Evolution of Kiteboarding

Wind direction

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

Kitesurfing in Noordwijk in the Netherlands            Kitesurfer on the Columbia River

Kitesurfers wearing dry suits on Long Island           Kitesurfing at Punta Paloma Beach,

in winter when the air and water temperatures       Tarifa, Spain

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 are 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

To kitesurf, some basic gear is needed:

Power kites

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

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

Leading edge inflatables

Leading edge inflatable kites, known also as inflatables, LEI 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. 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.

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