What is Kite Surfing? (A Quick Guide)

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For some, ‘What is kite surfing?’ does not even ring a bell, yet for others, it is the center of their existence, and they create their lives around it! Whether you have observed it in reality on your most recent beach trip, through the Internet, or even in popular culture, it has undoubtedly triggered your curiosity. 


What are these men doing hanging in the air behind that enormous parachute? And how exactly are they doing it? Keep reading to find out.


What is Kite Surfing?

Kite Surfing Kite Surfer Lake Waves Kite Boarding


Kite surfing is an activity that occurs on the water surface, on boards that resemble wakeboards, with the surfer being driven by a kite that uses the wind’s force. Kite surfing utilizes similar equipment as kiteboarding but is often intended for riding on top of waves instead of smaller lakes and other calm bodies of water. The reputation of kite surfing has increased, even though it is difficult to master and potentially hazardous if not approached with caution.


The History Behind Kite Surfing

Person Parasailing Under Cloudy Sky


In the 19th century, early kite transportation trials were conducted, and towards the turn of the 20th century, Samuel Cody used kites and a small boat to sail across the English Channel. In the 1970s, kite technology evolved significantly, with kites being much easier to control and lines composed of Kevlar and Spectra being lighter and more durable than heavier kite string. 


However, kite surfing did not come into being until the late 1970s. More individuals began utilizing kites for personal transportation and recreation in this decade.


The first kite surfing was quite chaotic, but inventors worked to make it simpler to handle and safer. People started using kites alongside surfboards, water skis, and skurfboards. In 1994, the KiteSki, a product that combines a kite with water-skis, became commercially accessible. In the late 1990s, kite surfing became more popular off the coasts of Maui, France, and the rest of the globe.


But wait, there’s more: Bruno Legainoux and Dominique, two Frenchmen who were very influential in the 20th century and had a patent for an inflatable design, introduced the Wipika design in 1997. This inflatable kite was designed exclusively for kite surfing and was developed to simplify relaunch from the water. It helped launch kite surfing into the public, and a year later, kite surfing was widely recognized as a sport with a variety of commercially accessible equipment.


How Kite Surfing Works

Male Kite Surfer on Water


After a fall, the kite may be blown away and drag the surfer underwater at tremendous speeds, perhaps causing him to collide with solid objects. Due to the high speeds and the inherent risks of kite lines that may get twisted or caught up in heavy winds, it is typically advised that aspiring kite surfers attend at least a few foundational sessions to understand the basics. It is essential to have devices for detaching kite lines and a knife for cutting lines in an emergency.


Kitesurfing’s ability for awe-inspiring stunts is one of its primary attractions. The kite enables the surfer to enjoy massive jumps, soaring through the air for great distances before landing in the water under control. Like skating, kite surfing involves a series of board grabs, with intricate feats made feasible by the surfer’s extended time in the air.


Equipment Needed for Kitesurfing


As mentioned before, kitesurfing is not possible without the necessary equipment. Here, we will discuss the various kites, harnesses, boards, and other equipment used. Continue reading to learn more about the equipment that allows kitesurfers to sail in the water.




The kite is the most important component in Kitesurfing. It is often the first item of kitesurfing equipment that catches your eye when you look at a beach. The sizes and forms of the kites vary according to the wind power, your skill level, weight, and the profession you’re practicing. 


Whenever you see a kite on the sea, you may observe a number on its canopy that represents its size in square meters. Typically kites range in size from 5 to 18 m2.


Types of Kites


Since the start of Kitesurfing, there have been several kite modifications. LEI and Foil are the two most common kite categories.


LEI (Leading Edge Inflatable) Kite

Kite Kite Surfing Stunt Kite Water Sports Surfing


It is a single-skin kite with a structure provided by inflatable bladders. LEI kites are normally controlled using a control bar with two (old school), four (most popular and contemporary), or five (C-Kites) lines.


LEI kites are the most popular for kite surfing because they are excellent water kites. As a result of the kite’s inflated bladders, it floats on the water’s surface. Compared to foil kites, LEI kites remain on the water indefinitely and can be relaunched with moderate ease.


It is largely the result of the Legaignoux brothers’ patented creation of the inflatable kite. LEI kites are simpler to fly, relaunch more rapidly, and more stable in strong winds than foil kites. There are four distinct types of inflatable kites: bow kites, C-kites, delta kites, and hybrid kites.


Foil kites (ARC, Bridled)

Kite Surfing Bali Sanur Aquatics Action Wind


In contrast to LEI kites, foil kites lack inflatable bladders and instead use either open or closed air cells that form themselves in response to the incoming wind. If the kite is put into the water, the air cells may fill with water, causing it to sink. It is why foils with valves are used for water practice.


Nevertheless, foil kites are the most productive design since they can produce far more power and fly in a breeze than LEI kites while being more difficult to control. Like LEI kites, you maneuver the kite using a control bar attached to control lines.


The form is the simplest and fastest method to differentiate a foil kite from an LEI kite. Foil kites have a significantly larger aspect ratio (the ratio between the kite’s surface area and its span), making them seem much longer and thinner, much like a paragliding wing.


Final Word


Kite surfing is a great activity that everyone should participate in! After reading the whole article, we hope you understand what kite surfing is and will share your enthusiasm for kitesurfing.

Dawn Seagull

Dawn Seagull

We all know surfing is life! The thing is you sometimes need better info to catch the good wave or the best wind.
So I want to share what I found from years on the waves - with or without the kite.

About Me

We all know surfing is life! The thing is you sometimes need better info to catch the good wave or the best wind.
So I want to share what I found from years on the waves – with or without the kite.

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