Kitesurfing is an extremely popular extreme sport that has captured the hearts and souls of millions of people all over the globe. The sport combines the thrill of surfing with the precision of kite-flying, making for one of the most addictive water sports in existence. However, have you ever wondered where the game came from, and how it has evolved into the exciting and adrenaline-fueled activity it is today?
In this article, we take a deep dive into the history of kitesurfing and explore some of the most significant developments that have impacted this sport over the past two decades.
What is kitesurfing?
Kitesurfing is a water sport that involves using a kite to propel oneself across the water on a board. It’s also referred to as kiteboarding or flysurfing. A kite surfer uses the wind to maneuver the kite and board, achieving speeds of up to 70 km/h (43 mph).
The sport goes beyond traditional surfing, as it includes the added element of flying a kite to harness to the wind power. It demands athleticism, balance, and coordination.
When and where did kitesurfing originate?
The roots of kitesurfing can be traced back to the 1800s, when Englishman George Pocock used kites to pull along a carriage. Another example of the early usage of kites dates back to the 19th century, when Hawaiian fisherman used kites for surf fishing.
The development of kitesurfing, in its current form, can be credited to two brothers, Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux, from France, in the late 1970s. They developed a kite with an inflatable leading edge, making it safer and easier to use. However, it wasn’t until 1984 when they patented the first kiteboard design.
How did kitesurfing evolve?
The evolution of kitesurfing started in earnest when two Hawaiian windsurfers, Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin, began experimenting with kites in the early 1990s. The goal was to merge the elements of surfing and windsurfing by using kites to harness wind power.
The major breakthrough came when they worked with the Neil Pryde company to produce a large kite with strong lines that could be used in windy conditions. The first kitesurfing patent was registered in 1998 by Cory Roeseler.
From that point, the sport developed rapidly, with new equipment, techniques, and styles emerging as kitesurfing spread worldwide.
What were some significant developments in kitesurfing’s early years?
Early developments in kitesurfing largely focused on equipment safety and innovations. In 1997, a safety release system was developed that allowed riders to release the control of the kite in dangerous situations. In the early 2000s, inflatable kites gained popularity over foil kites, since the former could stay buoyant on the water.
In 2003, kiteboarding became the first and only watersport to be adopted by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).
How has kitesurfing changed in recent years?
Over the past decade, kitesurfing has become more accessible and adaptable, allowing riders to perform more tricks and maneuvers. New kites and boards have been developed, catering to different playing styles and skill levels.
One major milestone was the inclusion of kitesurfing in the 2016 Summer Olympics, giving the sport and its athletes greater recognition and support.
Who are some of the most influential kitesurfers?
Many kitesurfers have contributed to the development of the sport through their innovation, creativity, and prowess. Some of the most influential names include:
– Robby Naish, an American windsurfer who started kitesurfing in the early 2000s and has become one of the most well-known names in the industry.
– Aaron Hadlow, a British kitesurfer who has won numerous world championships and is known for his progressive riding style.
– Bruno Sroka, a French kitesurfer who has completed some of the toughest ocean crossings in history, including the English Channel and the Sea of Japan.
Kitesurfing has come a long way since its early inception, evolving from a simple experiment to a worldwide phenomenon embraced by thrill-seekers and adventure enthusiasts. The sport’s history is marked by many milestones, innovations, and influential individuals who have shaped it into what it is today. As the sport continues to develop, we can only wait and see what exciting developments and innovations the future holds for kitesurfing.