The Water Start

The waterstart is one of

the gateway skills; it opens up so much more of our

great sport. I still remember my first waterstart and the elation that followed.

The reason for this move is that we arrive on the board in the sailing position

and it is a more efficient way of getting going in stronger winds and bumpy waters.

It is a key skill for our progression down to sailing smaller kit.


The skill is built from having a strong proficiency in

beachstarts. From here a range of drills, including sailing

and dragging one leg in the water, sailing kneeling down

and sailing one handed helps us to move closer to our goal.

These drills can be interspersed through your sailing sessions

and a bit of feedback, coaching and video footage can speed

up the process


The waterstart can be broken down into smaller goals or

stepping stones. These being:

  • Beach start
  • Deeper water beach start
  • Beach start with leg drag
  • Chest depth windy beach start
  • Full waterstart joy


  • Look where you want to go: We need

    to move forward and in so we look at the mast foot to

    get up and away.

  • Rig away: In order

    for the rig to have the leverage to pull us out of

    the water the rig is away through extended arms that

    are shoulder

    width apart.


  • Rig recovery: Getting the rig out of

    the water

  • Board Positioning: Bringing

    the board across the wind in a suitable position

  • Up

    and away: Exiting the water and arriving

    in the sailing position.


Check wind direction and ensure

the mast is across the wind with board pointing into

the wind.


backwards to release water off

the rig and draw air under it.

Pull rig over your head and into the

wind and place backhand on the boom.


Transfer front hand onto boom. Bear

board away by pushing down through an extended

front arm.

Your body will be moving towards the back of

the board as your front arm is extended and bearing

board away. You should feel all the pull down through

the front side of your body.


Lounging in the sweet spot. Your front

leg will be extended down in the water.

The rig is above you, low if windy and higher if

it’s light. If you are well powered manoeuvre

the board slightly upwind. If it’s lighter,

point the board downwind for more power. You will

be at the back of the board BUT well upwind

of it.

You are now ready for action. The back foot is placed between the straps with

the heel down and towards the windward rail, toes up. Arms are extended and you

are ensuring the board is in the right position.

Action. Pull board in with a bent back leg from your upwind

lounging position. The arms are extended and you are looking/eating

the mastfoot. Kick your front leg vigorously for extra propulsion upwards.

Keep extending

the front armand pull in with

the back arm whilst kicking hard with

the front leg. The front leg is placed relatively

late on the board. Remember you are pulling

your back heel to your bottom.

Stay low and keep

the back leg bent, as you do not want

to go out the front door!

View video of this move:

bandwidth [MPEG, 0.6MB]

bandwidth [MPEG, 1.8MB]

Get efficient and

begin planing by LOOKING FORWARD, maintaining a FLAT

BOARD and keep the RIG AWAY. Now get very excited!

  • Rig recovery across and into the wind
  • Position the board in the sweet spot
  • Pull board under bottom with bent back leg
  • Extend those arms
  • Look at and eat that mastfoot
  • Stay low and keep back leg bent


Believe, focus and enjoy!

Ben Proffitt K-800

"When it's super windy, I put both my feet

into the straps just before I waterstart. But you

need to have a solid water start before you do

this otherwise you'll just slip sideways."

Terry Luxton K-688

"If the wind is too light or your sail has

sunk, swim to the top of the mast and lift up the

rig and then work your way down the mast."