Surfing or windsurfing - which one is right for you?
22 March 2016
If you’re looking to take up a new sport and you live close enough to a coastline, why not make it a water sport?
They’re not just enjoyed by California dudes and holidaymakers in Spain, y’know. Thousands here in the UK enjoy water sports such as surfing and windsurfing on a daily basis.
Both offer similar benefits: high intensity, fantastic exercise, an adrenaline rush, and the ability to compete. You’re also open to the elements in a way not seen in other sports; the weather and the turn of the tide can be your best friend or a foe you have to conquer.
While surfing and windsurfing are similar in name, they’re actually very different sports. So, if you’re thinking of taking either up, which one is right for you?
New wave or old wave?
Surfing is by far the older of the two sports. It was a pivotal part of ancient Polynesian culture, first described by Joseph Banks in 1769, in which the chief would be the most skilled surfer, and would get the best board made from the best tree.
As such, surfing has always been the more popular sport. However, our shores are seeing a rapid increase in the number of people taking up windsurfing, for a variety of reasons we’ll get to later.
So, the first question you’d need to ask yourself is – would you rather pick up a comparatively new and thriving sport? Or would you want to put your own stamp on an ancient pastime?
Fast learner or casual rider?
Let's cut to the chase – windsurfing is a lot easier than surfing to begin with. Your first few hours on a surfboard (or at least, trying to stand up on a surfboard) are going to be pretty infuriating. If you’re a fast learner or you’re thick-skinned and determined, then you’ll likely stick with it. However, if you’re looking for a sport you can pick up faster (with less frustration), then you might want to go with windsurfing.
With windsurfing, you're using the elements to your advantage. The wind is your friend. Whereas in surfing, it’s you against the elements. Windsurfing is arguably better for casual riders then, as weather plays less of a factor in your performance.
Will power or body power?
We’re not going to lie and say that you can be great at these sports if you don’t have a decent level of fitness. However, out of the two, surfing is arguably more physically and mentally challenging.
In terms of physicality in surfing, you have to paddle a lot, have great core strength and balance to stand up on the board, and endure the crashing waves when swimming back to shore. On the mental side, you need a lot of willpower, as you’re going to fall off a lot.
You definitely have to be strong to windsurf too; it’s just that you’ll pick up windsurfing easier. After a while, you stop fighting the wind and let the element apply the physical effort, allowing you to focus on technique.
Transportable ease or cumbersome kit?
If you just want to get up and go, then surfing is by far the winner. You can carry your surfboard in your hands, and it will also fit easily in the car.
Windsurfing equipment, on the other hand, is a lot bulkier and harder to move around by foot. This is because you've got sails as well as your board. Windsurfing equipment will vary a lot more than surfing equipment (i.e. a surfboard) too; if researching equipment for a few hours before purchasing doesn’t seem like your idea of fun, then maybe surfing is more for you.
That being said, all surfing and windsurfing kit can be transported easily in a car.
We hope this article has given you a good idea of the water sport you’d like to take up. If windsurfing is the one for you, check out our beginner-to-expert windsurfing courses.