You’ve been thinking about trying a new challenge, mixing it up from riding a twintip, and the surf/directional vibe seems like fun – but you are not sure how big of a jump it might be from what you are used to and you need some advice?
In this mini how-to series, we will be going through the progression steps of transitioning from riding with a twintip, to riding directionals, so you can have the best of both worlds.
From what gear to use, to progression infographics and kite techniques – we will cover it all.
Quick reminder: A directional board is not only a surfboard. It is any board that can move in one direction only – for example foilboards, surfboards, cross-over boards, or skimboards. A twintip does not classify as a directional board as it has no nose or tail and is bi-directional. A surfboard is the most common directional board.
The Right Gear
Size, Shape & Volume Of Your Board
Your body weight, progression level, wind speed, and conditions play an effect on choosing the right surfboard to learn on, but generally speaking, a flatter rocker line and squarer outline (board with wider nose and tail) will feel more similar to a twintip and therefore, feel more familiar when learning.
For example: If you are a lighter person and beginner surfboard user, you could need a longer board with more volume compared to a heavier but more advanced rider, who would potentially need to use a shorter board with less volume.
Surfboard shaper recommendation: Cypher
“The Cypher is optimized to be stable at speed with its flatter rocker, compact outline, and parallel rails. This makes it ideal for ripping the small surf.”
Surfboard shaper recommendation: AMP
“If you have a background in surfing and would like something with more of a pure surf feel, we would recommend the Airush AMP surfboard. Starting with a higher volume board when choosing a surf-board will make it easier to progress.”
Kiteboard shaper recommendation for more of a twintip feel: Slayer
“The Slayer is a directional board with built-in bomb-proof twintip construction. This board is extremely versatile as is built for wave-, flat water- and foiling conditions. The full deck EVA traction and twintip construction as well as the squarer shape and flatter rocker make this board ideal for those who love the twintip feel but want the benefits of a directional.”
Check Your Kite
“When starting off, you don’t need a specific kite for wave-riding as most all-around freeride kites, such as the Airush Lithium or Airush One, would work great.
Once you get more comfortable with the style of riding, you can start to look at kites that are optimized for intermediate to advanced kiteboarders, such as the Airush Session.
We would not recommend learning to wave-ride with a traditional C-kite (such as the Airush Razor) due to the direct power delivery.
As a progressive directional kiteboarder, you would need to be able to park your kite and trust that it will remain stable.”
Mark Pattison, Kite Designer
Look for the following qualities:
1. The kite needs to be stable.
How would I know if a kite will be more stable than others?
Look for a kite that has a lower aspect ratio and a deeper canopy.
Aspect ratio: A kite’s aspect ratio would be the ratio of the length to the cord. In other words – wingtip to wingtip: leading edge to trailing edge.
A kite that has a high aspect ratio would essentially be a skinnier kite (for example foil kites) and therefore would be less stable. Kites such as the Lithium, One, or Session have a lower aspect ratio and are therefore more stable kites.
Deeper canopy: When we say that a canopy is either a deeper or shallow canopy, this would mean, in Layman’s terms, “How much the canopy bulges out”. For example, a parachute has a very deep canopy and catches a lot of air vs. a foil kite’s canopy that hardly bulges.
2. Have easy relaunch capabilities.
What gives a kite better relaunch capabilities?
More curved leading edge & swept/round wingtip kites are better for relaunching a kite because it allows the kite to “roll” onto the wingtip better.
3. Be able to drift.
What gives good drift?
Lower aspect ratio kites sit a bit deeper in the wind window which allows the kite to drift better.
Consider using a sliding spreader bar
You don’t really need to change your bar or spreader bar when you are learning to wave ride, however, changing your spreader bar to have a slider rope and ring will give you more freedom of movement, especially with a seat harness.
Starting with straps is a good idea as it will be easier to water start, edge, and get more comfortable with this new type of board under your feet. Once you are used to the feeling of a directional, you can take the back strap off, and then eventually both straps can come off.
Practicing In Forgiving Conditions
When you first start to get used to a directional board, the best place to start is on flat water, if it is an option.
This will mean you can take your time to stand up rather than repeatedly getting bashed by the waves before you’ve developed an adequate ability to stand. Get your tacks and jibes dialed, then work towards choppy conditions, and then head out in some side shore or side-on wave conditions. If possible, try to avoid onshore wave conditions to start off with.
When trying a directional for the first few times, everything will feel a bit different. The main difference will naturally be that you can’t just stop and ride the directional board “backward” so you will in essence be relearning how to tack. First rides on a surfboard can feel a bit slippery underfoot, and since the board also has a lot more buoyancy than a twin tip it reacts differently when riding over chop and waves. Edging will also feel slightly different, but you can often achieve better upwind riding because of the bigger fins that a surfboard uses.
Next article coming up: How to change direction on a directional board + kite control.
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