what is kiteboarding?

" Careering across the open sea like a pirate and flying through the air like Superman - a real life X-Man with a kite and an attitude problem."

Flash Austin-2000 world kite-surfing champion


Clearly a light wind day if you're reading this page - thought we'd give you some background about where this kite thing has come from...

The use of kites for propulsion arguably started around the 13th Century, when Polynesians were rumoured to have used the power from flying kites to tow their boats:

1800's - a British inventor named George Pocock enlarged common kites and flew them in groups to pull carts along on land and boats on the water.

1919 - an American inventor called Samuel Cody 'kitesailed' in a boat across the English Channel.

1970's - American kite designer Peter Powell from Florida built a two-line kite, which he used regularly to sail small boats with. These kites were marketed and sold for use with small boats, and land based buggies.

1977 - a Dutch inventor named Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise receives the patent for the idea of a single person standing on a board, being pulled around by a parachute tied to a trapeze harness. So in legal terms this is the person who invented kitesurfing, although he received no media attention or commercial interest for his invention.

Early 1980's - a Swiss watersport enthusiast called Andreas Kuhn, sails with a wakeboard style board, and uses a paraglider around 25m sq. He's probably the first person jumping high in light winds. This prompted the first real television coverage.

1984 - two French brothers Dominique and Bruno Legaignoux, get a patent for the first self-relaunching marine wing. In order to promote it they participated in several international speedsailing events during 1985 and 1986 using water-skis. Over the following ten years, they improve on their original wing and test many types of power kites, creating hundreds of kites, boards and skis, until they sell their first 'Wipika' wing in 1993.

Late 1980's - Cory Rosseler, a professional windsurfer from the USA, prepares the 'kiteski', which he patented and later sold in 1992. His technique was based on a flat kite with carbon spars linked to a control bar which had a brake and reel, this allowed re-launching from the water. He sailed with 'trick' water-skis, and was the first person to be seen sailing upwind on skis. He was also very influential in producing the first specific 'kiteboards'.

1996 - kiteboarding gets its largest media exposure to date, thanks to the famous windsurfer's Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin. They used 'tow in' surfboards with soft kites, then special kitesurf boards with 'kiteski', and 'wipika', wings.

1997 - the first mainstream commercially available kitesurf boards were launched, they were invented by a former professional windsurfer named Rafael Salles and Laurent Ness the boards were called 'F-One'.

1998 - kitesurfing can be classed as a real sport. Some experienced participants can now go upwind. A big safety problem in the past. Several schools in Hawaii, France and England start teaching kitesurfing. The first competition is held on Maui in the September, and the first champion Marcus 'Flash' Austin is crowned.

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