Kiteboarding is an action sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, skateboarding and sailing into one extreme sport. A kiteboarder harnesses the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water, land, or snow.
Compared to the other sailing sports, kiteboarding is both among the less expensive (including equipment) and the more convenient. It is also unique in that it harvests the wind energy from a much larger atmosphere volume, comparing to sail size.
In the 1800s, George Pocock used kites of increased size to propel carts on land and ships on the water, using a four-line control system—the same system in common use today. Both carts and boats were able to turn and sail upwind. The kites could be flown for sustained periods. The intention was to establish kitepower as an alternative to horsepower, partly to avoid the hated "horse tax" that was levied at that time. In 1903, aviation pioneer Samuel Cody developed "man-lifting kites" and succeeded in crossing the English Channel in a small collapsible canvas boat powered by a kite
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c2/US4708078_fig_10.png/220px-US4708078_fig_10.png" width="220"/> 1984 patent of the Legaignoux brothers Peter Lynn lifting a kite in Dieppe, September 1988
In the late 1970s, the development of Kevlar then Spectra flying lines and more controllable kites with improved efficiency contributed to practical kite traction. In 1978, Ian Day's "FlexiFoil" kite-powered Tornado catamaran exceeded 40 km/h.
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. Although this patent did not result in any commercial interest, Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise could be considered as the originator of KiteSurfing.
Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Dieter Strasilla from Germany developed parachute-skiing and later perfected a kiteskiing system using self made paragliders and a ball-socket swivel allowing the pilot to sail upwind and uphill but also to take off into the air at will. Strasilla and his Swiss friend Andrea Kuhn used this invention also in combination with surfboards and snowboards, grasskies and selfmade buggies. One of his patents describes in 1979 the first use of an inflatable kite design for kitesurfing.
Two brothers, Bruno Legaignoux and Dominique Legaignoux, from the Atlantic coast of France, developed kites for kitesurfing in the late 1970s and early 1980s and patented an inflatable kite design in November 1984, a design that has been used by companies to develop their own products.
In 1990, practical kite buggying was pioneered by Peter Lynn at Argyle Park in Ashburton, New Zealand. Lynn coupled a three-wheeled buggy with a forerunner of the modern parafoil kite. Kite buggying proved to be popular worldwide, with over 14,000 buggies sold up to 1999.
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.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e0/Laird_Hamilton2.jpg/220px-Laird_Hamilton2.jpg" width="220"/> Laird Hamilton demonstrated kitesurfing in 1996
In 1996, Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin were instrumental in demonstrating and popularising kitesurfing off the Hawaiian coast of Maui while in Florida Raphaël Baruch changed the name of the sport from flysurfing to kitesurfing by starting and promoting the first commercial brand of the industry "Kitesurf".
In 1997, the Legaignoux brothers developed and sold the breakthrough "Wipika" kite design which had a structure of preformed inflatable tubes and a simple bridle system to the wingtips, both of which greatly assisted water re-launch. Bruno Legaignoux has continued to improve kite designs, including developing the bow kite design, which has been licensed to many kite manufacturers.
In 1997, specialized kite boards were developed by Raphaël Salles and Laurent Ness. 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.
Starting in 1999, kitesurfing became a mainstream sport with the entry of key windsurfing manufacturers namely Robby Naish and Neil Pryde. Single direction boards derived from windsurfing and surfing designs became the dominant form of kiteboard.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2d/Action_Sport_2_%282%29.png/220px-Action_Sport_2_%282%29.png" width="220"/> evolution of extreme sports
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.
From 2001 onwards, twin-tip bi-directional boards became more popular for most flat water riders, with directional boards still in use for surf conditions.
In May 2012, the course racing style of kitesurfing was announced as a sport for the 2016 Rio Olympics, replacing windsurfing. However, after a vote by the General Assembly of ISAF in November 2012 (in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland) the RSX windsurfer was reinstated for both Men and Women this was an unprecedented decision when the constituent members of ISAF overthrew a decision made by the ISAF Council Kitesurfing remains therefore a non-Olympic sport until 2020 at the earliest. The ISAF mid-year meeting of May 2013 proposed seeking an eleventh medal to include kitesurfing in 2020 at the same time there was a commitment made to retain the existing other 10 classes as they are for 2020 and even 2024 including the RSX windsurfer for men and women.
