What is Kitesurfing (Kiteboarding)?


About Kitesurfing (Kiteboarding)

  • Invented: 1995
  • Founded By: Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise / Cory Roeseler
  • Highest Governing Body: International Kiteboarding Association/ World Sailing
  • Olympic Status: Will make Olympic debut in 2024 Paris Games

Kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding, is a sport that involves using a wind-powered kite and a board to move across a body of water. Despite surfing being in the name, athletes can spend a lot of time in the air instead of the water. This is why kitesurfers wear a harness that connects to a bar that leads to their kite. The sport was originally conceptualized and patented in 1977 by Gijsbertus Adrianus Panuise of the Netherlands, but nothing really came of it. It wasn’t until 1995 that the sport was introduced in its modern form by Cory Roeseler.

Since then, the sport has only gained in popularity. Competitions are usually organized by the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) or the Global Kitesports Association (GKA). As of 2017, World Sailing oversees both of these organizations and is recognized by other international groups as the highest governing body despite the IKA and GKA managing most details of the sport.


What is kitesurfing?

Kitesurfing is a sport that combines surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, and kites. An athlete is pulled along on their board by a large kite. The kite is propelled by the wind, allowing the kitesurfer to glide, jump, and fly over the water. This extreme sport is relatively young, but it has already garnered a lot of attention and variations. Kiteboarding can focus on anything from racing to tricks, affecting which governing body has jurisdiction over the competitions.

What are the best places to go kitesurfing?

Kitesurfing is a sport that offers tremendous views on the open water, so naturally, there are bound to be some particularly picturesque spots with quality conditions for kitesurfers. Some of the premier kitesurfing locations around the world include:

  • Cayman Islands
  • Fiji
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Hawaii
  • Brazil
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Safety Bay, Western Australia
  • Aitutaki, Cook Islands
  • The Baths
  • Necker Island
  • British Virgin Islands

What equipment do I need to go kitesurfing?

A kite with a control bar and lines, a harness, a board, a short kite leash, helmet, buoyancy aid, and a line cutter are all necessary pieces of equipment for kitesurfing. The first three are pretty self-explanatory, but the other items may not be as obvious. The leash connects your harness to the safety line, increasing the efficiency of the control bar. The helmet protects your head from impact, which is definitely a concern when moving so quickly and so high above the water. A buoyancy aid is anything that helps you stay afloat and can come in handy if assistance is needed to get back to shore. A line cutter is what you would use in an emergency if you needed to detach from your kite.