How to uphaul your sail

Once you are on the water with everything all hooked up and ready to go -- your sail rigged and attached to your board with its centerboard down -- you need to raise or "uphaul" the sail from the water. Hoofer instructors Jane and Rich show you how:


Everyone advises you to keep your back straight when you uphaul, but for some students a better word is "vertical." Keep your back vertical when you uphaul.

Slow down! Uphaul in slow motion. Haste makes waste. You can even leave the far corner of the sail (the "clew") in the water for most of the time you are uphauling. Nature will then do a lot of hard work for you. It'll drain water from the sail as the video explains and it'll turn the board around until your back is upwind ("windward") and your sail is pointed downwind ("leeward"). Note how your board and sail eventually come to rest in a T with respect to one another.

At the end of uphauling you arrive at neutral position (which sometimes goes by the name basic position). There are 3 alternative forms of neutral; any of the 3 variations work; each has (minor) merits and drawbacks:

  1. Boom neutral: The hands rest on the boom, as shown in the video. This is the most commonly taught form. But in some circumstances boom neutral can be awkward and uncomfortable. For example, you may find out on the water that your boom has been set too high, in which case your body will not be able to relax and your balance will be impaired; or the water might be choppy or wavy; in either case rope neutral below may be more stable.
  2. Rope neutral: The hands simply continue to hold on to the uphaul. This keeps the sail lower and out of harm's way for longer but also means you've got a little further to raise it before you can start sailing.
  3. Mast neutral: The hands hold the mast, one hand above the boom and one below. This reduces any temptation to favor one side or the other by twisting or pressuring the boom. But it also burdens you with deciding between moving the lower or upper hand to the boom to start sailing.

When you arrive in neutral position -- regardless of which variation you prefer -- hang out there. As described in the video your arms should be extended. Your body (sans head) should form the shape of the number 7. You can see Jane's figure 7 shape at 1:10 in the video. And you should be stretched out and relaxed enough to read a good book, like say, War and Peace.