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.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a9/Alex_Caizergues.jpg/170px-Alex_Caizergues.jpg" width="170"/> Alex Caizergues [fr] averaged 57.97 knots or 107.36 km/h over a 500m distance on 13 November 2017
French kitesurfer Sébastien Cattelan [fr] became the first sailor to break the 50 knots barrier by reaching 50.26 knots on 3 October 2008 at the Lüderitz Speed Challenge in Namibia. On 4 October, Alex Caizergues [fr] (also of France) broke this record with a 50.57 knots run. Similar speeds are reached by windsurfers in the same location by Anders Bringdal and Antoine Albeau, respectively 50.46 and 50.59 knots. These speeds are verified, but are still subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. Earlier in the event, on 19 September, American Rob Douglas reached 49.84 knots (92.30 km/h), becoming the first kitesurfer to establish an outright world record in speed sailing. Previously the record was held only by sailboats or windsurfers. Douglas also became the world's third over-50 knots sailor, when on 8 September he made a 50.54 knots (93.60 km/h) run.
On 14 November 2009, Alex Caizergues completed another run of 50.98 knots in Namibia.
October 2010, Rob Douglas became the outright record holder for the short distance 500 meters with 55.65 knots. Sébastien Cattelan became the record holder of France and Europe with 55.49 and was the first rider to reach 55 knots.
Date length description reference 2006-05-13 225 km (121 nmi) Kirsty Jones, crossing solo from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to Tarfaya, Morocco, in about nine hours "Kirsty Jones Kiteboards from Lanzarote to Morocco". Windsurfing & kitesurfing travel. 2007-07-24 207 km (112 nmi) Raphaël Salles, Marc Blanc and Sylvain Maurain between Saint-Tropez and Calvi, Haute-Corse in 5h30 at 20 knots, beating Manu Bertin's previous record of 6h 30m for the same journey. "Long Distance between Saint Tropez and Calvi: 207 km in 5 h 30". M8 distribution Australia. 2008-10-12 419.9 km (226.7 nmi) Eric Gramond crossing from Fortaleza to Parnaíba in Brazil during 24 hours Eric Gramond (26 October 2008). "24h with kitesurf". Archived from the original on 24 August 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 2010-03-22 240 km (130 nmi) Natalie Clarke crossing Bass Strait from Stanley, Tasmania to Venus Bay, Victoria in Australia in 9h30 "Natalie Clarke kite crosses the Bass Strait in record time". SurferToday.com. 24 March 2010. 2010-05-10 369.71 km (199.63 nmi) Phillip Midler (USA) from South Padre Island, Texas to Matagorda, Texas "American Phil Midler Breaks Kiteboarding Long Distance World Record". The Kiteboarder. 13 May 2010. 2013-07-19 444 km (240 nmi) Bruno Sroka between Aber Wrac'h, France and Crosshaven, Ireland "Bruno Sroka completes kite cross between France and Ireland". SurferToday.com. 19 July 2013. 2013-09-18 569.5 km (307.5 nmi) Francisco Lufinha from Porto to Lagos, Portugal "Francisco Lufinha sets world record for the longest kitesurfing journey". SurferToday.com. 18 September 2013. 2015-07-07 874 km (472 nmi) Francisco Lufinha from Lisboa to Madeira "Kiteboarder Francisco Lufinha sails for 874 kilometers in the Atlantic Ocean". SurferToday.com. 7 July 2015. Bruno Sroka covered 444 km (240 nmi) between France and Ireland on 19 July 2013
Louis Tapper completed the longest recorded kite journey, completing 2000 km between Salvador and Sao Luis, Brazil. The journey was completed between July/August 2010 and took over 24 days of kitesurfing. This trip is also the longest solo journey, completed without support crew, using one kite and a 35-litre backpack .
The previous longest recorded kite journey was by Eric Gramond who completed a 13-day trip of 1450 km along the coast of Brazil.
