kitesurfing downwind upwind

Kitesurfing Upwind vs. Downwind: What Is the Difference?

So you have recently bought a kitesurfing board and all that. And you are in good shape to take it out on the water. You even do not forget to apply sunscreen and keep the crucial guidelines in mind. 

But no destination is the main priority? Just you, your kitesurfing gear, the water, & the wind.

You most likely have an idea of the course in relation to the wind (or points of sail). And you would have the option to explore a given area with appropriate control, in case you had any place to be. Yet, be that as it may, coming up short on any set destination, it may be somewhat more subtle about what sort of course to plot for the utmost satisfaction and unwinding (or thrill!). 

That is why checking out the contrasts between kitesurfing upwind vs. downwind will help define your options and assist you with picking your journey. 

Clearly, geography is an environmental factor that limits the activities. For example, you would not surf directly into the rocks downwind, only to be on a run. Here, we will set navigational necessities to the side to zero in on the open water experience and your decision as a kitesurfer on which way to turn. 

upwind and downwind kitesurfing

Kitsurfing upwind

Kitesurfing starters tend to find zig-zagging upwind is rather challenging from the outset. However, as soon as they become ace, they will, in general, like it. The upwind course is incredibly dynamic, and rocking it can be exceptionally fulfilling. Maneuvering upwind, you are going to tack to and fro, sailing as close to the wind as possible (or close-hauled), and sails adjusted until they are toward the boat’s centerline. 

As you may notice, on a close-hauled point of sail, your moving speed will be fast. This is because the lift made by the sails’ curve will push the boat forward, and it will get held back from slipping thanks to the water pressure on the keel or centerboard. 

What’s more, you can feel the speed. Going against the direction from which wind originates, air will play a quick movement toward you, and you will move quickly toward it — that increase perceptibility about your motion’s fact.

Simply put, the apparent wind experienced by you as the kitesurfer will become more impressive, fortified by the extra wind that the boat’s forward movement has made. 

Additionally, you tend to follow an upwind heading at times that you are ‘destined’ to encounter heel, the circumstance your board tilts to leeward when it goes ahead. You can rectify that by stacking out over the upwind (windward) side. Or else, keep easing your mainsail and stop once you notice the craft becomes level. 

The bottom line: Pick an upwind course in case you feel like enjoying the wind in your face & make a prompt start. 

What if you are searching for a more emotional journey? We recommend tacking to and fro, adjusting the sail for it to receive the wind properly (or trimming) and letting it out (or easing), and persistently adjusting the steering to stay on a close-hauled course. It will be an extraordinary way of making your body & hands remain moving, and your mind drew in with the journey. 


By and large, kitesurfing downwind is a simpler & more loosened-up choice. On a run or broad reach, your sail will get eased out close to the extent it will go, at an angle of 90° to the wind on a downwind run (also referred to as dead run). The sal will not pull the boat ahead but be more similar to a parachute before a huge fan, which thus pushes you forward in the identical direction to the wind.

In other words, you will have the apparent wind at the back. Without a doubt, your movement will be slower compared to how you move on an upwind course. And your kitesurfing experience is more agreeable, as a result. 

Going in the same direction & at a similar speed to the wind, you – now and then, will feel like no wind whatsoever is around! All you have to zero in on is controlling your board’s movement in a straight course as well as staying away from accidental gybes or something.

The bottom line: Pick a downwind course in case, for you, a fun time means sailing on the water with a beautiful sunshine-filled face and all that. With consideration to the wind direction & consistent steering, you will enjoy a lot of time to unwind.

Consider reaches & conditions

1. Conditions

Obviously, your decisions about the wind direction for kitesurfing will likewise have to do with the weather. On the one hand, please bear in mind that we have shared the above piece of knowledge, assuming the perfect scenario for this water sport: a steady wind, calm water & daylight. On the other hand, you can adjust the course with ease while in motion. 

On a sweltering day that the wind is light enough, you may like trimming in the sail & heading up from a run for going faster & enabling the wind to reduce the heat and cool you. However, if it is windy and waters get wind-blown, rippling with waves, possibly a downwind heading will give what those with a strong desire for excitement and adventure want. 

2. Reaches

It will be best if you also think about the reaches. They are broad reach, beam reach, & close reach. 

When it comes to broad or close reaches, your kitesurfing experience will be like the ones delivered by sailing downwind or upwind, respectively. 

How about the beam reach in the exact center? It gives a touch of both worlds. We mean an easy journey & a fast-moving ride at the same time.

Final words

After reading through the comparison above, have you had a better idea of the difference between kitesurfing upwind vs. downwind now? With regards to this sport, no direction is genuinely a worse option at the end of the day. So lift the sails & appreciate the ride!