KITESURFING VS SURFING
5 questions and answers to understand which one is right for you
Which is easier to learn between surfing and kite surfing? And which one is more tiring, dangerous or expensive between surfing and kitesurfing? These are some of the questions that many newcomers ask themselves when they decide to approach one of these sports and we will try to answer them in this post. Before starting, however, a premise is a must: kitesurfing and surfing are really very different sports, they have some points of contact only when it comes to surfing the waves, so a direct comparison is not always possible and in many cases it really has it makes little sense, but it can be useful to compare them to help those who would like to get closer to choosing in a more conscious way to which to orientate, or at least to start with!
Furthermore, when we talk about difficulty, fatigue, etc. we are talking about very subjective variables, so naturally they cannot be taken as absolute values. We say that our considerations apply to most people, or so do many instructors who teach both disciplines, but this does not mean that there are no exceptions.
In principle we could say that kitesurfing is for you if you live near windy beaches or lakes (and in Italy there is no shortage), you have a decent budget to dedicate to this new passion of yours and you are attracted by the speed and spectacularity of the jumps of this discipline. On the other hand, your age and physical fitness are not important.
On the other hand, the surf could be more suitable for you if you are young and fit, if you don't have financial resources, you are patient and constant by nature, if you live near beaches with a good frequency of waves and if you are a good swimmer with a good confidence in water.
But let's try to investigate various aspects.
1. Is it easier to learn surfing or kitesurfing?
The first question that beginners usually ask is which is more difficult between surfing and kitesurfing. Many who watch the two sports from the outside tend to think that surfing is the easiest of the two.
Both surfing and kitesurfing have a steep learning curve, however instructors generally agree that it takes less time to learn kitesurfing than surfing .
Learn to surf
Learning to surf a neophyte seems pretty simple: there is only one thing to check, the board, so in the common imagination it is enough to take a board under your arm and start having fun. It's actually a little more complicated than that. Although it is undoubtedly true that standing up on the foam (the already broken waves) is certainly not very complicated and anyone with a minimum of agility can easily do it in a few hours, surfing is another story.
To surfit is necessary to take non-broken waves giving the right trajectory to the table, based on the direction of the wave, and to maintain speed. Which inevitably implies other skills such as effectively rowing, interpreting the currents, being a duck dive, knowing how to choose the waves and positioning oneself correctly on the line up, as well as being able to stand up at the right moment and keep the balance. All these aspects are generally learned with practice, lots of practice. The learning process can be fun, but the truth is that it is also very long and boring and most students spend a lot of time before being able to get up correctly on a green wave .
Kiteboarding requires the learning of 2 different abilities: the flight of a kite and the running of a board. The need to control more things (board and sail) is what generally makes it more complicated in the eyes of a novice. In reality the two things are learned in succession, not simultaneously. Most students can master the flight of a kite satisfactorily after just 6-8 hours of lessons. Once learned how to safely manage the kite, first with small school kites and then with larger sails but still on the ground, the next step is to learn how to get on the board and control it. Often, even after a few hours, many are able to make short journeys with the table underfoot. To master the beat, however, it still takes a few hours of practice.
2. Is surfing or kite surfing more tiring?
Learning a new sport is always very tiring. If you are going to learn to surf, prepare yourself for grueling swims and continuous refraction in the waves, not to mention walking with water at waist level to find the right foam to push yourself for a few seconds.
If, on the other hand, you are approaching kitesurfing, your neck muscles at the end of the day will hurt you by looking at the sail and your legs at the sound of walking on the beach. Not to mention the endless walks on the beach that await you until you have finally learned to ride!
On the other hand, once you have acquired the necessary skills, everything becomes simpler and less tiring. Muscles train, movements become more efficient and things get easier, obviously until you decide to learn some new maneuver or face a challenge represented by more challenging weather conditions than usual.
In surfing, an intermediate or expert rider spends 90% of the time rowing and only 10% or even less standing on the board. Rowing, duck-making to pass the waves, are movements that put a strain on the muscles of the shoulders, arms and neck. Certainly, unlike kitesurfing, you can enjoy moments of complete relaxation astride the table while waiting for the wave. These moments can be exploited to recover the energy ... but if you lean too often the currents risk to move away from the peak and then there is new to row to go back!
