Both can be viable for sure.
But the surfboard needs to be a special one.
I made one 5'x22" with low rocker, slight concave and large quad fins that does well. Can cruise around and go upwind with 17m kite in 10kts, sometimes a little less. But it's not super fast or anything.
The foil, though, offers some new challenges and if you get good at it, you can fly up and downwind at 15-20 it's or faster. The foil is worth trying if you have good places to ride with 1m plus depth. It's a special feeling, foiling.
I spent 6 years on an awesome small wave surfboard that makes the best of light conditions. Getting into foiling was literally a revelation.
On the right surfboard and large kites, the average kiter can barely ride in 10 knots. Most don't bother. Add current/wash/sweep and it goes up. In simple chop, it takes 12 or 13 before they have the speed and power it takes to have any fun.
10 knots on any old freeride foil and a medium sized LEI kite and the average intermediate foiler is nicely powered enough to enjoy it. You can foil into really light winds, but below 9 knots your better off with specialized gear. 10 knots is an absolute on switch regardless of what kite foil your on. Without overstating, the upwind abilities, speed, and addition of the Z axis add up to something that completely redefines conditions as you known them. Makes mountains out of molehills and many fun days on the water where there were none before.
In my opinion, there is a huge gap between the low end fun range of these two set ups.
Its been a couple years since I pulled out that particular surfboard! I should probably sell it, but it has too much sentimental value for the price I could get.
I agree with Starsky. 8-12 knots is Hydrofoil. Having loads of fun and re-challenging myself after discovering the Foil. I am done with big kites and big boards and schlogging around.
Still like to fly the big 14.5m and 17m in +13knots and enjoy getting ripped off the water. But if there is no boost then there is no joy, so Hydrofoil is the alternative.
***unless you are tiny person or kid then 8-12knots can be a blast, but the average rider +170lbs forgetta about it, and if you are 200lbs plus then even more challenges.
Don't discount a light wind TT! I initially believed the lie about surfboards being better at light winds than TT's. But LWTT's are just superior to even the most light wind directional. At least when comparing equal rider skill. If you are willing to develop a high degree of skill on a light wind directional, you can match and possibly exceed the performance of a light wind TT.
A hydrofoil, as others have mentioned, is not comparable to planing boards. Hydrofoils are in a league of their own.
At 100kg, I was suckered into believing surfboards were superior in light wind to TT's. My first surfboard proved me wrong, but I loved the feeling of surfboards over my TT's. Surfboards, in general, just do not go upwind better than a light wind TT. But they will, in general go upwind faster than a non-light wind TT. Light wind TT's are better than almost any directional out there at light wind - especially in light "up and down winds". The only directionals that can match the LW performance of a LWTT are custom made and maybe a wide shorty like the SS Alien Twister (or old school race board with uncomfortably large fins). Surf fins are great for upwind when you have speed, but at low speeds, they go not have the upwind capability of an edging TT board. When you can just barely move in light or variable light winds, a LWTT is the way to go.
Here is a scale from lightest wind to highest.
2. "Old school" raceboard (surfboard with racing fins)
3. Light wind twin-tip
4. Custom or purpose built LW surfboard (Sector series down to SS "Alien Twister")
5. Large standard surfboard
6. Medium to large twin-tip
7. Medium surfboard
8. Small standard surfboard
9. Small or highly rockered TT #8 and #9 would swap if you used them in light wind. But at the typical wind speeds (high) they are used in, the small surfboard with standard surf fins, would be able to use those fins to beat the small or highly rockered TT upwind by foiling off of the fins.
I do not own a bigger kite for the water than my 13.5m. And I still can race past guys on 17m kites that weigh less than me. Kite skill makes a difference. Using smaller kites to get that experience will help you become more efficient. If you continue to rely on lager kites and keep using your weight as an excuse, you will always need bigger kites.
I no longer own a TT as I love the feel of a surfboard. But I can scream upwind much faster when I borrow almost any LWTT on the beach. Then when I go back to my surfboard, I need to work a little harder for that upwind or sometimes I just can't make it. At that point, I am usually the last idiot out on the water anyway.
Last edited by Matteo V on Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
200 + lbs, 17m LEI, Sweet Potato(38 L) w/ Controller fins: I have a blast if it's 10 knots and above(do-able in 9 knots, just limited). The bliss, to me, is the smooth surface conditions/wave faces. Down-the line is out, however, you can hack the hell out of the lip as your heading out, and somewhat wave ride on the way in(carving and floaters on the vertical sections). As long as there's no major holes, you can also practice little strapless airs of the faces as well. As soon as it hits 12 knots and above, I can jump on a 12m Solo which opens up even more possibilities.
Last edited by TommyDuotone on Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
I am with MatteoV. Flydoor XL plus 15sqm Flysurfer foil kites (starting from Speed 3 15dlx and now Sonic2 15) I can ride single digit winds with ease and do airborne transitions like hand plant backroll etc and short dark slides type of stuff.
I find it much more fun than directionals or plowing.. Maybe later I find more interest to foil more. But it is another view to topic.
I agree with Matteo a large twintip door board like the Spleene Door is far superior to a surfboard. But a hydrofoil is even better. I was able to ride in the same range as hydrofoil with my 22M foil kite and the Spleene door 164 but I am getting into hydrofoils now and it's way more fun and you can ride much smaller kites and still have fun!
The thing about doors is that despite being able to go incredibly early, It's always a door! Glassing along.... on a door. They carve.... like a door. The take off and land.... like a door. They surf like a door. A door is just never great. Surfboards are a pretty broad category.... some start early, some don't, but pretty much all of em have a moment they shine. Be it in small surf or bigger stuff, light air or windy, they carve and ride like surfboards.
Once you get to a certain size it doesn't make sense to fix the stance with straps. On the actual doors I've ridden, they were more fun out of the straps in the sweet spot. Even just big flat twin tips go really early. Had a 16m and light wind twin tip over a decade ago. It worked, but I move onto surfboards anyway. Kind of a moot point now. Foils kill both for light wind or chop.