Kiteboarding & Kitesurfing…what’s the difference?
I often receive calls from individuals asking me “what is the difference between Kiteboarding and Kitesurfing?” Generally, people use both terms loosely in reference to the same sport. However, there is a technical difference. Kiteboarding refers to using a “twin tip” board which is similar to a wakeboard and performs equally whether you are riding it with the left or right tip facing forward. This is the easiest style of board to ride and it performs best when the rider is jumping, doing tricks or just cruising around. Kitesurfing refers to using a directional board which is surfboard that is designed to handle the extra stress Kitesurfing. This board can only be ridden facing nose forward and specializes in wave riding. Regardless of whether you want to become a Kitesurfer or Kiteboarder, you will want to begin using a twin tip style board. This is the easiest and most forgiving board to use and will allow you to master your kite control and basic understanding of the sport. Before moving on to a directional board, you should master your ability to stay up wind, transition, get over medium size waves, perform small jumps and control your kite without looking at it. Basically, you should be able to label yourself as an intermediate Kiteboarder. This can take anywhere from 3 months to a year or more depending on how often you get out. Once you are ready to move on to Kitesurfing with a directional board, you will be faced with a decision, straps or no straps. This refers to whether or not you will use straps to secure yourself to the board. Strapless offers a unique, more relaxed feeling and allows you to move around the board as necessary for proper wave riding. If you feel comfortable enough with your kite skills, I recommend skipping the straps and learning strapless from the start. It may be slightly more difficult, but you will get through it and feel rewarded once you do. While mastering this board, it is recommended to practice on the flat days first. Practice your transitions as well as your ability to move around on the board. As your skills progress, slowly attempt to ride larger and larger surf. Due to the power of the kite, it is very easy to feel a false sense of security and overly comfortable in larger surf so a good rule of thumb is not to go out in surf you couldn’t handle swimming out in. Because there is a good chance you may end up swimming and it is very easy to forget this fact. Whether you want to master big jumps or conquer the surf, having the right equipment and a good understanding of how to use it is crucial. Make sure to know your limits and progress your skills with patience. Follow these rules and you will be rewarded with many days of safe Kiting!
Lead instructor & owner of NewWaveKiteboarding.com