Constantin Bisanz, a 41-year-old Austrian, crossed a 80 km (50 mi) stretch of the Bering Strait embarking from Wales, Alaska on August 12, 2011 at 4:00 am, and arriving in eastern most Russia two hours later, after which he returned by boat to Alaska. It occurred after 2 previously failed attempts, the first of which was on July 28, 2011, in which an incident occurred where he found himself floating in 36 °F water with no board, kite or GPS unit for 1 hour before being rescued. On his second attempt on August 2, he and two friends sailed half the distance before turning around due to poor wind conditions.
A team of six kitesurfers, Filippo van Hellenberg Hubar, Eric Pequeno, Max Blom, Camilla Ringvold, Ike Frans, and Dennis Gijsbers crossed the Atlantic ocean, from the Canary islands to the Turks and Caicos Islands a distance of about 5,600 km (3,500 mi), from 20 November 2013, to 17 December 2013. Each of the six spent four hours each day surfing, broken into two sessions of two hours each, one during the day, and the other during the night.
On water, a kiteboard, similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard, with or without footstraps or bindings, is used. Kitesurfing is a style of kiteboarding specific to wave riding, which uses standard surfboards or boards shaped specifically for the purpose.
Skis or snowboards are used in snow kiteboarding.
In 2012, the number of kitesurfers was estimated by the ISAF and IKA at 1.5 million persons worldwide (pending review). The global market for kite gear sales was then worth US$250 million.The Global Kitesports Association (GKA) estimates 10% of the kitesurfers continue during winter. After substantial growth, activity was levelling by 2017 at around 85.000 kites sold yearly by GKA members, twintip boards sales decreased from 37.000 in 2013 to 28.000 in 2016 and directional boards from 8.000 to 7.000.
The largest manufacturers are Boards and More (previously under the North brand, now Duotone) then Cabrinha (Neil Pryde) with 25-35,000 kites a year each. They are followed by Naish, F-One, Core kiteboarding, Slingshot sports, Liquid Force, Airush, Ozone Kites, Flysurfer then the others. The GKA recorded 100,000 kites sales in 2017 for its members, giving an estimated 140-150,000 total kites sales for 2017. Technavio predicts a global kiteboarding equipment market reaching US$2,120 million by 2021, growing at a CAGR of almost 9% from 2017.
International kiteboarding has several promoting organizations and has undergone many changes in the governance of the sport, including long lasting disputes between several of those entities, trying to negate each other the right to promote such sporting events. The significance of the associated economic activity could explain part of such turbulence, but the intense rate of innovation and of adoption made it difficult to conceive, regulate and formalize the new competitions, and offer opportunities for new players specializing in new variants of the sport.
Some of those international organizations are (or where):
Currently several world cup events are sanctioned by the WS on behalf of the International Olympic Committee.
KPWT exchanged endorsements with IKA in 2009. However, both become opposing parties since IKA also got an agreement with PKRA. IKA repeatedly threatened to ban riders which take part in competitions without its endorsement.
In 2015 PKRA was sold to a group of investors becoming Virgin Kitesurfing World Championships (VKWC).
The WS itself has split the governance of its own events between the GKA for the expression disciplines and the IKA for the racing disciplines. The GKA has then split the expression disciplines, choosing to run the Wave and Strapless Tour themselves, while ceding to the World Kiteboarding League to run the freestyle events and the Kite Park League to run the park events. The freestyle events where then handed to the Kiteboarding Riders United (KRU).
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Several different kitesurfing styles are evolving, some of which cross over.
Styles of kiteboarding, include freestyle, freeride, speed, course racing, wakestyle, big air, park, and surfing.
