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Karin after she finally did it Karin - perfect frontloop

by Karin Dornbusch (originally published at www.dailydose.de, translation by Tabea Oppliger) 

„Learn to Loop!“ – that was the title of an article in Surf’s July edition, 2001. So often I had dreamed of doing that manoeuvre. What a bliss to playfully master the ultimate move on the North Sea. Well, here was this article – a great chance to go for it! The article „Frontloop Special“ included preliminary exercises on the beach, analyses and hints. That should be enough to break through, but despite all the reading and studying I didn’t achieve the wanted success. Apart from big talk on the beach nothing happened on the water! Windsurfing at full speed, how on earth should I throw myself around the mast? I had enough excuses, like: „Wind and waves today weren’t convenient to practice…“ A new day on the water, a new try. I was always much more daring on the beach than on the water. 

The same old story on every windsurf-vacation. My thoughts always turned to that same manoeuvre. What’s the big deal of a table top or my first go at a back loop? Nice, but hmmmm, not the front loop! Well meant hints from others on the beach like „You can do it! A power jibe is harder than a front loop!“ didn’t help much.

training at the beach training at the beach training at the beach training at the beach

Then came Capetown 2003/04. Mental preparation had been done: I had watched Windsurf DVDs backwards and forwards, downloaded the moves from www.the-daily-dose.com onto my laptop, analysing every part… It looked so easy!! On a windless day we set up to practice „dryly“ on a lonely sand dune. As shown by Peter Garzke and Bernd Flessner in the „Frontloop Special“ I began with the judo roll. First without then with the rig. Ouch! The gear didn’t break but my neck nearly did!!! Who cares, the first steps towards my goal had been taken and I felt ready for action on the water. 

I was really lucky in Langebaan. The conditions couldn’t have been better: wind for my 4.7m2 sail and small but steep waves. Again I began by practising the rig-rotation on a sand dune. After a while one of my friends couldn’t bear the sight any longer and urged me to get on the water. He showed me how to catapult myself forward, rotating around the mast. It looked so easy and I was quick to follow. Bang! The mast smacked onto the water and I got catapulted after it. Absolutely no rotation… I kept practicing in the shorebreak when there wasn’t too much pressure in the sail. It must’ve looked hilarious but slowly but steadily I was getting there. 

classic "chicken" bailout...

In May we went to Vargas (Canary Islands). To avoid damaging my eardrums I stuffed cotton in my ears and then, with a pounding heart and wobbly legs I attempted the loop once more, this time rotating with the board too. I knew that at least the fin had to be out of the water to rotate the board, but I even seemed to have forgotten my chop hops! I was so tense and had complete blackouts. In the end I simply tried the rotation around the mast again. Result: black and blue shoulders and a throbbing headache! But the first hurdle had been taken and I realised that you couldn’t get hurt that badly… I was always afraid to crash onto the tip of the board, but you actually fall into the water between the mast and the board. To be honest, I was extremely frustrated for not at least succeeding in a complete rotation. What on earth was I doing wrong? Most people told me that their first try at rotating landed them in a waterstart, which made me feel all the worse. 

In Pozo, Kristoffer Living was just holding a wave clinic. Wow – I couldn’t believe it: the loop students were quickly and steadily improving. I definitely wanted to join in so I decided to participate in his next wave clinic in the summer. So beginning of August I took part with three Norwegians, three Swedes and one Dutchman. Kristoffer explained everything once more in theory and then off we went to practise on the water. The conditions didn’t seem to be ideal to me; extremely high winds and I had to rig my 3.5m2 sail!!! But one does everything under peer pressure… 

Kristoffer followed each student on the water, observing every move closely and correcting right away. In addition, everything was filmed for later analysing. My first tries were hopeless. I didn’t even manage to rotate... Kristoffer advised me to grasp the boom even further back, placing the mast-hand towards the clew as well. You won’t believe what happened then: I succeeded in a full rotation! I was stoked to experience such improvement on Clinic Day Number One!!! Thanks to Kristoffer! The following days I was scared to fail… Well, I didn’t make it each time and had fantastic wipeouts! But I was landing more and more loops. What a feeling! The other clinic participants were succeeding too and it was so much fun to practise in the group and motivate one another. Suddenly all the hints and learning videos made sense. Now I could go for the fine tuning! Oh yeah, and the whole thing with wind from the opposite direction…! Personally the front loop cost me a lot of effort and I really hope you girls will be more successful! Have fun and keep going!

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text: Karin Dornbusch, photos: Heinrich Dornbusch windgirls 2005