FOOT HOOKS – Strapped Surfboard Riding

Why you want a strapped kitesurf board in your quiver.



Without question you will turn much harder with straps. Footstraps allow you to push the rail of your board deeper into the water. The deeper the board goes, the more traction you get and the shorter the radius of the turn. Talk to any good surfer and they will tell you a solid top turn is only accomplished by a precise bottom turn. With a strapped board you can draw out your turns where you need to and hammer them in the pocket to hit the lip.


Any way you look at it boosting is a boatload of fun, and in the surf it’s functional. Yes, I wish I could boost over a ten-foot wall of white water like Ian Alldredge, but I can’t. The next best thing is turning away from the wall of white water. Better yet, you can have straps on your board, not worry about it and boost over it at will. From a safety standpoint, it’s safer to launch over a wall of white water than turning and getting stuck on the inside. 


The bottom line is that you will lose your board less with footstraps. It’s less technical to ride a strapped kitesurf board in the waves and choppy ocean than it is to ride a strapless one. There is less to think about and it’s way easier.

“Old school! Donkey kicker! Nice foot hooks! Ankle breakers. Strap-on kiter.” These are taunts I hear when my strapped kitesurf board is under my arm. Why is everyone such a hater? If you could kitesurf like Kelly Slater surfs, wouldn’t you ride a strapped board? Or what if you could kitesurf like Ian Alldredge? I don’t care what the haters say, footstraps will help you rip a lot harder.



Your strapped kitesurf board should be about two inches shorter and two liters less than your strappless board. With a smaller strapped board the ride will not be as bouncy, you can ride a lot faster and most importantly, turn harder. 


A quality set of performance fins is necessary for strapped kitesurfing. You put a lot of strain on your fins since you are riding faster and pushing harder. I recommend getting something with a carbon lay up so you can get a fin with a stiff base and high response. Whatever you do, don’t ride stock plastic fins. Your fin set is 50 per cent of the wetted surface when you are riding and good fins will help you go upwind better, stay in control at speed and snap much harder turns.


Wider is better. You need to have your front foot in front of the wide point of the board and back foot as close to the tail as possible. This stance allows you to keep the curved outline in the water and have clean arcing turns. Your front foot should be centered over the stringer (the strip of wood that runs down the middle of the board). If you are riding a thruster (three fins), you want your back foot on the back fin. This will be your pivot point on turns. I am 5’10” and ride with my stance all the way forward and all the way back on any strapped board I ride.


1. Ride powered. You can hold back a little more kite when you are strapped since you can push harder on your board. This helps you get upwind and carry speed down the line if there is a lot of current on the inside.

2. Take your back foot out of the back strap when you are riding upwind. Place your foot in front of the back strap. This allows you to push off the forward fins and get more drive upwind.

The bottom line is that kitesurfing is awesome on a strapped or strapless board. As long as you are out there ripping you shouldn’t care what all the haters say.

Matt Nuzzo is Co-Founder of REAL Watersports in Cape Hatteras, NC. For reviews, instruction and everything else kiteboarding,  check out