What is the difference between windsurfing and kitesurfing? The windsurfing versus kitesurfing debate is longstanding and full of controversy. There is indeed a difference but you’ll find that oftentimes windsurfing enthusiasts might also kitesurf. Let’s look at the differences.
Essentially, kitesurfing is about using the wind using a large power kite to surf and sail the waters. Generally, a board designed like a small surfboard or wakeboard is used along with the kite to steer the user. Windsurfing involves more initial physical endurance to start because one has to hold onto the harness and steer the board with the help of the sail – however, when it comes to expert competitions, the two are arguably similar in skill and endurance required.
Some of the many benefits of windsurfing compared to kitesurfing include:
- Technology is more mature so you do not need new gear every year.
- Better-suited to sustain long gusts.
- Sails are more durable.
- One can launch and land from the shore without assistance.
- Depowering the sails gives one the ability to better stabilize and allows for more technical skill.
However, windsurfing also can have some drawbacks compared to kitesurfing. For example:
- Kitesurfing has a larger window to acquire wind, about 100 ft compared to 15 ft for windsurfers.
- Center of balance and strength moves around much more when windsurfing, because you are close to the sail. Kitesurfers do not have this problem.
- Kitesurfing is easier to start and has a shorter learning curve.
- Kitesurfing also has more power for waves since it has a larger wind window.
Although kitesurfing is easier to pick up and learn, it is also more dangerous since you are partly at the
mercy of your kite whereas with windsurfing you can control your sail much more directly. Kites are also
more fragile and can be hard to recover afterwards if there is a crash.
All in all, kitesurfing is still a young sport and the equipment is still being developed. Windsurfing, on the other hand, has had champions and a durable line of equipment for decades now. Therefore, if you’re trying to choose as a beginner, not only will you find equipment for windsurfing easier to find, but also it will arguably test your endurance more than kitesurfing. However, learning kitesurfing and windsurfing is not easy, and both require the same amount of endurance and experience for athlete-level competitions. Although we love all water sports here at Everything Windsurfing, the windsurfing versus kitesurfing debate will continue.