Monthly Special Feature (June 2019)

New England Kite Surfing

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New England 

Kite Surfing


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. 


19th century

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.[1] The intention was to establish kitepower as an alternative to  horsepower, partly to avoid the hated "horse tax" that was levied at  that time.[2] 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[3] 

Late 20th century" width="220"/> 1984 patent of the Legaignoux brothers[4] 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[5] 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. 

Through the 1980s, there were occasionally successful attempts to combine kites with canoes, ice skates, snow skis,[6] water skis and roller skates

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.[7] Strasilla and his Swiss friend Andrea Kuhn used this invention also in  combination with surfboards and snowboards, grasskies and selfmade  buggies.[8] One of his patents describes in 1979 the first use of an inflatable kite design for kitesurfing.[9] 

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.[2][10]" 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.[2] 

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. 

21st century" 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.[11] 

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,[12] 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[13] 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[14] 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. 

Kitesurfing was named as an official event at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.[15] 

Jump records (height, length, time)

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.[16] 

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.[17] 

Speed records" 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.[18]  Earlier in the event, on 19 September, American Rob Douglas reached 49.84 knots (92.30 km/h),[19]  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.[20] 

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.[21] Sébastien Cattelan became the record holder of France and Europe with 55.49 and was the first rider to reach 55 knots.[22] 

On 13 November 2017, French rider Alex Caizergues [fr] became the new world speed record holder in France (Salin de Giraud) reaching 57.97 knots or 107.36 km/h. [23] 

Long distance

 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". 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". 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". 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". 7 July 2015.   Bruno Sroka covered 444 km (240 nmi) between France and Ireland on 19 July 2013 

Notable journeys

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 .[24] 

The previous longest recorded kite journey was by Eric Gramond who completed a 13-day trip of 1450 km along the coast of Brazil.[25] 

Bering Strait crossing

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.[26] 

Transatlantic crossing

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.[27] 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.[27] 


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. 

On land kiteboarding, a board shorter and lighter than mountain board or a foot steered buggy are used, including for sand (sandkiteboarding). It is a great cross-training for kitesurfing.[28] 

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[29] (pending review). The global market for kite gear sales was then worth US$250 million.[30]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.[31] 

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.[32] Technavio predicts a global kiteboarding equipment market reaching US$2,120 million by 2021, growing at a CAGR of almost 9% from 2017.[33] 


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[34].  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): 

  • The Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA), and the  Kiteboard Pro World Tour (KPWT), both of which promoted several  international competitions since 2002.
  • The Global Kitesports Association (GKA), which federates several industry stake holders.
  • The International Federation of Kitesports Organizations (IFKO), covering also land and snow kiting.
  • The World Kiteboarding League (WKL) which had promoted freestyle competitions in 2017.
  • The Kiteboarding Riders United (KRU) which is a union of the professional kiteboarders, since 2016.
  • The Kite Park League (KPL) which dedicates to international competitions in kiteboarding parks.
  • The World Sailing (WS), ex-International Sailing Federation,  which promotes sail and boating since 1907. Since 2008 the WS affiliates  the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) as its specialized  kiteboarding racing body.

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)[35]

Styles" width="40"/>This section's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better articles for suggestions. (August 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) 

Several different kitesurfing styles are evolving, some of which cross over.[36] 

Styles of kiteboarding, include freestyle, freeride, speed, course racing, wakestyle, big air, park, and surfing.[36] 

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    

  •" width="120"/>  Unhooked freestyle
  •" width="80"/>  Board Off hooked-in freestyle
  •" width="120"/>  Foiling with a kite
  •" width="120"/>  Wave-riding
  •" width="120"/>  Course racing
  •" width="90"/>  The Lüderitz Speed Challenge had set records

Techniques" width="50"/>This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (May 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) 

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: 

  • Turning, particularly the "heel turn jibe"
  • Controlled flying and jumping, the primary attractions of the sport
  • Board grabs, tricks performed while a rider is jumping or has gained  air from popping by grabbing the board in a number of positions with  either hand. Each grab has a different name dependent on which part of  the board is grabbed and with which hand grabs it. The names generally  originate from other board sports like skateboarding and snowboarding
  •" width="120"/>  Jumping
  •" width="120"/>  Big Air
  •" width="120"/>  Kiteboarder edging his board

The wind" width="220"/> The wind window 

Wind strength and kite sizes

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. 

Bow kites have a wider wind range than C-kites, so two kite sizes (such as 7 m²  and 12 m²) could form an effective quiver for winds ranging from 10 to  30+ knots for a 75 kg (165 lb) rider.[37] 

Wind direction and speed

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[38] 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. 

Apparent wind

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.[39] 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. 

Wind power, control lines and kite paths

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[40] 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. 

Wind window

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. 

Arbitrary atmosphere volume swept by the kite

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." 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. 

Air temperature and humidity

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   


Equipment" 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. 

