Carbon fiber vs. glass fiber kite surfboards


Welcome back to another Appletree Surfboards Tech Talk video! Today we’re going to talk about carbon fiber vs. glass fiber kite surfboards. This is a question we get asked all the time because at Appletree Surfboards you can choose your glass layup or carbon layup or even s-glass layup. And it’s always a hot topic, what’s best? 

Is the board actually full carbon?

I’m just going talk about our surfboards in this video and that’s because a lot of brands will sell you a carbon board or they will even call it a full carbon board, but if you look into how the board has been built up it only has one layer of carbon and the rest is fiberglass. So it’s a mix and we don’t believe in mixes because there’s a technical reason for that. I’m not going into that now. But full carbon at Appletree Surfboards means only carbon and glass means only glass. So that’s important to know.

Carbon fiber vs. glass fiber kite surfboards

Carbon fiber vs. glass fiber kite surfboards: which is stronger?

A lot of people think that a carbon board is stronger than a fiberglass board. And it is in a way but it is not in another way. The reason for that is that carbon is not as strong in impact. So if you hit it with something hard like your harness buckle or the floor or whatever it will shatter and crack much quicker than fiberglass. Fiberglass is way more elastic so it will absorb the impact. And carbon has the tendency to completely shatter. This is something to keep in mind. 

The best layup for freestyle kitesurfing

If you want to have a board for pure freestyle kitesurfing, like a lot of jumping and a lot of impact, actually carbon might not be the best solution for you. The big advantage of carbon is that it’s way stiffer, so it’s more responsive. You can load it up when you push into a turn and it will spring back with more energy. Where a glass fiber board will absorb  the energy. If you want to do freestyle, you want to spin really quickly for instance. Then it’s nice to have a carbon board, because it will rebound and initiate that spin. 

Always remember that if you’re going to come down really hard a glass fiber board will absorb the energy of the impact better than a carbon fiber board. Now in our boards our carbon boards are really really really strong and they hardly ever break, but it is a disclaimer that we always have to put there. If you want the strongest board, a glass fiber board might be the choice.

Glass fiber kite surfboards soften your landings and absorb chop

Back to glass fiber. It’s more flexible so as i said it will absorb the impacts better. But it will also absorb chatter from chop. And for wave riding for instance a lot of people want a board that’s a little bit softer, so it will absorb. It’s a bit less tiring on your knees and ankles. 

Carbon fiber kite surfboards can be tiring for your feet and knees

People who start riding a carbon board sometimes complain that the boards are a little bit chattery when there’s a lot of chop. And that’s tiring for your feet. You can partially cover this by a good traction pad on top, but for some people carbon just doesn’t work. A softer glass fiber board will be better for you.

S-glass, for a stronger but lighter kite surfboard

At Appletree Surfboards we also offer our boards in something called S-glass. Which is an important one to mention. S-glass is a sort of fancier fiberglass. It’s way more expensive, but it’s much stronger. So with this special S-glass we can make the boards lighter. Because the fibers are stronger, we can use a little less fibers. So the board is lighter and at the same time a bit more flexible, whilst remaining really strong. It’s a sort of in-between option between normal fiberglass and the fancier carbon. You can go the middle road, called S-glass.

s+glass fiber glass surfboards

S-glass, our team riders’ favourite 

S-glass is actually also the construction that most of our team riders use. Not for the freestyle boards, but mainly for their wave boards. They all choose s-glass because it’s got the perfect balance between super lightweight and still strong enough to cope with the forces.

A little recap:

When do you want a carbon board? 

You want a carbon board if you want:

  1. The fanciest construction 
  2. The lightest weight 
  3. The most response in the board to load it up and get all that pop back

Why we only use carbon for our foil range

We also use carbon exclusively in our foil range. And this is because the foils need a stiff board, so you can control the foil from the board. Imagine you’re quite far away from the foil, so the stiffer the small construction is, the more control you have of your board. That’s the reason why all our wing boards, our surf foil boards and our kite foil boards are all full carbon. Completely for this reason: the stiffness and the control. 

In the normal kite boards, carbon is really nice if you want to have a super light board, a super responsive board and you’re not too worried about your knees.

Why do you want a glass board?

For the majority of people a glass board is the way to go, because:

  1.  It’s a bit more budget friendly 
  2. It’s a nice balance between weight and flexibility 

If you want to go up somewhere in-between, have a look at our s-glass boards (all custom kiteboards are available in S-glass), because they might be the solution for you! 

From a riders point of view

Wondering how a pro rider decides whether to go for a glass or carbon kite surfboard? Read how Roderick Pijls takes the conditions into account in his decision.

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