What Is Kiteboarding & How Did It Start?
What Is Kiteboarding?
So, what is kiteboarding? Kiteboarding is an action sport powered by wind. The sport comprises aspects of surfing, wakeboarding, sailing, and paragliding. A kiteboarder or kiter is being propelled by the power of the kite allowing him or her to ride, turn and jump 10/20 meters high. One of the most amazing aspects of kiteboarding is the freedom that riders have to develop their own styles.
Kiteboarding is detailed in different styles which include:
- Freeride: It is about having for fun and learning new techniques but not necessarily seeking the ultimate level. They want to have fun no matter what their talents are. They just cruise around, jump and do some freestyle.
- Wake style: This only exists in extreme cases. It is usually practiced by younger riders and involves using a wake style board for tricks and jumps. It is best practiced on flat water.
- Big air: This is suitable for intermediate and advanced kitesurfers. This is jumping high enough to perform high risks like kite loops. Shorter lines and smaller kites are used in stronger wind.
- Freestyle: This involves using kite and boards to get big air jumps to allow for different tricks. It is often used to compete in events.
- Wave surfing: It combines kiteboarding with surfing and is done in wave break areas. This involves riding on waves with wave boards or skimboards.
Kiteboarding is one of the fastest growing watersports in the world and is continuously evolving as new riding techniques are introduced. The most recent variations of the sports are snowkiting, a combination of snowboarding and kiteboarding, and hydrofoils which is a lifting surface, or foil, that extends below the board into the water. It is similar in purpose to aerofoils which are used by airplanes. They allow riders to fly over the water limiting all contacts and therefore needing lower winds to ride comfortably. Moreover, the storage and transportation of equipment now make the sport more convenient than ever as kites are foldable and the boards are smaller than windsurfing boards, paddling, and surfboards. It is also less expensive when compared to other sailing sports, although the acquisition of gear is still the biggest investment. As of 2012, kiteboarders have a population at 1.5 million with sales of US $250 million gears, including gear like a kiteboarding wetsuit.
How Did Kiteboarding Start?
In the early 1800s, carts and boats were used to sail using a four-line control system powered by a big kite. This was developed by George Pocock as an alternative to horsepower due to the “horse tax” levied against horse users. Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise (Netherlands) was awarded the first recognition for kitesurfing in 1977. He introduced a water sport that uses a float board which is pulled by a wind-powered device. However, it did not receive the required attention from people. In 1979, Dieter Strasilla (Germany) and his Swiss friend Andrea Kuhn used the invention of a kite skiing system using paragliders and a ball-socket swivel to produce an inflatable kite design for kiteboarding. Around the early 1980s, kites were also developed for kiteboarding.
In November 1984, an inflatable kite design called as the Wipika kite was patented by two French brothers, Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux and the design was used to create other products which took 15 years to develop. About the same time, Cory Roeseler (Oregon) worked on his Kiteski system which uses a rigid framed, two lined kites with water-skis which was made available commercially in 1994. In the mid 90’s, Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin were popularized and demonstrated for riding surf style boards with foot straps. Kiteboarding became a fully recognized sport in 1999 at the hands of Robby Naish and Neil Pryde. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, the racing style of kiteboarding was hosted as a sport and later named as an official sporting event at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics hosted in Buenos Aires.