Kite boards vs. Wakeboards
Without getting technical (and risking torturous slating from the hordes of local board manufacturers), I thought I would do a short comparison between a wakeboard and a kiteboard.
This picture shows the comparison between a 143 Hyperlite Vero (intermediate to advanced board for a rider with weight of 85-100kg’s) and a 146x40 Khulu Epoxy board.
The most pronounced difference between the two is the heavier (more curved) rocker on the Hyperlite wakeboard. This is not unique to this particular wakeboard brand, and although you will find that many of the wakeboard manufacturers do differ their rocker depending on board size, and skill level, it is a generic consistency that wakeboards will always have a heavier rocker than Kiteboards.
Again, looking at the local Kiteboards, whether Cape Doctor, Cyclone, Khulu, Long Ocean etc most boards will have a flatter rocker than wakeboards. (With the exception of some of the newer controversial designs like the Maverick which offer a heavy sideways concave) To put this into perspective, if you lay a wakeboard flat on the ground, there is a chance the fins won’t touch the ground, while if you do the same experiment with a kiteboard, there is a good chance the belly of the board won’t touch the ground because the fins will hold it in the air.
The other pronounced difference between the two is the fin configuration. Most wakeboards will offer two fins, one on either end in the centre, while most Kiteboards will offer at least 4 fins, and sometimes as many as 6 or more. If a wakeboard uses 6 (Some designs do), the additional 4 are either moulded into the board and extend by only 1cm or use very small long fins, which may measure a 1.5cm.
The one similarity you will however find is between branded boards (as opposed to local custom boards) and wakeboards is the use of hydraulic presses to shape the board, which generally result in slightly heavier boards, while custom boards are generally vacuum bagged sandwich construction boards using resin (epoxy/polyester) and a sandwich foam construction which may or may not include carbon fibre layering. This ultimately results in very light boards with a high level of strength.
Ultimately, how does this impact the ride? Well, in short, the wakeboard is slower as it offers more resistance. Put even a beginner on both boards, and he/she will immediately notice the difference. If you wanted to ride a wakeboard with a kite, the result would be a slower ride and would require you to be more powered up (ultimately increasing your projected weight by approximately 15-20kg’s). It would also be easier to edge the kite to the edge of the window. Although this may seem like a bonus, it is not ideal for jumping, and definitely not ideal for any remotely light wind riding. It does still work, but anyone who has tried it will tell you to keep your wakeboard as a backup and ride a recognised kiteboard.
Why would you want a slower board while wakeboarding? Well, when jumping is executed behind a boat and more specifically a cable, edging the kite to the edge of the window is not an issue, and the heavier rocker allows you to momentarily stop the board to help aid jumps. A wakeboard rider also pops off wake using the flat area of the board for jumps. Conversely, most kiteboarders release from the edge of the board in jumps. There are other issues, which I have left out, as it is not required reading.