All you need to know about Wave Boards
Clinton Filen is not only the Brand Manager of Airush International but also the key board designer. Airush prides itself in having an eclectic mix of designers, top riders, tools, and in-house research and design facilities located in our offices in Cape Town, South Africa, Bangkok, Thailand and Perth, Western Australia. Constantly producing prototypes and testing to make the best so you can ride at your best.
Here is a run down of what Clinton has to say about kite surfboards and selecting the right one.
Defining exactly what you want from a kite surfboard can be quite daunting, especially when so many companies claim that certain boards do everything. There is a lot of good info available from some of the better-known surf shapers on certain key areas, but there are specific aspects that remain relevant to pure kiteboards and my personal favorite, crossover surf/kiteboards, that should be considered when selecting a ride. Kites give you more speed and drive than pure surfing provides, so developing shapes that take this into consideration is extremely relevant.
The magic of design comes with the perfect combination of all the elements. It is not unusual to use one factor to offset weaknesses in the other, such as putting more curve in the outline to assist the turning if you have a very flat rocker. Generally these components of the design will be consistent in their effect on the board.
I have attempted to summarize most of the key elements to help you choose a board, and give you some perspective through the Airush range.
Chapter 1: Rocker
In basic terms, the amount of rocker will have the largest impact on the planning, speed, and turning of the board, where a lot of tail rocker will allow the board to snap more easily off the top and drive a tighter bottom turn. Less rocker will improve the planning speed and the ability for the board to carry speed through a turn, (which is very important in onshore), along with improved upwind ability.
If you look at the Airush Range, theConverse has the most rocker, making it ideal for down-the-line and very vertical riding with powerful waves and cross shore conditions. The Compact and Quadhave a moderate rocker, (flatter than a Converse but more than a Choptop), with the Choptop rocker giving you the most speed and keeping drive through turns, which is best for onshore and light wind.
Chapter 2: Bottom shape
The bottom shape should be viewed more from the point of how it is changing the rocker of the board, and to a certain degree, how it is affecting water-flow. Designing V in the board basically increases the overall rocker, whereas adding a single concave would reduce the overall rocker. When it comes to water-flow, the V allows the board to roll consistently from rail to rail and soak up chop, while a single concave gives a looser overall feel.
The V and double concave is used in theCompact for a more precise transition from the heel-side to toe-side rail in a higher speed bottom turns, (typically windy conditions, hooked in riding and down the line.) A similar bottom shape is used in the Choptop, as the flat rocker and extra width of the Choptop make it more challenging to turn, so having a bottom shape that allows the board to roll easier from rail to rail is a positive. The single concave in the Converse and Quad, keep the boards loose and contribute to the snappy feel.
Chapter 3: Overall tail width
For 2011, we have started to indicate a measurement we call the ‘Tail Ratio’, which is an method using the width of the tail relative to the centre width. Wider tails have the most drive and will help in carrying speed through the turn. Narrower tails provide more stable at speed and remain easier to engage and drive through a faster turn. So looking at two boards of similar width, it is important to view the tail width as a key differentiation.
Chapter 4: Hip
Within overall outline, the positioning of the hip, or the amount of hip in the rear half of the board, can affect the stability and turning capabilities of the board. As an example, the Choptop has a fair amount of hip, which helps to loosen the board up at lower speeds, compensating for the flat rocker. On the other hand, the Compact has the least hip, in order to keep the board stable at speed and allow it to drive through long, smooth turns. In the case of the Quad, there is relatively little hip to compensate for the looser quad fin configuration.
Chapter 5: Rail
Thickness and release are the two main aspects of the rail. Although there is a lot of debate around the finer details of rails, a thicker rail is going to allow you to keep your drive at lower speeds, and a thinner rail can be driven harder through a turn, sitting deeper in the water. I do think rails can be too thin and this results in a board that sits too deep in the water when bottom turning, similar to driving a bottom turn with too much front foot pressure and having the board dig in and lose drive.
The Choptop has the fullest rail, specifically in the bigger sizes. Although, if compared to a similar design dedicated to small wave surfboards, the Choptop rails are only moderately thick. This is due to the additional speed generally created from kite power in small surf. The Compact carries a slightly fuller rail than the Converse or Quad, as the short outline can be driven very hard through the bottom turn, with the additional volume assisting to maintain drive.
Chapter 6: Tail Shape
Risking the wrath of shapers around the world, I would say tail shape can be viewed as much from an aesthetic side as a performance side, but again, the wider (and squarer) the tail, the more drive at low speed, with a narrower pintail sitting deeper in the water when coming off the top.
Chapter 7: Fin Configuration
The biggest consideration with fins is the overall center of drive in relation to the rider. If you have the fins further apart (back to front) the board becomes stiffer (to a point). Closer to each other loosens the board up. The AR5 is what I refer to as a balanced set (all the same size) with the AR 3’s having a bigger front set. The larger fins in the front tend to loosen the board up, which is ideal in smaller waves. Typically I prefer the feeling of Quad fin configurations on wide tailboards, and in smaller surf, lighter winds and in onshore, but this is a lot about personal preference.
There are many other factors such as volume, rider position and flex that can be looked into in more depth, along with the countless combinations of the aspects outlined above. However, I hope this point can help you in choosing your next board and understanding the key shape concepts in the 2011 Airush range.
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