Nothing in the world quite compares to the feeling of catching your first wave. The surge of power through the board, the moment of silence when all that exists is you and the water, the thumping crash as you lean slightly too far and it all goes horribly wrong…
Wave riding requires a very different skill set to riding a twin tip board. Firstly there is the obvious difference between the shape of the board, which makes just riding up and down a very different experience. However wave riding also requires a different mentality – patience, aggression, harmony and sheer balls all have their place here. But the main feeling any long time wave rider experiences while surfing is a oneness with the wind and waves on a very spiritual level.
Buying your first surfboard can be difficult, there is so much to choose from on the market? They are all surfboards people say? Surely u can just buy anything and it will work.! Well yes and no.
Once you add the kite to the equation you need to think about the amount of force that your feet are putting through the deck of that board, Surfboard for surfing are built to be light but also pretty stiff as the rider wants to get that direct feedback from feet to board to get the snappiest turns.
Kiteboarders also want that same feedback but they are driving their feet hard into the deck of the board to stay on it. So if you are using a standard lightly glassed surfboard you will notice that the Deck will start to heel dent really quickly, I have seen this happen after 1 session with a new surfboard. So kite surfboards are actually designed to handle the power we transfer into the deck, a kiteboard has more give (Flex) to accommodate the stresses kiteboarders put through them. The construction method will be slightly different, even though the shapes may look similar to the eye.
Kite surfboards now sit in 2 categories:
1: Freestyle Wave:
This Style of kitesurf board has really come into the market place to accommodate riders who want to really do lots of tricks whilst riding a surfboard. This style of board has really taken on its own shape. We are now riding shorter, fatter with a square Noses. This concept means that your board will carry more volume through tip to tail. Riding a 5’4 Square nose Surfboard will carry the same volume as a 5’8 so a rider who is around 80kgs can drop to a 5”4 surfboard in this category. The Freestyle wave board shape Is perfect for UK conditions, if your riding bump and jump, wind swell and some onshore slush then these boards really come into their own. They can also work really well with a larger kite in lighter winds so they are super versatile. If you are looking for a more snappy big wave feel then we would suggest the below options.
2: Down the Line Surfboards
This style of board is your classic shape, pointed nose, Pin, square, squash or swallow tail normally in the 6’0ft to 5’8 size range. This type of board is suited to riders who really live somewhere where the surf is more consistent and wind conditions offer you the opportunity to Ride down the line conditions. The difference between the Down the line classic shape is a pointed nose giving the board less volume to keep the nose up when riding down the line is steeper sections on the wave. This style of board will also be narrower as it requires less width to get it going as you will be using the power of the wave rather than the power of the kite.
The board will have a much snappier feel in the top and bottom turns and be better at handling speed coming of out of the flat sections. These boards come in range of sizes but this also very dependent on wave size and location. If you are riding larger waves then the board length is larger for instance 6”1 and this is pretty irrelevant of your rider weight the volume in the board will assist in getting you up and riding. If your riding decent groundswell but not massive then a good all round size would be 5”10 this still gives you the length in the nose to keep it up. But also that snappy lively feel.
These boards can be ridden strapped or strapless, the movement away from straps though has been more prominent since the arrival of wave specific kites that allow you to drop more power and stop you from losing your edge or getting pulled of the board.
If its strapped surfboard riding you want to do then smaller boards in the down the line shape are more suited we would suggest no bigger that 5”8 and down to 5”4. The main reason you would go strapped is if the surf is blown out and very bumpy as its really hard to keep you feet planted on a board when it gets very windy and choppy.
Quad Fin or Thruster
When your looking at Surfboards Fins are very important.The quad fills that void where the thruster or the twin falls through. Everyone wants that fast but loose feeling while maintaining control. This is precisely when the quad comes into play. They can also be put to use in either heavy, hollow waves, or in small, gutless waves, depending on the cluster placement, of course.
On smaller gutless days, having a quad with the rear fins closer to the rail and slightly further up will really loosen the board up. This allows for quick maneuvers and sliding the tail around with ease. It also gives you that much more speed through the flats, as there is no resistance of a trailing center fin.
For the bigger hollow days, the quads with rears placed back a little and close to the rail will provide extra speed and hold in the face of the wave. You can take higher lines on steeper waves with the extra hold of having two fins on the rail. Plus, you will gain extra speed due to no center fin drag. This comes in handy on those freight train barreling waves where there is not much room to turn. Additionally, quads are a touch quicker out of the gate compared to a thruster. As soon as you take off and get to your feet, quads will provide you instant down-the-line speed instead of having to pump and drive your board.
Thruster Set Up
There is a good reason why the thruster fin set up has been, and still remains, the go-to for surfboards over the last 30 years. Simply put, they are predictable and they work. But if quads are so functional, why even consider the thruster anymore?
The thruster is perfect for those super ripple days. Where the quad is great in either small waves, or hollow days that are down the line, the thruster gets you what you want when you have time to perform, instead of trying to glide past sections or make it down the line with speed. Thrusters give you a controlled drag that is useful when you want to surf at a higher level on good quality waves. Think of those shoulder to slightly overhead days that are top to bottom, but with lots of room to move around and get in a lot of turns. This is where your thruster will shine.
Thrusters will still work in both small waves and big waves, but it all comes down to the blend of the fins with the board and what the surfer prefers. Nowadays, you see some big-wave surfers going quad for that extra speed and ability to hold a high line. Some guys, however, prefer the extra stability and control needed that the thruster can give you.
Fin Size Guide:
Fin set up is really important so this is a rough guide below on what fin size you require dependent on your weight.
- Fins extra small Optimum Weight Range under 120lbs / under 55kg
- Fins small Optimum Weight Range 120-155lbs / 55-70kg
- Fins medium Optimum Weight Range 140-175lbs / 65-80kg
- Fins large Optimum Weight Range 165-200lbs / 75-90kg
- Fins extra large Optimum Weight Range over 190lbs / over 85kg