In the 1800s, George Pocock used kites of increased size to propel carts on land and ships on the water, using a four-line control system – the same system in common use today. Both carts and boats were able to turn and sail upwind. The kites could be flown for sustained periods.[3] The intention was to establish kitepower as an alternative to horsepower, partly to avoid the hated “horse tax” that was levied at that time.[4] In 1903, aviation pioneer Samuel Cody developed “man-lifting kites” and succeeded in crossing the English Channel in a small collapsible canvas boat powered by a kite[5]

In the late 1970s, the development of Kevlar then Spectra flying lines and more controllable kites with improved efficiency contributed to practical kite traction. In 1978, Ian Day’s “FlexiFoil” kite-powered Tornado catamaran exceeded 40 km/h.

In October 1977 Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise (Netherlands) gets the first patent[6] for KiteSurfing. The patent covers, specifically, a water sport using a floating board of a surf board type where a pilot standing up on it is pulled by a wind catching device of a parachute type tied to his harness on a trapeze type belt. Although this patent did not result in any commercial interest, Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise could be considered as the originator of KiteSurfing.

Through the 1980s, there were occasionally successful attempts to combine kites with canoes, ice skates, snow skis,[7] water skis and roller skates.

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Dieter Strasilla from Germany developed parachute-skiing and later perfected a kiteskiing system using self made paragliders and a ball-socket swivel allowing the pilot to kitesail upwind and uphill but also to take off into the air at will.[8] Strasilla and his friend Andrea Kuhn/Switzerland used this invention also in combination with surfboards and Skurfs, grasskies and selfmade buggies. One of his patents describes in 1979 the first use of an inflatable kite design for kitesurfing.[9]

Two brothers, Bruno Legaignoux and Dominique Legaignoux, from the Atlantic coast of France, developed kites for kitesurfing in the late 1970s and early 1980s and patented an inflatable kite design in November 1984, a design that has been used by companies to develop their own products.

In 1990, practical kite buggying was pioneered by Peter Lynn at Argyle Park in Ashburton, New Zealand. Lynn coupled a three-wheeled buggy with a forerunner of the modern parafoil kite. Kite buggying proved to be very popular worldwide, with over 14,000 buggies sold up to 1999.

The development of modern day kitesurfing by the Roeselers in the USA and the Legaignoux in France carried on in parallel to buggying. Bill Roeseler, a Boeing aerodynamicist, and his son Cory Roeseler patented the “KiteSki” system which consisted of water skis powered by a two line delta style kite controlled via a bar mounted combined winch/brake. The KiteSki was commercially available in 1994. The kite had a rudimentary water launch capability and could go upwind. In 1995, Cory Roeseler visited Peter Lynn at New Zealand’s Lake Clearwater in the Ashburton Alpine Lakes area, demonstrating speed, balance and upwind angle on his ‘ski’. In the late 1990s, Cory’s ski evolved to a single board similar to a surfboard.[4]

In 1996, Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin were instrumental in demonstrating and popularising kitesurfing off the Hawaiian coast of Maui while in Florida Raphaël Baruch was experimenting riding windsurfing boards with various foil kites naming the sport kitesurfing.

In 1997, the Legaignoux brothers developed and sold the breakthrough “Wipika” kite design which had a structure of preformed inflatable tubes and a simple bridle system to the wingtips, both of which greatly assisted water re-launch. Bruno Legaignoux has continued to improve kite designs, including developing the bow kite design, which has been licensed to many kite manufacturers.

Kitesurfing in Fuerteventura

In 1997, specialized kite boards were developed by Raphaël Salles and Laurent Ness. By the end of 1998 kitesurfing had become an extreme sport, distributed and taught through a handful group of shops and schools worldwide. The first competition was held on Maui in September 1998 and won by Flash Austin.[4]

Starting in 1999, kitesurfing became a mainstream sport with the entry of key windsurfing manufacturers namely Naish and Neil Pryde. Single direction boards derived from windsurfing and surfing designs became the dominant form of kiteboard. From 2001 onwards, twin-tip bi-directional boards became more popular for most flat water riders, with directional boards still in use for surf conditions.

