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Strapless Progression
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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Northwest Kiteboarding -> Gorge / Portland / Oregon Coast
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Since 03 Jul 2005
578 Posts

PostSat Sep 02, 17 11:17 pm     Reply with quote

I used to be scared of wearing a leash in the surf until I started riding a spot where I can't afford to lose my board. I use a really long leash, like 7 or 8 feet and it is pretty hard to get whipped by your board. The trick is to depower your kite as soon as you fall. This should minimize any whipping by your board. Also get a quick release one just in
Case you need to punch out.

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Since 14 May 2006
418 Posts


PostSun Sep 03, 17 6:35 am    Re: Thanks/Update Reply with quote

More time strapless: I basically can't stand to ride my twintip anymore anyways so this is pretty easy. I'm on the board from 7m conditions to 15m conditions and am feeling good.

2 things......

I agree this thread is helping me out tons so please keep it coming and I too have been focused on being able to ride a board in all conditions, I find that its super easy on the body compared to a twin as well.

Thank you so much.


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Matt V

Since 26 Oct 2014
377 Posts
Summer- OR Coast, Winter - My van near good snow
Explosive Diarrhea

PostSun Sep 03, 17 7:01 am    Re: Thanks/Update Reply with quote

5walnut10 wrote:

Gybe speed: I took the time to consider my actual gybe speed since I'm regular footed. Going either way the fastest I can gybe is to simply jump and 180 my body instead of stepping forward and then back. If someone has a faster method let me know.

I do this too while strapped. It may be a holdover from strapless. When strapped, you just need to prep it by loosening the feet in the straps a bit, then jumping and making it inside of the front strap, but placing the foot in front of the back strap.

5walnut10 wrote:

....if I add in small jumps and immediately return to hard carving upon landing I learn a lot. The reason is that just as Matt V recommended in learning to jump, you end up landing with poor foot positioning from time to time. Add in forcing myself to carve away aggressively upon landing has given me the opportunity to learn how the board can and will perform when I'm out of foot position but still have to ride. In the ocean I can see it effectively buying me time to restabilize in a more opportune location.

This is the advantage of having straps, or really sticky wax, and why I went back to strapped. Learning to ride with bad foot position for long enough to correct it is essential to not being a hazard to others in the break. But to get near the performance level of strapped while strapless, you need to get back into position extremely quick. The speed is "instant" with strapped (except in the jibe), but only can be quick with strapless. This quickness should be your goal, not just riding out of position. With a funky foot position, you always give up one or more of the following, even on a small kitesurfboard - front foot pressure, rear foot pressure, or one rail pressure. Out of position, one of those controls goes away and you cannot apply a technique that requires that. If you need the control you give up in a particular out of position stance, then you will find your self looking up at the surface of the water.

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Since 30 Mar 2011
646 Posts

PostMon Sep 18, 17 2:33 pm     Reply with quote

One of the easiest ways to get comfortable with the coast is to do a downwinder. Between Fort Stevens and Sunset Beach being the most popular. With a downwinder, it is much easier to pick and choose your waves if you are not worrying about staying upwind. You can stay in close to shore for an extra layer of safety. As you get more comfortable - you can start testing the outer break.

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PostMon Oct 02, 17 8:28 am     Reply with quote

I'm about to hit my 30th day strapless and am feeling pretty solid from following advice on this thread. I've got 2 weeks booked in Tulum, Mexico this November and that will be my actual intro to wave riding. At this point I feel confident that I'll have success out there, just not sure exactly what it will look like!

Something I thought about yesterday that taps into a little more of training theory is this: What % of time are you spending trying new things vs trying to solidify established skills and just have fun? Obviously benefits in both.

For me at least, 2 continuous hours of riding as aggressive as possible and constantly trying new things is about my max. By the end of that time frame I'm starting to dog and thinking about shore.

I ask because I don't feel like I see many intermediate riders out there. I see either people mowing the lawn strapless or going big strapless, I never see someone trying a new tack/jibe 50 times in a session. Never see people trying and failing at landing aerials over and over again.

I'm having a blast, and am wondering, for those who have made it through to a more advanced level of strapless riding: Did you spend many a day getting thrashed trying to progress quickly? Or did you accrue your skills more slowly over several years?


Since 13 Jun 2012
260 Posts


PostMon Oct 02, 17 10:12 am     Reply with quote

I consider myself an intermediate strapless rider and this is the way I approach things.

1) if the waves are good they are the focus, since I only kite onshore waves that means 60% of the time riding back upwind, 30% of the time ripping turns on waves, 10% of the time doing airs during my way back up wind. (you might consider that 60% mowing the lawn but it's work you have to put in to get to rip those turns)

2) if the wave/wind angle is good then the focus is strapless airs, wave/wind angle makes a huge difference to how big you can go strapless. in the right conditions I can do 15-20 foot airs, in average conditions more like 5-10 foot.

