Kite surfboard shape
Buying your first surf kiteboard is fun but you have to make sure you get the right one, one that fits your style and intended use. This can be tricky in the beginning, especially if you don't know what to look for. We highly recommend getting information from a professional. We are always more than happy to help you find the perfect surfboard. The biggest difference between the various wave ride kiteboards available these days is the shape of the board. The shape gives a surfboard a certain character and ride style. Every kite surfer has his own preference and many manufacturers have their own visions on board shapes and sizes.
Let's start with the most remarkable difference in shape. Some surfboards don't have a nose. These surfboards are called Noseless or Tomo Surfboards. Tomo surfboards are often used while kiting because they are lighter than standard surfboards. By removing the nose you lose some weight but the board also feels more responsive and playful. The only downside from a Noseless wave board is the fact that it can dive into a steep wave. Although, it hardly ever happens during a waveride session. We think these boards are the best boards for each level of waveriding.
When it comes down to the shape of a board there are a number of other features which determines a board, such as; outline, rocker, volume, flex, channels and concave. Below you can read more about each of these features and how they affect the performance of your surfboard.
The outline is the contour of a surfboard. This is always the first thing which you will notice when looking at a surfboard. The board's outline greatly determines its riding behaviors. A board with a straight outline is faster because it streamlines through the water and they also ride better upwind. When you go straight ahead they offer a lot of control, but they aren't really snappy in the turns. If the surfboard has a round outline, they are usually a bit slower but feel more playful.
The tail of the surfboard determines a large part of the board's steering behaviors. It gives flow to the board and how the water runs beneath it. Round edges maintain the water flow and hard corners makes the water bounce off. A surfboard with a round tail has more grip in the water, making it more stable in larger waves. A square tail feels very loose and allows you to make fast snappy turns. There are different types of tails available.
A kite surfboard with a round tail performs well at high speed and in big hollow waves. Because of the round tail, the water follows the contour of the surfboard. This gives a smooth feeling and nice round turns with a lot of speed.
The square tail is one of the first surfboard tail designs. A wide tail has a nice water flow and feels very stable but a square tail also makes it more difficult to make a nice turn. Although you can make very radical turns because a square tail sticks deep in the water while making a turn.
Another common kite tail is the Squash tail, which is a variation of the square tail. The edgy shape of the tail allows for a quick release of the water. This makes the board very responsive and good for sharp snappy turns. The shape is slightly wider at the rear, which offers a nice lift and gets quickly in plane. The round edges give the board more grip than a square outline. A design which does well in a lot of circumstances with a lot of control over larger and smaller waves.
Swallow tail (fish)
A tail design with two pintails at the end is the Fish or Swallowtail. This gives the board more grip and allows it to speed up quickly. In addition, you get more control while making a turn. The Fishtail behaves well in smaller waves. The wider a fishtail gets, the harder it becomes to turn from one side to the other. Rail to rail turns are a little more difficult with a wide fishtail.
Rocker indicates the curve of the board. The more rocker a board has, the rounder it is when you place it on flat on the floor. Just like the outline, this has a lot of influence on the character of the surfboard. A board with a lot of rocker feels playful, steers easily, feels loose on the water and dives less quickly. A disadvantage of rocker is the speed. A flat surfboard has less resistance to the water and rides faster than a board with a lot of rocker. In addition, riding upwind is much easier when the surfboard is flatter. Eventually, many kiters search for the best of both worlds. A playful board that rides upwind smoothly and does not slow down.
Volume indicates how much buoyancy the board has. If a board has a lot of volume, you will often be able to hit the water with less wind, because the board floats better on the water. The volume is calculated by the length, width, and thickness of the board.
Flex indicates how flexible the surfboard is. The amount of flex depends on the use of different materials. A stiffer board feels really direct and has sharp steering behaviors. If you rather spare your knees and have more comfort in the waves, you're better off with a board that has a bit of flexibility.
Over the years, board designers have put a lot of time and energy into the development of kitesurf boards. A recent trend is adding channels in the design of the surfboards. These channels are carved into the bottom of the board to give it more grip. In addition, channels give the board more control on straight lines and stability at high speed.
A concave is squeezed into a kiteboard to give you more grip while edging your kiteboard. It's a negative curve in the bottom of the board. Almost all kiteboards have one or more concaves nowadays. Some have a single concave, others a double, triple or quad concave! Channels in combination with one or more concaves offers an improvement in the water flow, more grip, and control during a kite session.
The diversity of waveride kiteboards is huge. Old wave surfing shapes are re-introduced with custom rails, concaves, channels or different shapes are mixed together. Also, the way they get produced is getting better which makes the boards even stronger and lighter. Most constructions these days are out of epoxy. These boards also usually have 1 or more wooden strings in the center to make it extra strong.
Kite wave surfboards often require extra stiffness, to do this they sometimes add carbon to make it extra sturdy and light. Another way to strengthen a board is by adding a honeycomb layer underneath the feet. This reduces the chance the board gets dents so quickly which will make it last longer. Bamboo is also a way to make a kite wave surfboards more powerful. Material usage greatly influences the weight of the surfboard and the flex properties.
Directional or surfboard?
Is it a directional or surfboard? Within the kitesurfing world these two terms are used interchangeably. It does not matter. A directional is a surfboard and a surfboard is a directional. Sometimes the term waveboard is also sometimes used. Three terms for ultimately the same board: directional, surfboard and waveboard.
Straps or strapless
You can ride directional kiteboards with or without straps. If you just started wave riding it's often easier to practice with straps because you won't lose your board so easily while jumping or in the chop. For the true wave surf, we recommend that you take the straps off. Because you will get a special connection with your surfboard. Pressing the board will keep the board underneath your feet. Strapless kitesurfing is kinda tricky, but once you master it, you will have tons of fun. This way you experience the true surf feeling. If you want to do a backroll every now and then, make sick turns or so crazy jumps you can put your straps back on in a jiffy.
Wax or tractionpad
During wave kitesurfing, there are two ways to get hold of your surfboard. Most wave kiteboards feature a tailgate on the back of the board. It's up to you whether you would like to go with a front deck, or rather have your surfboard waxed. Both ways are fine and have their own pros and cons
+ Direct board feeling
- Loses grip after awhile
- Sticks to your feet
- Re-apply after each session
+ Super grippy
+ Apply once
- More weight (but not much)
- More expensive (but only once)
- Covers a part of your beautiful surfboard (art)
A waveride kiteboard is nothing without some fins! Fins come in all sorts of types and sizes and play a big role in how your kiteboard behaves. Waveride kiteboards often have 3 or 4 fins.