Chop hopping on a windsurf board will be your first step at getting into the air. As the name suggests, the technique involves hopping the board over some choppy water. You don't need much in the way of chop to get the board up as long as you have some speed. Chop hopping is best achieved on equipment that is suited to the role, in other words smaller boards and rigs. The main reason for this is weight and the fact that it is just harder to get a big long board out of the water.
Follow these steps to get your first airtime:
- You need to be reading the water to find a decent ramp. It doesn't need to be a huge wave, just a few inches of chop can be enough but for a first attempt, if you can find a ramp of about a foot or so this is perfect.
- Unhook from your harness and keep your weight at the back of the board. This will help to push the nose of the board upwards. You should keep your feet in your footstraps.
- As you approach and hit your ramp, push your toes down and pull the rig back towards you.
- The board will start to lift out of the water and as it does, pull your front leg up and pull the boom up and towards you.
- Lift the back of the board with your back leg and the board should now be out of the water.
- Keep your legs bent and try to pull the tail of the board underneath your backside. Keep the rig sheeted in and you should be in a 'tucked up' position almost hanging off the boom.
- As you get ready for landing, start to un-tuck by standing up. Land with both legs flexed for the impact and try to land tail-first.
- The jump will have lost you speed so push the rig forward and sheet in to get the board back on the plane as quickly as possible.
More hints and tips to help you learn to chop hop
Unlike manoeuvres such as carve or duck gybing where there is a very definite technique, chop hopping is a little more intuitive. In other words, it is something you can just have a go at without worrying too much about what you are doing. If you are going fast enough and your chosen ramp is big enough, you will take off! That said, getting great height (or air) is all about technique and timing so it will pay you to try to do things properly.
When you start to get a bit better and are jumping higher, try tilting the board mid-jump so that the wind gets underneath it. This will help to give you lift and will increase both height and air time.
As with all windsurfing techniques, there is an element of risk involved so I recommend that you always wear appropriate safety equipment including a helmet, life jacket and appropriate clothing including a wetsuit, gloves and boots. Know your limitations and don't try anything which you aren't really ready for.