Is it called kiteboarding or kitesurfing?

A big debate we hear on the beach is… what do we call the sport? Is it kiteboarding or kitesurfing?

The truth is, nobody can really agree, but in this article, we will take a look at the best arguments.

(NOTE: We use kiteboarding as a general term and kitesurfing for wave disciplines. See below for our reasons!)

A man kiteboarding on his own over waves on a turquoise sea, in the daytime.
If you are riding in the waves, is it kitesurfing or kiteboarding?

Why is there confusion with kiteboarding and kitesurfing?

Kiteboarding combines parts of many other sports.

This makes it unique but also means that we have adopted jargon from other places, such as:

  • Surfing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Windsurfing
  • Snowboarding
  • Sailing
  • Paragliding
  • Skateboarding

Nobody sat down to decide what to call the sport – it just happened naturally.

That means we started to use different names in different parts of the world. Let’s take a look at the arguments for each name.

Should we call it Kitesurfing?

“Surf” comes from Surfing, the sport, and the description for what happens when a wave breaks.

So naturally, if you are using a kite to ride a surfboard in the waves, you can call this Kitesurfing.

However, this is just one style of kiteboarding, and likely isn’t the most popular.

There are other styles of riding and types of board. This is why we consider Kitesurfing to be a style of Kiteboarding.

Is it Kiteboarding?

Kiteboarding is a much more broad and generic name.

There are many ways to ride on the water with a kite, but they all involve a board (unless you get creative and ride on a door!).

Even with Kitesurfing, you are riding on a surfboard.

Some other types of boards include twin tip boards (the most popular), foil boards and skimboards.

This is the reason why we think it makes sense to call the entire sport Kiteboarding.

What about Kitefoiling?

We mentioned foil boards, which are a relatively new type of board to be used widely in kiteboarding.

They are generally bigger and strapless, like a surfboard, and have a small underwater fin called a hydrofoil.

The hydrofoil lifts the board entirely out of the water, reducing friction and enabling you to ride in softer wind conditions.

We think that Kitefoiling, just like Kitesurfing, can be considered a style of kiteboarding.

There are different styles of kiteboarding, from Twin Tip to Hyrdofoiling

What do we call it, kiteboarding or kitesurfing?

Habits are hard to break… 

When I am down on the beach I am still mixing up Kitesurfing and Kiteboarding, confusing students and beginners

But, people ask this question all the time, so to try and bring some clarity we say:

  • Kiteboarding – For the whole sport, twin tip riding and all of the styles below
  • Kitesurfing – For wave riding with a surfboard 
  • Kitefoiling – For riding a Foilboard
  • Kiteskimming – For riding on a skimboard

I am sure we will get plenty of opinions on this… Bring it on!

(If you have got some great arguments against this, please comment, we are open to all ideas)

Whatever we call it, one thing is for sure – Kiteboarding is a growing, exciting and welcoming sport that has only just started to capture the attention of the world.

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