Imagine yourself riding the waves. Spinning and twirling in the vast expanse of the sea as a massive kite powers you and your board. If this gives you an adrenaline rush, then the dangerous yet exhilarating sport of kitesurfing is for you. Most of the kitesurfers have been windsurfing for a long time, so they understand the wind and how it acts under different conditions. Areas where kitesurfing is done usually have schools where you can take lessons before you embark on your journey as a kitesurfer.
Most of the sports have a history that goes into ancient times, but kitesurfing is a fairly young sport. While the ideas that created the sport were developed during the 19th century, kitesurfing became a sport in 1997. It has since seen developments to the equipment to make the sport more interesting and at the same time safe.
During the 19th century, George Pocock used the design of a kite and took it to the next level by increasing the size of the kite so that it can be used to propel carts on land and guide ships through the water. The kites are dependent on the wind and it is important to get it started by getting it off the ground. Once it hits the air, the kite uses the wind to direct the vehicle accelerating the speed of the vehicle as it advances.
Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise received the first patent for kitesurfing in 1977 but it did not lead to commercialization of the sport. While occasional attempts to kitesurfing were noticed in the 1980’s and 90’s. Two brothers, Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux of France patented the inflatable kite design in 1984. In 1996, Off of the Hawaiian coast of Maui, Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin displayed and popularized kitesurfing. The Legaignoux brothers sold the Wipika kite design in 1997 and since then, the kite designs have been continuously improved and licensed to many kite manufacturers.
The sport of kitesurfing became a mainstream sport since 1998. Approximately 1.5 million people enjoy the sport of kitesurfing today.
The versatility of the sport allows kitesurfers to use a variety of power kites to generate the power which is transferred through the kitesurfer to propel the board. Directional boards and wake boards are primarily used for this sport. Kitesurfing equipment is constantly evolving to include different board and kite options to increase the thrill of the sport and also to ensure the safety of the kitesurfer.
In addition to boards and kites, line and bars are used to control the kites. A harness around the waist or a vest-type harness helps spread the strain across the body instead of putting it on the hands.
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- Kitesurfers indulge in advanced moves once they have mastered the basics of kitesurfing. Professionals teach novice kitesurfers the skills that are needed to kitesurf like flying, landing, and how to use the equipment.
- Turning is one of the kitesurfing techniques which involves a certain amount of risk. As you turn, there is a possibility that the kite may swing you off the water and thrust you in the air. This may become uncontrollable in windy regions.
- Flying and jumping are also techniques that are considered very thrilling by kitesurfers. The kitesurfer flies with the kite performing different maneuvers in the air before they hit the water again. You have to be careful with the acts you perform in the air and make sure that you have a buffer zone when you want to jump back to the water.
- Board grabs are also performed by kitesurfers while they are jumping. The position in which the board is grabbed gives the grab its name. These board grabs are usually influenced by snowboarding and skateboarding.
Some of the best locations to enjoy the extreme sport of kitesurfing are:
- Cape Hatteras in North Carolina which provides open space and consistent winds for the sport enthusiasts.
- La Ventana, Baja California is loved by kitesurfers. The sparkling waters are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The coast provides perfect conditions for amateur kitesurfers as well as professionals.
- Maui, Hawaii is a kitesurfer’s paradise where you can find a lot of space for kitesurfing. It was also one of the stops on the Kite Surf Pro world tour in 2012.
- In South-East Asia, Boracay, Philippines has spectacular white beaches and provides a great spot for kitesurfing in South-East Asia.
- Nabq, Egypt provides an exotic location for kitesurfing. The climatic conditions are perfect for the sport all the year around. The winds are smooth and steady for a great kitesurfing experience.
The sport is quickly gaining popularity among extreme, sport enthusiasts and attempts are being made to achieve safety by developing equipment that will ensure minimal accidents. The community of kitesurfers increases by the day and there is hardly a reason for the sport to stay unnoticed with the amount of thrills it offers.