Kiteboarders can ride anything while being pulled by their kite, from kiteboards, wakeboards, surfboards, and skimboards on the water, to skis or snowboards on the snow, or even skateboards, offroad mountain boards, or buggies across the land. That's one of the best parts about kiteboarding. Many kiters have numerous boards to choose from depending on what kind of riding they are planning on doing, and although it is tempting to just grab one and go, it is important to check the condition of the board before riding to prevent gear failure while out on the water or two miles away from where you in chest deep powder.
Kiteboards are built tough and are unlikely to break over the course of their life, but there are a few elements of any board to inspect before riding. Here is a pre-ride checklist for kiteboards, and some repair tips for common damage.
- For boards with fins, make sure all fin screws are tight before riding. Over time fin screws can become loose. Although not the end of the world if a fin is lost while riding, it can make the board harder to ride, and is expensive to replace. It only takes a second to tighten fin screws before riding.
- Check to make sure bindings or foot straps are properly tightened as well. As with fin screws, these can loosen over time. If a footstrap or binding comes off while you are riding it can easily cause knee or ankle injury, and otherwise be very difficult to ride back anyway.
- A good technique to prevent fin and footstrap screws from loosening is to use locktight on the screws when installing them on the board.
To prevent loose screws, Lock-tight is a mild adhesive that will hold the screw tight, but not permanently attach it if you ever want to take the screw out again.
- Check for damage on the board. Although edge and base damage don't effect the performance of kiteboards or wakeboards as much as skis or snowboards, dents in the rails or gouges in the base that expose the core of the board can lead to water damage which will ruin the board, and should be fixed before riding.
It is relatively easy to fix damaged kiteboards by filling or sealing damaged areas with p-tex plastic or epoxy. To fix a gouge in the bottom of the board, sand down the area in and around the damage, clean with alcohol, and apply P-tex. P-tex generally comes in stick form, and is applied by lighting the end of the stick on fire, and dripping the melting plastic into the damaged area. Slightly overfill the damaged area, allow the P-tex to dry, and scrape off the excess with a hard plastic board scraper.
Damage to the edges or rails of a kiteboard should be sealed with epoxy. The damaged area first needs to be cleaned of broken pieces of board and dirt, and sanded all around the area. If the impact that caused the damage also pushed the top and bottom of the board apart, you will need a clamp as well to squeeze the board back together after the epoxy is applied. Apply the epoxy, forcing as much inside the damaged area as possible, and clamp the board back together if necessary. Next, smooth the excess epoxy along and around the edge of the board. This can be done using plastic wrap, a soft plastic card, or your gloved finger. It is not entirely necessary to reshape the edge of the board perfectly, as it is with skis or snowboards. The edge just needs to be sealed from water entering and hold the board together.
Super glue, surfboard, or ski and snowboard wax can also be used to temporarily seal damaged areas in kiteboards if you have to use the board and don't have time to fix it, but will only last a short while and can be difficult to clean out before making a proper repair.