There are a few different kitesurfing styles that have come about since the beginning of the sport. As the focus of each riding style differs, so do the riders’ preferences of kite shapes and boards. It’s useful to understand the different riding styles and the type of gear that correspond to each style. Let’s talk about the more common styles such as Freeride, Freestyle, Wakestyle, and Waveriding.
Freeriding style is adopted by the casual riders who are out to just have fun. Typically cruising around, freeriding is all about relaxing and having a good time out on the water. For a freerider it’s not about getting insane air or any extreme tricks or grabs, but rather a calm, manageable, and enjoyable session. That’s not to say your board has to stay planted in the water for the entire session to be considered a “true freerider”, but the idea here is that a freerider would just go have fun on the water by whatever means. Freeriders typically ride twintip or foil boards with hybrid or bow-shaped kites.
Freestyle kiting is slightly more intense than freeriding since a freestyler would typically focus more on tricks and techniques. However, like freeriding, freestyle is all about freedom of expression. The water is a freestyler’s canvas and they “paint” it with whatever they feel. Freestylers typically enjoy more power and responsiveness from their kites compared to a freerider since they throw more technical tricks, but the hybrid and bow kite shapes still suit these riders just fine. A Modern C shape is also entertained by these guys. Board selection is similar with twintips, foil, and surfboards. The GIN Egoist is a Bow-shaped kite great for freestyle riding in almost any conditions.
Wakestyle is a more intense style being defined by a myriad of huge airs, grabs, spins, and other technical maneuvers. Always with twintips and some sort of bindings like boots or straps, wakestyle riders launch of ramps, waves, or flat water and execute mesmerizing spins and tricks. Watching wakestyle is definitely entertaining, and the riders are typically the highly technical thrill seekers of the sport. Modern and Open C kite shapes heavily preferred for the massive airs, but some wakestyle riders enjoy hybrid shapes. The STAR Sirius is a strong performer for this style, since you can rig it as either an open C kite without lines to the leading edge, or as a modern C with leading edge lines.
Waveriding style is akin to surfing. These riders usually are influenced by a surfing background, and ride waves with an extra source of power via kite. Waveriders have to wait until the wind and surf are on point for their sessions, since flat water isn’t optimal for waveriding (who would’ve guessed). Riders transfer power from the kite to the wave and back again, so knowing when to move from one to the other is something that comes with experience. Waveriding is commonly done on a surfboard with or without straps, but twintips and skimboards are also fair game. Waveriders prefer kites with a lot of drift and stability, but can also turn almost in place. Delta, hybrid, and bow kites are favored by these riders.
Remember there are many other styles out there to investigate and these we just discussed are the more common ones. Whatever style you prefer, the important thing is that you get out there on the water and express it. Learn more about these styles and others from the Kitesurfing Handbook