Last updated 5-25-2024

Kiteboarding vs WingFoiling.

How to choose the right sport.

Ryan Goloversic Rygo.png__PID:5fc51d4f-9a92-41bf-ad85-6f00729d5847

Should I learn to Kitesurf or wingfoil?

Kiteboarding vs Wing Foil

Kiteboarding and wingfoiling are similar in that they harness the wind's power with a sail and a board. They incorporate hydrofoils and can be used in waves or flat water. Most wind sports manufacturers produce gear for both watersports and have dedicated marketing and R&D to drive the gear forward.

If you're new to wind sports, you might ask yourself, Should I learn to kiteboard or wingfoil? It can be tough to decide, but the key is to pick one and stick with it until you become an intermediate-level rider. Both sports take time, lessons, and practice to become independent and competent. They also both require similar conditions to learn, and you won't be able to get ample practice switching between them.

We love them both, and many well-rounded watermen and waterwomen practice both religiously, as we're all one big family. In this blog, we'll share what to expect from wingfoiling and kitesurfing, how to decide what sport to learn first, and how to choose when to practice one or the other.

Ireserve certain conditions for kiteboarding, and I reserve certain conditions for winging.  At the end of this blog, I'll share my why and an unbiased take so you can decide for yourself.

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Table Of Content

  • Should I learn kiteboarding before wingfoiling?
  • Benefits and challenges of Kiteboarding
  • Should I Learn Wingsurfing?
  • What are the Benefits of Wing Foiling?
  • Limitations of Wing Foiling.
  • Kitesurfing gear vs. wingfoiling gear price.
  • What Wing Foiling Gear do I need?
  • What Kitesurfing Gear Do I Need?
  • Conclusion

Should I learn kiteboarding before wingfoiling?

Pros and cons of learning kiteboarding.

Kiteboarding, the older of the two wind sports, is known for its versatility. Compared to other sports, nothing comes close! You can mimic any board sport and power your ride with the wind. If you're a surfer, a wakeboarder, or a snowboarder, the kite serves as a boat, a free lift ticket, and your own personal tow into prime waves. There is also the big air aspect of kiteboarding.

No other sport allows so much airtime with so little consequence. There is some risk, of course, but it's not uncommon for 55-year-olds of different physicalities to get 30 feet of airtime!


Like wingfoiling, you can use hydrofoils to kite foil in the lightest of winds and practice a completely different set of low-impact, high-reward kitefoil tricks. In a way, kiteboarding is freedom.

You can ride in most conditions in your own unique way, and it's as leisurely or as extreme as you want it to be. Kiteboarding is the ultimate watersport. 

Benefits of Kiteboarding

  • Versatility: With the same kite and control bar, you can kiteboard on land, snow, or water. Specialized kites enhance performance across these different terrains and disciplines
  • Progress: There is always something new to learn, and you'll be engaged for life.
  • Compact Gear: Kiteboarding gear, especially twin tips and foils, is easy to travel with due to its compact size. Your kite fits in a large backpack with the control bar and pump on the side. You'll have a kiteboard the size of a wakeboard and a kitesurfing harness.
  • Test the Quick Release: Ensure the eject mechanism works smoothly and engages correctly. Clean out any sand or debris that might cause it to malfunction.
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Challenges of Kiteboarding

  • Learning Curve: At first glance, kiteboarding seems like a lot. Three to nine hours of lessons is the minimum requirement for most people. Kiteboarding is a sport of fitness; it's not a physically demanding sport at all. People practice from a very young age into their 90s and beyond!
  • Safety: Kiteboarding can be more intimidating with long lines, and lessons are required to ensure you understand safety protocols and avoid developing bad habits. With good instruction, it's arguably as safe as wingfoil, but there can be more risks if you're not educated.
  • Conditions: Good wind requires large bodies of water. Kiteboarding on small lakes is possible, but you need ample space to set up the gear, and the wind can be gusty if it travels over many obstacles.

Should I Learn Wingsurfing?

Wing foiling is the new kid on the block, growing incredibly fast. It can be practiced on any body of water; there are no long lines to control the sail, and riders can let go if they feel out of control. You'll use a larger composite board with lots of boyancy, so it's easy to swim back in if the wind dies.

Wingsurfing has many parallels to windsurfing, so we see many former windsurfers take an interest. The accessibility and ease of use have been good for the wind sports community in general, as it has brought many new people into our close-knit family who might have been intimidated by the kite.

Approachable, access to more bodies of water and the draw of surfing small, nonbreaking waves make this an appealing sport to an even larger group of people. There is also the freestyle wing discipline for those who want to be at the cutting edge of a new sport.

Benefits of Wing Foiling

  • Safety and Accessibility: Technically, beginners can learn wing foiling safely on their own, though lessons are highly recommended to avoid bad habits and learn faster. Working with a good school for a few hours can save weeks of work.
  • More locations: You don't need a large launch area or body of water to practice wing winging
  • Rescue Option: If the wind drops, you can paddle back to shore, making some people feel more confident about getting on the water.
  • Surfing small waves: Wing foiling offers a soulful, surfing-like experience. You can ride any small wave, "bump," or wake! Hydrofoils are super efficient, so you can harness the energy of nonbreaking waves for some unique rides.
  • Assess Overall Condition: If the bar looks worn and faded, it may be nearing the end of its life. Factor in the remaining lifespan when negotiating the price.
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Limitations of Wing Foiling

  • Jumping and Tricks: If your primary interest is in big air and freestyle tricks, kiteboarding is the better choice. Wing foiling is more about the flow and smooth rides. You can get into freestyle wing foil but it's more physically demanding and higher risk compared to jumping with a kite.
  • Freestyle wingfoiling: You can make the wing extreme with airs and tricks, but This can be more dangerous, and the odds of breaking gear are higher. This is a new sport with room to make a name for yourself.
  • Physical Demand: Wing foiling requires more physical effort than kiteboarding. As the sport engages your whole body, you won't be harnessed in right away, so you'll initially use your arms to hold the wing. A good school can make this process less demanding with the proper technique.

