The History of KiteSurfing
By Jakob Jelling
KiteSurfing is by far the latest craze in extreme sports. The
idea of using a kite to enhance speed and gravity for the surfer
seems like a new and exhilarating challenge, yet the art of
KiteSurfing dates back to the 13th Century Chinese when it was
used as a simple mode of transportation.
KiteSailing, as it was known, was a medium that used the wind
as an aid to harness its momentum and energy to mobilize their
canoes across water. The earliest recorded history of KiteSailing
dates back to the early 12th Century.
In the 1800’s George Pocock took the basic kite design
to a whole new level by increasing the size of the overall kite
and used them as a sail to glide carts on land and ships on
the water. The designs of the kites were engineered with 4 lines,
the same setup being deployed today.
Both carts and boats were able to turn and sail upwind. The
wind would generate enough lift underneath the kite to raise
it off of the ground and powerful enough to sustain it for a
period of time.
These kites have been able to propel a man-made vehicle across
the ground, snow, ice and water. These kites are codependent
on the wind and its necessary to get off of the ground or water
to get them to fly. However, once the kite is in the air it
manufactures its own wind, which is proportionately faster and
creates a higher rate of speed for the vehicle.
Yet one issue still remains most of the earlier kites were deployed
from the land and off of the flat ground. Not on the water where
KiteSurfing takes place. In the 1980’s Wipika, Kiteski,
fOne, Concept Air, C-Quad, and Naish Kites marketed water launch
kites. These kites could be sailed again after falling short
of wind into the water.
In the late 1990’s off of the Hawaiian coast of Maui,
Laird Hamilton and Manu displayed the extreme sport opportunities
to radical surfers and wake boarders. Its popularity has since
skyrocketed as one of the fastest growing water sports in the
past two years.
Today there are organizations, competitions, videos and magazines
worldwide dedicated to this increasingly popular sport and the
thrills associated with it.