One of the best ways to enhance light wind kitesurfing is through the addition of a light wind kiteboard. New kiteboards are much less expensive than purchasing a light wind kitesurfing kite, which because of their size and efficiencies in design tend to be a more expensive investment. Adding a light wind kiteboard also allows for a speedier response to changing conditions, allowing you to switch kiteboards as opposed to kites if the wind does suddenly increase.
Specially designed for light wind, these kiteboards are optimized to require less power from the kite. Most importantly, light wind boards are flat in shape to facilitate early planing and greater efficiency. While this sacrifices rocker that otherwise provides greater control, better carving, and softer landings from jumps, it increases the kiteboard’s lift to drag ratio. This means the flatter profile will generating more lift while creating less drag and friction on the water from the streamlined bottom. This allows for faster riding, effectively generating more wind (through the principle of apparent wind). Increasing the surface area of the kiteboard, often times both vertically and horizontally, is also an essential component. Larger kiteboards are able to ride at slower speeds without sinking, which is crucial for going upwind and staying afloat in light wind conditions. Width is generally the more important dimension of the two, and can help reduce the length. Many light wind kiteboards are also the appropriate starting point for larger kitesurfers, who need the increased surface area and floatation as they learn in medium winds. When it comes to light wind machines, our favorite kiteboards include:
Best Breeze (145x44 cm or 158x45.5 cm)
The Best Breeze is a highly functional light wind kiteboard that delivers deceptive performance through its channeled bottom and subtle, staged rocker line.
Cabrinha Stylus (145x45 cm)
The Cabrinha Stylus blends light wind essentials with freeride performance, a functional offering that promises fun in even the most lackluster conditions.
Slingshot Glide (160x40.6 cm)
Completely redesigned for 2013, the Glide is tailored for lightwind performance, the noticeably reduced width allowing for better edge control.
Liquid Force Over Drive (142 or 148x45 cm)
Designed both as a kiteboard for light wind and larger riders, the Full Contact combines functionality and low wind performance.
While not twin tips design, surfboards and race boards can also be great for light wind riding. Kite surf boards that are not only immensely fun in small to medium waves, but because of their size also double as light wind options. The Race Board provides the best light wind kite ability just short of a stand up paddle board, but is slightly more cumbersome than a twintip or surfboard because of its large race fins. With the light winds that tend to accompany summer on Lake Michigan, light wind kiteboards are an essential staple at the shop, and we are happy to lend our opinion!