Kitesurfing gear vs. wingfoiling gear price.

Kitesurfing and wingsurfing are similar in cost. Wingboards are more expensive than kiteboards, and kites are more expensive than wings.

You can choose from many options to get something in your budget. Online people argue that wingfoil is easier to set up, but we find it evenly matched.

With the kite, you have to pump up the kite and run your lines. With the wing, you have to pump the wing and put the hydrofoil together. You can expect to spend anywhere from $1900 to $5000 or more depending on a few factors like new vs used, or the number of wings you buy.

What Wing Foiling Gear do I need?

To start, you'll need a wing, a wing foil board, a foil set, and a pump. Later, consider adding more wings or foils to your setup or getting a smaller advanced wingboard. Wingfoil gear takes up more space and is more challenging to travel with. You'll be using a high-volume composite board.

A beginner starts with something over 5 feet long in the 110 to 140-liter range and can work their way down to something smaller, around 4 feet and 55 liters. There is no control bar, so you will be flying an inflatable handheld wing with handles or sometimes a boom. The board will have a foil mounted and can use various hydrofoil wings suited for different skill levels or applications.

  • Wing Foil Board: Typically around 4 to 5 feet in length.
  • Mast and Fuselage: A standard 70 to 80cm mast with various length fuselage.
  • Hydrofoil: A large wing and stabilizer that flies underwater.
  • Wingsurfing Wing: This is your sail or hand kite sometimes called a wing wing, which you hold onto and maneuver.
  • Wingsurfing Pump: Used to inflate the wing.
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What Kitesurfing Gear Do I Need?

You'll need a kite, a control bar, a kiteboard, and a pump to learn kiteboarding. Later, consider adding more kites, different-style kiteboards, or some hydrofoils to your setup.

  • Kitesurfing Kite: Larger than a wing but packs down small for easy transport.
  • Kitesurfing Control Bar: Used to steer the kite about 23 meters away.
  • Kiteboarding Harness: This connects you to the kite.
  • Kiteboard: Used to ride on the water.
  • Kitesurfing Pump: Used to inflate the wing.

Types of kiteboards

  • Twin Tip Kiteboard: Commonly used for jumping or tricks. These look similar to a wakeboard but with less rocker and paired with foot straps. This is where to start when you're learning to kite.
  • Kitesurf Board: For waves or light wind conditions. These look like a small surfboard.
  • Kite Foil Board: Much smaller, around 3 feet 11 inches, similar to the wing foil setup.
  • Kiteboard: Used to ride on the water.
  • Kitesurfing Pump: Used to inflate the wing.

Deciding between kiteboarding and wingfoiling.

Both kiteboarding and wing foiling have their unique advantages and challenges. Kiteboarding offers versatility and the joy of pursuing multiple riding styles but has a slightly steeper learning curve. On the other hand, wing foiling provides a more approachable experience for those who don't have access to prime kiteboarding locations or might be intimidated by the long lines of a kite.

The time to learn each sport is similar, about 3 to 9 hours of instruction for competence. The cost of entry is similar to the price of lessons and gear. Ultimately, the choice between kiteboarding and wing foiling depends on what you want in a wind sport. We encourage you to start with one, but learn both! Embrace the learning process and enjoy the new adventure!

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An excellent way to incorporate both sports is to have certain wind conditions where you'll practice each sport. The best conditions for wingsurfing and kiteboarding are flat water with about 18 knots of wind. Spend a few weeks with your choice sport in these prime conditions to maximize your learning speed.

Later, you can choose your sport based on conditions. For example, if the wing is perfect for big air kiteboarding, you should go kite; if the waves are prime for wingsurfing, you should wingsurf. If you want ideal freestyle kiteboarding, do that in lighter winds and save the wing for big wind days. As you grow with each sport, you'll know the optimal conditions for your goals.

Choose to practice whatever sport makes the most sense in those conditions, and you'll never have a bad day on the water.

 Why learn kiteboarding in Tampa Bay.

We have one of the best beginner kiteboarding locations in the United States for learning to kiteboard. We have shallow flat waters that allow kiteboarding students to stand up when they fall. There is no shore break or deep waters to hinder progress.

We get consistent smooth wind that works in every direction. Our St Petersburg-based kitesurfing school offers jet ski support and custom kiteboarding lesson packages. Come join us and see what the fun is all about.

Need help buying your first kiteboarding kite? 

The expert team at Elite Watersports is here to serve. If you have any kiteboarding related questions call us. We can build custom kiteboarding packages, book kiteboarding lessons or simply offer helpful advice. We're your one stop shop for kiteboarding knowledge.

If you need help deciding on your first kiteboarding kite give Elite Watersports a call. We're happy to set you up with your first kiteboarding kite.



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Ryan "Rygo" Goloversic



Used kiteboarding gear

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