Kitesurfing is basically the same sport as kiteboarding only that the board used in kitesurfing may differ from the kiteboarding “twin tip board”. The kitesurfing board usually comes with a narrow tip on the front and a straight, rounded or diamond cut end on the aft which makes these boards to be categorized as directional boards; this type of board is similar to the classic surfboard however kitesurf boards are smaller. This board can only be ridden facing nose forward and it’s best used for wave riding.
Kiteboarding entails the use of a “twin tip” board which in principle performs equally whether you are riding it with the left tip or the right tip facing forward. The board looks like a traditional wakeboard and usually features foot straps and pads. The twin-tip board showcases a straight or curved outline with square or rounded tips. This is the easiest style of board to ride and it performs best when the rider is jumping, doing tricks or just cruising around.
Another type of board is the Foil board which come with a special wing like structure attached to the bottom of the board that gives the rider the ability to ride in an elevated manner or rather to “fly” the board above the surface of the water while experiencing minimum to no drag. These boards are considered the most maneuverable and the choice board of race kitesurfers.
One of the reasons kite enthusiasts use two terms for the same sport is that there has always been a dispute on whether it should be considered a sailing or surfing recreation.
Some argue that a kite is a sail, or wing, that uses the wind’s power to propel the participant across the water.
Others will point out that the main drive is the board and that riders use directional surfboards (as opposed to twin tip boards) that can be ridden on the surface; thus, it should be named kitesurfing
From a historical perspective, the sport kicked off inspired by sailboats, and it only got to the waves and surge in popularity later, in the early 1990s.
Should kiteboarding be ruled under World Sailing (WS) regulations or should kitesurfing be under the International Surfing Association’s (ISA) umbrella?
The truth is that kiteboarding/kitesurfing ended up falling under the World Sailing’s governance.
But there are increasingly disapproval voices who suggest a third way – creating a globally recognized kite sports association, which could address the specific needs of all water and land disciplines.
NOTE: 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.
The term kiteboarding is more popular in the United States, Canada, Argentina, France, and the Czech Republic, while kitesurfing remains the favorite designation in Brazil, Europe, Middle East, Russia, India, and Oceania.
One thing’s for sure: the sport itself combines components of sailing, surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and even paragliding.
The difference between kiteboarding and kitesurfing may seem minimal, but it has a large impact on how the overall sport is classified and what activities can be performed within each area.
Essentially twin tip board riders do not face off against directional board riders in the same event at a competition. Even though both kiteboarding and kitesurfing have freestyle events, at a competition there would be a freestyle event for twin tip riders (kiteboarding) and another event for directional boards (kitesurfing).
Kiteboarding and kitesurfing may be easily confused, but they are distinct enough that they cannot be judged side by side. A kiteboarder and a kitesurfer will be riding in different conditions and performing different styles of tricks.