Description Similar sports Freeride Freeride is anything that you want it to be and the most popular kitesurfing style. Most boards sold today are designed for freeride. It's about having fun and learning new techniques. Twintip boards and kites with good relaunch and a wide wind range are commonly used. Freestyle The kite and board are used to get big air (jumps) so that various tricks can be done while airborne. This style also used for competitive events and is free-format and "go anywhere". Smaller twintip boards and kites with good boost and hangtime are used. Wave-riding Wave riding (kitesurfing) in waves is a style that combines kiteboarding with surfing. Locations with a wave break are required. Most kitesurfers use a directional board (either with or without foot straps) that has enough flotation and sufficient turning characteristics to surf the wave. Many kiters use a surfboard that can also be used for regular surfing (with the foot straps removed). The kitesurfer follows the kite when riding the wave, so the pull of the kite is reduced. This style is popular with surfers since it resembles tow-in surfing. Some riders ride waves unhooked, and without foot straps. Foot straps dictate the kitesurfer's foot position and how weight and pressure is applied to the board. Surfers (other than tow-in surfers) do not wear straps and are therefore free to move their feet and position their weight over a greater area of the board to match what is needed to flow with the wave. Kitesurfing using a board without foot straps is referred to as "riding strapless". This allows the kitesurfer's feet to move around the board for optimal performance. Kitesurfers using foot straps often use the power of the kite to position themselves on a wave and to control their board. That is, they rely on the kite for propulsion rather than the power of the wave to surf. Surfing, tow-in surfing Wakestyle Tricks and aerials, using a wake-style board with bindings. May also include tricks and jumps involving ramps. Crossover from wakeboarding. Flat water is perfect for this style, and the use of big twintip boards with high rocker and wake booties is common. This style is commonly practiced by younger riders. Wakeboarding Jumping or Airstyle Jumping, arguably a subset of Freeride, consists of jumping high to optionally perform tricks, sometimes also using kiteloops to get extra hang-time. Often shorter lines and smaller kites are used in stronger wind. C-kites and twintip boards are commonly used. An extension of this style is Big Air as pioneered by Ruben Lenten where riders go out in gale force conditions and perform high risk moves like kiteloops or more exactly megaloops — Wakeskate Wakeskaters use a strapless twintip board, similar to skateboard. Flat water and other conditions similar to Wakestyle. Skateboarding Course racing These are racing events - like a yacht race along a course, that involve both speed and tactics. Special purpose directional race boards with long fins are used. Some raceboards resemble windsurfing boards. Foilboards are also now used. The goal is to outperform other kiters and come first in the race. Windsurfing Speed racing Speed racing is a style practiced at either formal race events or informally, usually with GPS units. Special purpose directional speed boards, or raceboards with long fins are used. The goal is travel at the maximum possible speed over 500 meters. Park Riding Park riding resembles wakestyle. Riders use wakeboarding obstacles to perform tricks on them. Difficulty, execution and style
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Kiteboarding can pose hazards to surfers, beachgoers, bystanders and others on the water. Many problems and dangers that may be encountered while learning kiting can be avoided or minimized by taking professional instruction through lesson centers. Kitesurfing schools provide courses and lessons to teach skills including kite launching, flying, landing, usage of the bar, lines and safety devices. Basic skills include:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1e/Windvenster.jpg/220px-Windvenster.jpg" width="220"/> The wind window
Kitesurfers change kite size and/or line length depending on wind strength — stronger winds call for a smaller kite to prevent overpower situations. Kitesurfers will determine the wind strength using either an anemometer or, more typically, visual clues as shown in the Beaufort scale. Modern kites dedicated to kitesurfing provide a "depower" option to reduce the power in the kite. By using depower, the kite's angle of attack to the wind is reduced, thereby catching less wind in the kite and reducing the pull.
Cross-shore and cross-onshore winds are the best for unassisted kiteboarding. Direct onshore winds carry the risk of being thrown onto land or stuck in shallows. Direct offshore winds pose the danger of being blown away from the shore in the event of equipment failure or loss of control. However offshore winds can be quite suitable in confined waters, like in a lake or estuary, or when a safety boat is assisting.
The kiter must maintain a clear perception of the wind direction but also of the wind speed. The Beaufort scale is of great assistance in helping users assess the situation. A range of wind up to 33 knots covers the conditions for a safe practice for an experienced rider. A less experienced one should avoid riding with more than 15 knots. Most twintip boards and inflatable kites would be barely rideable below 11 knots, therefore for most cases a user should focus on the winds classified as moderate up to strong.