In May 2012, the course racing style of kitesurfing was announced as a sport for the 2016 Rio Olympics,[10] replacing windsurfing. However after a vote by the General Assembly of ISAF in November 2012 (in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland) the RSX windsurfer was reinstated for both Men and Women as there was confusion due to translation problems in the first vote (Later the Spanish Sailing Federation admitted their representative voted for kitesurfing by mistake)[11] Kitesurfing remains therefore a non-Olympic sport until 2020 at the earliest.

Speed records[edit]

French kitesurfer Sébastien Cattelan became the first sailor to break the 50 knots barrier by reaching 50.26 knots on 3 October 2008 at the Lüderitz Speed Challenge in Namibia. On 4 October, Alex Caizergues (also of France) broke this record with a 50.57 knots run. Similar speeds are reached by windsurfers in the same location by Anders Bringdal and Antoine Albeau, respectively 50.46 and 50.59 knots. These speeds are verified, but are still subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.[12] Earlier in the event, on 19 September, American Rob Douglas reached 49.84 knots (92.30 km/h),[13] becoming the first kitesurfer to establish an outright world record in speed sailing. Previously the record was held only by sailboats or windsurfers. Douglas also became the world’s third over-50 knots sailor, when on 8 September he made a 50.54 knots (93.60 km/h) run.[14]

The outright sailing speed record currently claimed by the French trimaran Hydroptère which, on 4 September 2009, reached a speed of 51.36 knots over 500 meters, and an amazing 50.17 over a nautical mile (1852 meters). Both records were set in open ocean, as opposed to the Lüderitz site that is basically a stretch of ultra-shallow water 8-15 centimeters deep. Hydroptère sails with amazing efficiency: the records were set in 25 to 30 knots of wind, as opposed to the 45-50 knots required by kitesurfers .[15]

On the 14th of November 2009, Alex Caizergues completed another run of 50.98 knots in Namibia.

October 2010, Rob Douglas became the outright record holder for the short distance 500 meters with 55.65 knots.[16] Sébastien Cattelan became the record holder of France and Europe with 55.49 and was the first rider to reach 55 knots.[17]

Distance records and notable journeys[edit]

It is possible to travel great distances on a kiteboard.

Kirsty Jones set a distance record for a kiteboard when she travelled 225 km (140 mi), crossing solo from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to TarfayaMorocco, in about nine hours on 13 May 2006.[18][19]

A record combination of distance and speed of 207 km in 5h 30m was set by Raphaël SallesMarc Blanc and Sylvain Maurain on July 24, 2007, between Saint-Tropez and Calvi, beating Manu Bertin‘s previous record of 6h 30m for the same journey. Their average speed was almost 38 km/h.[20]

Eric Gramond set the distance record when he went 419.9 km (226 Nm), crossing from Fortaleza to Parnaíba in Brazil during 24 hours on October 12, 2008.[21]

Natalie Clarke crossed Bass Strait from Stanley, Tasmania to Venus Bay, Victoria in Australia, a distance of 240 km, in 9 hours 30 minutes on March 22, 2010.[22][23]

In June/August 2010, an unofficial record of 2000 km was recorded by Louis Tapper in 23 days.[24]

The official 24-hour record for The longest kite surfing journey is 199.63 nautical miles (369.71 km; 229.73 statute miles) and was achieved by Phillip McCoy Midler (USA) who travelled from South Padre Island, Texas to Matagorda, Texas, USA, from 10 to 11 May 2010.