Power kites" width="170"/> A LEI(R), Bow(L) and Foil(T) Power kites 

A power kite is available in two major forms: leading edge inflatables and foil kites

Leading edge inflatables" 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.[46] 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.[47]  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: 

  • They can become inverted and then not fly properly
  • They can be twitchy and not as stable
  • Heavier bar pressure makes them more tiring to fly
  • Lack of "sled boosting" effect when jumping[48]

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.[49] 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.[50] 

Foil kites" 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

Kite sizes

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). 

Other equipment" width="170"/> A kitesurfer uses a bar with lines to control the kite, attached to a harness, and can wear a wetsuit 

  • Flying lines are made of a strong material such as ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene,  to handle the dynamic load in unpredictable wind while maintaining a  small cross-sectional profile to minimize drag. They come in lengths  generally between seven and thirty-three meters. Experimentation with  line lengths is common in kiteboarding. The lines attach the rider's  control bar to the kite using attachment cords on the kite edges or its  bridle. Most power kites use a 3, 4 or 5-line configuration. Most control bars have 4 lines, 2 for most of the  propulsive power and 2 for steering and for control of the angle of  attack. The 5th line is used to aid in re-launching or to further  adjustment of the kite's angle of attack, mostly in C-kites.
  • The control bar is a solid metal or composite bar which  attaches to the kite via the lines. The rider holds on to this bar and  controls the kite by pulling at its ends, causing the kite to rotate  clockwise or counter-clockwise like a bicycle. Typically a chicken loop from the control bar is attached to a latch or hook on a spreader bar  on the rider's harness. Most bars also provide a quick-release  safety-system and a control strap to adjust the kite's minimum angle of attack.  Kite control bars, while lightweight and strong, are usually heavier  than water; "bar floats" made of foam may be fixed to the lines right  above the harness to keep the bar from sinking if lost in the water.  Control bars can be specific to a particular kite type and size and not  suitable for use with different kite types.
  • A kite harness comes in seat (with leg loops), waist, or vest  types. The harness together with a spreader bar attaches the rider to  the control bar. The harness reduces the strain of the kite's pull from  the rider's arms, spreading it across part of the rider's body. This  allows the rider to perform jumps and other tricks while remaining  attached to the kite via the control bar. Waist harnesses are the most  popular harnesses among advanced riders, although seat harnesses make it  possible to kitesurf with less effort from the rider, and vest  harnesses provide both flotation and impact protection. Kite harnesses  resemble windsurfing harnesses, but with different construction; a  windsurfing harness is likely to fail when used for kiteboarding." width="220"/> Twin tip kiteboard 

  • Kiteboard,[51] a small composite, wooden, or foam board. There are now several types  of kiteboards: directional surf-style boards, wakeboard-style boards,  hybrids which can go in either direction but are built to operate better  in one of them, and skim-type boards. Some riders also use standard  surfboards, or even long boards, although without foot straps much of  the high-jump capability of a kite is lost. Twin tip boards are the  easiest to learn on and are by far the most popular. The boards  generally come with sandal-type footstraps that allow the rider to  attach and detach from the board easily; this is required for doing  board-off tricks and jumps. Bindings are used mainly by the wakestyle  riders wishing to replicate wakeboarding tricks such as KGBs and other  pop initiated tricks. Kiteboards come in shapes and sizes to suit the  rider's skill level, riding style, wind and water conditions." width="220"/> Kitesurfers wearing dry suits on Long Island in winter when the air and water temperatures are near 0 °C (32 °F) 

  • A wetsuit is often worn by kitesurfers, except in warmer  conditions with light winds. When kitesurfing in strong winds, body heat  loss is reduced by wearing a wetsuit.  A "shortie" is worn to protect the torso only, and a full suit is used  for protection against cool conditions, from marine life such as jellyfish,  and also from abrasions if the rider is dragged by the kite. Neoprene  boots are required if the beach has much shellfish or hard rocks. Dry suits are also used to kitesurf in cold conditions in winter.
  • A safety hook knife is considered required equipment. The corrosion resistant stainless steel blade is partially protected by a curved plastic hook. It can be used to cut entangled or snagged kite lines,  or to release the kite if the safety release system fails. Some  kitesurfing harnesses are equipped with a small pocket for the knife.
  • A helmet is often worn by kitesurfers to protect the head from blunt trauma. Helmets prevent head lacerations, and can also reduce the severity of impact injuries to the head, as well as compression injuries to the neck and spine.
  • A personal flotation device or PFD may be required if the kitesurfer is using a boat or personal water craft for support. It is also recommended for kitesurfing in deep water in  case the kitesurfer becomes disabled and must wait for rescue.
  • An impact vest provides some protection against impacts to  the torso area. They also provide some flotation and preclude the  harness to climb the chest and hurt the ribs, during high power  maneuvers.
  • A board leash that attaches the board to the kitesurfer's leg or harness is used by  some riders. However, many kitesurfing schools discourage the use of  board leashes due to the risk of recoil, where the leash can yank the  board to impact the rider, which can result in serious injury or even  death. Generally, kitesurfers that use a board leash will also wear a  helmet to help protect against this.
  • Signaling devices are useful if the kitesurfer needs to be rescued. This may be as simple as a whistle attached to the