No one has more experience across windsurfing, kitesurfing and now wingsurfing when it comes to using footstraps, so we threw the most commonly asked questions about if, when and how to use them at Mr. Naish

Should I start wingfoiling in straps as soon as possible, or are they a hindrance in the beginning? That’s a good question. I'd have to say you should start without footstraps. Foot position when foiling is amazingly critical, especially when you're learning. Having either foot an inch or two in the wrong position will have a huge effect on your ability to foil. If they're a tiny bit too far forward then you'll struggle to take-off; a tiny bit too far back and the foil will come up too powerfully, making it hard to keep it in the water.

Riding without straps will allow you to find the 'sweet spot'. That sweet spot also changes depending on wind strength, your weight, the foil you're riding and where you position the mast. If you're inexperienced and just slap on some footstraps where you think they should go, you will likely find they are doing you much more harm than good. They can also create some pretty sketchy scenarios if you are new to foiling and do yet not know how to anticipate what your foil is doing when you crash, putting knees and ankles into some very compromising positions.

Once you've learnt to comfortably ride on the foil and know where your feet are planted most of the time, then you can add straps to the equation.

Chuck Patterson has an incredibly diverse background in water and snowsports. He regularly rips without straps and feels no limitation for what he wants to do Photo: FishBowlDiaries

Chuck Patterson has an incredibly diverse background in water and snowsports. He regularly rips without straps and feels no limitation for what he wants to do Photo: FishBowlDiaries

Do all high level riders use straps? If not, what sort of riding do they do and are they generally using bigger equipment? There are quite a few really good guys that don't use straps… and no, some of them are also riding really small boards. People coming from a surfing background (rather than those coming from windsurfing or kitesurfing) tend to be less comfortable using footstraps because they feel restrictive and foreign. If you kite or windsurf, footstraps feel natural. However, unless you want to go really fast or start jumping, footstraps are not really an advantage.

When do you know you’re ready for straps? Is it simply about when you’re ready to jump or go fast, or is it something else? You are ready for straps once you have the basics of foiling down and are able to ride comfortably in both directions. They can be helpful with control in stronger winds and with pumping up onto the foil in lighter winds. Being able to pull up on the board as well as just pushing down to load the front wing can make getting up on the foil much faster and easier.

How will it feel to put straps on my big beginner board? Will I get any benefit, or should I size down first? Board size does not really matter. You will have the same benefit (or shortcomings) on any size board.

Robby, using three straps in a windsurfing style set-up, allowing him to switch feet and still use the straps on both tacks, but also ride with his front foot angled and a little more towards the rail than two parallel straps would allow Photo: Frankie Bees

What should I consider when planning for straps? Are three straps, two straps or one strap the way to go? How will I know what’s best for me? If you have windsurfing or kiteboarding experience and are comfortable riding with either foot forward, you may opt for three footstraps. For flat water wingfoiling I would certainly encourage people to learn to ride frontside in both directions because standing 'twisted' all the time (toeside) has its limitations.

However, most people coming from a surf background only use two straps and stay on their natural stance all the time. Their front strap is usually angled so that the front foot can face a little more forward as they never switch feet after a gybe. This is great if you are riding surf and swell most of the time, like here on Maui, but gets old pretty quickly if you are just 'sailing' with a foiboard and wing. If you want to ride comfortably and cover some real territory with good speed, both upwind and downwind, I would opt for no straps over just two at that angle.

Robby, using three straps in a windsurfing style set-up, allowing him to switch feet and still use the straps on both tacks, but also ride with his heel a little more towards the rail than two parallel straps would allow Photo: Frankie Bees

What should I consider when planning for straps? Are three straps, two straps or one strap the way to go? How will I know what’s best for me? If you have windsurfing or kiteboarding experience and are comfortable riding with either foot forward, you may opt for three footstraps. For flat water wingfoiling I would certainly encourage people to learn to ride frontside in both directions because standing 'twisted' all the time (toeside) has its limitations.

However, most people coming from a surf background only use two straps and stay on their natural stance all the time. Their front strap is usually angled so that the front foot can face a little more forward as they never switch feet after a gybe. This is great if you are riding surf and swell most of the time, like here on Maui, but gets old pretty quickly if you are just 'sailing' with a foiboard and wing. If you want to ride comfortably and cover some real territory with good speed, both upwind and downwind, I would opt for no straps over just two at that angle.

Robby, using three straps in a windsurfing style set-up, allowing him to switch feet and still use the straps on both tacks, but also ride with his front foot angled a little more towards the rail than two parallel straps would allow Photo: Frankie Bees

What should I consider when planning for straps? Are three straps, two straps or one strap the way to go? How will I know what’s best for me? If you have windsurfing or kiteboarding experience and are comfortable riding with either foot forward, you may opt for three footstraps. For flat water wingfoiling I would certainly encourage people to learn to ride frontside in both directions because standing 'twisted' all the time (toeside) has its limitations.

However, most people coming from a surf background only use two straps and stay on their natural stance all the time. Their front strap is usually angled so that the front foot can face a little more forward as they never switch feet after a gybe. This is great if you are riding surf and swell most of the time, like here on Maui, but gets old pretty quickly if you are just 'sailing' with a foiboard and wing. If you want to ride comfortably and cover some real territory with good speed, both upwind and downwind, I would opt for no straps over just two at that angle.

