Footstraps are an important component of high-performance windsurfing as it will allow you to really manipulate the board in anyway you see fit. You can leverage the board when pumping, jumping, or taking aggressive lines.
But what about those that foil for the fun and sense of freedom we get flying along over the water? Does it make sense to lock our feet into one position on the board?
A growing number of windfoilers are questioning the need for footstraps at all, and have begun riding strapless. I did some digging into the pros and cons of riding strapless and asked some experts as well, and here’s what I came up with.
Benefits of Riding with Straps:
- Required for jumping
- Stops your foot from sliding on hard touch downs
- Allows you to pull up in jibes, while pumping, takeoffs, and other tricks
- Allows for more aggressive cutbacks when riding swells, although I find I am able to cut hard without the straps, kind of like most SUP wave foilers do on even bigger wings
- Allows you to pull up / push down when stabilizing the foil
- Makes it easier to carry the board!
Benefits of Riding Strapless
- Avoiding injury when falling. Unlike on a regular windsurf board, the foil does not allow the board to follow your foot as easily. If both feet are in the straps, you could fall back onto the foil. When foiling without straps and out of the harness, you can simply push/jump clear.
- In the same conditions, a smaller sail can be used foiling versus windsurfing. Hence, there is less sail force and the foot straps are not required as much to prevent you from being tossed forward.
- Allows beginners to simply find a comfortable balance position, using small steps, near the centre line of the board without having to move their feet into the foot straps.
- Allows for movement from your center of gravity depending on wind conditions. When overpowered you can just move a few centimetres forward with both feet or move your back foot forward.
- Allows for simpler foot placement and less motion when jibing. For example, you probably want to place your back foot on top of the rear foot straps to keep the foil balanced, rather than ahead of them. Also, there is no need to jam your front foot into the strap, just place it where it is comfortable near the center line of the board.
- When really going upwind, many boards have foot straps that are not out board enough and plenty of leverage can be delivered with both feet on the rail. Unlike regular windsurfing, your feet are not going to get bounced off by the chop;
This is also what I try to explain in this video, meant to help people to learn the foiling jibe easily:
Many thanks to Adrian Hessels for providing us with his list of pros and cons for strapless riding!
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