Good question! Can you use a windsurfing wetsuit for surfing and vice versa? Sure, but there are quite a few differences between windsurfing and surfing wetsuits. They came from the fact that while surfing you are sitting in the water most of the time and during windsurfing your are above the water most of the time so conditions are a bit different. Then there is also the shape of the wetsuit that must follow the usual body position and it must allow the range of motion specific for each sport.
These are some windsurfing wetsuits specific features:
- Lots of smoothskin neoprene (single lined neoprene); smooth neoprene on the outside reduces windchill since it repels water and it does not get wet. In surfing models neoprene is mostly double lined meaning it is also lined with nylon on the outside. Nylon gets wet and when you have wet nylon + wind you have more windchill. Of course windsurfers have lots of wind so…
- Windsurf-specific arm cut; windsurfing suits also have a specific arm cut to prevent cramping during sailing as you grip the boom.
- Durable neoprene; neoprene in windsurfing suits is usually more durable (and a bit stiffer).
- Velcro ankle closures; these help you drain water from your legs and the tighten them so they don’t slip up.
- Flexible neoprene; neoprene in surfing wetsuits tends to be the most flexible since this is very helpfull in surfing.
- Different cut in your arms and shoulders; this is very important – windsurfing and kitesurfing don’t include anything resembling paddling so those wetsuits don’t need to give you as big range of motion as surfing ones do.
- Double lined neoprene; since you are in the water, usually only chest and back are made of single lined neoprene – smoothskin. The rest is double lined.
So to sum this up – if you will be using windsurfing wetsuit for surfing it will be more stiff in the shoulder area and paddling will be harder (also probably more chance for neoprene rash). If you are going to use a surfing wet for windsurfing it will be colder than a windsurfing one.