Governance[edit]

International Kiteboarding Organization</ref> The International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) is an International Class Association of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Its responsibility, amongst others, is to manage the global administration of the sport and combining world events into one united ranking.[25] A Executive Committee is on a regular basis re-appointed by the class AGM. The duties and responsabilites of the Executive Committee are: to take care of the day to day business of the association. To consider and coordinate submissions from the sub-committees. The Executive Committee elected amongst themselves: – Chairman: Richard Gowers (GBR) – Vice-chairman: Bruno De Wannemaeker (BEL) – Executive Secretary: Markus Schwendtner (GER) – Board members: Mirco Babini (ITA), Olivier Mouragues (FRA), Adam Szymanski (POL) and John Gomes (USA).

There are also national and regional kitesurfing associations in many countries.

Styles[edit]

Several different kitesurfing styles are evolving, some of which cross over.[1]

Style Description Similar sports
Freeride Freeride is anything that you want it to be and the most popular kitesurfing style. Most boards sold today are designed for freeride. It’s about having fun and learning new techniques. Twintip boards and kites with good relaunch and a wide wind range are commonly used.
Freestyle The kite and board are used to get big air (jumps) so that various tricks can be done while airborne. This style also used for competitive events and is free-format and “go anywhere”. Smaller twintip boards and kites with good boost and hangtime are used.
Wave-riding Wave riding (kitesurfing) in waves is a style that combines kiteboarding with surfing. Locations with a wave break are required. Most kitesurfers use a directional board (either with or without foot straps) that has enough flotation and good turning characteristics to surf the wave. Many kiters use a board that can be used for regular surfing too (with the foot straps removed). The kitesurfer follows the kite when riding the wave, so the pull of the kite is reduced. This style is popular with surfers since it resembles tow-in surfing. Some riders ride waves unhooked, and without foot straps. Surfingtow-in surfing
Wakestyle Tricks and aerials, using a wake-style board with bindings. May also include tricks and jumps involving ramps. Crossover from wakeboarding. Flat water is perfect for this style, and the use of big twintip boards with high rocker and wake booties is common. This style is commonly practiced by younger riders. Wakeboarding
Jumping Jumping, arguably a subset of Freeride, consists of jumping high to optionally perform tricks, sometimes also using kiteloops to get extra height. Often shorter lines and smaller kites are used in stronger wind. C-kites and twintip boards are commonly used.
Wakeskate Wakeskaters use a strapless twintip board, similar to skateboard. Flat water and other conditions similar to Wakestyle. Skateboarding
Course racing These are racing events – like a yacht race along a course, that involve both speed and tactics. Special purpose directional race boards with long fins are used. Some raceboards resemble windsurfing boards. The goal is to outperform other kiters and come first in the race. Windsurfing
Speed racing Speed racing is a style practiced at either formal race events or informally, usually with GPS units. Special purpose directional speed boards, or raceboards with long fins are used. The goal is travel at the maximum possible speed over 500 meters.

Techniques[edit]

Kitesurfing basics[edit]

This article contains instructions, advice, or how-to content. The purpose of Wikipedia is to present facts, not to train. Please help improve this article either by rewriting the how-to content or by moving it to WikiversityWikibooks or Wikivoyage (August 2010)

A kiteboarder at Lake Vernon, Ontario

Kitesurfers at Slufter beach on theMaasvlakte in Rotterdam

Kiteboarding can pose hazards to surfers, beachgoers, bystanders and others on the water. Many problems and dangers that may be encountered while learning kiting can be avoided or minimized by taking professional instruction through lesson centres. Kitesurfing schools provide courses and lessons to teach skills including kite launching, flying, landing, usage of the bar, lines and safety devices.

Turning[edit]

A beginner can turn by stopping or sinking backwards into the water,and then turning the kite in the opposite direction and starting again. A ‘heel turn jibe’ is a quicker,and more skillful turn that is executed by slowing down, flattening the board, then reversing the board flat on the water by bringing the rear foot around downwind to eventually become the new leading foot. The direction of the kite is then reversed, which swings the surfer’s path in a semi circle, centered on the kite. As the turn ends, the kite is flown over to be in front of the surfer again.[26]

A poorly executed turn will “fly” the surfer, and is often followed by a tumble if the surfer can’t put the board down at the right angle.

