Home Technique Getting Used to a Surfboard

Getting Used to a Surfboard

This was taken from a series of wave technique features by Neal Gent, who came to aid the plight of anyone struggling to kill it in the surf. Our wave technique features are called Turn and Face, initially inspired by Kill Bill. We may have lost the black and yellow themes, but turn up to a wave fight with the wrong blade... and you'll be in trouble!
PHOTOS - Cristian Black

The biggest difference you feel when jumping on a surfboard compared to a twin-tip is all the extra volume you've got bouncing around under your feet, even on the smaller surfboards. This added bulk means you don't need as much power from your kite, especially when riding strapless. Too much power and you'll find yourself quickly getting out of control and unable to hold your rail in.
As a general rule, when you step up to a surfboard use at least one kite size smaller than you would on a twin-tip. I regularly switch between styles of board when the wind changes, rather than change kites.
Another implication of greater board area is that you have to move your feet around a bit to find the most efficient place to trim the board in the water. If you watch surfers, even on small boards, their foot positions vary depending on the style, size of wave and the manoeuvre they are pulling. Unlike a twin-tip, the rounded outline of the surfboard is definitely not designed for permanently being ridden on its side.
TOP TIP: If you sail around in the straps all the time, the board will feel unstable, bouncy and sluggish. Strapped or not, try moving your back foot in front of where your strap is / would be. Once you've got the board flat in the water you'll be amazed at how much more stable it feels and how much earlier you can get going. Tracking upwind becomes a doddle if you're riding the board efficiently with all those fins!
It's a good idea to make your straps a bit bigger than usual so you can easily get your feet in and out from either side.
Make sure that you have a pad in front of the back strap to stand on or you'll soon end up with some nasty pressure dings in your precious stick. You also need to be a little cautious riding out over waves with only one foot in the strap. We've all heard the broken ankle stories when people get one foot caught in a strap while the rest of their body goes swinging round the front of the board in a wipeout - another good reason for making the straps slightly bigger. Also, all the extra volume under your feet will react far harder to white water than your twin tip, so take care and don't go hacking straight into breaking waves, or your ankles will regret it.
Like everything, it's just a case of getting used to it and soon you'll find you only use the back strap as you start to ride a wave.

Issue #59 has our 2013 Surfboard guide in it, essential reading for any new or seasoned wave warrior. Out September 2012 - don't miss it!

Added: 2012-08-31

Category: Technique

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