Even if there is no wind blowing, a kiter can act on the kite lines and force it to move, and then, like with a row, it generates some force resulting from the incidence of the air into the kite's surface. In a gentle breeze, if the user action increases the air speed around the kite 10 times, the generated force increases 100 times, since the wind force acting on a kite is proportional to the square of the wind speed acting on it. Thus the relevant notion of apparent wind, which is the actual wind acting on the moving kite, sail or wing.
The apparent wind is measured taking the moving kite as the reference frame, therefore its other name as relative wind. By opposition, the wind measured relatively to the ground is called true wind.
While the other wind sports can generate considerable apparent wind, their wind forces are limited by the movement of the user platform, since it is attached more or less rigidly to the wing or sail. In this aspect, kiteboarding seems unique among other wind sports, since it allows the user to generate apparent wind independently of the movement of the user platform, the board. For instance, in the initiating kiteboard technic called waterstart, while the user prepares to start in the water, the kite is sent aggressively, generating a propulsive impulse. Then the resulting movement of the board increases tension on the kite lines, which the user controls to manage the riding speed and to navigate at will. The composition of the movements of both the kite and the board, offer the user a great deal of navigation flexibility and creativity, including the possibility to jump significantly, making this a true 3-dimensional sport.
In some way all wind sports harvest the energy of the wind. The greater the volume of the atmosphere available to be harvested by the sails, the bigger the available energy to propel the users. As a taller sailing ship harvests more energy from the wind, so does a kiteboarder with longer lines. Compared to a kiteboarder, a windsurfer can extract a higher ratio of wind energy from the available atmosphere volume, but since such volume is much smaller, the resulting energy could be much less than in kiteboarding.
To increase the power, the kiteboarder typically navigates the kite along an S-shape path, increasing the harvesting of energy since it is traversing most of the atmosphere volume around him. This S-shaped movement is most common when the kiters need a moderate improvement of power. If the user needs an intense improvement of power, it loops the kite. Such loops are stronger when the loop radius is large, and traverses a larger atmosphere volume. The kite loop is an advanced practice, and its power can be quite dangerous. With most modern kites and control bars, to end a kite loop the user just pushes away or releases the bar.
Regarding the length of the lines connecting the kite to the user, longer lines allow the user to harvest wind energy in a larger volume. Due to the boundary layer effect longer lines also allow to harvest stronger winds higher up in the atmosphere. But longer lines make the kite slower to respond to the user actions on the control bar, since the lines form a more pronounced pring-like catenary. Therefore, kitesurfers, which need to react fast to incoming waves, tend to use shorter lines than the other kiters. For safety reasons the newcomers to the sport are usually trained with short lines, limitting the power build up.
The wind window is the 180 degree arc of the sky downwind of the rider in which the kite can be flown - roughly one fourth of a sphere's surface, which radius is the length of the lines. It is the atmosphere volume in which the kiter can navigate the kite to harvest wind energy.
If the rider is facing downwind on a surface, like the ocean, the wind window covers roughly all the area the rider can see, from the rider's peripheral vision on one side, along the horizon to the other side, and then directly overhead back to the first side. If the rider somehow puts the kite out of the window — for example, by riding downwind too quickly and sending the kite directly overhead and behind, the kite will stall and often fall out of the sky.
The eventual inefficiency of the kite can obviate for it to reach the edge of the wind window. In such cases the magnitude of the wind window can be reduced to as little as a 120 degree arc, instead of the expected 180 degree.
The wind window is centered in the user location. Since the user is carried by the board, the wind window is affected by the movement of the board. Therefore, the wind window rotates as the board moves and generates apparent wind into itself. For instance, when the kiter navigates perpendicular to the true wind at a speed equal to the true wind's, the apparent wind felt on the board increases 42% compared to the true wind, but rotates 45º against the movement. With such rotation, even if the user keeps the kite at the very edge of the wind window for trying to keep it pulling in the travelling direction, the kite lines would be at an angle of 45º downind of the board path, forcing the kiter to edge the board to oppose its tendency to slip downwind. Such board edging is an indispensable technique for navigating upwind, and can be made at a much more extreme angle to the kite lines, almost up to 90º.
