The world of windsports is no longer binary. With the introduction of cross-discipline equipment and emerging categories, we must all make more difficult decisions about how to fill our time on the water. Having delved deeply into the dark arts of wingsurfing in 2019 and 2020, this year I found myself routinely breaking free of the wing’s seduction and scoring incredible sessions back under the pull of my kite.
When I started wingsurfing here in Santa Cruz, it was a lonely affair as my kitesurfing friends watched, first with fascination, then with indifference as I hammered through the challenges of getting a wing and a hydrofoil past relentless shoulder-high shore-pound in onshore conditions. Persistence always paid off, and during those first two years, my personal kites largely collected dust while the fresh challenges of an unwritten learning curve fed my endorphin machine’s insatiable demand for more.
There were days where I should have been on a kite, and my kitesurfing friends dutifully pointed that out. It took two years, but eventually my rapid progression slowed and my condition appetite for wingsurfing narrowed. This was when I rediscovered my fundamental love for the grip of a control bar in hand, 21-meter lines in the air and the art of attacking the critical section of a top to bottom wave. Having re-tapped the progression in kitesurfing and the benefits that arise from a board with a rail and fins, I try not to warn fresh wing addicts about the boomerang effect and the laws of diminishing returns; there’s really no point in harshing someone’s wing high.
Have I dropped wingsurfing completely? No, it still remains an essential windsport that fits nicely into a puzzle filled with revolving kite and foilsurfing sessions. Each one of these disciplines excels in specific conditions that have a time and a place. So, if you’ve lost some friends to the inflatable boom, don’t sweat it, they’ll probably be back. If there’s a voice in your head that’s just a little curious about the wing thing, go ahead and try it, but don’t sell your kites just yet.
The pull of the kite is incredibly dynamic in ways that will undoubtedly keep kiteboarding at the apex of adrenaline dispensing windsports for years to come. The gravitational force for both new kite recruits and veterans remains strong, and as new materials and innovations continuously improve our kite equipment, the attraction will only become more powerful. Having been to the dark side and back, and despite all the speculation and hearsay, I am confident that kiteboarding is here to stay.
This article was featured in our winter 2022 issue, Vol. 18, No. 4. To read more, click here.