Do what you can to avoid this transportation from the shore
I am alive. I can walk and talk. And I am very happy about that. But I have had some terrible close calls. My worst sporting accident was when I landed on my head after 50 meter free fall snowboarding in 70 km/h seven years ago. It took me over 8 months to get back to fulltime work. I am still not fully recovered from that brain concussion. During the last three years doing speed surfing, I have broken the nose, three eardrums and a rib-bone, a few fingers and some minor things...

A lycra over the vest, keep the things in places
But I could have been dead. Blinded by low sun, racing downwind with 32 knots straight into a 5 cm shallow reef at Soma Bay. The impact was very hard on the back, the neck and the head. But thanks to the helmet and the neoprene-vest, I was fully recovered after only a few days. My advice for every serious speedsurfer. ALWAYS use the helmet, and always wear a vest. Even in low wind. If you use weights, do not carry them too high on the back, because that could give you a serious whiplash, like Anders Bringdal had at Fuerteventura. I have also seen a bad feet and ankles accident. Therefore I don’t use bigger straps than necessary. We are not into wave jumping! I want the feet to get out of the straps when falling. Not breaking them. And when I´m sailing alone, which happens quite often, I wear a cheap mobile phone in the aquapac.
Remember, wearing a helmet is cool. 
That signals that you have something to protect!


Photo by my very understanding wife ...
I would like to wish all speedy windsurfers a happy Valentine´s day.  I am celebrating this day sorting new fins from New Zealand and Hawaii. The C3 Sting´s looks good in the middle sizes and I look forward to test them versus the new Black Project Type R and Speed. When I have ordered fins from C3, I have bought 3-4 every shipment for a year. But when I ordered Black Project, I thought - what the heck, I will finally end up buying them all anyway. The exchange rate was good, I bought all sizes. So I got a beautiful piece of bouquet on Valentine´s Day!


I would say that with doing the right thing (blogposts part 1, 2 and 3) you can reduce your catapults to only a few a year. But shit happens and you could compare it with skiing downhill or skateboarding; if you never fall, you have not pushed it to the limits. And that’s what speedsurfing is about, go all the way to the limit and a bit beyond.

There are a few different way of falling in speedsurfing. As long as you fall backwards or slide, it is not a big problem, but when you are hooked in and you could not fight the drag forward, the rotation is unstoppable. In this moment you have to react in fractions of a second. Because you are low down with a seat harness and a high boom postition its is very hard to get unhooked during the fall, but it is possible. A bit bit easier to hook out just when the catapult started. That’s possible if you don’t fight against it very hard in the start of the rotation. You have to pull yourself up and forward. When you are in the rotation, bend in your head. By doing this it will save your neck and also make you in better control of the rotation. Prepare to land flat out with your body in the sail. The rotation is like doing a front loop but without the board on your feet. This also minimizes the risk of land hard on the mast or damage the sail. I also try to relax just before the back hit the sail.


Antoine Albeau on the tail
Sailing in the right way is the third most important thing to prevent falls. You might wonder what I mean with that. Well, if you read this you are probably not a beginner in windsurfing. You have done thousand of laps forward and back at your local spots. But have you tried to use a 7,8m2 sail in 30 knots of wind and going downwind in 140 degrees for 500 meters? Important is to choose where to let go. It is simply not a good idea to let lose in 100 cm chops. At my local spot we don´t have a reef or sandbank, we sail in a bay in the shallow water. More or less choppy, still we run in almost 40 knots speed.

But I don’t go for downwind speed if the wave-chops are over about 70 centimetres. And if when sailing in chops, look at the surface 50-70 meters ahead. Then you have a few seconds to react. The most common mistake that make you get a catapult when sailing is when you get a gust and don’t fight it. If you chicken out, it’s most likely that the tail will raise and you will fall. Therefore; GO! 

(But there are guys that do this the opposite way, Magnus Bengtsson, one of the best Swedes, always hook out when going really fast downwind…!)


A full sail below the boom works better downwind
Trimming the equipment and use the right stuff for the conditions is the key to avoid most catapults. This is not simple and it takes a lot of effort to achieve a good trim. The basic is to have a sail, board and a fin that match the wind and the water. Sailing with the wrong sizes and the wrong combination will always end up bad. The next thing is to trim everything in harmony. The mast foot position, boom height, downhaul and outhaul are the central points to work with. For example, you have problems that the board sits too much on its tail and the front is high, try less tension at the outhaul, the deeper sail below the boom will make the board more stabile downwind and you don’t have to move the mastfoot position forward.

Use a marker pen to improve your sails
Often a combination of both will make the ride easier. When I have a new rig or board, I change position of the mast foot 4-6 times the first hour, often only a centimetre at a time. The same thing with the boom and the sail; work with small changes. Generally a few extra centimetres of downhaul will helps most average sailors. 
My most valuable advice is: use a marker pen and write on the sail, when you have found the best trim!


Just another stone marked
45 degrees  rake
The most basic thing not to fall is to sail where it is safe. Sound very basic, eh? Well this is probably the most common thing that takes me down. If there is a rock, a stone or just the bottom I will hit it in + 30 knots. Always. Therefore my best advice is, before you plan to run fast, check the water first. At my local spot I have marked over 150 stones with sticks. When you go with 20 meters a second you have to know where to sail. The sticks have probably saved the same numbers of fins the last year. The tide is also important to mind about. Up here in Sweden where I live, the tide is less than 20-30 cm, but in most other part of the world it is a lot more. Last year in Egypt I forgot about the tide and ran into a 5 cm shallow reef with my for the day brand new board and rig in +30 knots. I am very happy that I survived the impact. The board and sail didn’t… The “funny” thing was that just an hour before I had past that area many times. And at Karpathos the fastest part of the strip is when you pass Chris Schill´s red Zodiac just before the bay ends in a rock wall. So make sure you have enough water to sail on!

Excel the Catapult

I would say that the biggest obstacle to bare off and enter the ”high-speed-mode” is that most windsurfers are afraid of the consequences of falling and hurt themselves.

The basics in sailing fast are to go as deep downwind as the windforce and the location that you sail in, let you to do. Sailboats don´t go as deep as windsurfers and windsurfers don’t go as deep as kiteboarders. But the biggest obstacle for most windsurfers to bare off and let the equipment work free, is that they are too afraid. I have seen so many GPS-sailors that just are sailing in figures eights all day.
The crashes depend on different things. Spinouts, tail walks, nose-dives, sudden gusts and hitting different objects (rocks, stones, weed, seals, ice blocks, branches, fishing lines, sandbanks, the bottom etc).
If you want to sail faster than 30-32 knots you have to relate to this and you have to accept the fact that you will fall hard sometimes.
 My following blog-postings will focus around this, stay tuned to read soon more about: