Tech talk: strapless or strapped riding


Hi everyone! Welcome back to Appletree Surfboards headquarters. My name is Wieger, co-founder of Appletree Surfboards. In today’s tech talk I’m gonna quickly explain the differences between strapped and strapless riding on a directional kite board.

It first and foremost comes down to personal preference

So it’s always a bit of a debate, riding strapped or strapless. It first and foremost comes down to personal preference. Some people just really like that locked in feeling of riding with straps. They either come from a windsurfing background. Or really like that locked in feeling that a twin tip gets you and they want to translate that into waves. Other people might come from a surfing background or skateboarding. Where they’re used to being loose on the board, so they prefer strapless riding.

Some boards just work very well with straps

There is a few key differences to think about when you’re choosing one over the other. First of all, the kind of board that you use can difference quite a bit. In this case, I’ve got an Apple Peeler model here. Which is our latest model for big surf. It’s the only board that we make, that comes with inserts for straps as standard. Doesn’t mean you have to ride it with straps, but it’s a board that has been designed to be ridden with straps.

Key difference is, that this board doesn’t require a lot of moving around. Where other boards, mainly wider boards, are designed to be ridden more up to the front when going upwind and more to the tail when doing turns. This board, you’re naturally, even when you’re riding in straps or strapless, you are always riding it in a roughly the same position. So that’s why this works well with straps.


Can you add straps to any board?

We can, at Appletree Surfboards, do straps on any kind of custom board that you want. But we always advise it only to do it on the models that are a bit narrower, a bit more elongated. More geared towards riding bigger surf or at least riding in the surf. Not necessarily the wider more skatey kind of boards.

strapless or strapped riding
Paulino riding the Applepeeler with straps

Straps affect your position on the board

What you see happen a lot when people start riding with straps or when people start riding directional boards in general. Is that they think they want to have straps because it’s easier. The problem what happens is, they put on the straps like I’ve got on this board here. As you can see with my back foot, I’m really over the fin cluster. Which is a really good position to be, to initiate that turn, but it’s a very bad position to be when you’re riding up wind.

I see a lot of people that start riding at directionals and they ride in the straps all the time, back foot in the strap, and you see this board bouncing around on the waves. Because they’re in this sort of angle, way too far to the back of the board. So when you’re riding up wind. It’s very important to get your foot out of the strap and place it in front, so your weight is more forward.

Now, your front foot should actually also be a little bit further forward, which is limited by the strap position. So that’s something you have to sort of tune your position to a little bit. So be careful with that when riding straps. In my personal opinion, when I learned to kite surf, I started to kite with just the front strap. Just because I was constantly losing the board. After only a few sessions, I took the strap off completely and started riding strapless. That was my goal as I come from a surfing background. I do advise people to start when they start using directionals first learn without straps. In the end it’s actually just as easy and the boards are way more designed to be ridden without straps, most of them at least.

What are the pros of riding strapless

Let’s grab another board. On the other end of the spectrum I’ve got this Applino v2, which is really a board that’s been designed to be ridden strapless. We have made a few with strap insert for very specific clients who really know what they want of the board. But in general, you want to ride this board strapless. So the key difference is, this board is way flatter and way wider. So it requires more weight to the front when you’re riding up wind. You can actually move around quite a bit more on this board. I tend to ride it really far upfront when I go upwind. I ride it even further back than the strap of the board when I do turns, to really be behind the fin cluster and really push out those turns. The strap would just limit your position to this one position, which is not the best for going on and it’s also not the best for doing those turns.

strapless or strapped riding
Paulino riding the Applino V2 strapless

In really big waves we would choose strapped riding over strapless

Especially on my backside turns. I like to ride more to the tail. So it’s a personal kind of style of riding. Which I feel that a strapless board gives you a bit more options to choose your own style compared to a strapped board. This doesn’t mean that there is no place for strapped boards. As you can hear probably, my preference is always to ride strapless. But I do ride strapped boards, especially the Apple Peeler model, but only when the waves are really big. So when the waves are really big and the wind is really strong, when you come down the wave, the slightest chop can bounce you off. Because that speed is just accelerated and it just kicks you off the wave. Then a strap can be really nice to get that confidence to drop down a bigger faced wave.

Strapless riding gives you the freedom to play around

So for me, straps are essential in those kind of conditions, but anywhere from like knee high waves to overhead – overhead and half, I always like to ride strapless. Just to have that freedom to play around and to throw the board around and to do whatever I want and not be hindered by the straps. But again, nothing wrong with riding straps. A lot of people like riding straps. A lot of people like riding strapped all the time. So it’s all up to you, we love you all equally. Do whatever you like.

Hopefully this video gives you a little bit of insight, especially when you’re still a beginner and you’re trying to choose whether to go strapped or strapless. Hope it helps. Let me know what you thought about this video in the comments below. Give us a follow because we shoot out new tech talk videos monthly. I hope to see you next time in another tech talk video. Cheers!

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