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Whenever I teach someone who is new to windsurfing, or chat to those who haven’t tried it, I’m almost always asked the windsurfing vs kitesurfing question. “Which one do you think is better?”
I used to reply with I’m not sure because I haven’t tried kitesurfing and I’d often say “I’m told that kitesurfing is easier and that both are great”.
Since then I promised myself to go out and give kitesurfing a go, properly. So I could at least get a feel for it. I also thought it would be worth my time, considering it’s good for light winds.
My answer to the “windsurf versus kitesurf” question is now different. I also know I’m personally biased towards windsurfing and have my own preferences for it, but I’ll try to take an objective point of view anyway.
I learnt to kite through the same way as everyone else, but I think my windsurfing background gave me an advantage because I already understood wind, direction, gusts etc. I found it a lot easier to than windsurfing, but I learnt windsurfing more than 20 years ago on equipment that was incredibly unfriendly for beginners. The time it takes on new gear to learn what I did 20 years ago can’t be compared. I’d imagine windsurfing is just as easy to learn today judging on how fast my students progress.
I’ve heard others say, “go kitesurfing, it’s so much easier”, but in my teaching experience this isn’t true. Most people who say that took up windsurfing from a time when it was difficult indeed, heavy sails, long thin boards & awful equipment made learning a nightmare. For those who made it through, we look back and still say it was worth it. If you had to take a person new to both windsurfing and kitesurfing, gave them lessons on both sports and then asked them which one was easier, I think they’d answer differently.
All of my students have learnt to sail out and back on their own in 2 or 3 hours without having ever touched a rig before. In that same time someone new to kitesurfing is still learning to fly the kite.
Here is the thing about windsurfing which is the stretch to planing is the big challenge, although it’s still not as it tough as before, it still takes time to get hooked in and in the straps comfortably. From what I can see, kitesurfing offers a faster path to planning than windsurfing.
Which comes to my next point, what good is a sport if it’s nothing but easy? If you prefer ease to skill then perhaps you don’t want to bother with a “somewhat” longer learning curve.
My biased mindset tells me that windsurfing is more diverse but both sports have a solid fun factor. A lot of people kitesurf and I’m sure they wouldn’t it if wasn’t fun. Kitesurfing currently holds faster speed records over windsurfing & we’ve all seen the long hang time kiters are known for. I find the “airtime” to be a touch more graceful in than windsurfing, which is harder and faster. Kiters float and glide and you’ll have enough time to enjoy a good view if you’re high enough. With windsurfing you rocket upwards and hope to God you land well.
Although, I guess here is where the preferences come in and you’ll find kitesurfers saying that kitesurfing is more fun and windsurfers saying that windsurfing is more fun. Which is a normal response for anyone passionate about their sports, but what if you’ve done both?
Same thing, it depends on you as a person. If a person advises a newbie that one is better than the other, then they are mistaken. You don’t know unless you try and try properly!!
For me, windsurfing takes 1st prize hands down. What about you?