Short Board Tack

The Short Board Tack

Tacking is the new gybing. It really is such a useful move; Intermediates can use it as a way to keep upwind giving them ground to try gybes, Wavesailors use it absolutely heaps and its by far the best way of turning in gusty or light winds as you can then use the upwind advantage to try and get planing.

If you are sailing short boards and not tacking then you might want to seriously reconsider your sailing goals.

The key parts draw heavily upon the light wind version and therefore with a floaty board you can get in a lot of practice to assist you in achieving the carving tack.



  1. EntranceUnhooking and carving the board upwind from a low position until almost at head to wind.

  2. Transition The action of moving around the front of the mast and getting your feet and hands in position on the new side.

  3. ExitSteering the board off the wind and getting ready to take on power on the new beam reach


  • Light wind tacks – aim to gain proficiency in all parts of the tack and get that hand and foot work uber slick.

  • Front to sail and then coming back through the wind – Either from stepping round, front to sail or from going through the wind like in a heli tack. This is a great drill for when you step around a little bit earlier in lighter winds. (This will be covered in another feature.)


Look where you want to go – As with most moves, the head is the key as it orients you and assists in moving your body, hips and feet. From looking forward and upwind going in, to looking back down the board for the foot switch to looking forward in the exit. The head is paramount.

Rig away– As the rig goes back in the entrance of the tack, the body moves forward. When transitioning around the mast, the rig is kept away to give you SPACE to move through. Finally, the rig comes forward and across to bear you away as your body moves back and down. 


From your blasting position, pick a spot with some flat water and start to head upwind.



From heading upwind you are bringing the rig back and body forward in anticipation of reaching up the boom or to the mast. Look forwards and upwind.



From hooked in reach to the front of the boom or low down on the mast as here. Keep low to maintain a flat board and your backhand will be right up next to the back harness line.


Unhook by pulling the boom towards you and keep low. The back foot comes out and goes up to the front strap as the front foot goes to step forward. The rig is going back as the body moves forward anticipating the drop in power. Begin to carve upwind.


Get the front foot forward of the mastfoot aiming to wrap it right round. Keep low and continue bringing the rig back and body forward. The hips are swinging forwards to unweight the back foot ready for the switch. Look forwards and upwind ready for head to wind. Straighten the front arm to keep the rig away


At or just before head to wind start to look back ready for the hand and foot change. Get your front foot wrapped right round the mast foot.  The rig is still back and the hips are well forward.


Here we go think release, reach and pivot. Release your backhand and reach for the new side of the boom with old backhand. This will lead your old back foot coming forward and assist the foot pivot.


The head now LOOKS FORWARD, this is very important and will make the move! Get your new back foot well down the board.



Looking forward will assist your front arm in drawing the sail forward, which keeps the rig away and readies you for bearing away. The rig is now moving forward and across you as the body begins to move back and down. The front foot will already be pushing the nose off the wind.


With both hands well down the boom get the rig forwards and across you. The feet are now scissoring, with the heel of the front foot pushing and the back foot pulling the tail upwind, in order to bear you away. Get down low and you are good to go!



Keep twisting the rig forwards and across and scissoring the board.


View video of this move:

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Assess the wind and either go upwind non-planing or get into your early planing position. Nice one!


Hot Tip

  • A planing board is a stable board, so enter the tack with speed and you will get most of the way around before dropping off the plane.
  • Make sure you practice on both tacks.  There’s no glory in being one sided!!


  • Head upwind from blasting

  • Reach for the mast or front of boom

  • Unhook and get feet out of straps

  • Carve upwind on heels

  • Rig comes back and body goes forward

  • Start and keep low throughout whilst looking forward

  • At head to wind look back and reach to new side of boom

  • Pivot the feet

  • Get new back foot well down the board as you look forward

  • Rig goes forwards and across you to bear you away

  • Body moves back and down

  • The legs can now scissor to assist in steering

  • Stay low and off you go



Board is unsettled and loses speed in carve upwind – Get down low and unhook efficiently and then gradually carve on heels.

Get stuck on old side – swing your weight forwards to take weight off back foot ready for switch.

Get thrown off front
– Keep the rig back and away

No space on new side
– look forward and draw rig forwards through front arm to keep the rig away

Board gets stuck at head to wind after foot change
– scissor board off wind with feet

Get pulled over by rig on exit – get down James brown with the rig forward and body back. 

“Failure is the first step on the road to success!”  – Jem Hall, May 2006.



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