How To Perform A Tack In Windsurfing

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Windsurfing is an amazing sport that challenges your balance, strength, and endurance. Learning how to tack in windsurfing is perhaps one of the most fundamental skills you need to master to become a competent windsurfer. In this article, we’ll explore the various aspects of the windsurfing tack to help you execute it with ease.


What is a Windsurfing Tack?

In windsurfing, a tack refers to a maneuver that allows a windsurfer to change direction while sailing upwind. It involves turning the board through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the sail to the other. Tacking is necessary when a windsurfer wants to sail in a direction opposite to the wind’s direction.

The process of performing a tack involves the following steps:

  1. Initial position: The windsurfer starts on a course with the wind coming from one side, typically from behind (downwind).
  2. Preparing for the tack: The windsurfer starts by positioning the sail in a neutral position, perpendicular to the board, to minimize the wind’s effect.
  3. Turning the board: The windsurfer initiates the turn by shifting their weight towards the front of the board. They use their back foot to push the tail of the board down into the water, allowing it to pivot.
  4. Crossing the wind: As the board starts to turn, the windsurfer steps over the mast and sail to the opposite side of the board. This maneuver helps maintain balance and control during the tack.
  5. Sail flip: Once the windsurfer has crossed over to the other side of the board, they flip the sail by pulling the mast towards them, guiding the sail to the opposite side of the board.
  6. Sail alignment: After the sail has flipped to the other side, the windsurfer positions the sail to catch the wind. They extend their arms and adjust the sail angle to harness the wind’s power and propel themselves in the new direction.
  7. Continuing the sail: Once the sail is aligned, the windsurfer completes the turn by shifting their weight back towards the center of the board. They use the newly positioned sail to generate power and continue sailing on the new tack, now heading upwind.


Why is Tacking Important?

Tacking is fundamental to windsurfing, particularly in traversing upwind. The maneuver enables windsurfers to navigate towards their destination by changing direction even when the wind is against their sail, making it pivotal to a competitive or recreational sail.


What are the Steps to Perform a Tack?

To execute the tack, follow these steps:

Step one: Start by sailing on the broad reach (position where wind is blowing directly from the side).

Step two: Initiate the tack by moving the sail all the way to the tail of the board, which changes the sail’s power’s angle against the wind.

Step three: As the sail changes its position, initiate your turn by stepping forward on the board’s tail.

Step four: Move the sail to the front side of the board, ensuring the mast is centered, which will turn the board towards the wind’s direction.

Step five: Keep the sail in front of the board as you complete the turn.

Step six: Shift your weight forward to move towards the sail and adjust the board’s speed by leaning the sail forward or backward, depending on the wind’s strength.


What are the Common Mistakes to Avoid While Tacking?

Tacking is a critical skill in windsurfing, and as such, windsurfers should avoid common mistakes such as:

a. Not shifting weight forward on the board’s tail to initiate the turn.

b. Moving the sail too forcefully or too slowly.

c. Turning the board too early or too late as it affects the sail’s position, which is a crucial factor in changing direction.

d. Not carving the board into the wind appropriately.


How to Practice Tacks in Windsurfing?

Tacking is essential to windsurfing, and mastering it takes practice. One way to do this is by practicing on various wind directions. Begin tacks with the wind offshore so that when you overshoot or stall during a tack, the board doesn’t get pushed back to the beach. You can also practice drills by setting up buoys or floating items that you can maneuver around. Additionally, you can seek the expertise of a windsurf instructor for personalized instruction.


What are the Tips for Advanced Tacking Maneuvers?

To take your windsurfing game to the next level, you can merge tacking with other techniques. For instance, you can merge a gybe, which is a turning technique where the board turns downwind to gain speed, with a tack to execute a trick known as the “fly gybe.” Additionally, you can execute a duck tack, which involves sailing towards the wind’s direction by tilting the mast to allow it to pass over your head instead of turning the sail. You can also execute a heli tack, where the board turns in the opposite direction turning the sail 360 degrees in the air.



Tacking in windsurfing is an essential skill that every windsurfer should master. By breaking down the technique into easy-to-follow steps, avoiding common mistakes, and continuously practicing, you can become an expert sailor who can overcome different wind conditions. Remember to stay safe while practicing and seek the advice of an instructor whenever you need guidance. Happy sailing!

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

"I live and breath boardriding"

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