Step 4: Uphauling the sail
Put the centerboard in the down position so it extends below the board. Walk or paddle away from other people and obstructions so that if you fall, your mast will not hit anything hard (like a head). Begin with the board at approximately a right angle to the wind, and the sail on the leeward side of the board (i.e., downwind of the board, see Figure A below). Crawl up on the board. Take the uphaul in your hands and stand up slowly. Your front foot should be just in front of the mast, and your back foot about shoulder width apart from your front foot. Both feet must be on the centerline of the board (arrow in Figure A, below), your knees slightly bent, and your weight on the balls of your feet.
Slowly, lift the sail with the uphaul until it is about a foot out of the water and wait until the water drains out of the mast sleeve. Then finish lifting the sail, all the time keeping the mast at a right angle to the board. Take your time, uphaul slowly, hand over hand on the uphaul, while keeping your arms mostly straight.
The following are the key points:
• Keep your feet on the centerline (tip to tail) of the board
• Keep the mast at a right angle to the board
• Keep your knees bent
• Keep your arms straight
Continue lifting until the sail is entirely out of the water. When you succeed in getting the sail out of the water, rest for a second before proceeding (Figure B below). You should have arms straight, sail out of water, knees slightly bent, sail at right angle to the board. This is the basic position it’s very stable. You could read War and Peace, or do your taxes in this position.
Unfortunately, sometimes the sail falls on the windward (wrong) side of the board. Here are three different strategies for getting the sail downwind of the board (on the leeward side).
1. Swim the board around. (It is easier to move the board through the water than move the sail).
2. Muscle the boom and sail to the correct side.
3. Uphaul with the sail on the wrong (windward) side. The wind might whip the sail around to the correct side, and cause you to fall. However, if you keep your arms straight and the sail "away" from you, you might put this off. You shouldn't be afraid of this strategy because you already are wet. This method is the one we often use, falling and all.
Miscellaneous stuff: Figuring Out the Wind Direction
If you have the mast at right angles to the board, the board will always swing around to be at a right angle to the wind (beam reach). This fact is very handy. If the wind is very light and you can't tell exactly where the wind is coming from, get into the basic position and the board will swing around to a right angle to the wind (i.e., wind at your back - a beam reach).
You will almost always want to start to sail at a right angle to the wind (beam reach). However, from the basic position, if you swing the mast forward, the nose of board will head downwind. If you swing the mast backward, you will point upwind. So having the mast a 90° angle to the board will make the board 90° to the wind, and that is just right!
If you want to "park," not move forward while in the heave-to position, try putting one hand one the boom and back wind the sail very slightly.
A Safety Hint - Getting downwind
If you are upwind of where you want to be and for some reason have trouble sailing downwind, heave-to and just stand there (knees bent, arms straight). You will drift downwind eventually. You will also probably sail forward to some extent. When you've gone too far on one tack, head back the other way and heave-to. When the wind gets strong, many sailors find themselves upwind of where they want to be. You can use this technique to get home. Just stand there and let the wind do the job.