WHAT IS KITESURFING
Kitesurfing is the natural evoloution of extreme windpowered watersports. Combining traits of windsurf and wakeboard, the powerful air-foils and lightweight boards give the kiteboarder higher performance capabilities than ever before. In its short but exciting history kitesurfing has brought together the most exciting components of other extreme sports. The simplicity of the kite-board concept allows every rider the ability to create their own ride styles that reflect their creative imagination and personal expression. With every new move the definitions are changed and the sport continues to expand in posibility. Nobody knows what kiteboarding will look like in the future. But already at the present time kiteboarding has expanded into snow-kiteboarding and has taken new directions into foil-boarding and land-boarding.
“World champion kitesurfer, Flash Austin, flies forty feet in the air above huge bone crunching waves in Hawaii_s famous surf. He approaches the wave at blistering speed and launches himself from the crest of the oncoming wave. He leaps high into the air where he hangs effortlessly suspended from his wing and dances as gracefully as a bird, soaring and looping, he defies gravity until he softly descends, and challenges the next wave. Returning to shore he rides the wave with the agility of a surfer.
This aerial ballet is the manifestation of the new water sport of Kitesurfing. Kitesurfing is like a cross between windsurfing, wake boarding and paragliding, kitesurfers control a wing of lightweight fabric, which pulls them across the water or above it. The sport is fast becoming the center of attention on the world water sports stage as pre-conceived limitations are regularly being shattered.”
Kitesurfing began in the mid _80_s. Cory Roeseler from Oregon began to develop his Kiteski system using water-skis. At the same time in France the Legaignoux brothers were working on their early prototypes for their flysurf system that was later to develop into the Wipika system. The modern era of kitesurfing began about five years ago when Laird Hamilton and Manu gained recognition for the sport on Maui_s north shore and captured the imagination of the water sport community. Kitesurfing popularity has exploded in the last two years and the equipment is now widely available. Kitesurfing now has well-organized events such as the Kitesurfing World Titles, and the World Cup of Kitesurfing. Kitesurfing instruction is also becoming available and kitesurfing associations, Internet newsgroups, and web-sites are growing. There are many kitesurfing videos available and several kitesurfing magazines too.
The Wipika and the Kiteski were two systems that have evolved simultaniously into two popular Kite sailing systems with some significant differences.
The Kiteski System uses a rigid framed kite that is launched by hand and the sailor uses a control bar with a reel to let out the kite_s line to begin sailing. When the kite crashes in the water the pilot reels in the lines and re-launches the kite. The Wipika System uses an inflatable kite that floats on water and is capable of being re-launched. from the water without reeling in the lines. This system is usually flown on fixed length lines however reel systems can be used too.
THE COST OF KITESURFING
Kites cost about the same as a good slalom windsurfing sail. Then you have to buy a control bar, lines, harness and a board. You may also want to buy a good buoyancy jacket (life vest). If you want to save money you can convert an old surfboard into a kiteboard by adding footstraps, this will be a good learning board but will probably be inadequate when you begin to get bigger jumps. Some used kites are becoming available but take care to get it in good condition and spend a little extra to get new lines and a good quick release system.