WHAT IS KITESURFING
What makes a kitesurfer work: The kitesurfer flies the kite across the wind to provide traction power through the lines to his kite-control-bar. The rider holds the control bar like a waterskier holds the ski-rope’s handle. the kitesurfer steers the kite by pulling the ends of the bar.Pulling left to fly the kite left, and pulling the right side of the bar to steer the kite to the right. The rider wears a harness and hooks into the kite bar’s harness line. The harness allows the rider to hold the power with the body instead of the arms. So the arms are more easily able to steer the kite. the harness also allows the rider to fly the kite with one hand. The rider has a board that looks like a wakeboard, (or a small surfboard). the rider steers the board by leaning the board with the feet (just like waterskiing or surfing). By steering the kite to different positions, the rider can sail himself across the wind in both directions, the same way that a sailboat can tack across the wind. A kitesurfer can sail towards the wind by making a series of tacks (zig zags) like a sailboarder. The kitesurfer has a big kite and very little weight of equipment, no heavy mast or rigging like a boat may have. So this makes the kiteboard equipment very light and fast.
| “The kitesurfer, flies forty feet in the air above huge bone crunching waves in Hawaii’s famous surf. He approaches the wave at blistering speed and launches himself from the crest of the oncoming wave. He leaps high into the air where he hangs effortlessly suspended from his wing and dances as gracefully as a bird, soaring and looping, he defies gravity until he softly descends, and challenges the next wave. Returning to shore he rides the wave with the agility of a surfer.
This aerial ballet is the manifestation of the new water sport of Kitesurfing. Kitesurfing is the synergistic offspring of windsurfing, wake boarding and paragliding. Kitesurfers control a wing of lightweight fabric, which pulls them across the water or above it. The sport is fast becoming the center of attention on the world water sports stage as pre-conceived limitations are regularly being shattered.”
EQUIPMENT available product and was awarded patents for its unique design. It was first released around 1986. The Legaignoux inflatable kite, took 15 years of development before becoming commercially available as the Wipika kite, released around 1996. The Wipika, was an instant success and quickly became the most popular system. The Wipika System came with fixed length lines, however reel-bar systems were sometimes used. The Legaignouxs’ were given several patents for their spherical kite, and bridal system. Now the vast majority of kites produced are manufactured under license, and derive from the Legaignoux concept.
Kitesurfing popularity has exploded in recent years and the equipment is now widely available and more sophisticated than ever. Kitesurfing now has well-organized events such as the Kitesurfing World Titles, and the World Cup of Kitesurfing. Kitesurfing instruction is also widely available through several networks of accredited schools. Kitesurfing associations, Internet newsgroups, and web-sites are growing. There are many good kitesurfing instructional videos and DVD’s available and a plethora of kitesurfing magazines too.
NAMES IN THE GAME
THE COST OF KITESURFING
LEARNING TO KITEBOARD
| Inflatable or Ram-Air?
When kitesurfing was evolving around the world, the pioneers used existing power kites (or traction kites) that were already available. these early traction kites were designed for sport flying and in some cases for para-carting (a buggy). While the designs were efficient, they were not designed for use on watercraft. They would not float and they did not relaunch very well. Newer designs have included water exclusion devices that make the kites float and are able to be relaunched more easily than before. When selecting a ram-air you should only chose ones that have all the modern features. Ram-airs are lighter than inflatables because they don’t carry PVC bladders, they have a very efficient shape with a flat profile which makes them very powerful for their size. They are often cheaper than inflatables. They are popular in some areas probably due to availability and marketing rather than performance. However at Action Beach Maui you may only see one or two ram-air kites amongst 30-40 inflatable kites. This is because in stronger winds, efficiency is measured less by power-to-size and more by relaunch-ability and stability. The ram-air shape relies on a steady wind to maintain its shape and is therefore susceptible to micro gusts and will invert and distort with very little provocation. For this reason Maui Kitesurfers overwhelmingly prefer Inflatable style kites. Ram-air design is converging with inflatable performance and may ultimately be the kite we prefer to use in extreme light air like on a mountain lake at high altitude. But for crash and burn in the surf give me my inflatable!.
| Directional or Bi-directional?
These days the kite board type you chose is usually determined by your previous boarding experience rather than the wind-range in your local riding area. The advent of larger bi-directional boards has extended their wind range into the lightest breezes and the development and availability of smaller more efficient directional boards gives them a virtually unlimited high-wind potential. Kitesurfers with wake-boarding and snow-boarding backgrounds will tend to gravitate toward the bi-directional style. Beginners can use footstraps and slipper style bindings on bi-directional boards. Bi-directional doesn’t mean that you have to have the full wake-board style bindings. Directional boards come in so many production sizes and constructions that there is a board for every body type and size. Directional boards are usually preferred by people with a surfing or windsurfing background. Directional boards require you to change your feet when jibing. Directionals use foot-straps in an inline or “Y” configuration, depending on their width. All boards should be used with a leash while learning, and when you use a leash, you should always use a helmet.
| Using Short Lines?
One of the most important choices for a kiteboarder is what length of kite lines to use. Using shorter lines when learning will create a much safer and easer system when learning. Shorter lines will give the kite less maximum power by reducing the distance it can travel. Also shorter lines allow the kite to steer faster with less lag-time, an give the rider a more responsive kite. This also gives better feedback to the rider. Short lines are easier to untangle, and need less room to maneuver. When using shorter lines, you can use a larger kite size. All the teaching systems recommend using short lines to their students. Generally a new kiteboarder will start on the shortest length, and then gradually increase their line-length as they become more proficient. Short line sets are available in 4m, 7m, 10m, 12m, 15m.
Multiple Line Lengths?
The Maui Kiteboarding Association
The United States Kitesurfing AssociationKITESURFING LESSONS/SCHOOLS
Kiteboarding FAQ, Q&A Page.
Action Sports Maui Kitesurfing School info Page.
No promises are made for the accuracy of the information in this page, or for any error or omission. Things change, Get training from a certified kiteboarding instructor. Read a lot, and Practice using your safety systems (carefully) in non-critical situations. Ride Safe!
First version posted 1997, Copyright © ; David Dorn, all rights reserved