Although nowadays it is very common to learn how to kitesurf, this is a relatively new sport. Every aspiring kiter should know the history of kitesurfing. This knowledge will allow them to better dedicate their effort and time to a discipline that has been encouraging health and sport for several years now. Kitesurfing is more than a hobby, and here we explain why.
The beginnings of kitesurfing
Unlike other sports, kitesurfing has not been around for many years, so it is considered a relatively new discipline. And although it is only 20 years old, kitesurfing has already been commercialized to such an extent that it can compete with recognized disciplines such as swimming or synchronized swimming and you can find a kitesurfing school in Tarifa on every corner.
A forerunner of kitesurfing was George Pacock, an Englishman who was looking for a way to obtain alternative energy by propelling boats and small carts with the help of horses. He came up with the idea of using a kite to harness the wind. After several tests, he proved the effectiveness of this invention.
The inventor of kitesurfing
The history of kitesurfing stems from the idea of the Polynesians, Chinese and Indonesians who used kites for their fishing boats. Although, incredibly, it was not the Polynesians, Chinese and Indonesians who invented kitesurfing.
An American named Samuel Cody was the first to use kites for sailing, crossing the English Channel in 1903. Years later, in 1970, Englishman Peter Powel used a two-line kite and set it up in a delta shape to sail small boats. And seven years later, Hijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise, a Dutchman, was the one who changed the way of looking at kites, thus starting the kitesurfing beginnings.
The inventor of kitesurfing, he patented kite surfing as a sport, using a surfboard connected with a harness to a small parachute. However, it was not he who would take this idea to commercialization.
The first kitesurfing kite
It was in 1978, when the first kite that would establish the history of kitesurfing was manufactured. Dave Culp designed this kite with an inflatable leading edge. Later, in the 80’s, in France, Arnaud de Rosnay used a board with a kite, instead of using the traditional windsurfing sail. And at the same time, the Swiss Andreas Kuhn, created a hybrid of a paraglider with a ski.
In the 1980s, the Legaignoux brothers were in charge of designing kites. These Frenchmen were pioneers and promoters of this sport. But it was not until 10 years later that the first sale was achieved. More than 200 units were sold under the WipiCat brand, a record in the history of kitesurfing.
First marketing of kitesurfing equipment
According to the history of kitesurfing, the commercialization of kitesurfing started in 1997 by Neil Pryde. This man was also the manufacturer of Windsurf sails, so we can say that he already had experience.
Neil would then change the history of kitesurfing by commercializing the material and making it known as an interesting sport. With his great influence in the stores and sport spots, it is not strange that he managed to be successful, especially in Hawaii, today considered the land of surfers.
By 1998, licenses were already being sold to sell these kites, creating a whole kitesurfing market. And by the 2000s, there were stores all over the world specializing in these sporting goods.
Kitesurfing in the Olympics
The first Olympics in the history of kitesurfing was held in 1998, in Maui, Hawaii. Although it was a friendly event, it became known as the World Kitesurfing Championships. At that time it was just a few amateurs, but today, more than 25 kitesurfing celebrities participated in the first Olympics of the sport.
Although kitesurfing has gained popularity, it had not yet been included in the Olympic Games. Therefore, it is great news to know that for 2024, this modality will enter under the title of Kiteboarding, and that it will have both female and male participation. It is already a fact, so everything is being prepared to offer a great show to all those who have been following the history of kitesurfing since its beginnings.
I’m Sergio Turégano and I’ve been practicing kite for 10 years. Since I was little I was passionate about the sea and I started to jump into the water with boards since I can remember, I’ve tried body, surf and windsurf but kitesurfing is my passion. I was champion of the Kitesurf TT:R Open World Championship in 2017 and I have been runner-up of Spain in the Junior category. Now I dedicate my life to enjoy kitesurfing as much as I can and teach others how to practice this amazing sport in Tarifa. I love to write about it and share all my tricks, tips and secrets about the kite world.