, the body is forward. Coming towards head to wind.


The big change. Get the weight onto the front foot to push you through head to wind. Bring the rig upright and forward, as you would for a regular tack. The head starts to look forward, to where you want to go.


Look forwards and in readiness for the sail filling with wind. Clew first, the body needs to move back, down and out. Continue to bring the sail upright. The feet are still scissoring, front foot pushing and back foot pulling.


The rig is now upright with the body down and back. The power coming into the clew at this stage pulls the board round so be ready for that power. Get low and you are good to go!


Keep steering the board off the wind where it’s much happier clew first. In more wind you would be much lower than this, so baldy get a bit lower!


From a stable clew first stance, slide the mast hand towards the wind in order to rotate the sail smoothly. Release the backhand and rotate the rig. KEEP LOOKING FORWARDS AS FOR ALL SAIL ROTATIONS!!!


View video of this move:

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Bring the rig forward and then pat yourself on the back, smile, maybe even a small “yeah baby”! Now do it the other way!!


Hot Tip

  • Make sure you practice on both tacks.  There’s no glory in being one sided!!


  • Get into switch
  • Spread the clew hand down the boom
  • Sweep the rig down and back
  • Look at the tail
  • Pull hard through the toes of the back foot
  • Look forward when coming to head to wind
  • Transfer weight to front foot
  • Bring the rig forwards and upright
  • Get low and scissor the board aggressively downwind
  • Sail clew first off the wind
  • Rotate the rig


As you are going front-to-sail, clew first and trying to steer the board aggressively towards head to wind, say to yourself “Rig back and down”. Sometimes a little mantra like this can trigger parts of the brain to speed up learning new moves. For me the move is completed if I am comfy switch – so my mantra is “sail off the front foot” when I am in switch stance.





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