A careless turn in high winds can easily swing the rider into the air and result in an uncontrolled impact.

Controlled flying and jumping[edit]

Jumping

Big Air

Controlled flying is possible and is one of the biggest attractions of the sport. Before jumping, the surfer builds up tension in the lines by strongly edging the board. Then the kite is flown quickly to an overhead position, sometimes just as the surfer goes over a wave. As the kite begins to lift, the board edge is then ‘released’ and the rider becomes airborne. The kite is then piloted from overhead to the direction of travel. A large variety of maneuvers and tricks can be performed while jumping.

Jumping can be very risky, riders must keep a clear buffer zone downwind when attempting to jump.

Board grabs[edit]

Board grabs names

Board grabs are tricks performed while a rider is jumping or has gained air from popping by grabbing the board in a number of positions with either hand. Each grab has a different name dependent on which part of the board is grabbed and with which hand it is grabbed by. Rear hand grabs are known as CrailIndyTrindyTail,Tailfish, and Stalefish; while front hand grabs are known as SlobMuteSeatbeltMelonLien, and Nose. Names generally originate from other board sports likeskateboarding and snowboarding.

A number of grabs can also be combined into one trick. A rider may perform a tail grab going to indy by moving the rear hand from the back of the board to the middle of the toe side edge.

Assessing the wind[edit]

Wind strength and kite sizes[edit]

Kitesurfers change kite size and/or line length depending on wind strength—stronger winds call for a smaller kite to prevent overpower situations. Kitesurfers will determine the wind strength using either an anemometer or, more typically, visual clues as shown in the Beaufort scale.

All modern kites dedicated to kitesurfing provide a “depower” option to reduce the power in the kite. By using depower, the kite’s angle of attack to the wind is reduced, thereby catching less wind in the kite and reducing the power or pull.

Wind speed, rider experience and weight, board size, kite design and riding style are all interdependent and affect the choice of kite.

An experienced rider generally carries a ‘quiver’ of different sized kites appropriate for the wind speed range. A typical kite quiver might include 8 m², 10 m² and 12 m² traditional “C-kites”. Exact kite sizes will vary depending on rider weight and desired wind ranges.

Bow kites have a wider wind range than C-kites, so two kite sizes (such as 7 m² and 12 m²) could form an effective quiver for winds ranging from 10 to 30+ knots for a 75 kg (165 lbs) rider.[27]

Wind direction[edit]

Cross-shore and cross-onshore winds are the best for kiteboarding. Offshore winds pose the danger of being blown away from the shore in the event of equipment failure or loss of control. Offshore winds are suitable in a lake or when a safety boat is available, however they are generally more gusty. Direct onshore winds carry the risk of being thrown onto land, and are thus less favorable.

Locations[edit]

Main article: Kitesurfing locations

Kitesurfing in Noordwijk in the Netherlands

Kitesurfer on the Columbia River

Kitesurfers wearing dry suits on Long Island in winter when the air and water temperatures are near 0 °C (32 °F)

Any location with consistent, steady side-onshore winds (10 to 35+ knots), large open bodies of water and good launch areas is suitable for kitesurfing. Most kitesurfing takes place along ocean shores, usually off beaches, but it can also be practiced on large lakes and inlets and occasionally on rivers. Since kiteboarding relies heavily on favorable, consistent wind conditions, certain locations tend to become popular and sought out by kiteboarders.

Equipment[edit]

To kitesurf, a kite, board, harness, ropes,a surfboard,…

Power kites[edit]

Illustration of LEI(R), Bow(L) and Foil(T)Power kites

power kite is available in two major forms: leading edge inflatables and foil kites.

Leading edge inflatables[edit]

Leading edge inflatable kites, known also as inflatablesLEI kites or C-kites, are typically made from ripstop polyester with an inflatable plastic bladder that spans the front edge of the kite with separate smaller bladders that are perpendicular to the main bladder to form the chord or foil of the kite.[28] The inflated bladders give the kite its shape and also keep the kite floating once dropped in the water. LEIs are the most popular choice among kitesurfers thanks to their quicker and more direct response to the rider’s inputs, easy relaunchability once crashed into the water, and resilient nature. If an LEI kite hits the water or ground too hard or is subjected to substantial wave activity, bladders can burst or it can be torn apart.