In kitesurfing, an intermediate or expert kiter can sail for hours while comfortably standing on the board pulled by the sail. The strength of the sail is discharged all over the body through the trapezius without putting too much pressure on the arms, while the legs are rather under stress. Jumping or surfing the waves are activities that require more effort both in terms of muscle and concentration, but between one maneuver and another it is possible to relax simply by surfing.
In general, those who have learned both sports agree that surfing is the most tiring of the two, not only in the learning phase but also later.
Is surfing or kite surfing more dangerous?
This is a question that is particularly difficult to answer. A first fact is that lately in the spots of our peninsula there have been many fatal accidents in kitesurfing, more than in the surf. However, this does not make one sport more dangerous than the other. Let's try to make some considerations.
Both surfing and kitesurfing are held in close contact with the sea and the forces of nature, waves and wind, elements that are inherently difficult to predict and cannot be controlled. Among the abilities of the surfer, as well as of the kitesurfer, there is, or should be, the ability to interpret the situation and assess the risk, in order to establish whether it is proportionate to one's abilities or not. Both sports are very safe if those who practice them are aware of their abilities and if they are carried out in suitable weather conditions. The other argument is whether we are talking about surfing big waves or doing kitesurfing with storm winds ...
In the surf the most frequent dangers concern the possibility of finding oneself in the middle of waves out of one's ability to control, at the mercy of the currents, of bumping against rocky bottoms or sharp reef for a bad fall or of taking one's own table or others' head. But of all the worst danger is undoubtedly that of drowning: being tossed about by the waves, dragged to the bottom and gasping for breath without knowing which way to swim to re-emerge.
In kitesurfing, many accidents occur before entering the water, in the very delicate moment of the wing taking off. Many instructors claim that 90% of kitesurfing accidents occur on the beach. Hard to blame him. Here human error can be very expensive indeed. The gusts of wind can be very dangerous, so much so that you can raise a kiter and then throw it to the ground. Once in the water the most frequent accidents are not caused by the waves and currents, as the kiter navigates above, but from the jumps. Even in the case of desired jumps, a landing that is a bit too violent with consequent traumas and bruises is always possible. In addition to the sudden increase in wind, even its sudden drop is a problem, because if the kiter is far away he will have to swim back with all the equipment. In the event of a kite falling into the sea and with large waves, a further danger is given by the lines that can twist around the legs.
Ultimately both can be dangerous if the weather conditions are underestimated or their abilities overestimated, but probably this occurs more frequently in kitesurfing
Is surfing or kitesurfing more expensive?
To practice surfing you need a board, a leash, a wetsuit. Of course as your skills increase you will need more than one board and a wetsuit for each season, but that's all. A surfboard can last for many years. Surfing in reltà is a decidedly economic sport.
To practice kitesurfing you need at least a pair of sails with a bar, a board, a trapeze, a wetsuit and various accessories. Kitesurfing also has a rather high maintenance cost as the equipment must always be in good condition to avoid unnecessary risks. The sail and the lines wear out quite quickly and must be replaced.
It is clear that kitesurfing is much, much more expensive than surfing .
Are there more favorable weather conditions for surfing or kitesurfing in Italy?
The ideal conditions for surfing are: waves and no wind, or at least a little wind that blows from the ground towards the sea. As for the waves, a beginner will look for small waves, while as the experience increases, the ability to handle waves much higher than a person also increases. But it is not only the height that counts: the period is also fundamental. The more distant the waves are from each other the better. In the spots of our peninsula in general the period is the biggest problem, together with the fact that often the waves are accompanied by wind and active sea. Of course there are also ideal days for us, but attendance remains a big problem. Also be prepared to face the cold because the most suitable days for surfing in Italy are more often in winter than in summer.
In any case, the most fortunate regions are Sardinia, Tuscany, Lazio, Liguria and Sicily.
The ideal conditions for kitesurfing are recorded with winds ranging from 12 to 25 knots that blow from the sea to the ground. Thanks to increasingly high-performance materials, even much stronger or much lighter winds (for example with a hydrofoil) are increasingly exploitable, however these are not ideal conditions for learning. Waves can be requested or not ... depends on preferences and discipline. What is certain is that learning is easier in the absence of waves. Our peninsula, from north to south, is rich in beaches and windy lakes in all seasons. In summer many beaches are constantly exposed to favorable thermal winds, while in winter there is no lack of disturbances even if these are often decidedly dangerous.
As for weather conditions, in our country they are definitely more favorable to kitesurfing than surfing .