Your first twin tip kiteboard should be easy to ride and a little bit over your ability level to allow you to grow into it. During your lessons you will be using very big beginner boards or light wind boards. The larger the board, the less power you need in the kite and the more surface area you have to help you get up. Once you can get up and ride both directions you will progress off the big board.
So what size board should I choose for my first set up? Generally speaking, bigger is better. As mentioned above the bigger boards help with getting up with less effort. The big boards do start to become more of a problem when kiteboarding in strong winds and when you advance past the beginner stages. They are however an excellent weapon to have in your arsenal for those super light wind days. Here are some things to take into account:
1. Height and weight Of Kiteboarder
The first thing to take into account is how tall you are, and how much do you weigh.
Under 150 Lbs = 136cm-148cm
150 – 200 Lbs = 145cm-160cm
Over 200 Lbs = 150cm-165cm
2. Average Wind Strength
What will be the average wind strength at your local kiteboarding? If the wind is generally lighter, get a board that is at the larger end of your weight category (described in above paragraph). Conversely if you live in places like Cape Town with consistently insane winds speeds you'll want to ride a smaller board for your size category.
3. Preferred Style Of Riding
Intended style of riding is also plays a roll on board choice. You dont want to invest thousands of dollars on a surfboard if you're planning on doing mega loops.
4. Overall Shape
A kite board with increased rocker (curvature of the bottom from tip to tip) will feel and ride smaller than it actually is. Flatter boards ride larger as they have a larger surface area in contact with the water.
The average width of a kiteboard is around 40-43cm wide across the middle. If a board is wider than 43cm, then it will allow you to plane earlier, allowing you to need less overall length in your board to keep you going. So you can take a few Cm's of your board. And conversely with boards less than 40cm, you'll need more length.
Straps or Boots?
This is the final piece of the puzzle. Once you have figured out the correct sizing and shape now its time to figure out how the hell your feet are going to stay attached to the thing.
If you are beginner, straps are the way to go. With straps, you can also easily escape your board if you fall or make a mistake. Its also a bit easier to go upwind in straps as you can more easily adjust your stance. It is easy to get in while flying a kite.
Boots are designed for advanced riders who want to do crazy spins and what not without the fear of the board coming off their feet. It also gives you a very direct connection to the board.
Is there another world other than twin tips?
All of the above was very twin tip specific. If however your end goal is something different than twin tip riding then please continue into the wonderful world of board design.
At some point in your progression or even before you started learning, you might want to try a surfboard. They are an excellent weapon in your aresnal not only for waves but for light wind as well. You can use a traditional surfboard to kiteboard with, but the force that you are able to generate downward onto the board with a kite, can very quickly damage the deck of your surfboard. Kiteboarding surfboards usually have much thicker glassing on the deck to accommodate this.
You can ride a surfboard with or without straps. Straps allow you to surf in bigger waves, turn harder and also boost some airs if you're kiting at a flat water spot. Strapless riding however is extremely enjoyable and can open your world to a whole world of skateboard inspired tricks, airs and wave riding like never before.
Kiteboarders who ride surfboards typically use thruster (three fin) or quad (four fin) fin configurations in their boards.
The thruster as you can see in the image the middle fin is in the middle of the tail which makes a pivot point right in the centre tail where your back foot is. This allows you to perform much tighter turns.
On a quad, the pivot point is more toward the center of the board. These make their turning ability slightly less agressive and a bit looser but allows them up wind really well!
Many surfboard manufacturers offer optional fin configuration. This means they provide 5 fin boxes to allow you to choose between a thruster or a quad set up.
There are many other options other than surfboards and twin tips such as skim boards, wake skates or hydrolfoil boards.
Surfboards are just one way you can diversify your kiteboarding. The only limit to what you can ride is your imagination. However, to become proficient in these alternative means of riding its important to develop the necessary skills on the basic twin tip first.