You could centre your front strap and have it parallel with your back strap though, which means you can swap your feet and either front foot can use it if you want to switch your feet for different tacks.

I have used two straps set up offset for my goofy foot stance, three straps with two front straps placed right next to each other and three straps set up windsurf style.

For wave riding it's 'best' to have one offset front strap so that your foot is positioned right over the centre line of the board. Recently though, I have switched back to riding with windsurf style front straps, even in waves, so that I can ride the same set-up all the time without having to adjust anything from session to session. That is why our Hover wing-foil boards have so many footstrap insert options – there is no right or wrong configuration. It's nice to be able to tune to your preferred riding style.

Zach Schettewi exploring an alternative three strap configuration, with preference to more agressive riding left foot forward, as seen here Photo: Julia Schweiger

Zach Schettewi exploring an alternative three strap configuration, with preference to more agressive riding left foot forward, as seen here Photo: Julia Schweiger

You could centre your front strap and have it parallel with your back strap though, which means you can swap your feet and either front foot can use it if you want to switch your feet for different tacks.

I have used two straps set up offset for my goofy foot stance, three straps with two front straps placed right next to each other and three straps set up windsurf style.

For wave riding it's 'best' to have one offset front strap so that your foot is positioned right over the centre line of the board. Recently though, I have switched back to riding with windsurf style front straps, even in waves, so that I can ride the same set-up all the time without having to adjust anything from session to session. That is why our Hover wing-foil boards have so many footstrap insert options – there is no right or wrong configuration. It's nice to be able to tune to your preferred riding style.

Zach Schettewi exploring an alternative three strap configuration, with preference to more agressive riding left foot forward, as seen here Photo: Julia Schweiger

You could centre your front strap and have it parallel with your back strap though, which means you can swap your feet and either front foot can use it if you want to switch your feet for different tacks.

I have used two straps set up offset for my goofy foot stance, three straps with two front straps placed right next to each other and three straps set up windsurf style.

For wave riding it's 'best' to have one offset front strap so that your foot is positioned right over the centre line of the board. Recently though, I have switched back to riding with windsurf style front straps, even in waves, so that I can ride the same set-up all the time without having to adjust anything from session to session. That is why our Hover wing-foil boards have so many footstrap insert options – there is no right or wrong configuration. It's nice to be able to tune to your preferred riding style.

ROBBY WATERSTARTING, RIDING AND JUMPING TECHNIQUE IN PARALLEL STRAPS

Look out for the various foot switch techniques as well as how Robby gets into his straps as soon as he starts riding in this video:

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Is there a beginner and more advanced set-up for straps? Is a wider stance or more forward loaded position more suited to advanced riders, for example? How should I set mine up in the beginning? Again, you should be aware from strapless experience of where you are standing with a given foil set-up before you just guess and put footstraps on. As previously mentioned, mast position, size of foil being used and your weight all come into play. If there is someone experienced that really knows their stuff and is using the same foil set-up as you then go ahead and take their advice for an initial position. Only if they are riding the same gear, though.

If, for example, you put a Naish 1240 in the perfect spot on your board and then switch to another brand's foil of the same basic size, it will almost certainly not set up with the same balance point. Again, that is why our boards come with a track mount system for the foil and multiple footstrap position options. Tune-ability is key to get a comfortable set-up.

Should they be loose or tight? I’m a bit worried about not being able to kick the board off if I fall on a wave. I would certainly opt for loose over tight. In fact, I make the width of the footstrap wider than I would for windsurfing or kitesurfing, going one extra insert hole wider. This allows a bit of fore and aft foot movement of my feet as well as making it easier to twist my feet out of the strap and 'eject' more easily when needed.

I have over forty years of experience in footstraps, so I'd take my advice on this one!

Riding with two straps, offset at the front to allow for Robby's prominent goofy wave riding stance Photo: FishBowlDiaries

First time out in straps, what should I be focussing on when trying to get my feet into them? Is the idea to get in them straight away, or take my time, come up on the foil first and then shuffle my way in? You want to get into both footstraps right from the get-go if you can and then pump up onto the foil while in both straps. You could get up with just your front foot in the strap and back foot forward of your back strap, then slide into your back strap once up and foiling. That can work well, especially if you are heavy or your board's tail is too narrow to float you evenly, but I would still suggest trying to just get in there from the beginning if you can.

Should I still wear a board leash if I’m using straps? ABSOLUTELY. I know it is more of a hassle getting in and out of the water and might feel 'kooky', but better safe than sorry. You would be amazed at how fast a board can blow away from you with a foil under it, even in moderate winds. I made this mistake very early on and only once, after swimming like hell, Olympic sprint swimming style, and just barely caught my board.

I always wear a leash. You should too. Also remember: never ride further from shore than you would be comfortable swimming back from. You are your own responsibility. Leashes can break, wings can deflate, etc etc. Ride smart and know your limitations.

Anything else we should know? Wing-surfing is a lot of fricking fun!

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