FINS: why they are important and how to choose them!


One thing I really appreciated during the lockdown were all the riders’ interviews organized by different organizations. My favorite one was one with Mitu Monteiro, I knew he was one of the gods of strapless riding so I was really curious to hear him out!

During the call he answered several questions and one of them was about the fins. How he chooses the fins and he replies “Depending on conditions, depending on what I want to do, I choose which board I’ll take and what type fins I’ll put on”. 

So I went like Russell Crowe in “beautiful mind” and started to think how many boards I would need and how many sets of fins… Then realized that my budget and also my level only allow for one and one eheheh

Image result for beautiful mind

If you are into freestyle and wave riding the best set up would be to have at least two surfboards, one for wave riding and another one for freestyling, and three sets of fins, one for freestyle and two for wave riding depending on the size of the waves. I know some of the pro surfers have plenty of boards… once I saw a video of Kai Lenny explaining which board he would use in which spot and I was simply WOW

Going back to fins…why are fins so important? Because they are essential to give you control, direction and stability. Without them it would be way more difficult to ride.

And mostly a board with the wrong fins is like driving a car with the handbrake on. It’s crazy how these little pieces of equipment can make all the difference. 

Today I’ll try to share some of the things I understood so far about fins for kitesurfing. I’ll start from the most basic info you need to know:

  • Box Types and compatibility
  • Different surfboard fin setup
  • Fins selection based on your weight
  • Fin size based on activity or condition

Box Types and compatibility

Before anything you need to check on your board which type of fins boxes has been added. The most used ones are: single tab (Futures) and dual tab (FCS).

The single tab (future) is long as almost the entire length of the fin. This box offers strong and lightweight connection to the surfboard, the fins are usually attached with screws.

The dual tab (FCS) has two tabs that are screwed into the surfbaord. There is also a screwless option!

Different surfboard fin setup

Now let’s talk about which set up is best for what. Most of the kitesurfing boards have the following setups:  thruster, quad or a five fins.

The thruster set is the most common fin set up around right now. It has 3 fins of the same size or you can vary using a different central size. The third central fin gives you more stability and maneuverability allowing you to do more pivotal (vertical) turns. With this setup you’ll gain grip and it is recommended for small medium waves if you like the snapping style. 

The thruster setup seems to be the best setup for freestyle as well. 

The quad setup has 4 fins on the side, closer to the rail, there is no central fin. This setup helps increase speed, allows for fast well rounded carves and better upwind.  This setup is better for bigger waves as it adds projection and faster turns to the board however if you go vertical on a top turn you might have the feeling of sliding too much with the board. 

The five fins setup sounds like you could add 5 find to the board but it’s not actually the case 🙂 Usually the boards with this configuration give you the possibility of using different setups either quad or thrust based on conditions. It’s rare to use 5 fins.

Small clarification, when we talk about big waves I mean 2 good meters waves, something like:

Fins selection based on your weight

Then we have the most general rule about choosing your fins based on your weight. It’s always good to check the manufacturers’ recommendations, but more or less following these guidelines:

Below 55kg > XS

Between 55-70 kg > S

Between 65-80 kg > M

Between 75-90 kg > L

Above 85 kg > XL 

This will already help you to narrow down your decision 🙂

Fin size based on activity or condition

Now we get into the most difficult part of the decision, what type of size best depending on what you need to do.

Let’s start from a basic question: do I need to use different fins whether I wanna go wave riding or freestyling? 

Truth wants that if you go freestyling you will want smaller fins and if you go wave riding you should select bigger fins based on the waves’ size. 

For kitesurfing freestyling rumour has it that some pro-rider replace the central fin with a twintip one to have 

Well guys… it’s not really a rumor…

Others like Javier Fernadez from RRD have made their own central  fins.

For kitesurfing wave riding you basically have to choose the fins based on the type of waves you’ll surf. 

As I mentioned earlier if you have a quad setup use it on bigger waves. 

However, since most of the new boards have a thruster setup you would need to adjust the size of the fin based on the size of the wave. With a thruster it’s recommended to increase the size of the fins for bigger waves.  Remember that using a thruster setup with big fins on a small wave is going to make you way too slow and you’ll miss the agility to move fast on the wave, which is why on smaller waves you want smaller fins. 

So if you go to Mauritius let’s say, it would be better to use a quad setup however, a lot of the new kitesurfing boards have only a thruster setup which you can use no problem and in this case pro-riders suggest to use bigger fins. 

In a wave like we have here in El Medano, Tenerife you can use a thruster setup with small fins to really have that snapping extra touch.

Of course all of this is not a specific science and it really depends on your style. 

My suggestion is to start investing on different sets of fins or ask your friends to borrow theirs and start to feel and understand the difference. 

Definitely a good fins choice can change the outcome of your session for the best and a bad choice can make it a nightmare.

