Kitesurfing first started using directional boards. Later, bi-directional twin tip boards were developed and became the predominant board type. The good news is, you can have one or more of each. Both have their advantages in different conditions.
Twin-tip: the most common board. Used for free-ride, wake-style, cruising. Foot pads and straps secure your feet.
Wake-style: a shorter twin-tip board with bindings (boots) to secure the feet.
Wake-skate: similar to a wake-style board but with no bindings and the surfaced covered by griptape. Used for a variety of tricks.
Wave: a surfboard optimised for kitesurfing with foot pads and mounts for straps.
Race: a directional board optimised for speed with longer fins
Twin-tip boards have become standard for use in flat water or small surf conditions.
Naish Haze 144cm
Easy to load into the car and travel with on planes
Good for jumping - not too heavy
Easy to turn - thin edges carve well
No need to switch feet when changing directions
Small fins are good in shallower water
Not enough flotation to ride a wave under its own power
Lesser wind range compared to a directional board
Cannot be "paddled in" during a self rescue.
Factors to consider when purchasing a twin tip board:
Shorter boards need more wind compared to longer boards; if in doubt get a longer board. I am 6'1" and use a 144cm board.
Shorter boards are better for jumping as they weigh less and create less centrifugal force while doing spinning tricks
Longer boards are more stable at high speeds, and a longer rail is more efficient for edging
Wider boards are easier to get planing compared to narrow boards
Adjustable foot straps makes it easy to adjust them to accommodate booties in winter
Twin tip board size recommendations
Board size is quite variable - there is no real rule. Smaller sizes are better for tricks, longer sizes better for freeriding and beginners. As a guide
Use a smaller board in higher winds for more control, and a larger board in lighter winds for better planing.
Write your name and telephone number on your board. If you lose it, it may be returned to you by someone who finds it.
Use a board bag. It will protect you board from damage in cars, and prevents water and sand from the board getting inside your car.
Kitesurf boards for waves
Kitesurf boards, with or without straps, are favoured by kitesurfers who ride bigger waves. Some prefer to use them on flat water too. The extra flotation of the board means you can ride a wave under its own power.
Some examples are the North Nugget , Naish Fish, Slingshot Celero, Cabrinha S:Quad, Oceon Rodeo Jester, Duotone Wam
Ivan Salmon riding toeside at Warrnambool, Victoria
Peter Campbell riding directional board at Brighton Beach, Victoria
Additional flotation is better for surfing big waves
Better for self rescue - can be paddled in
Better wind range - you can kitesurf in lighter winds compared to a twin-tip.
Better for long downwinders
Easy to go up wind, particularly when you move your rear foot toward the centre of the board.
A surfing feel and experience on both waves and flat water.
Being directional, to turn the board onto an opposite tack you either need to jibe the board, change from heel-side to toe-side riding, or stop and switch your feet around
Larger and more solid - there is a higher risk of serious impact with the board and/or fins in a big crash
Bulkier and more difficult to pack and travel with
The pointy end of the board can be dangerous in impacts
Easier to damage - particularly fibreglass Epoxy is stronger
The fins are much longer and are easier to damage
You are likely to need some board wax
More difficult (and dangerous) to jump with
Factors to consider when purchasing a kitesurf board
Shorter boards have less flotation but may be easier to carve turns with.
Most big wave kitesurfers use a tri fin (Thruster) board for optimum turning.
Epoxy boards are much stronger than fibreglass ones. Kitesurfing puts more load on your board than surfing.
A strapless board can be used for both kitesurfing (once you learn how to use it) and for surfing, which is a good option for travel.
Categories include light wind, hybrid and performance kitesurf boards.
Practice riding a directional board on flat water before you venture into big surf. Directional boards handle and turn quite differently to twin tips. You tend to be more "on the water" rather than carving deeply into it as you do with thinner twin tips. You use both the rail and the fins for turning. Master toe-side riding.
Take spare fins if you are going overseas to remote locations.
Kitesurf board size recommendations
Many kitesurfers are now using kitesurf boards that are less then their height.
Race boards are specifically designed for kite course racing, and excel in upwind and downwind/reaching speed. Race boards can be hand made to order. The rocker, board outline, volume displacement, foot strap and fin positions are all designed for one purpose – upwind/downwind speed.
Naish Venturi race board
Very easy to go up wind
Good flotation is better for self rescue - can be paddled in
Much better wind range - you can kitesurf in lighter winds
Excellent for long downwinders
Directional board so must jybe or duck tack to turn
Larger size - there is a higher risk of serious impact with the board and/or fins in a big crash
Bulkier and more difficult to pack and travel with
Very long fins are are easy to damage