In 2005, Bow kites (also known as flat LEI kites) were developed with features including a concave trailing edge, a shallower arc in planform, and frequently a bridle along the leading edge. These features allow the kite’s angle of attack to be altered more and thus adjust the amount of power being generated to a much greater degree than previous LEIs. These kites can be fully depowered, which is a significant safety feature. They can also cover a wider wind range than a comparable C-shaped kite. The ability to adjust the angle of attack also makes them easier to re-launch when lying front first on the water. Bow kites are popular with riders from beginner to advanced levels. Most LEI kite manufacturers developed a variation of the bow kite by 2006.

Early bow kites had some disadvantages compared to classic LEI kites:

  • They can become inverted and then not fly properly
  • They can be twitchy and not as stable
  • Heavier bar pressure makes them more tiring to fly
  • Lack of “sled boosting” effect when jumping[29]

In 2006, second generation flat LEI kites were developed which combine near total depower and easy, safe relaunch with higher performance, no performance penalties and reduced bar pressure. Called Hybrid or SLE kites (Supported Leading Edge), these kites are suitable for both beginners and experts.

In 2008, Naish introduced another kite design, with their “Sigma Series” of kites. These kites are a SLE design and feature a unique “bird in flight” shape with the center of the kite swept back to put much of the sail area behind the tow point, which Naish claims has multiple benefits.

In 2009, the performance revolution shows no sign of slowing. Bridled designs feel more like C kites, and five-line hybrids have better depower capability than ever before.[30] There are more than thirty companies manufacturing Leading edge inflatable kites. The delta-kites are growing in popularity since 2008 with around 12 companies offering delta-kites since 2008/2009.

Foil kites[edit]

Foil kites are also mostly fabric (ripstop nylon) with air pockets (air cells) to provide it with lift and a fixed bridle to maintain the kite’s arc-shape, similar to aparaglider. A depowerable foil kite can cover about the same wind range as two traditional C-shape LEI kite sizes, so the rider can use a smaller kite, giving a wider depower range, although the new LEI “bow” kites have a comparable wide range. Foil kites have the advantage of not needing to have bladders manually inflated, a process which, with an LEI, can take up to ten minutes. Foil kites are designed with either an open or closed cell configuration.

Open Cell[edit]

Open cell foils rely on a constant airflow against the inlet valves to stay inflated, but are generally impossible to relaunch if they hit the water, because they have no means of avoiding deflation, and quickly become soaked.

Closed Cell[edit]

Closed cell foils are almost identical to open cell foils except they are equipped with inlet valves to hold air in the chambers, thus keeping the kite inflated (or, at least, making the deflation extremely slow) even once in the water. Water relaunches with closed cell foil kites are simpler; a steady tug on the power lines typically allows them to take off again. An example for a closed cell kite is the Arc Kite.

Kite sizes[edit]

A kitesurfing kite at ExmouthDevon, England

Kites come in sizes ranging from 0.7 square meters to 21 square meters, or even larger. In general, the larger the surface area, the more power the kite has. Kite power is also directly linked to speed, and smaller kites can be flown faster in stronger winds. The kite size—wind speed curve tapers off, so going to a larger kite to reach lower wind ranges becomes futile at a wind speed of around eight knots. Kites come in a variety of designs. Some kites are more rectangular in shape; others have more tapered ends; each design determines the kite’s flying characteristics. ‘Aspect ratio’ is the ratio of span to length. High aspect ratios (ribbon-like kites) develop more power in lower wind speeds.