Bottom line whether you are a beginner or a pro your fins set up will have a huge impact on your riding style and choosing them wisely will change your session completely.

In the next post I’ll write about fins’ flexibility, materials and shapes. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and I’m curious to know your feedback so don’t forget to add a comment  below 🙂

Special thanks to Abel Lago, Javier Fernandez and Francesco Capuzzo for sharing their knowledge with me!

This post was powered by Quobba Fins check them out on Instagram @quobbafins_kitesurfing

#KiteGirlsMonday interview by @lulytakites

Features, Kite girl life

This world of Instragram is definitely a fascinating one!

Often, I get to know people I share passions with – like kitesurfing or travelling or skating – we connect as we start to follow each other on Instagram and interact with each other’s content. It’s a little bit crazy because some time it gives you the feeling you kind of know the other person even though you have never met him/her in real life. But the beauty of this is that otherwise I would never get to know them and I would definitely miss out big time.

Everything happens virtually of course but some time, since the world of kitesurfing is soo small I get to meet some of them in person later. There are beautiful collaborations coming out of these encounters and as you share the same passions and values it’s easy to connect and come up with cool ideas 🙂

One day I was chatting with the beautiful Giulia, AKA @lulytakites, and she was telling me about her initiative #kitegirlsmonday. As you might know, the world of lady kiters is still very small in fact IKO says that 85% of the kiters are man and only a 15% are women. Which is why there are several people and accounts in Instagram that push to promote the sport among the women audience. We want to share our stories, to inspire women to start their kitesurfing journey, or any other journey, and let the world know that we are proud and happy to be waterwomen no matter your riding level 🙂

So @lulytakites came up with the idea of #kitegirlsmonday, she wants to share the stories of different kite girls to inspire other women.This is how she described it:

“One of my biggest desires has always been to empower other women. It’s been in my head for a while now that I had to do something to make this happen. My dream is to create a community of indipendent badass girls who are passionate about water sports and kitesurfing in particular. Therefore, Every Monday at 3pm I’ll be posting a picture/video of a fellow Kitesurfing Queen 🌠 that I admire and that has inspired my journey so far. My goal is to attract more and more girls to the sport and show the world what we’re capable of 😎 If you’d like to get featured and reposted in my profile please tag @lulytakites and use the hashtag #kitegirlsmonday 🔥 I’ll reach out to you then on DM to ask you some questions about your water days 💙 Love, G xxx “

My first reaction was “oh yeah, that’s an awesome idea!”, so you can imagine that as soon as I saw it I wanted to be one of the women she talked about eheheh and I reach out to her, we exchanged a few messages and there was immediately a click!

We organized a video call so she could ask me more questions about my story and see if I was a good fit for her initiative. As soon as we connected to the videocall we kind of knew we were similar souls and we had quite a lot in common. Giulia was investigating in my past and she managed to make me talk about something I don’t usually share, which is the main reason why I changed my life and started to be a kitesurf instructor. So here you go the outcome of that chat:

“Yaaaasss it’s #kitegirlsmonday 😍 And today I’d like to speak about a real badass 😎
Giorgia, pure Italian blood, class 1986. A contagious smile that comes from within, from that happiness that only a daily dose of salty water can provide. We see each other for the first time on videocall and we immediately connect. She takes the call from Medano, Tenerife, where she’s working with @pkstenerife as a kite instructor. Giorgia first approached the kitesurfing world 6 years ago, when she was working in Amsterdam.
“It was too cold in the Netherlands; I didn’t get hooked to the sport back then”. How can we blame her 😂
We soon find out that we studied in the same university in Milan and that she also has a business background. Giorgia used to work as a Project Manager in the tech world, which a few years ago led her to move to Puerto Rico. There, with crystal clear water and sunny days, she finally fell in love with the sport, so much that she decided to become a kite instructor and pursue this path part-time.
“Rising career, well-paid jobs, lots of traveling, not too much need to watch every penny. Seems like the perfect deal. Why did you decide to leave everything behind and dedicate your life to kitesurfing?”
“Something very heavy happened that changed my whole perspective, my whole life. My best friend suddenly died, she was the same age as me and we used to travel a lot together for kitesurfing. I had to re-evaluate all my priorities, all my values. I had to ask myself: “Is this really how you want to live your life?”.
It took me two years to make this decision. Now, it’s been a year that I’m completely dedicated to this, and I haven’t looked back”. “I truly believe everybody should follow their passions, at least try, once in their life. Nothing is permanent, and if you think you made a mistake, you can always change again, and move forward as an improved and grown version of yourself. We have to let go of prejudices and fears, only then we can find our own formula of success”.Ladies, if you’d like a chance to get featured in my page, remember to tag me in your pics and use the hashtag #kitegirlsmonday 🔥 See you next week! Love, G xxx”

I would definitely expand a bit more on this topic in another post, in the meantime I hope you liked this and don’t forget to follow Giulia on instagram @lulytakites

Ciao ciao, LaGioKite

The importance of choosing a good school when you start to work as an IKO kite instructor!

