Kiteboarding or kitesurfing is a sport that involves using wind power with a large power kite to pull a rider across a water, land, or snow surface.
It combines aspects of paragliding, surfing, windsurfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and wakeboarding.
Kiteboarding is among the less expensive and the more convenient of the sailing sports.
Most power kites are leading edge inflatable kites, sometimes foil kites, attached by about 20 m (66 ft) of flying lines to a control bar and a harness. The kitesurfer rides on a bidirectional board (a “twin-tip”, similar to a wakeboard) or a directional surfboard, sometimes on a foilboard. They often wear a wetsuit in mild to cold waters. The early days of the sport experienced injuries and some fatalities, but the safety record has improved with better equipment and instruction.
The invention of the kite has been claimed by the 5th-century BC Chinese philosophers Mozi and Lu Ban and by 549 AD, paper kites were certainly being flown.
Then in the 1800’s, kites were being utilized by George Pocock to propel carts on land and ships on the water enabling them to sail upwind.
In 1903, aviation pioneer Samuel Cody invented “man-lifting kites” and crossed the English Channel in a small collapsible canvas boat powered by a kite.
In the late 1970’s, the development of Kevlar then Spectra flying lines and more controllable kites with improved efficiency contributed to practical kite traction.
In October 1977 Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise (Netherlands) received the first patent for KiteSurfing. The patent covers, specifically, a water sport using a floating board of a surf board type where a pilot standing up on it is pulled by a wind catching device of a parachute type tied to his harness on a trapeze type belt. This patent did not result in any commercial interest.
Through the 1980s, there were occasionally successful attempts to combine kites with canoes, ice skates, snow skis, water skis and roller skates.
The development of modern-day kitesurfing by the Roeselers in the United States and the Legaignoux in France carried on in parallel to buggying. Bill Roeseler, a Boeing aerodynamicist, and his son Cory Roeseler patented the “KiteSki” system which consisted of water skis powered by a two-line delta style kite controlled via a bar mounted combined winch/brake. The KiteSki was commercially available in 1994. The kite had a rudimentary water launch capability and could go upwind. In 1995, Cory Roeseler visited Peter Lynn at New Zealand’s Lake Clearwater in the Ashburton Alpine Lakes area, demonstrating speed, balance, and upwind angle on his ‘ski’. In the late 1990s, Cory’s ski evolved to a single board similar to a surfboard.
By the end of 1998 kitesurfing had become an extreme sport, distributed and taught through a handful group of shops and schools worldwide. The first competition was held on Maui in September 1998 and won by Flash Austin.
In 2000, a new freestyle competition, sponsored by Red Bull was launched in Maui. The competition, named Red Bull King of the Air, judged riders on height, versatility, and style. The competition is still held annually in Cape Town, South Africa.
Worldwide, there are 1.5 million kitesurfers, while the industry sells
around 100,000 to 150,000 kites per year.
The sport held the speed sailing record, reaching 55.65 kn (103.06 km/h) before being eclipsed by the 65.45 kn (121.21 km/h) Vestas Sailrocket.
Nick Jacobsen achieved the world record for the highest kite jump measured by WOO Sports on February 19, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa, during a session with 40-knot winds. Jacobsen’s jump reached 28.6 meters high, with an airtime of 8.5 seconds. The record was broken several times since then and WOO Sports maintains jump-related leaderboards in different categories (airtime, height, etc.) based on the data recorded and uploaded by its users. The current record holder for the height of a single jump is Maarten Haeger at 34.8m.
Jesse Richman holds the record for hangtime at 22 seconds, set at Crissy Field in San Francisco, California. Airton Cozzolino holds the record for strapless hangtime at 19 seconds.
The largest wave kitesurfed is 19 metres (62 ft 4.03 in), achieved by Nuno Figueiredo (Portugal) in Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal, on 08 November 2017.
The greatest distance strapless kitesurfing in 6 hours is 169 km (105 miles) and was achieved by Petr Pechacek (Czech Republic) at Fisherman Hut in Malmook, Aruba, on 3 November 2012.
The longest journey kite surfing (team) is 4,509.01 km (2801.76 mi), and was achieved by Stewart Edge (UK) and Islay Symonette (Bahamas), around the island of Great Britain, from 2 May to 12 August 2018.
The most people to ride a kitesurf board simultaneously is four and was achieved by Richard Branson and Alice Galliers (both UK), Susi Mai (Germany) and Alison DiSpaltro (USA) at Necker Island, British Virgin Islands on 2 February 2014.