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Big Air

All of us watch those videos and wonder how they get such huge air. A chop hop is very different to launching into a high jump and you most definitely need to have some experience in smaller jumps.

You need to commit to it even if you feel scared. There is no thrill without the fear factor, so you have to eat it in this case. You'll be smiling for the rest of the day after you nail your big jump for the first time.

You need the right conditions to begin with, a good strong cross shore wind with either steep bump & jump chop or small waves. The cross shore wind will help with your angle, sending you head-on into the ramps and setting the stage for big air time. It also helps if you can identify your best tack before hand, for example, if you are more comfortable in port tack jumps you should go for big air in port tack conditions first, for those in favor of starboard tack you should opt for starboard conditions. Obviously smaller gear makes things lighter, giving you more advantage in terms of control, this also means more wind which is what you need to to be fully powered up and in full speed mode. Yes, you need speed too.

Okay, so look ahead for that inviting and perfectly shaped 4 foot plus piece of H20. You should'nt try to do this on race gear and again, you should have some small jumping experience. Having said that, the launch is slightly different to the chop hop so let us pay attention to those differences to make things less complicated and more fun.

Given the above and with the right gear, let's take a look at the stages you'll go through when you nail that big air.

First the launch, be powered up and I recommend to be unhooked on your first few attempts. For height, the launch requires you to shoot up like a bullet in a more vertical position rather than horizontal like in the chop hop. Of course the higher you go, the more vertical you'll be. Some sailors like to flatten it out at the peak of their airtime to get that extra bit of height and then bring it back into vertical position for landing, but let's stick to the basics of big air for now and that is launching yourself vertically. Your speed should be aimed at carrying you upwards and not forwards, as you progress with big air you can learn to combine it by adjusting the angle of your launch, for example for height you need to be vertical and for longer and further jumps you'll sacrifice some of the vertical height.

With a more horizontal launch you'll get a longer distance jump while still planing when you land. If you launch straight up you'll go high but when you land you'll have no distance and be sort of in the same area where you launched, you most definitely won't land planing. Getting air somewhere in between these is good fun, that means flying high and lofty long jumps while landing to continue planing. For starters I recommend you launch straight up to get the feeling of vertical air, later on you can adjust the details.

To be vertical it's pretty simple, don't launch too much downwind and when you launch lean back having your front foot out in front of you (looking up at your toes). When you tuck your feet in try have your butt almost below the tail. You should be able to see your foot in front of you, but you'll probably be looking down going, shhhiiiaaaat that's high!

For more horizontal air, push the nose down while tucking your back foot in to flatten the board, push more and you'll go over. Land flat and you could break your board, nice for the picture wall. Ok, lets move on.

During airtime, just hold the position. Landing should be with the back foot / tail first, sinking the tail of the board as you land and bending your legs at the same time to absorb the impact.

Was it fun? Oh yeh!!!! Did anyone see? Probably not, now do it again for even bigger air and bigger smiles.

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