Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Forward Loop

A new day is dawning:

So alot of my success yesterday I think has alot to do w/my first session. It allowed me to get dialed and comfortable out there. I sailed alone at the lighthouse from about 7am until Andy arrived which I think was 8.30ish. The wind was strongest during that session and I absolutely was rockin out there. Was pretty magical to be out there, sun coming up over the eastern horizan, beautiful glare on the water, nice texture out of the NE. Sweet!

Warm up dawn patrol sesh:

My first forward loop commits:

I’m amazed by the fact that as soon as I tossed the first one (which I did with in 30seconds of launching, that within another 5 minutes I hucked two more! For years now, doing forwards has basically been foremost in my mind as I’m sailing (and while not sailing for that matter), and I never could get the courage to toss ‘em, and I was pretty hard on myself for that. Yet the very moment I went for that first one yesterday, I was over it. I’d broken thru, and I began looking for more opportunities to rotate. They really are painless if you hold on.

One of my fears was that the board would come off my feet, and I’d go around hanging on to the booms looking like that Dunkerbeck crash in one of the videos. That didn’t happen. I committed the sail to the rotation and hung on. My feet were snug in the straps, but not “white knuckled” so to speak.

While the description of a forward is a “catapult on purpose”, I did not find them violent at all. For me, it was a lot like going down the line on a wave, in that the sail gets very light in your hand and the physics of the movement during rotation felt very intuitive and natural.

Indeed after reflecting on the session and watching the go-pro footage, I think I know what I did wrong. I need to do the fundamental control motions in a more exaggerated fashion. For my own personal mental bookmarking purposes, I want document what I perceive to be the fundamental steps.
1. I need to make sure my front hand is palms down (except when gibing or riding waves, and now looping, I always sail front hand palms up)
2. Bear off, unhook and pop a jump high enough to clear the fin.
3. All in one motion reach back with the back hand, pull up with the back leg, extend the front arm forward and leeward . The net effect of that pushes the rigs center of effort forward and leeward and that is what initiates the rotation. Also, aggressively look back, and hold on.

Looking at the video, I basically only did the first two, w/only a half hearted effort to do the 3rd part, and I still went around and basically landed on my back. Also, I didn’t look back. I’m confident that the next time, if I aggressively do all the steps, that I’ll sail away. I’m completely confident of that.

I once asked Dana Miller why we look back when doing forwards. Because in all sports, we’re taught to look where we’re going, and the body always follows. But in looping, you’re supposed to look back. What he told me makes total sense and is consistent w/the linear concept of the body following the head. He said that yeah, you want to look back because that’s where you want the body (and kit) to go, back and around. Way counter-intuitive, but also completely logical and totally elegant.


Catapulting Aaron said...

Very nice! There are a bunch of loopers out here, I hope to one day reach that point.

Also, impressive that you did it on such a big board? I guess those RRD fsw boards are pretty short, so they don't have much swing weight? Do you think that's an ideal looping board, or does it even matter?

George Markopoulos said...

Aaron, one of the points I learned at the Loop Clinic was to try them on as big a board as is comfortably possible (within in reason). Gives you a better "pop" off the wave, and more area for the wind to get up under to help the rotation. Also, conditions that day where moderately powered 5.8, so I need the extra volume. Nah, I'm entirely comfortable on the RRD FSW 109ltr. the board rocks