The wind window rotation degrades the performance when riding fast in a path upwind. To minimize the wind window rotation and sail upwind as much as possible, the kiter should keep the slowest board speed without sinking the board by lack of hydrodynamic lift. High flotation boards like surfboards are preferable in such cases. Also, keeping the kite high in window, pulling up the user and the board, is quite efficient in coping both with the reduced hydrodynamic lift of the board and with the intended reduction of the board speed.
The kite is a peculiar sail because it can be swept arbitrarily through the atmosphere, usually in specific patterns, so the user can harvest a significant amount of wind energy, much larger than with an equivalent sail fixed to a mast.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/9/98/SweptVolumes.png/220px-SweptVolumes.png" width="220"/> The peculiar travel pattern of a kite, compared to a sail fixed to a mast as in windsurf
The kite and the lines are light, in the range between 2 and 4 kg, but the aerodynamic drag can be significant since the kite can travel much faster than a windsurf sail. Therefore, part of the energy harvested is spent in the movement of the kite itself, but the remainder propels the user and the board.
For instance, a user riding towards the beach rises the kite to slow it down and convert traction into lift. Then, instead of speed he feels an increase of the force upwards, necessary to keep himself above the breaking waves.
Another specific advantage of the kite being able to be swept at will, is that the user can take advantage of the atmosphere boundary layer, either rising the kite to harvest the stronger winds blowing in the higher zone of the wind window, or during overpowering gusts he can drive the kite low, skimming the water near the edge of the wind window.
Seasoned kiteboarders frequently attribute to moist and hotter air a notable reduction in kite performance. In fact the lift force of a kite is proportional to the air density. Since both the temperature and the relative humidity are important detrimental factors in the air density, the kiters subjective valuation is correct.
In the range between 10 °C and 40 °C a kite loses approximately 0.4% of lift per degree Celsius. It means that a kiter practicing one given day in the Baltic, and then travelling to the Mediterranean, could experience 10% less pull using the very same kite at the very same wind speed.
Any location with consistent, steady side-onshore winds (10 to 35+ knots), large open bodies of water and good launch areas is suitable for kitesurfing. Most kitesurfing takes place along ocean shores, usually off beaches, but it can also be practiced on large lakes and inlets and occasionally
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/10/Kitesurf-devices.jpg/220px-Kitesurf-devices.jpg" width="220"/> Most kitesurfing equipment: LEI Kite with bag and pump, twintip board and harness, plus floatation vest and helmet, lacking only the bar and lines
With the development of Internet markets for used goods, used but reliable kiteboarding equipment has become much less expensive, significantly reducing the barrier to the adoption of the sport. Moreover, the sport is utterly convenient regarding transportation and storage, since the kites are foldable and the boards are smaller than most surf and paddling boards.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/06/PowerSail_detail.JPG/170px-PowerSail_detail.JPG" width="170"/> A Leading edge inflatable kite
Leading edge inflatable kites, known also as inflatables, LEI kites, are typically made from ripstop polyester with an inflatable plastic bladder that spans the front edge of the kite with separate smaller bladders that are perpendicular to the main bladder to form the chord or foil of the kite. The inflated bladders give the kite its shape and also keep the kite floating once dropped in the water. LEIs are the most popular choice among kitesurfers thanks to their quicker and more direct response to the rider's inputs, easy relaunchability if crashed into the water and resilient nature. If an LEI kite hits the water or ground too hard or is subjected to substantial wave activity, bladders can burst or it can be torn apart.
In 2005, Bow kites (also known as flat LEI kites) were developed with features including a concave trailing edge, a shallower arc in planform, and a distinctive bridle with multiple attachment points along the leading edge. These features allow the kite's angle of attack to be altered more and thus adjust the amount of power being generated to a much greater degree than previous LEIs. These kites can be fully depowered, which is a significant safety feature. They can also cover a wider wind range than a comparable C-shaped kite. The ability to adjust the angle of attack also makes them easier to re-launch when lying front first on the water. Bow kites are popular with riders from beginner to advanced levels. Most LEI kite manufacturers developed a variation of the bow kite by 2006. Bow kites with a straight trailing edge are named ´delta´ kites, given their triangular outline.