Senza categoria, The instructor life

As most of you know I’m a kitesurfing instructor, two and a half years ago I started to teach in Puerto Rico for a school called WindAddiction, and I immediately fell for the job. Teaching kitesurfing was like a fresh breath of new air and I absolutely loved it.

To be honest I knew this would have happened… so I was only getting ready to put in practice what my mind decided already. And so, a few months later I passed the IKO exam in Cabarete and I made this my main job. 

Unfortunately, Puerto Rico does not have any IKO centers and I had to leave anyway, so I started to look for another spot where I could teach kitesurfing. I submitted several applications and talked to quite a few schools. I wanted to come closer to Europe to be able, after 5 years in the caribbeans, to see my family and friends more often than once a year. Destiny wanted me to connect with Carlo, the owner of PKS – Professional Kite School – in Castiglione della Pescaia, in Tuscany. He convinced me very easily, besides the fact that Carlo is one of those people that have a great vibe, he talked to me about how they would have helped me in becoming a better kitesurf instructor. At that time, I had maybe 9 months of teaching experience in a school that wasn’t using the IKO teaching methodology (do not worry I’ll explain this in another blog post). I really needed guidance. And I thought, I need to take this seriously because I want kitesurfing to become my career and if I could have somebody who’ll explain more and give me all the tips and tricks of the job that would have been wonderful.

And there I was, in Tuscany, after 10 years out of Italy eating like a pig, drinking wine like there’s no tomorrow and learning how to teach kitesurfing. THE BEST COMBO EVER for the summertime.  Carlo stood up to his word, him and other more experienced instructors taught me a lot. Tehe positive sides of teaching in a place like PKS Beach are: the spot is flat, the wind is smooth and light, PKS is the only kite school around and we had a dedicated area for teaching. The challenging part of teaching in Tuscany is the light wind. Everybody can fly and relaunch a kite with 15-18 and above knots, but can you do it with 10? Coming from a place where the average wind was min 18 knots you can imagine I didn’t know how to fly a kite with 10-12 knots… With a lot of training and feedback and frustration I’ve survived the 10 knots conditions with a big smile as I brought home a huge amount of learnings! I was really lucky to find a school who wanted to invest time to train me and I will be forever grateful for this. 

Then I moved to Tenerife to work with PKS Tenerife, a new kite school  Carlo opened in El Médano in the Canary Islands. Well guys, we went from 10knots to 30knots. To give you the idea, in summer time we need to cancel the classes because there is too much wind. So you can easily understand that here, even though the IKO teaching method is the same, you need to adjust to the conditions 25-30 knots, shore break and 100 kiters in the water and 10 kite schools working in the same spot. Even in this case you will need the experience from somebody else to guide you to keep your student alive ;P 

GoinKitesurf | Kitesurf lessons in El Medano, Tenerife.
Normal day in El Médano

Now I am exaggerating but most probably I would not suggest somebody in her/his first kite instructor experience to choose a location like this.

The IKO course teaches you a lot but at the same time there is a lot of learning that comes from experience and practice with real students. A learning baggage that you will create with the hours you spend on the beach watching, observing and analyzing. 

If you do this job right, you will start to pick up all the small errors the students make and correct them immediately so that the lesson program will run smoother and the student will ultimately have a better kite control in less time. There are plenty of errors that are repeated among students and what really helped me discovering them, besides hours of watching the students, is also brainstorming with the more experienced instructors of the school. That’s also another incredible benefit to work for a school with an instructor group that helps each other overcome possible obstacles with students. There will always be that one error you didn’t know, or a specific case which you don’t know how to manage. And here, it’s when the availability of somebody like my boss Carlo, or more experienced instructor can make a difference mostly when you are starting your career as an instructor.

In PKS Tenerife we recently welcomed a new member of the team, an IKO Assistant trainer called Guido. For me it was like Christmas, I can spend hours with him talking about some of the teaching methods and how to apply them to different students. I’ve done almost 1000 hours of teaching and still I have two students that are blocked at the waterstart step. I’ve tried it all, ran out of ideas, and with Guido we discussed other possible ways to make them overcome their barrier. Curious to try them out in my next lessons with them.

It seems like an easy job, and it could appear a very repetitive job. I assure you that it’s not, or at least, it really depends how you do it, like any other job. Beside the fact that you are responsible to teach somebody how to practice an extreme sport, each student is different, they learn in different ways and you have to adapt to them to make sure they understand everything correctly.

So to summarize my biggest recommendation would be to find a kite job in a school where a head of instructor, or the boss will teach you all the tips and tricks of the job so that you will progress way easier in teaching kitesurfing.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

Ciao ciao