A Short Story of Kiteboarding
Also known as kitesurfing, This fairly newish water sport could be the blend of various elements and characteristics of other sports like surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, skateboarding, snowboarding and paragliding. An extreme sport easy to learn in which you must to hook yourself with a harness to a large kite powered by the wind and using a board similar to a wakeboard or to sail across the water. Unlike windsurfing, kitesurfers need minimum wind speed to get their wings up in the air.
Late 70s Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise a Dutch engineer received the first kitesurfing patent. A patent to cover specifically a water sport using a board like a surf board type where a pilot standing up on it is pulled by a wind catching device of a paraglide type tied to his harness on a trapeze type belt. Although this patent did not result in any commercial interest, Gijsbertus it is considered as the creator of kitesurfing.
Later on in the south of France, around early 80s, where brothers Bruno Legaignoux and Dominique Legaignoux, from the Atlantic coast of France started testing and trying the use of a two lines kite in water skiing. They used to hire Laird Hamilton who was one of the first watermen to test their kites. In the early 80s Hamilton discovered windsurfing, but he kept chasing his wildest dreams, hence he got involved with the 2 brothers. The waterman considered that while it was great to participate in the birth of kiteboarding, he would let others develop the products so that he can test them. and he once said: I love windsurfing and kiteboarding, but I will remain a surfer at heart.
Let´s move to talk about Mike Waltze. A surfer and cinematographer who was one of the first surfers to take on Jaws and to ride waves using ram air kites. At some point late 70s he met Peter Cabrinha and Robby Naish. Together they started sailing and brainstorming their ideas to merge surfing and windsurfing, that would take it to a fast paced period also revolutionising the wind sport. Years would go by and following his passion, Mike went on to win five world windsurfing titles in multiple divisions but still he would considered himself a surf man as he did not really mind what he was using to ride the waves.
In 1996, Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin were instrumental in demonstrating and popularising kitesurfing off the Hawaiian coast of Maui.
The Birth of Kitesurfing happened when Raphaël Baruch in Florida changed the name of the sport from flysurfing to kitesurfing. And like brothers Legaignoux Mike was trying different scenarios with Laird using 2 lines air kites but they faced similar problems to overcome, especially in the upwind and safety departments. Their gear development was in its early stages. The bar was too heavy, and having to rewind the lines on the bar was the trickiest thing, whenever the kite fell in the water.
It's worth mentioning that Mr Waltze company was commissioned in 2000 to produce the famous Red Bull King of the Air event.
Last but not least let´s talk about Lou Wainman, a key figure who also brought wakeboarding into kiteboarding. This top rider is one of the precursors of this incredible water sport and marked a trend due to his unique style, power and innovation. Currently, he has created his own brand of kites and boards, Wainman Hawaii.