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.