History of kitesurfing
This extreme sport can be attributed to the desire to find alternatives to horsepower in the 1800s. Samuel Cody, successfully managed to apply this theory of carrying a man for a desired distance when he developed the “man-lifting kite” in 1903 and crossed the English Channel in a small collapsible canvas boat powered by a kite.
These means of transport was explored more in the 1900s, but it wasn’t until 1977 that Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise received the first patent for Kite Surfing. What the patent specifies exactly is that it’s “a water sport using a floating board of a surfboard 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”. Many other alternative patents have been acquired during the 1990s making alterations to the kite, the way it is propelled and the boards.
In 1999 kitesurfing became a mainstream sport and water activity, standardizing the use of a single direction board as the kiteboard. As of 2001, the twin-tip bi-directional boards started taking the spotlight and are the most used to date on flat water conditions. It has come a long way and in the 2016 Rio Olympics it was almost introduced as the replacement of windsurfing, but by decision of the General Assembly of ISAF in 2012. This very well might prove that the two disciplines are still one in the same in many parts of the world, but in fact they have become to completely different sports. Kiteboarding sticks to activities that don’t include wave riding such as freestyle, wakestyle, speed and racing. On the other hand, kitesurfing would do so and this really gained strength when the KSP (Kite Surf Pro) held a tour in 2011. Despite this, it will be included in the Buenos Aires’ Youth Olympics of 2018.
Nowadays there are plenty of associations that organize and hold tournaments and regulate the sport. The most established ones are in Australia, Ireland and the UK. There are also many schools and events held yearly around the world. The International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) is currently the only kiteboarding class inside the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) considered in the development class. It has allowed a steady growth over the past years. Right now it has over 30 national kite class associations in over 65 countries. As part of the association they also have Professional Tour Operators, which are authorized to organize events for the IKA. There are 5: PKRA focusing on freestyle, course racing and wave riding events, KTE is the European Freestyle Championship Series that offers course racing events, KTA is the Asian Freestyle Championship Series which additionally offer alternative disciplines like Old School and Twin Tip Racing, and finally the KSP which offers a series of events in wave riding.
Kitesurfing in Florida
Florida seems like a perfect fit with over 1,350 miles of shoreline offering so much variety that it is perfect for any kite surfer, even for beginners. There are so many conditions that can make your experience a memorable one. From October to May come with some strong winds all over creating rideable waves all over Florida. In May and all through to September you’ll have to watch out for thermal winds. They can be tricky especially around sunset. There are plenty of places to go and find the perfect setting for kitesurfing like the Panhandle. There you can find a variety of launches both with waves and calmer waves all along the Gulf of Mexico. The Okaloosa Area is known for its sandy shallow waters with only a few waves. Finally, Panama City is another rideable area at times. You can expect anything from one-foot waves to twenty-foot ones. We can’t leave out the Tampa Bay Area, Southwest Florida, the Keys, Southeast Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Jupiter or also known as Juno and Northeast Florida. Again in each one you’ll find a great variety of beaches and shores sure to fill your expectations whether you’re just learning or you are an experienced rider. Some Florida-natives are great spokespeople for the sport and have really helped it grow and gain more momentum. Take for example Melissa Gil, a marine biologist, has always pursued her love for the ocean and in kitesurfing has excelled by breaking records and even becoming the world champion.