So, you’re thinking of putting the twin tip aside and taking a shot at strapless kitesurfing? That’s awesome, and we’re happy to see you join the many people enjoying the diversity that changing the style of board you ride can bring. Here’s our top tips for starting strapless kitesurfing.
#1 KEEP YOUR MONEY IN YOUR WALLET
As a beginner, you don’t need to be spending €700 or more on a new strapless kitesurfing board. Try renting or buying a used board until you know you’ve caught the strapless riding bug. For now, all you need is a surfboard with a decent bit of volume to help you through learning the basics. About 25-29litres volume is enough for the average sized rider to work with. Smaller riders will be happy on a 21-25litres board.
Once you’ve caught the bug, you can look into a specific surfboard shape for the conditions you ride in and your preferred style.
#2 GET RID OF THAT LEASH
By now you’ll have spotted the leash plug on the tail of your strapless kitesurfing board and may have wondered if you should be using a leash while riding strapless. You’re going to be falling off your board a lot in the early stages of learning so surely a leash would be helpful…?
We advise that a leash isn’t used by a beginner strapless rider or a rider performing strapless freestyle.
The only time where a leash would be advisable is when becoming detached from your kiteboard is more risky to yourself or others, than wearing a leash… for example;
- If you are riding waves at a beach that isn’t a beach break where you can’t rescue your board.
- If riding around other surfers in a line up.
- If riding in conditions that would demand the use of your board should the kite go down in large waves.
Each of these scenarios should not advisable conditions for a beginner strapless kitesurfing.
If you lose your board when riding at a reef break, your board may end up on the rocks, which is a situation you’d want to avoid. In this case, we would accept that wearing a leash may be preferable.
If you’re riding waves with other surfers in the water, separation from your board may be hazardous to others. The questions you must ask yourself in this scenario are; is it too busy for me to be riding here? and, am I skilled enough to be kiting around these surfers?
If it is too busy or you are not skilled enough, don’t kite there anyway. If it is not so busy and you are skilled enough, consider a leash for the safety of those paddling out.
If you are wearing a leash, you need to always be aware of where your board is when you’re not on it. Always protect your head and if you feel the tension in your leash, expect that board to be coming at you or your lines.
#3 ENGAGE YOUR RAIL
Pressuring your feet into the board to drive the rail into the water is what allows you to ride and keep contact with the board. Whether you’re riding on your heel side or toeside, only one rail should be in the water at a time. Travelling with the surfboard flat on the water won’t last long as you’re likely to get pulled off. Apply pressure to one rail and the board will tilt up into your feet. The pressure applied to the deck from edging against your kite keeps the board ‘glued’ to your feet…that and a good dose of wax or a deck pad.
While you’re starting strapless kitesurfing, you may be struggling with going from twintip to strapless, try riding for a while with straps on your surfboard. You’ll be able to build up your confidence on the board and understand your carving turns before whipping the straps off again.
#4 MAKE SURE YOU'RE DEEP ENOUGH
We’re all guilty of riding a bit too shallow with a twin tip. You won’t get away with this on a surfboard. There are some pretty big fins under that tail that will break if you drive them into the sand. You’re also learning strapless kitesurfing, which means it’s likely you’re going to fall off your board a few times. For the sake of limbs and fins, make sure you’re riding in water that is at least waist deep.
#5 START strapless kitesurfing IN FLAT WATER
Waves complicate things as you need to control the board over moving water. Learning strapless kitesurfing is much easier when done in flat water. You’ll be able to master your control of the board, carving turns, tacks and gybes in no time when unchallenged by the condition of the water. After that, take your skills to the waves to have fun and a challenge in your new playground.
#6 KNOW YOUR RIGHTS OF WAY
Right of way in the waves get a little trickier as you add in an extra component to how you ride. Moving water provides extra challenges for kiters and there are 2 rules to help navigate your way in waves.
- Near the beach – Kiters riding away from the beach (outgoing) have right of way over incoming riders. Riders close to shore or negotiating broken water are more at risk, so they have the right of way
- Out in the waves – Kiters riding on a wave have right of way over other riders, except for outgoing riders near the beach (as above.)