Tiffany Ward, photos: Darrell Wong
"It's been a long, bumpy road for me. Learning my Forwards was such a drawn out process, it actual made me focus on what type of person I was." Tiffany Ward tells her loop story. And provides tips.
The dreaded forwards. A maneuver that has alluded me for almost 3 years. It's one of those moves that is physically easy to perform once you make that mental commitment. I struggled with my forwards to the point of giving up completely. I remember the day vividly, I was on the Canaries with Iballa. She was trying to get me through my fear, watching from the shore, telling me what to do, but it was hopeless. I was just too flipped out. I can't express how crucial the "mental commitment" is in completing a forward, in fact I would say that mental part is the hardest part of learning a forward. It just doesn't feel right to fling myself head over heels, not able to see where your going or might be landing. I really had a problem with that! I could jump out of a plane, sky-diving and run off a cliff, hang-gliding but I couldn't do a forward. I would repeat that in my head over and over again. That inner critic beating me down. It's been a long, bumpy road for me. Learning my forwards was such a drawn out process, it actual made me focus on what type of person I was. And helped me figure out what I really wanted on and off the water. A little inner reflection for the Tiffster.

The first forward I actual rotated was mirrorly by accident. My back foot got caught in the foot strip and finally forcing my board to rotate around with me. Once I felt how easy it was, my fear instantly transformed into confidence and it was on! Just like everyone said. "Once you feel how easy it is, I'll kick yourself for being so scared.” That was the best day of my life, in fact, I wrote it down in my journal later that day "this was one of the best days of my life, I finally rotated a Forward!" It was down at Specks with my coach for the day Mr. Levi Siver. I had my 4.7 on, it was super flat on the outside but there was perfect chop on the inside. Ideal conditions for learning how to forward. With a little motivation and a balls to the wall, no pain no game attitude, finally tasted victory. With a little encouragement, drive and a whole lot of determination, you too can taste success.

Everyone learns differently and at different speeds. The first piece of advise I can give you is to never put limits or time frames on learning a new move. Second piece of advise, you have to want it bad enough other wise it just a waste of your time. If you are not mentally committed and willing to endure a little pain to get your pleasure, then you don't really want it bad enough. Sometimes you have to sacrifice blood, sweat and tears to achieve your goal. Your frame of mind is a big part in most maneuvers, especially the forwards. "It's a total Jedi mind-trip, it takes major Buddha zen shizzall to over come.”

Here are some tricks of the trade, I've picked up over the last 3 years of frustration and pure agony at times. One thing to remember is that it's mostly a head trip, "Jedi mind tricks". Over riding the computer in your head and not psyching yourself out.

Helpful hints:
  • Having someone on the beach or in the water with is one of the best strategies. Not only does it push you to go for it, he/she can give you instant feed back about what you need to do or not do.
  • Being able to visualize yourself going through each step and understanding exactly what you need to do through each step.
  • Having a clear, focused mind gives you the ability to think clearly, quickly and instinctually. Thinking about your grocery list or boys/girls isn't going to help you achieve anything on the water. Don't bring your dirty laundry out on the water with you, leave it in the car! When you are wet focus on the water.
  • Picking a sailing spot to learn your forwards is important. If eg. you are like me and love to wavesail, you'll probably want to sail where the best waves are, not where there's good chop hop! So force yourself to sail on those flat summer days or do two sessions. One wave sailing session to get all the ants out of your panty and then head to somewhere flatter to practice your forwards.
  • Your state of mind and attitude is also a big factor. Having a positive, focused, go for it attitude, with a clear understanding and an aggressive edge, will just increase your confidence. Helping you have that mental commitment.
  • Pure determination is the other crucial element that can drive you to success. Never give up, take a break if you get frustrated, but don't give up.

Karin Jaggi (PWA/Carter)

Tiffanys new way of jump training? | The crucial moments: Karin Jaggi shows how you get it right.

Warm up: To get used to what it feels like to rotate round your gear, it's good to do a couple carcass tosses. People tend to think that the forward rotation is like a front flip end over end, but it's not. The sail actual rotates on a 40 degree angle over your front shoulder. Carcass tossing: Just start sailing along unhooked and out of the foot straps not going very fast. When you feel confident, reach back on the boom, tuck your head down to your body, transfer your weight forward and pull with your back hand. You'll whip yourself around on to your back. Just make sure to pull your leg up to your body or it can hurt when they slap the water! Do that a couple time to loosen up and get comfortable with the feeling. After that it's time to try some off a little piece of chop!

Start with your head and hands: There are really just three main body parts you need to focus on when you are doing a forward: your back hand, your head and your feet. Everything else is just along for the ride. Your back hand is essential the gas pedal. The further back you reach back on the boom, the less effort you will need to complete the rotation and more leverage you have on the sail. Following in importance is your head. The pivoting point which you are rotating around and the initial momentum.

Set up: Spot your ramp, reach back with your back hand as far as you can. Unhook, set up to pop off the top of some nice steep chop, with your weight forward and whip your head down towards your belly. Tuck your feet up under your butt, making yourself as small and compacted as possible. And remember - whereever your head looks your body will follow. In surfing the golden rule is to always look where you want to go, never look down. This rule applies in windsurfing as well. Your head and hands are a huge part of your initial commitment to a forward. Your head acts like a pivot point for your body to rotate around, your hand is the gas pedal.

It's a lot like the motion you would use to do a front flip on a trampoline. It's a whipping or jerking type motion with your upper body as the rest of your body follows. After you become more comfortable with the rotation, you'll end up just reaching back on the boom as far as you can, launching off a wave, looking back and pulling with your back hand, using your momentum to rotate your forward instead of your head. But in the beginning it's better to focus on rotating any way possible. What ever works! Once you start rotating onto your back, your half way there! Next step is to tuck your feet under your butt, look at your back hand and really commit to your rotation.

Helpful tips:
  • spot a good, steep ramp.
  • reach back as far as you can with your back hand on the boom.
  • pop of top with your weight forward.
  • whip your head as if your were on a trampoline doing a front lip.
  • look at your belly or feet or close your eyes or look at your back hand.
  • pull with your back hand to whip yourself around.
  • tuck your feet up under your butt, making yourself as small as possible.
Key components: Here are a couple key components you need to up your success rate!
  • buddy system (good coach) someone that will push you.
  • good understanding of each step of the maneuver.
  • clear & positive frame of mind.
  • right locations & conditions to practice in (Sprecks, Camp 1 or Kanaha).
  • total mental commitment.
  • determination
  • confidence
  • mind over matter

Recap: You've got your buddy/coach on the beach or in the water with you. You have a clear understanding of the maneuver and what you need to do. You are in a positive frame of mind and relaxed, but pumped as well as aware. You see a nice steep piece of chop, slightly veering down wind, unhooking, reaching back on the boom. You pop up off the top with all your weight forward, whipping your head around (looking back) and pulling with your back hand as if it were a gas pedal. Tuck your leg up under your butt. Spot your landing and absorb the impact. Believing you can do it, then seeing yourself doing it in your mind is half the battle. Once you finally reach that bolding point and want it bad enough, you'll make that mental commitment. The rest is a walk in the park on a sunny day!

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text: Tiffany Ward, photos: Darrell Wong, PWA/Carter windgirls 2006