If you’re thinking about putting footstraps on your wingboard, Slingshot’s Wyatt Miller is here to tell you to stop stalling and do it! The benefits include easier toeside riding, easier tacking, better turns and the chance to start getting some air – but where do you start?
WORDS: Wyatt Miller / PHOTOS: Slingshot
Brandon Scheid punting a huge air with an offset front foot two strap set-up
MAST POSITION The first step is to make sure your foil/mast is at least close to the correct spot. While riding comfortably look down and make sure that you are standing over the footstrap inserts. If your feet are forward of the inserts, you need to move your foil back in the track. If either foot is behind the inserts you need to move the foil forward in the track.
Having your mast perfectly positioned is important when you’re riding straps, so Slingshot and a lot of other brands have a numbered scale on their tracks so you can accurately replace your mast if you separate your gear after each session. There are also a couple of companies that make T-nuts with a little allen plug in that allows you to fix the nut in a certain position in the track even when your bolts are out
FRONT STRAP FIRST The next step is to mount the front strap(s) only. If you are tall or tend to ride with a wide stance you will want to mount them in the furthest forward holes, or perhaps one hole back from the front. If you have them all the way forward and feel the nose wants to pearl as you are pumping onto foil, then you need to move them back a hole or two. If you are shorter or tend to ride with a narrow stance then using the third holes back might be ideal for you. We rarely see people use the furthest holes back with the front foot. Some people prefer to ride with only front straps all the time because it allows them to move their rear foot forward and back on the board, meaning they can trim their ride height on the foil more easily. Having this ability to move the back foot also means it isn’t so vital to have your mast positioned as precisely in the track as you need it to be when riding with both front and back straps and your feet are secured to a single position. Using only front straps will allow you to adjust to rapid changes in lift from steep swell more easily than with your feet in both straps, but jumping will be significantly more challenging and you won’t be able to switch as quickly from a heel-side to toe-side carve. You will find it dramatically easier to ride toe-side with the addition of front straps and I highly recommend it for anyone learning to ride toe-side, the difference is night and day.
Wyatt’s offset two strap set-up
ADDING THE BACK STRAP When you decide to add a back strap you’ll also need to have precisely placed your foil in the tracks. You will know that your foil is in the correct spot when you can ride comfortably with the exact same amount of weight on both feet. Before adding the back strap, go out riding and find the point that both your feet feel balanced and then look down at your back foot, taking note of which insert holes are on either side of the back foot. Those are the holes to screw your foot strap into. Mount the back strap and go for another spin. If you feel your stance is too wide or too narrow you can adjust the back strap forward or back, but you will need to move the foil the same direction in the track. Two centimetres is a big adjustment when you’re using both straps and getting it in the exact right place for your riding style is key. PERSONAL PREFERENCE While having even pressure on both feet means you have a balanced riding position, there is still a lot of personal preference when it comes to foil position. Some folks (like myself) like to ride with a lot of front-foot pressure because it makes for better jumping performance. As the foil is skewed a bit forward you get a higher degree of response from a shift in pressure to the back foot. Some folks like more back-foot pressure, so they can load the foil more with their back-foot and attain higher speed. In that case you will want the foil positioned further back than the balanced foil position. Weight is also really important. I find that if someone rides my board who weighs 35 kilos less than me with the same footstrap position, they will need to move the foil six or seven centimetres further back. So don’t think you can get your board set-up perfectly for yourself and that will translate to a balanced set-up for another rider. Also, don’t expect that your friend’s set-up will automatically feel great to you if you have a go on their gear. But don’t let it put you off!
HOW TIGHT OR LOOSE SHOULD YOUR STRAPS BE? In response to this, I ask: if you were only meant to squeeze your toes in, would they not have called them toe straps? All jokes aside, I have broken both my feet in footstraps and both times I had newly adjusted footstraps that were a bit too tight and was waiting until my next crash to adjust them… Unfortunately, those crashes resulted in broken bones instead of just getting wet. Most people’s fear of having loose straps is they think they will fall forward over their toes and their foot will not release. Most broken feet actually happen from a twist to the side in a strap that pinches down from the outside edge to the inside edge of the foot, resulting in a broken metatarsal. Having a footstrap that is loose enough to twist your foot sideways, far enough so the inside of your knee touches the board, will mean your foot cannot be pinched enough to break a metatarsal. Having a looser strap will also allow you to get your foot further over the centre-line and provide better control over both rails. As my mother always said, “You can learn how to stay in a footstrap that is too loose, but you cannot learn how to get out of a tight footstrap that you are stuck in.”. Another good saying goes, “I would rather come out of a footstrap when I don’t want to, rather than not be able to get out of a strap when I really really need to.”.
Toeside appeal with a single-offset front strap on a small board
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DIFFERENT BOARD SIZES I think the only options are using two straps with the front foot offset, or using a tri-strap configuration (with two straps at the front). I’m not fond of using inline front and back straps because I find that I’m riding halfway out of the front strap most of the time due to the natural angle that I want to have my foot. Right now we’re seeing a lot of folks who ride small boards, or who have come over from surfing, only wanting to have their dominant foot forward, so they’re going for a single off-set front strap. That set-up is better for control over both rails and is better toeside. A tri-strap set-up doesn’t give quite as much control over both rails, but is easier to switch your feet and have a good strapped position heelside on both tacks. What seems really popular at the moment is the tri-strap option for people progressing. I use both set-ups: I go two-strap off-set front foot on my 35 litre board, and tri-strap on my 75 litre. Find the full Slingshot range at: www.slingshotsports.com
Tri-straps are more popular on bigger boards and with some careful positioning still allow for a great feeling of influence when wave riding