Kiteboarding is a sailing sport and consists in harnessing the power of the wind with a controllable kite while propelling across the water on a board, usually simmetric and similar to a wakeboard and called twin-tip board. Depending on used board, kiteboarding is called in different ways:
- if the board is a surf board, kiteboarding becomes Kitesurfing;
- if the board is a Hydro Foil board, kiteboarding becomes Kite Foil;
Anyway, it is common to call kitesurf or simply kite all kind of Kiteboarding.
On snow or ice, using a Kite a kite plus a snowboard or ski, this sport is called Snowkiting or Kite skiing or simply Snowkite.
Different styles on Kiteboarding
There are different kiteboarding styles that can be summarized as follow:
- Freestyle: a “free-format” that consists in using the board and the kite to get height enabling the kiter to do big jumps, rotations, board offs and other tricks;
- Surf Freestyle: a discipline which consists in realizing tricks with a kite and a surf-board without straps. Tricks include rotations, big airs and 360;
- Freeride: it is about having fun and learning new techniques;
- Speed: speed events and records using a special directional board longer and with bigger fins than a normal board;
- Formula Kite (Course racing): races along a course involving both speed and tactics;
- Kite Foil: doing kite with a hydro foil board;
- Slalom: it includes reaching starts, reaching courses, and obstacles to jump.
- Kite waves: surfing the waves with a directional board;
- Jumping / Big Air: it consists in boosting as high as possibile in the air;
- Wake-Style: it consist in doing tricks and aerials using a twin-tip board with bindings;
- Park riding: Park riding is very similar to wakestyle. Riders use wakeboarding obstacles to perform tricks on them.
Kiteboarding Classes (disciplines)
The International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) is the Kite Class Association of the World Sailing , recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the governing body of windsurfing, kiteboarding up to the America’s Cup.
IKA responsibility is to manage the global administration of kiteboarding and combining world events into one united ranking.
Kite Classes recognized by IKA are:
- Formula Kite (Course racing)
- Kite Foil Gold Cup
- Kite Expression: The Expression Disciplines currently include Freestyle, Big Air, Wave Riding, Strapless Freestyle and Park.
The basic equipment for kitesurfing consists of:
- Lines and Bar;
Kites can be of different sizes (common sizes go from 5 to 18 m2). Size to be used depends on the wind strength and on rider size of the rider. Anyway, the principle is: if the wind intensity increases, the size of the kite to be used should decrease.
Kites are available in two major forms: inflatable kites and foil kites.
The inflatable parts of inflatable kites , that need to be inflated with a pump, help to hold the shape and also allow the kite to float on the water and therefore be re-launched. For this reason they are usually used on the water. The inflable kites can have different: from C kites, named C kites due to their very curved shape forming a letter C, to bow kites, named box due to their flatter shape similar to an archers bow. Most of the kite manufacturers produce different kite shapes: bow kites are usually for freeride / all round, C kites are for freestyle / wakestyle (C kites have quick reactive turning and powerful turns however they have harder water re-launch and less depower than Bow).
Foil kites, similar to the paraglides , have air cells that inflate with the wind (they don’t need to be inflates with a pump). Foil kites are usually used on the land (for kite buggy) and on Snow (for Snow Kiting) and on the water by rders participating on races due to their hight performances.
The boards used are predominately symmetrical being the same whichever direction you are travelling in, similar to a wake board: these are called twin tips.
Even directional boards are used for kitesurfing:
- boards similar to surf are used, usually, when riding waves;
- Kite Foil board (or Hydrofoil Kiteboard or simply Foil ), a surfboard with a hydrofoil that lifts the board above the water surface. The Hydrofoil is something like a mini aeroplane, which is connected to a very long fin (called mast) under your kiteboard that once you get up to speed, lift you off the water and keep riding only on the submerged foil.
A large surface area of a board means less power needed to get it up and planning on the water. Usually, big boards are used in light winds or by beginners so they do not need so much power in the kite keeping it safer.
Bar and lines, Harness and other equipment
Lines , usually 4 or 5 and with a length between 15 and 30 m, are made of a very strong material. They connect the rider’s control bar to the kite.
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.
The harness attaches the rider to the kite through the lines.
Other accessories that are or can be required for kitesurfing are the pump (for inflatable kites), helmet, impact vest and wetsuit.
Learn to kitesurf
Kitesurfing takes its ideas from a whole range of other sports e.g wakeboarding and power kiting that give the main influences, snowboarding, windsurfing, surfing and paragliding.
People that pratice one of the before mentioned sports can pick up kitesurfing quickly improving, in the meantime, in the their other sport(s). Even people that never done any of the above mentioned sports can learn to kitesurf quickly: kitesurfing may look hard and complicated but is instead one of the easiest water sport to learn and has a very quick progression curve with many people being up and riding after just few hours of kite lessons.
Kitesurfing is an adrenaline sport, fun and not too hard to learn, and has a lot of health benefits health as we use our whole body: our legs are used to control the board and push against the power of the kite whereas our torso and arms are used to hold onto the kite and keep the balance.
If you like to learn to kitesurf, the best advice that KiteGeneration Kiteschool would like to give you is to attend a kitesurf course and to avoid the “do it yourself”. The reasons are:
- Kiteboarding can be a dangerous sport: Even that modern kites are equipped with many safety systems and are much more manageable than their ancestors, just an wrong weather evaluation or a wrong setting on kite can cause serious accidents to yourself and to the other people around you.
- Learn kiteboarding with the right gear is easier than to learn with a wrong one: In order to learn kiteboarding quickly is better to start to practice with a small kite and, only after becoming familiar with it, start with bigger kites. With the “do it yourself” is unthinkable to have kites of all sizes (they are very expensive), so you are forced to try immediately with a big kite without having a good understaing of it (dangerous!). Moreover, when you are learning, the kite often goes down and may break easily. Attending a kite course with a kiteschool you could discover, without buying all the necessary gear, if you really want to invest the time and the money that kiteboarding requires.