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f you’re new to kiteboarding, the array of equipment on offer can be daunting. There are several disciplines and styles of kiteboarding, each with their own specific gear setups.

Different Types of Kiteboarding

A few of the most popular kiteboarding disciplines include:

  • Wave riding: Using a directional board, wave riding combines kiteboarding and surfing to ride big surf and can only be done at locations with a substantial wave break. At Numero Uno Beach House, the biggest waves typically come in the late fall through December.
  • Freestyle: Involves tricks and jumps. The strategy is to get enough air to do tricks while airborne, and twin-tip boards are best suited to achieve this.
  • Slalom/course racing: Race a plotted course where speed and tactics are judged at events often held close to the beach to the delight of spectating crowds.
  • Wake park riding: Similar to wakeboarding, the intent is to get air and do some tricks while on a wake-style board. This is usually done while riding on flat water surfaces and not in big waves or choppy conditions.
  • Speed: Using a directional or foil board, the goal is to gain and maintain maximum speed.
  • Big air: Riders get and stay in the air as long as possible while pulling off aerial tricks.
  • Freeride: This is straightforward kiteboarding with no tricks or jumps involved. The main goal is to ride downwind, picking up speed while keeping a good edge. In moderate conditions, this is what most beginner and intermediate kiteboarders are doing. Most boards you will find on the market are suitable for freeriding.
  • Foiling: Gain speed and achieve a smoother ride on a board with a hydrofoil attachment. The hydrofoil wing attachment lifts the rider above the water’s surface and is known to gain and maintain speed in less time than a traditional board which requires more physical exertion to achieve the same results.

Varieties of Kiteboards

Among kiteboards on the market, the most commonly used are twin-tip, directional surfboards, wakeboard, skim boards, and foil boards. They are made from a variety of materials, including wood, composite, carbon fiber, fiberglass, kevlar, and foam.

Twin-Tip (Freeride) Boards

A twin-tip board is symmetrical and allows the rider to go in either direction. This board looks similar to a wakeboard, has foot straps and pads, and is the most common type of kiteboard you will run across at our Ocean Park home in Puerto Rico. 

With a symmetrical profile and slightly rounded tips, twin-tip boards make it easy to change directions, turn, and just cruise. They are highly versatile and are used widely across kiteboarding disciplines. Twin-tip boards are most popular with the freestyle, race, wake style, and freeriding crowd.

Twin-tip kite board

Light Wind Kite Boards

These light, flat, wide, and rectangular-shaped boards make it easier for the rider to operate in low wind conditions. Boarders experience less drag and more lift when using a light wind board. While light wind boards tend to be pricier than twin-tip boards, they are an excellent option for those seeking higher speeds in low wind conditions.

Kitesurf and Wave Kite Boards

The kitesurf board will be the most suitable option for those looking to get into some waves and surf. Shaped like a classic surfboard, a kitesurf board can be used while unhooked from a kite and operated with or without foot straps or pads. A significant difference between this board and other styles is that it tends to be thinner and smaller than a typical shortboard.

Foil Boards

If speed is what you’re going for, the foil kite board is among the fastest you will find. Foil boarders hover and glide feet above the water as the hydrofoil wing extends below the surface and acts to push the water down beneath the wing as it pushes the board into the air. As a result, the board requires less physical effort to operate while minimizing drag and gaining speed faster and more efficiently than other boards.

Catch and ride waves longer on a hydrofoil, and you may find yourself not wanting to go back to any other board. This versatile option can be used for surfing, kiting, and racing, to name a few but is extremely popular among the course race kiteboarding crowd. Even in low wind conditions or extremely choppy water, this board is well worth the learning curve necessary to achieve mastery.

A hydrofoil boarder holding a wing sail

Sizing your board

In addition to materials, size, shape, thickness, and width are among some factors that influence which board to use in various circumstances. These factors influence the speed, maneuverability, direction, and smoothness, in addition to the overall skill level and weight of the rider.

Length and Board Thickness

If you are a beginner, a longer board will be more suited to your needs and easier to use when there is light wind. In addition, a longer board is easier to control at high speeds and allows the rider to plan maneuvers in advance. 

Shortboards are best in strong wind conditions and allow riders to respond and turn quicker. Thicker boards tend to be more stable, while thinner boards have specific flexible areas and are more lightweight overall.

Shape and Width

The board’s shape is a fundamental factor when selecting one for your needs. For example, a rounded board is easy to turn but has less edge control during takeoff. A straight board is the complete reverse of the rounded board, while a concave board provides more ease when going upwind but cannot turn quickly.

A narrow board is easier to control in choppy water conditions and high speed. On the other hand, a wider board is best for light wind conditions and is easier to balance and plane than a narrow board. 

The concave shape, or rocker, is measured by the length of the curvature on the underside of the board. Rocker is essential for helping to move water below the board while assisting the rider to achieve a better grip on the water.

Stiffness and Flex

Stiffer boards are more powerful and are the best option for heavier or freestyle riders. On the other hand, softer boards are great in light wind conditions and suitable for lighter riders. As far as flex goes, every rider needs the right amount of flex. A board with more flex provides a more comfortable ride, softens landings, and reduces the effects of choppy water, while a stiffer board is going to be more responsive in challenging conditions.

Carbon fiber kite board

Best kite boards for beginners

If you’re just learning how to operate a kiteboard and kite, you may want to hold off on buying any equipment until you know what kind of board you feel most comfortable with. Instead, it might be worthwhile to train on a light wind kiteboard to start. Light wind boards are usually wider and boxy in shape. When you start your first lesson at Numero Uno’s Kite Puerto Rico, expert trainers will work to tailor the perfect equipment setup.

Check out the Kite Puerto Rico shop to see what board and kiting gear you might want. While checking out the kite store, the onsite staff will be able to recommend the right equipment for your specific set of needs. So book your kiteboarding adventure and start enjoying your new hobby today!

kiteboarders on the beach in Ocean Park, Puerto Rico