Kitesurfers School | Kiteboarding Lessons

Finless Kitesurfing? Kiteboards Without Fins

Table of Contents

Hyperlite Roam 2006 (left) and Hyperlite Roam 2007 (right). There is now even finless wakeboards. 

Why Ride A Finless Kiteboard?

There are a number of reasons:

  1. Unless you go mostly downwind (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 offers both lifts (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 provides tracking, just ask any snowboarder (“always ride on the edge” is the first thing a snowboarder learns as that provides the tracking needed to control the board).
  3. A kiteboard with no fins 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 makes the board more responsive to rider input.
  8. The 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 board to use both on the water in the summer and on snow in winter.
  12. It’s more fun and more challenging riding without fins.

Finless bidirectional kiteboard made exclusive for kitesnowboarding. 

The Equipment For Kiteboarding Without Fins

To get started, 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)

Finless Directional Board

Recently, skimboard (directional board without fins) has been become popular in kitesurfing, especially in light wind. So finless directionals became a new style and no longer impossible as once thought.

Home-made light wind skimboard from Brent. 

When Can You Kitesurf Without Fins?

You should be able to ride everywhere in all conditions. (So far, I did surf without fins in most conditions including light wind, strong wind, underpowered, overpowered, and wave).

The Finless Kiting Technique

With the exception of weight distribution, riding a board without fins should be almost identical to riding a traditional board. 

Flat Water Jumping Technique

Jumping on a finless board is identical to doing it on a traditional board.

How To Surf on A Finless Kiteboard?

Finless kitesurfing is somewhat different than get going on a traditional board.

Traditional kiteboards have many fins (more than sailboards, surfboards, and wakeboards) and their purpose in the 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 provide some tracks if you go mostly downwind, but as long as there is some edging, the tracking provided by the fins is negligible. 

The 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 lifts to resist the downwind drift and tracking to stabilize the board.  

The major difficulty 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 balanced 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 (downwind), and slightly more tail-ward for an upwind reach (close haul).

Jibe A Finless Bidirectional Board?

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

The only difference is jibing is trying 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 board without fins 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 A Board Without Fins?

Jumping on such a 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 board without fins has no “water grip”, which forces you to use the edge of the board by keeping more pressure balance between the front and the back foot. It’s very easy to “lose the edge” (by losing 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 prevents you from using the edge of the board to its full potential).

Finless Kitesurfing In Shallow Water

One added bonus for riding without fins is that you can ride your board in very shallow water. Only a couple of inches of water is needed. 

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