3) otherwise mix it up between doing laps upwind then ripping turns down and trick progression. even if the waves suck it's still great fun.

4) also mix in some more mellow stuff like working on your duck tacks, carve 180 to ride backwards and handstand backrolls.

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PostThu Sep 13, 18 5:26 pm     Reply with quote

I started this thread last year when I had about 30 days strapless and no ocean experience. I'm over 100 days strapless now with a chunk of ocean days so I figure I'll post what I've learned:

Critical skills and things to practice that will lead you to strapless fun in the surf (from a beginners mind):

1. Jibe. Really, truly, you want this dialed. Missing a jibe in the breakers sucks. I've body dragged after my board all the way back to shore several times to prove it. Get your jibe dialed!

2. Restart speed: If you fall off your board, how fast can you get your board back and get back up? It's easy to be lazy in the river. In the surf, you want this to be lightning fast. I've gotten to the point where I can body drag towards my board and then flip my feet out front to restart without even touching the board with my hands (this is overkill). The faster you can get back up, the faster you get away from the whitewater.

3. Flight skills and kite loops: IMO, if you plan to ride waves seriously you need to be a great kite pilot. Try riding and accidentally dipping the kite edge in the water and relaunching without falling off the board. If the kite stalls, do you know which lines to grab to repower or loop the kite other than simply the bar? Looping the kite and learning when to loop vs drift is critical. You'll want to be able to loop both directions as well as when riding straight down wind (straight down wind, just like catching rights at the coast when you have northerlies).

4. Kites aren't made for the water: No matter how bad you wipe out, get pulled under, or lose your way, does your kite stay in the air? It's now second nature for me to bar out and send the kite to 12 when I know I'm going down. This saves me from nasty crashes in the river but is mission critical in the waves. A kite in the waves is hard to relaunch and a recipe for big repairs. So, when you're practicing in the river and are mid crash, just think about keeping your kite out of the water!

5. Toeside: Get this locked down so you can ride the waves however you like. Plus, if you are about to get nuked by a wave and don't want to risk a jibe, just ride away toeside.

6. Freestyle: You don't need to be a pro but spending time jumping in both directions will help a lot. You'll start to learn that all you need is a toe on the board to get through some of your aerials. This is similar to riding over the whitewater of the waves. I spent a ton of time this summer boosting, grabbing, rotating, and doing flip tricks in the river, all with the ocean in mind. It really does translate. Plus, when you throw a trick in the waves it feels pretty epic!

7. Gear: I didn't really believe gear matters, and to get started, it doesn't mean everything but: Having a good board, with good fins, and a kite than can drift really will make a difference. By all means, don't give up on the surf just because you don't have great gear, just know that if you have the chance to try a drifting kite and some nice fins, you'll notice the difference.

8. First beach choice?: I recommend Manzanita for beginner surfers. The waves are commonly lacking a lot of power, there's almost always other kiters around, and the wind is slightly more onshore. One of the first things you will notice is that staying upwind in the river is way different than staying upwind in the ocean. Manzanita's wind is slightly more onshore than Fort Stevens. This slight onshore shift makes staying upwind a little easier. On top of that: If you want to ride upwind I don't recommend riding waves all the way back to shore every time. Stay out past the breakers, wait for nice waves, and work your way upwind. As soon as you get into the break consider yourself to be going downwind!

That's it! Again, I'm not pro, my comments are simply fresh from the mind of a 2nd year kiter so I figured I'd share them while they are fresh. Hope to see some more of you at the coast soon!


Since 01 Jul 2006
174 Posts


PostFri Sep 14, 18 2:50 pm     Reply with quote

You will have no problem going strapless on day one with either of these two underrated boards that are purpose build for this scenario:

1. Axis New Wave (formerly Underground Kipuna)
2. Lightwave Dv8

I started with a Slingshot Verve, a traditional surfboard shape/volume, and spent 7 days crashing constantly at Floras Lake. On day one with an Underground Kipuna I was nailing jibes at 100% in both directions. These boards are forgiving and give you time to make several corrections just at the moment you feel you are about to crash. You can save it virtually every time. You do not get this extra cushion on a traditional surf board, once you feel like you are about to crash you will. Sure it will not feel exactly the same as a traditional surf board. This will feel like an SUV while the traditional surfboard will feel like a sportscar.

They are hard to find used. You may need to spend big to get one at full retail. It is unfortunate that these boards where marketed as strapless freestyle boards instead of the ultimate beginner learn to jibe board. We should have more of them out there and a bigger secondary market for them used.

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