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Kiting in the surf – weapons of choice

10 May , 2010  

By Brian Friedmann

For kiting in the surf there are a couple things to think about before heading out. Board selection, The 6’2″ Surf model is great for bigger riders or large surf strapped up. It can also be ridden strapless and is good for light wind days. Strap placement plays a key role in how the board feels in the waves so if you experience problems or think the board isn’t turning as it should, try changing the strap placement. Personally I prefer the back foot strap all the way back and the front foot strap all the way back. One key tip on board grip is don’t use booties on these boards.

The F-One surf line of boards all come with pads already on them and you will find that your bare foot grips the boards better than most booties.

Rider: Brian Friedmann

Conversely, if you have a board without deck pads on it and only wax, booties can really help to improve the grip under your foot.


The 5’2″ Fish is another favorite and performs fantastic when strapless for light wind days and smaller surf. With a skate/skim feel it’s a blast and starts planing immediately. But don’t be fooled, even with it’s small outline, the board will hold when hitting the lip as hard as you can. This board can also be strapped up if needed but feels really great strappless and allows for lots of transitional tricks given it’s smaller size. Also, if your a larger rider, don’t be concerned with the size. It will plane with even the biggest rider onboard. It’s a must for your board quiver.



If your riding style is to use the kite to get you on the wave and then use the power from the wave to keep you moving then, fin selection can play a key role. This is less of an issue if your going to power up your kite in order to have it pull you through down the line of the wave. Various fin outlines can provide a more solid feel through bottom turns and cutbacks or a looser feel for quicker turns. And there are many types available in terms of the materiels used. Some will generate more drive while others will maintain a lot of flex for tighter turning. You will be surprised the difference in feel that the various fins will make. Checkout your local surf shop and see what they have.

Rider: John Maldonado

With their full depower, light bar pressure and great upwind capability, the Bandit 3 kites are excellent in the surf. Smaller, lighter riders will appreciate not being pulled when a gust occurs as the B3 with all it’s top end foregiveness handles gusts and higher winds with ease. All riders will benefit from kites with fast turning speed which can be critical depending on the wind direction at your surf spot. Side on will require more aggressive turning of the kite to keep you moving around sections and down the line. However, if you’re lucky enough to kite side/side-off conditions, you can park the B3 and it will float down the line with you effortlessly. Here are a couple things to think about when riding in the surf with the B3. First, if your goin to go strapless you may want to select a smaller kite. Typically your going to be riding a larger or surf style board so you really don’t need all that excess power. Substituting turning speed of the smaller kites for power and using the wave’s to keep you moving works well. If your going to go strapped, you can use a little bigger kite, or, instead of changing kites, select another board that has more float. This also saves you the time of pumping another klite up when the waves and wind are happening out there. Make sure you are familiar with your safety system and how to release the kite. Also, if the kite goes down in the surf you want to be able to get it back in the air before the next wave comes so be very comfortable with the relaunch.

Rider: John Maldonado

Be respectful of the spot and talk to the locals before heading out. Get some info on the launch, wave conditions, rip currents, the riding pattern or rotation on who get’s the waves and when. Kites can get us into some interesting situations. On larger surf days, really consider the consequences. If you wouldn’t be completely comfortable swimming out past the lineup and back, then hang out and watch the show or pickup tips for next time. Big air in the surf zone is really frowned upon. It limits other riders ability to make the most of the surf since there’s a limited zone where you can ride on the wave. And if you fall in the surf zone people won’t be real pleased since they will need to jockey around you and your kite and miss that perfect section of the wave. Boosting downwind of the pack or out past the wave lineup is a better option. If your riding a twin tip, go give a directional surfboard a chance and try one. It’s something new and will create a new feel on the wave since that’s what it was designed for. Surfboards generally tend to not create as much wake as twin tips that can mess up the waves which becomes very evident on smaller days.  Or again, riding downwind or outside the waves will help to preserve the quality of the surf.

If you have interest in talking about the Bandit 3 or any of the F-One surf specific models out then send us a note and we will schedule a demo.

Most of all, have fun. We are a fortunate few…

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Brian Friedmann is sponsored by F-One Americas  and Sidewinder.

Sidewinder provides kiting equipment specifically geared towards wave riding. Based in Santa Cruz, they are a small independent group with minimal overhead in order to pass the savings on to you. We live for kiting and clock more water time in a month than most do in a year, so you can be sure the equipment that’s recommended has been through the paces. From small wave high performance boards to big wave carving machines and kites that match, we can recommend the right setup. Send us an email at sidewinder@gmail.com for more information or if you want to hear about equipment that can make a difference in getting you to the next level in your wave riding.

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