Tech talk: How to get into riding a kite surf board?


What’s up guys? Welcome back to another series of our tech talk videos. We’ve got a whole bunch of new topics for you that we’re gonna discuss this year. Partly based on questions that you guys sent in and questions that we get a lot. So without further ado, let’s go!

Today we are here with Luke McGillewie, one of our team riders. Luke is a local here in Cape Town and the thing that we want to discus with Luke today is: How to get into wave kiting or kite surf board riding. We get a lot of questions from people who come from a twintip background and they’re a bit scared of how to get into wave kiting. So we just want to take those fears away and get them going.

Do you need to start with straps if you want to get into wave kiting?

It depends on the person. Personally I think, if you want to get the best connection with your board, I would not have straps. If you come from a surfing background, no straps. You have more freedom of movement on where to place your feet. Especially during a bottom turn. You can move your foot a little bit further forward on the back pad. Just to slow down your bottom turn. Or if you wanna get more critical, move it back on the pad.

Isn’t it more difficult to start strapless riding right away?

It’s a learning curve. It’s not easy to get over waves the first few sessions. But you either have a strap and you learn to ride your surfboard or you just take them off from the beginning. So it’s either one learning curve or two learning curves. For me, I think it’s easier just to head out without straps and commit to the cause. Do you want to learn more about strapped or strapless riding? Check out this other tech talk about this subject.


What’s the best way to start riding a kite surf board?

I generally tend to advise people to maybe go completely without straps, cold Turkey, straight away. Just to get used to that feeling. But then maybe start riding in a place where there is no waves, so on flat water. Where you can just learn your tags and do some riding. Then maybe put straps on when it’s needed, but not necessarily. I think riding strapless will give you way more freedom when riding, it just gives you the freedom to move.

How is pushing up wind different on a kite surf board compared to a twintip?

On a surf board you have more fins on the back, like way more surface on the fins. So for me, I move my back foot just above the fins. The front fins are a little bit in front of it, so you can really drive the board up into the wind. On a twintip, you’re pushing on one edge and you only got these two little fins that are helping you to get up. With a surf board you can step a little bit further forward and use more of the board. More surface area, more volume, which helps you get up a lot easier.

riding a kite surf board
Luke smashing waves on the Luke’s Leaf

What’s the difference between riding a surf board and a twintip?

A twintip basically acts as one big thing. You really have to push the edge in. You can try to do this with a surfboard but because of the volume in the rail, it won’t actually do much. So instead, you sort of ease a surfboard into the wind by moving your foot position or your weight forward. That way the fins engage and keep the board flat. Because the flatter you keep the board, the more the fins engage and the more it sort of pushes up wind.

When would you maybe put straps on your board?

If it’s really, really big I tend to put a strap on. But again, it restricts the back foot. So if you’ll go on a bigger wave then you can’t really slow your board down. I really like to shift my foot. My back foot’s always moving when I’m on a wave. So if you’re locked into your board, it’s weird to explain, but you almost have some kind of stall point. Where you’re sinking the back of your board and you’re not getting all the performance out of your board. So the more volume and more area of your board you can use, I find the better. So that you can walk around your board and control your speed and your turns. Make it more critical.


Why is it so important to move your feet and weight on your board?

How you see a lot of people ride.. They put straps on the board that they bought, but they have them way too far to the back and they want to keep their feet in the straps at all times. You see them try to push up wind, but the board is just bobbling up and down because they’re way too far to the back. Which is a good position for turns, but not necessarily for riding. You do see those people going up and down when not riding the board as flat as they should be. It’s almost like snowboarding when you’re trying to go upwind on a surfboard. If you keep the board flat and you just shift your foot forward. Then that’s when you’re engaging the fins and really cruising up wind.

Some final advice

I think our advice would always be go without straps. Learn the board, learn to ride both ways. Learn maybe your first tags. In the beginning it’s fine to fall on your back, flip the board around by hand and then start riding the other way. In time you will get more comfortable and you know how to do the switches and do all that stuff. But just get going. I mean, get a surfboard. It’s a whole heap of fun. It opens a whole new world.

One more benefit of riding a kite surf board

One final thing that we do notice a lot. A lot of people, especially when you get a bit older, people get pain in their knees and hips just from the fixed position on a twin tip. If you feel that you’re heading that way, it’s a really good option to switch to a surfboard and especially strapless because it just relieves all that. There’s so many ways you can have your feet on the board and it just relieves all the pain.

Okay this is it. Thanks guys. Luke, thank you very much. Thanks for staying in your beautiful new place. If you come to Cape Town, the Point Guest House is the place. Book it early because it’s filling up.

See you next time in the next tech talk video and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more tech talks and updates. Cheers!

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