For those who are just starting out in the sport, getting the right board can make or break it for you. If you have the right board, this will help to make your progress in kitesurfing smooth, fast and easy. These are the most important things to keep in mind:
Is size important? In kitesurfing it is! Choosing the right size board is done according to a few criteria: your height and weight, your level, and the spot where you will kite most often.
- Height / weight
The more weight and/or height you have, the bigger the board you will need. If the surface under your feet, which is in contact with the water, is bigger, it will give you more flotation and getting speed will be easier. Smaller boards are said to turn faster and have more control, but with the new shapes and designs of boards nowadays, also the bigger boards are easy to control.
For beginners, it’s recommended to get one size bigger than the standard for your height, because the extra surface will help you to start riding upwind and if you make a mistake with the kite, the extra flotation will give you more time to react before your board sinks into the water.
Every spot has an average wind speed, so if you are planning to kite more often in spots with lighter wind (between 10-18 knots) you can also consider to take a board which is a little bit bigger than the standard for your height/weight. This will help you stay upwind and gain speed faster, which helps conquer the lighter winds.
Taking a board which is really very big for you, however, is also not recommended – although you might think it will help you ride upwind and get more speed, there is also such a thing as too big. You will go too fast, won’t be able to control your board and fall!
You can use this table as an orientation for the size board you should take according to your size – but keep in mind what we just described!
The shape of the board affects how it rides: more speed, more grip, upwind efficiency, better for jumping… There are two main things you can look out for in a board: rocker and channels.
- Rocker (see image below)
Rocker is the curvature of the board. Less rocker in the board will help you to get speed easier (because there is more surface touching the water) and these “flat| boards are better to go upwind, which is of course our first goal while learning kitesurf! The boards with more rocker are especially designed for more advanced riders – those who wants to have better pops (jumps) and easier landings on freestyle tricks. Let’s wait a few years for that!
These are the grooves along the edge of the bottom of board. The channels help to land jumps under control and make it easier to go upwind when using small fins, because they give more grip to the board. On beginner boards, as you’re not jumping yet, we can easily replace the effect of the channels by using bigger fins (4.0 to 5.0 cm) which will also improve your upwind efficiency. As such, having channels on the bottom of your board is not that important yet.
3. New or second hand
We know like no other how many (cheap) second-hand offers you can find online – but trust us when we say that not all boards will work for you!
Kitesurfing is still a relatively new sport, which means that gear is still changing and improving a lot every year. Normally, people will use a kiteboard for 4-6 years until they want to renew, so the boards we normally find on the second hand market are a bit outdated in terms of shape, material and design; all the things we talked about until now will be better developed on a newer board.
A brand new board will be lighter and will have better performance (= more flotation, more speed, more upwind efficiency) making your progress easier. And at the moment, the beginners / intermediate level boards on the market will let you progress not only in upwind riding, but in jumps and tricks also, making it possible for you to use your new board for the 4-6 years to come.
Of course, new boards will be more expensive than second hand boards, and not everyone’s budget allows for a new board. The prices for a brand new board for beginner and intermediate level goes from 400€ to 600€, whereas you can find a second hand board for as little as 150€. If you decide to go for a second hand board, make sure you keep the above information in mind when looking at options. And if you want to get more information about the right new board for you, get in touch with us!