Windsurfing catapult: it's the human cannonball

It happens frequently. Sooner or later, you'll experience the windsurfing catapult. When you can't control your harness, the harness will control you.

The harness catapult makes us look like kooks or absolute beginners. It usually happens when we think we've learned everything about riding hooked in. We're sailing fast against the wind and, suddenly, either a wind gust or an attempt to steer leeward puts a spectacular end to our unlimited style and ego.

If we get overpowered and we can't solve the problem quickly, we get pitched to leeward while being spun beneath the windsurfing sail. Terrible feeling.

That is why we should be prepared to unhook if we feel that the catapult is about to hit us. In other words, please de-power before it's too late. Sometimes it hurts, and it quite often means the premature end of a joyful windsurfing session.

So, what should we do to avoid the human cannonball in windsurfing? Let's see:

1. Study the wind direction - getting overpowered can be avoided;
2. Pick up the right windsurfing sail - a conservative approach will defend you;
3. Get a small fin - less size, more control over the board;
4. Adjust your harness lines - more line, more time to react and adjust the sail;
5. Check your feet position on the board - less pressure on the front foot, more pressure on the back foot;
6. Bend your arms - absorb the impact of wind gusts;

You can actually improve the way you fall in catapult mode. Basically, slamming over the water is always better than crashing on the board, boom or mast. And remember: a catapult is not a freestyle windsurfing trick.

Train the harness catapult by visualizing the wind direction, and your body and board position. Now, hold the sail, and when you're ready induce the wipeout. With time, you'll learn how to cope with the slingshot.

Discover how to plane effortlessly, and get the right windsurfing stance.