Willy Skipper

Willy Skipper by Paul Hunt K-23

The Willy Skipper is a fundamental freestyle move made famous by legend of the past, Ian Boyd.

I remember watching him do the skipper 540s and the lollypops in all the old vids, normally down a wave or in a force 6.  Dam cool looking trick straight from skate boarding!


Firstly, I learnt the old school air gybe on my Mistral Energy. This involves flicking the board around 180, landing in a heap and then sailing back in the other direction.


The willy skipper is similar but you are much more upright and land sliding backwards, then gybe the rig and sail off on the other tack. It is best done slightly underpowered. It’s called the willy skipper because the board can catch the wind and turn sideways, thus creating the perfect castration device, legs akimbo. Not nice!


STEP 1. You’re sailing along and the wind is starting to lull a little; perfect time for a skipper! First thing is to unhook and take your back foot out of the strap. (Some people leave their back foot in the strap when doing them. I however take it out and as its me writing this that’s what we’re doing!)

STEP 2. Your back foot is now out of the strap. You need to make sure your front foot is loosened in it’s strap. Bear off a little and look for a small piece of chop.

STEP 3. When you find that chop, pop your board off it by lifting your front foot and keeping steady pressure with the back foot. As the board becomes airborne flick the board with the back foot by pushing your toes down and bringing it under your butt.

STEP 4. Now, while this is happening your front foot needs to be coming out of its strap and getting ready to land in-between the front and back straps.

STEP 5. The old back foot that has just finished the flick is about to land on the nose (just in front of the mast track) as the board is completing the 180. It’s important that you remain upright. If you lean back you’re just going to land in a big heap, if you lean forward you’re out the front door.

STEP 6. The board has now landed and is beginning to slide. You need to keep the weight on the back foot so the fin stays out of the water and cannot snag on any random bits of chop while still at speed. Modern freestyle boards are set up to sail backwards so just let it slide.

STEP 7. As the board starts to slow you can even up the weight to both legs and let go of the boom with your backhand and grab the mast. The sail needs to be brought across the body and the old front hand will be the new backhand on the other tack. Now all you need to do is sheet the sail in and put the new front hand on the boom and sail off the other way. Easy!

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To see more examples of the willy skipper see moves and movies.




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