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Kiting with a slotstik skimboard
These days, people are using just about every kind of board behind a kite. From surfboards, landboards, wakeboards, snowboards, skateboards to skimboards. All have their own unique use and feel in the sport of kite boarding, but today we are going to illustrate the advantages of using a skimboard behind kitesurfing kites. There are many inherent characteristics of a skimboard that make it a unique ride, and a good idea to add one to your kiteboard quiver.
The number one reason most people kite with a skim board is for light wind kiteboarding. Since skimboards are wide, flat, and floaty, they make efficient kite boards, with minimal power necessary to go upwind. You will commonly see a kite skimboarder being one of the last riders on the water when the wind dies or lightens up. Because of their shape, they go upwind better than most kiteboards, and for a much smaller price tag than most other kiteboarding equipment. The additional freedom to move your feet around on the top of the board without designated foot locations, makes for better use of the board's shape and rails, and will also improve upwind performance.
No fins or straps, and having rounded rails make for a smooth ride in all conditions. Riding strapless can be a challenge at first, since most people are used the security of having pads and bindings holding them to the board, but with a little practice in shallow water, anyone can be up and riding strapless on a skimboard with ease. The freedom to move your feet around is a great feeling, and can make for a more comfortable ride, as you can move your legs and feet into a position and angle that suits your body type. Being strapless is also friendly on the knees, allows you to ride at slower speeds, and decreases risk of injury.
Skimboards are bread to perform in small surf. They are fast, maneuverable, and smooth. When the waves are small, a skimboard will make it feel as if they are head high, requiring control and balance to carve and slash the wave faces. Also, since skimboards don't have any fins gripping the water, you can ride at a very slow pace and still make huge fan sprays. When kiteboarding in the small surf, the lightweight skimboard reacts fast, and ollies easily!
Skimboards are similar to a shape of a surfboard only shorter, wider, lighter, and more thin. They don't have as much floatation as a surfboard, nor do they usually have any fins. The skimboard is made to ride in shallow water, flat water, or small shore breaks. They originated from kids surfing the shore break waves. Instead of paddling into waves, like a surfer, one would carry the smaller skimboard on the beach and run into the approaching waves while jumping onto the board. Once they get up to foot speed and jumped on, skimboarders will skim across the shallow water until their momentum runs out, or the more advanced skimmer will launch off oncoming waves or carve up the face and ride it back to shore.
Skimboards have very little rocker (curve in the board). They are generally flat throughout the middle, with a little bit of rocker in the nose, and even less in the tail. The flat board makes for a more efficient skim or slide across the water's surface with minimal drag. Skim boarders need little rocker to make it as far as they can with just foot speed, while kiteboarders benefit from the flat board for light wind kiteboarding, as they can plane earlier with less kite power.
A skimboard is wider than most boards, which helps to disperse weight. The more of your weight that gets spread across the water's surface, the better you will float. There is slightly more rocker in the nose of the board, making it possible to get over small waves and pieces of chop. Since a skim board is more or less symmetrical, they can be very easily ridden both ways like a twin-tip kiteboard or wakeboard.
Skimboards can have one of three general types of rail shapes. The first is tapered rails are sharper edges of the board. Tapered rails are good for larger surf where the skimmer is moving fast on the face of the wave and needs control and grip the water. The last is the boxed rail, which is a rounded edge of the board. Boxed rails increase float by adding more volume. They also make for a smoother ride, and handle chop better. There is also a intermediate hybrid shape, which takes the advantages of both rail shapes and gives you a board that can handle a broad range of conditions.
Usually none. Some people put small fins on the bottom of the board for extra traction.