Early bow kites had some disadvantages compared to classic LEI kites:
In 2006, second generation flat LEI kites were developed which combine near total depower and easy, safe relaunch with higher performance, no performance penalties and reduced bar pressure. Called Hybrid or SLE kites (Supported Leading Edge), these kites are suitable for both beginners and experts.
In 2008, Naish introduced another kite design, with their "Sigma Series" of kites. These kites are a SLE design and feature a unique "bird in flight" shape with the center of the kite swept back to put much of the sail area behind the tow point, which Naish claims has multiple benefits.
In 2009, the performance revolution shows no sign of slowing. Bridled designs feel more like C kites, and five-line hybrids have better depower capability than ever before. There are more than thirty companies manufacturing Leading edge inflatable kites. The delta-kites are growing in popularity since 2008 with around 12 companies offering delta-kites since 2008/2009.
Between 2009 and 2013 kite technology has continued to grow. Kites have become lighter, more durable, much easier to launch and safer. Manufacturers have continued to add new safety features. This has resulted in a growing number of new riders, both younger and older. In 2013, there are at least 20 "major" kite manufacturers, each with multiple models available. Many of the manufacturers are on their third or fourth generation of kites.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/26/LEIpowerKite.jpg/220px-LEIpowerKite.jpg" width="220"/> A Foil kite
Foil kites are also mostly fabric (ripstop nylon) with air pockets (air cells) to provide it with lift and a fixed bridle to maintain the kite's arc-shape, similar to a paraglider. Foil kites have the advantage of not needing to have bladders manually inflated, a process which, with an LEI, can take up to ten minutes. Foil kites are designed with either an open or closed cell configuration.
Open Cell Open cell foils rely on a constant airflow against the inlet valves to stay inflated, but are generally impossible to relaunch if they hit the water, because they have no means of avoiding deflation, and quickly become soaked. Closed Cell Closed cell foils are almost identical to open cell foils except they are equipped with inlet valves to hold air in the chambers, thus keeping the kite inflated (or, at least, making the deflation extremely slow) even once in the water. Water relaunches with closed cell foil kites are simpler; a steady tug on the power lines typically allows them to take off again. An example for a closed cell kite is the Arc Kite.
Kites come in sizes ranging from 0.7 square meters to 21 square meters, or even larger. In general, the larger the surface area, the more power the kite has. Kite power is also directly linked to speed, and smaller kites can be flown faster in stronger winds. The kite size—wind speed curve tapers off, so going to a larger kite to reach lower wind ranges becomes futile at a wind speed of around eight knots. Kites come in a variety of designs. Some kites are more rectangular in shape; others have more tapered ends; each design determines the kite's flying characteristics. 'Aspect ratio' is the ratio of span to length. High aspect ratios (ribbon-like kites) develop more power in lower wind speeds.
Seasoned kiteboarders will likely have three or more kite sizes which are needed to accommodate various wind levels, although bow kites may change this, as they present an enormous wind range; some advanced kiters use only one bow kite. Smaller kites are used by light riders, or in strong wind conditions; larger kites are used by heavier riders or in light wind conditions. Larger and smaller kiteboards have the same effect: with more available power a given rider can ride a smaller board. In general, however, most kiteboarders only need one board and one to three kites (7-12 sq m in size).
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/Happy-students-3_%28cropped%29.jpg/170px-Happy-students-3_%28cropped%29.jpg" width="170"/> A kitesurfer uses a bar with lines to control the kite, attached to a harness, and can wear a wetsuit
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/11/Kite-board.jpg/220px-Kite-board.jpg" width="220"/> Twin tip kiteboard
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/DrySuits.jpg/220px-DrySuits.jpg" width="220"/> Kitesurfers wearing dry suits on Long Island in winter when the air and water temperatures are near 0 °C (32 °F)
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