Seasoned kiteboarders will likely have three or more kite sizes which are needed to accommodate various wind levels, although bow kites may change this, as they present an enormous wind range; some advanced kiters use only one bow kite. Smaller kites are used by light riders, or in strong wind conditions; larger kites are used by heavier riders or in light wind conditions. Larger and smaller kiteboards have the same effect: with more available power a given rider can ride a smaller board. In general, however, most kiteboarders only need one board and one to three kites (7-12 sq m in size).

Other equipment[edit]

  • Flying lines are made of a very strong material, frequently ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, in order to handle the dynamic load in unpredictable wind while maintaining a small cross-sectional profile to minimize drag. They come in lengths generally between seven and thirty-three meters. Experimentation with line lengths is common in kiteboarding. The lines attach the rider’s control bar to the kite using attachment cords on the kite edges or its bridle. Most power kites use a 3, 4 or 5-line configuration. The 5th line is used to aid in lava re-launching or adjusting the kite’s angle of attack.
  • 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. Typically a chicken loop from the control bar is attached to a latch or hook on a spreader bar on the rider’s harness. Most bars also provide a quick-release safety-system and a control strap to adjust the kite’s angle of attack. While kite control bars are made intentionally light, they must also be very strong, and so are usually heavier than water; “bar floats” made of foam are generally fixed to the lines right above the harness to keep the bar from sinking if lost in the water. Control bars are usually specific to a particular kite type and size and are not usually suitable for use with different kite types.
  • kite harness comes in seat (with leg loops), waist or vest types. The harness together with a spreader bar attaches the rider to the control bar. By hooking in, the harness takes most of the strain of the kite’s pull off of the rider’s arms, and spreads it across a portion of his body. This allows the rider to do jumps and other tricks while remaining attached to the kite via the control bar. Waist harnesses are by far the most popular harnesses among advanced riders, although seat harnesses make it possible to kitesurf with less effort from the rider and vest harnesses provide both flotation and impact protection. Kite harnesses look similar to windsurfing harnesses, but are actually much different; a windsurfing harness used for kiteboarding is likely to break very quickly, which could result in injury and/or gear loss.

Kiteboard

  • Kiteboard,[31] a small composite, wooden, or foam board. There are now several types of kiteboards: directional surf-style boards, wakeboard-style boards, hybrids which can go in either direction but are built to operate better in one of them, and skim-type boards. Some riders also use standard surfboards, or even long boards, although without foot straps much of the high-jump capability of a kite is lost. Twin tip boards are the easiest to learn on and are by far the most popular. The boards generally come with sandle-type footstraps that allow the rider to attach and detach from the board easily; this is required for doing board-off tricks and jumps. Bindings are used mainly by the wakestyle riders wishing to replicate wakeboarding tricks such as KGBs and other pop initiated tricks. Kiteboards come in shapes and sizes to suit the rider’s skill level, riding style, wind and water conditions.

The equipment used can be seen on this kitesurfer at ExmouthDevon, England

  • wetsuit is often worn by kitesurfers, except in warmer conditions with light winds. When kitesurfing in strong winds, body heat loss is reduced by wearing awetsuit. A “shortie” is worn to protect the torso only, and a full suit is used for protection against cool conditions, from marine life such as jellyfish, and also from abrasions if the rider is dragged by the kite. Dry suits are also used to kitesurf in cold conditions in winter.
  • safety hook knife is considered required equipment. The corrosion resistant stainless steel blade is partially protected by a curved plastic hook. It can be used to cut entangled or snagged kite lines, or to release the kite if the safety release system fails. Some kitesurfing harnesses are equipped with a small pocket for the knife.
  • helmet is often worn by kitesurfers to protect the head from blunt traumaHelmets prevent head lacerations, and can also reduce the severity of impact injuries to the head, as well as compression injuries to the neck and spine.
  • personal flotation device or PFD may be required if the kitesurfer is using a boat or personal water craft for support. It is also recommended for kitesurfing in deep water in case the kitesurfer becomes disabled and must wait for rescue.
  • An impact vest provides some protection against impacts to the torso area. They can also provide some flotation.
  • board leash that attaches the board to the kitesurfer’s leg or harness is used by some riders. However, many kitesurfing schools discourage the use of board leashes due to the risk of recoil, where the leash can yank the board to impact the rider, which can result in serious injury or even death. Generally, kitesurfers that use a board leash will also wear a helmet to help protect against this.
  • buddy is important to help with launching and retrieving the kite, and to assist in an emergency.[32]
  • GPS can be used to measure distance travelled, tracks and speed during a session.[33]

