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How Hard is Kite Surfing?

Updated on January 24, 2011

What is Kite Surfing?

Kite surfing is an extreme water sport which began in the 1980’s. It is also known
as kiteboarding. A large kite is attached to a surfboard while surfing on a large
body of water.


The wings for Kitesurfing was invented in 1984 by brothers Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux from Northwest France. The technology included an inflatable traction kite used to tow sailboats whose engines had given out. In 1995, in Hawaii, Manu
Bertin used the brother’s wings by request and thought of the idea to hitch a kite
to a surfboard.

Who Can Kite Surf?

A kite surfing instructor doesn’t require a person to have prior experience in any water sports. Kite surfing is taught to children as young as 12 years of old. An instructor will typically spend 4 hours to 10 days teaching a person to kite surf. A person is taught on land first and then in the water. Potential risks are strongly addressed.

A beginner will be required to go over at least an hour of safety guidelines with an instructor. Basic skills on how to control the board, and how to maneuver and balance will need to be learned. Launching and landing the kite is another task to conquer. “Self-Exit is the most important while kite surfing, and the number one reason people fail my course,” says John Holzhall, an experienced and certified kite surfing instructor at the Action Sports School in Hawaii. Self-exiting is a technique of slowing down the kite while in the water.

Advanced Safety

There are different levels of kite surfing, starting with beginner. The sport has
become safer due to the way the kites are designed with better gravity force,
advanced training and kite surfing schools, and improved safety release systems.
Kite surfing is also becoming more common at popular beaches like West Palm
Beach, Southern California beaches, and others around the United States. Kite
surfing is complex, in the sense you have to know how to surf and fly a kite

Realize the Dangers

Kite surfing is an extreme sport and there exists risks due to an over estimation of one’s abilities or the external environment. In 2002, a large-scale study conducted by W. Petersen, a researcher of kite surfing, showed that seven injuries occurred per 1,000 hours of kite surfing activity. The same study included the top four injuries were: inability to detach kite from harness (56%), foot and ankle (28%), head (14%), chest (13%), and knees (13%).

Bottom Line

Kite surfing is complex and technical,
in the sense you have to know how to surf and fly a kite simultaneously with
speed. There are kite surfing schools and certified kite surfing instructors
available to teach this extreme sport. Including learning two sports, you are
required to know how to swim beforehand. Kite surfing is a water sport and there
are risks involved. It’s also important one knows how to swim. Safety guidelines
and necessary training by a professional must be followed.

Kitesurfing: The Complete Guide; Boese, Spreckeles, Roberts; 2003


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