Following on from part 1 of Rob’s How to choose a strapless surfboard comes a few more points to think about before diving in and grabbing a board.[button color=”blue ” size=”small” link=”http://www.kitesurfing.com.au/?p=3306″ target=”blank” ]<- Part 1 [/button] [button color=”blue ” size=”small” link=”#” target=”blank” ]Part 3 -> [/button]
RAILS: HARD AND SOFT.
OK, remember that you’re going to be riding the board with the rear of the rail hard into the water most of the time. For the best grip you want a fairly hard edge on the board at the tail to about the mid-section to allow it to bite in the water and go upwind better. A soft rail makes it easy to turn but hard to edge. Some surfboards made for kiting even have an additional small wakeboard type fin ON the rail to help with this but I find they aren’t really needed and just get in the way of other things you want to do. A hard rail acts a bit like a virtual fin to grab the water, letting you edge more. But too much edge and it won’t release smoothly when you want to turn and may cause you to spin out unpredictably.
I’ve found that boards with soft rails near the tail just don’t work for kiting. You can’t edge as well and if you can’t edge, it’s tough to go upwind.
Take-away idea #2: RAILS: Look for a sharp, hard rail in the back that softens gradually toward the centre of the board.
I’ve tried all kinds of bottom shapes and IMO, the single concave is overwhelmingly the best bottom curve for kiting. I suspect that it’s because the concave, in combination with the hard rail near the tail of the board acts together like a fin; giving you more “bite” on the water and releasing nicely as you push it hard. Others will have a different view, but single concave has worked for me.
Rocker: You need rocker for two things: 1. Preventing nose-diving from steep take-offs and 2. Making it easier to turn by releasing the nose from contact form the water. In kiting, neither of these is an issue in 99% of circumstances, leading to the conclusion that you don’t need much rocker on a kiteboard.
Take-away idea #3: BOTTOM SHAPE: Single concave and generally flat rocker
Next you want to think about volume. Volume on a board for paddle surfing is good. It helps you catch the wave, but too much volume on a kiteboard and the board will ride high on the water and that will make it bounce around, skate, and feel unstable and unpredictable. And that’s just horrible. I have a 6’0” fish board that’s 22” wide and 3” thick. It’s great for paddle surfing in onshore, sloppy conditions. I tried once to kite on it and it was just awful in every way imaginable. Sluggish, bouncy, skatey. Everything you don’t want a board to be.
So, remember, the key thing here is to find a board that sits IN the water, not ON the water, but NOT UNDER water. A board that sits IN the water will still plane when it’s got the power of the kite behind it but it isn’t going to bounce around on the water too much. You achieve this by having the right total volume.
Take-away idea #4: VOLUME. Just enough so that the board should be IN the water, not ON the water or UNDER the water.
Stay tuned for the final part of Rob’s how to choose a strapless surfboard for kiting.