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Finless Kitesurfing

Ride a finless kiteboard!

Hyperlite Roam 2006 (left) and Hyperlite Roam 2007 (right).
Even wakeboarders now go finless wakeboarding

Why finless?  There are a number of reasons:

  1. Unless you go mostly down-wind (or follow the direction of the pulling force like the wakeboarders do), fins offer almost no help.
  2. To be able to come back to where you start on the beach, you need to go opposite to the direction of the pulling force (the kite) by edging the windward rail and it's the edge of the board that offer both lift (to resist the down-wind drift) and tracking (to stable the board in the moving direction). If you don't believe that the edge of the board provide tracking, just ask any snowboarder ("always ride on the edge" is the first thing a snowboarder learn as that provides the tracking needed to control the board).
  3. A finless board accelerates sooner and goes faster (due to no drag, turbulence under the board and cleaner water escape at the tail of the board.
  4. It's less dangerous (no sharp fins to cut your face and body).
  5. It's less costly (no fins to buy or replace).
  6. It's most fascinating as kiteboard is the only planning sailing craft on earth to go upwind without the help of any fin.
  7. It's make the board more responsive to rider input.
  8. A finless board forces the rider to learn how to use the edge of the board more effectively.  This will result in going faster, more upwind and eventually jump higher.
  9. A finless board forces the board shaper to focus more on proper rail shapes.  This will result in more effective boards.
  10. You can land it sideway (useful when you can't turn the board downwind enough for whatever reason)
  11. You can build an amphibious finless board to use it both on the water in the summer and on snow in winter.
  12. It's more fun and more challenging riding finless.

Finless kiteboard made exclusive for kitesnowboarding

The Equipment

To go finless, you need the following type of board

  1. A bidirectional board, due to the middle-of-the-board riding position.
  2. Thin rails (so you can edge sooner)

Recently skimboard (finless directional board) has been become popular in kitesurfing, especially in light wind.  So finless directional board is now a new style and not impossible as once thought.

Home made light wind skim board from Brent

The Place & Condition

You should be able to ride finless everywhere in all conditions (So far I have gone finless in most conditions including light wind, strong wind, underpowered, overpowered and wave).

The Technique

With the exception of weight distribution, riding finless should be almost identical to riding a traditional board.

How To Start?

Getting on a finless board is identical to getting on a traditional board.

How To Get Going?

Get going on a finless board is somewhat different than get going than a traditional board.

Traditional kiteboards have many fins (more than sailboards, surfboards and wakeboards) and their purpose in normal course of kitesurfing is not to provide lift nor tracking but mainly to provide "water grip" (similar effect as anchors) in the water such that the rider would not drift downwind too fast. (Actually, the fins does provide some tracking if you go mostly downwind but as long as there is some edging the tracking provided by the fins is negligible)

A finless rider would have no such "water grip" and has to edge the board as soon as he/she gets on the board.  Once the board is properly edged, the edge of the board will provide both lift to resist the downwind drift and tracking to stabilize the board.  The major difficulty of a finless board is that before the rider edges the board he/she has very little control of the direction of the board (this same feeling has been experienced by numerous beginner snowboarders). Similar to snowboarding, a finless rider needs to always ride his/her board on its edge no matter how little.

Once moving, the rider should keep a balance weight distribution on the board.   The weight of the rider should be in the middle of the board for a beam reach, slightly more forward for a broad reach (down wind) and slightly more tail-ward for an upwind reach (close haul).

How To Jibe?

Jibing a finless bidirectional board should be easier than jibing a traditional bidirectional board.  Finless board allow one to make sensational power slides similar to those that have made snowboarding impossible to resist.

The only difference in jibing a finless board is try to move the board in the direction you want by shifting the weight distribution rather than by force (muscles have little role in jibing a finless board).  Remember that a finless board is very sensitive so only use force once you have a firm edge in the water (and only if you want to make some showy flash)

How To Jump?

Jumping a finless board is slightly harder than jumping on a traditional board; however, once you got the feel of it, you can jump higher than on a traditional board (the board is faster creating more line tension; the edge is more effective creating more potential energy)

A finless board has no "water grip" and force you to use the edge of the board more by keeping more pressure balance between the front and the back foot.   It's very easy to "loose the edge" (by loosing the balance between the front/tail edge and the pulling force of the kite)  so pay more attention to your edging than your kite.

Once you know how to use the edge of the board better, it actually provides much more lift and downwind drift resistance.  This would create more line tension allowing you to jump higher than a traditional board in the same condition (a traditional board will create the "water grip" illusion that prevent you from using the edge of the board to its full potential).

Finless and Shallow Water

One of the added bonus for riding finless is that you can ride your board in very shallow water (only a couple inches of water is needed)


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