Thursday, March 31, 2011

Windsurfing History: The Aerial Loop

WINDSURFER Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1980

Appearing on pages 34 & 35 in this issue is an article by Ken Winner about the aerial loop. Not only does this article set an American time reference for the invention and execution of the loop, it may also bring into question other claims about the origin of windsurfing's preeminent manuever.

Ken Winner, one of windsurfing's pioneering innovators, battled another legend back in the day, Robby Naish. "Robby and I go way back. He won the overall windsurfing world championship in ’76, I won it in ’77. He won it in ’78, I won it in ’80. He won the Pan Am Cup in 1980; I won it in 1981.  The first two years of the windsurfing world cup he took first and I took second . . . so we’ve been in close competition for decades. It’s always a pleasure."

Special thanks to Ted Schweitzer for allowing and helping to make possible a reprint of the article below.

Can You Imagine ?


By Ken Winner

The idea of doing the loop first came to me after a fall on my head.  I'd done one of those particularly high jumps in which everything gets upside down and stays that way. Why, I asked, when I had regained my senses, don't I take the easy way out of those jumps? Since the board has already started in a loop, I reasoned, and since it has quite a bit of angular velocity in that direction, why should I go to the trouble and effort of reversing all that momentum? Conclusion: I should simply keep the board rotating the way it wants to and there'll be an end to all this landing on my head.

Stain and Oden listened politely, if somewht disdainfully, to my description of the loop and the safety such a maneuver would bring to wave jumping.

"That's fine for beginners," Stain snorted, "they're welcome to do the easy stuff; in fact, they may as well be at home watching football or bowling if they're going to take the easy way out of every jump." "But," I pleaded, "maybe it's good for beginners at first, so they don't get hurt..." Stain turned his back to me and stalked away.

I could see his point of view. He used to surf a lot and surfers are into redirection. Cutbacks, laybacks. bottomturns - they're all sacred to surfers. What Stain does in his jumps is, to him, an aerial cutback. Aerial redirection is far superior to the aerial inertia that i was supporting.

Nevertheless, beginners should be aware of the easy way out of those high upside down jumps. So following is a step by step description of my own modest contribution to the art of wave jumping.

You'll need at least twenty knots of sideshore wind and a steep, hollow wave about head or so. The take-off (not pictured here) is normal, with weight well back.

Photo No. 1  Note the crouched semi-tuck position assumed initially. It isn't really necessary but does make for tighter, faster loop.

Photo No. 2  Depending upon whether angular velocity is being maintained, it may be necessary to sheet out to a certain degree at the high point of your arc. In this particular sequence, sheeting out was not needed.

Photo No. 3  Again, if your rate has slowed too much, you may be in for a nose dive landing. Should that be the case, sheet out fully and back your sail to complete the loop. In this sequence I had to straighten somewhat in order to SLOW my rate of turn.

Photo No. 4  If your judgment and timing are good you'll make a normal landing, but don't be embarassed if you're a little off and don't make it the first time.

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