I don’t know how many feet I have looked at in the last few weeks. No, I don’t have a foot fetish… sorry to disappoint 🙂
No, it was because I was asked if the foot straps were the right size. So here is my take on how big/wide the straps should be.
Foot Strap Screw Placement
When you put your foot in the straps, the sides should be touching. Not too tight as you want to be able to get in and out easily. Also, you don’t want them too wide. I have seen many who have them too wide and to make up for them being too loose they have to set them up very tight so as to only allow the toes to fit.
Foot Strap Width
You want about half your foot to fit in the strap. The idea is to be able to get in and out easily when you want but also to stay in securely when you need it. The consequences of them being either too wide or too narrow are both very unpleasant.
If the straps are too wide we risk two things. The first is not that problematic: being pulled out in a catapult. The second is pretty dangerous as if the strap is too wide we can end up with the entire foot slipping through the foot strap be it after a sideways landing of a jump or too much pressure on the back foot in choppy water. In that case I would definitely prefer a spin out.
If the straps are so tight that we barely get our tows in we lose a lot of control over the board on one hand, and lack of security against catapults on the other. The first is due to the fact that we can’t lever the board with our foot to keep in flat as we could with a wider foot strap. The second come front it being really difficult to resist the pull of the sail with only our toes as opposed to the whole foot. It is like wanting to do pull-ups with only your fingers instead of with the entire hand.
Ultimately the straps should fit around the foot nice and snug. As a rule of thumb, place your hand in the strap and have it fit loosely. This is a good width to start off with. I would begin with the straps being a little too tight and try going wider and wider after each tack until you find the width that you feel the most comfortable with.
Most people who get a new board will be stuck when it comes to screwing on the foot straps. There are plenty of options to choose from but the correct one depends on our level and the conditions.
When you start with the foot straps I recommend putting them as far forward as possible. Since we are doing the transition from having our feet near the mast foot to putting the feet into the straps further back, we want to make the difference between these two stances as similar as possible.
Big boards (slow planing)
In the initial phases of windsurfing in the straps we will still be standing pretty upright even while planing. For this case it is good to have the straps pretty centred so as to keep the pressure into the board more over where most of the volume is. Planing slowly with the straps close to the rails will only sink the boards side and slow you down even more.
Big boards (fast planing)
As we pick up speed, the fin will start to act as a foil and begin to lift the board out of the water which then tilts downwind. If we have the feet in the foot straps close to the centre of the board we will not be able to avoid this. Therefore, as we begin to achieve high speeds consistently (and have the board lift up every now and then) we know we have to put the foot straps closer to the rail.
Just a small note here: when you get into the straps in this set up, try to do so before you start planing. The straps on the side will force out feet to be close to the water and it will happen every now and then that the heel catches the water. The faster you are going, the more it will trip you up and the more likely you will have a pretty little catapult.
Usually the small boards are used in choppy conditions or in waves. Personally I have always felt more control over the board with the straps closer to the centre in these situations. Especially when wave riding where you have to put pressure on the downwind rail while in the straps of the upwind rail.
For more control ver the board in general i recommend putting the straps further apart. This creates a large lever for us to control the board with our feet.
I hope this has given you a bit of a better insight as to where you want to put the foot straps. Naturally our body size and weight will have an impact on where we will feel most comfortable and in most control over our board so you will have to try out different options to see what works for you. However, these guidelines should give you a better idea of what you need to change instead of shooting in the dark. For more tips and tricks from Boardseeker Magazine and pro riders check out their page here.
Let me know how you get along in the comments or if there is any other observation you think should be included.
I wrote this post on past blog and thought I might as well post it here again. Sharing this occurred to me when I was checking a large number of boards at the Surf Center to make sure they were all good to be rented out again. Part of this check consisted of making sure that the foot-straps we screwed on tightly. Most people will not do this small change in technique as they usually only have to screw on one, maybe two, sets of foot-straps at a time and therefore will mot feel the consequences of doing it wrong. The way people usually screw on foot-straps is by turning the wrist. The wrist is pretty much the weakest part of the arm and with a long streak of continuous use it will get very sore and drag into the next days. Instead, rotate your arm around your shoulder. The benefit of this is threefold
- We will get less tired as we are not using only the forearm but the entire arm.
- We can screw the screw from jumping out of the slot as we can apply all our bodyweight onto it.
- Our shoulders will not hurt after spending a lot of time screwing the foot-straps. This would not be the case for our forearms.
One more thing: Electrical screwdrivers are not a good idea to use as the screw holes are usually made out of plastic. An electrical screwdriver might rotate too fast and the heat from the fast rotation will cause the screw hole windings to go soft meaning they will be less resistant. This can result in the the foot-strap ripping out of the board on the water.