Dangers and safety[edit]

Power kites are powerful enough to pull the rider like a boat in wakeboarding and to lift their users to diving heights. But a kite could become uncontrolled and that situation can be very dangerous; especially within a difficult environment. A kite can get out of control after the rider falling or in a sudden wind gust, which can happen more frequently due to excessively strong winds from squalls or storms (“collard”).

It is possible to be seriously injured after being lofted, dragged, carried off, blown downwind or dashed, resulting in a collision with hard objects including sand, buildings, terrain or power lines or even by hitting the water surface with sufficient speed or height (“kitemare”, a portmanteau of kite and nightmare). Adequate quality professional kiteboarding training, careful development of experience and consistent use of good judgement and safety gear should result in fewer problems in kiteboarding.

Aerology[edit]

Weather forecasting and awareness is the principal factor to safe kiteboarding. Lack of weather awareness and understanding figures in many of these cases, but avoiding weather problems is possible[34]Choice of inappropriate locations for kiteboarding where the wind passes over land creating wind shadow, rotor with pronounced gusts and lulls has also factored in many accidents.[35] Paying attention to the weather and staying within the limits of the riders ability will provide the safest experience.[36][37] Kitesurfing storm fronts can be particularly dangerous due to rapid changes in wind strength and direction.[38]

Aggravating factors[edit]

Lack of a sufficient downwind buffer distance between the kiter and hard objects has contributed to accidents reducing the available distance and time for reaction. Jumping and being airborne at inappropriate places such as shallow water or near fixed or floating objects can be hazardous. Collisions with wind surfers, other kite boarders or water craft are hazards, particularly at busy locations.

Solo kiteboarding has been a frequent contributing cause to accidents, kiteboarders should try to kite with friends and keep an eye on one another. A kitesurfer can get farther from shore than an easy swim, which is the primary reason kitesurfing in directly offshore winds is discouraged. Marine hazards include sharksjellyfishsea ottersdolphins, and even crocodiles, depending on the location. Drowning has been a factor in severe accidents as well and may have been avoided in some cases through the use of an appropriate flotation aid or impact vest and development of acceptable swimming skills.

Equipment[edit]

Some kite designs from late 2005 and onwards have included immediate and almost full depower integrated with the control bar and improved quick release mechanisms, both of which are making the sport much safer. However, lack of sufficient practice of emergency depowering the kite and going out in excessively strong or unstable weather can reduce the benefit of high depower kites. A safety knife is useful if lines become tangled and dangerous.

Statistics[edit]

Accidents can generate serious injuries or even be deadly. 105 accidents were reported in the Kiteboarding Safety Information Database between 2000 and September 2003, with 14 fatalities.[39] In South Africa between October 2003 and April 2004, 83% of search & rescue missions involving kitesurf were in offshore winds with the kite still attached to the harness, uncontrolled in strong winds or impossible to relaunch in weak winds. On 30 missions, there was no fatalities but five injuries : two had bone fractures after being hit by their boards, two others were suffering from critical hypothermia and exhaustion and the fifth was exhausted and lacerated.[40]

Advances in hybrid and bow kite designs leads to a better ability to control the power that they provide and effective safety release systems. [41] In USA around 2003, the fatality rate with 6 to 12 for 100’000 participants was higher than 4 to 5 in SCUBA diving (and much higher than the two Walkers), comparable to the 15 in Motor Vehicle Traffic, and much lower than all accidents with 56 or the 88 Paragliders.[42]Accidents are still happening; as of November 2012, 126 kite surfers have been killed in the last 10 years.[citation needed]


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