If you've never kite surfed before – don’t lose heart… it's never too late to start kitesurfing.
Richard Branson had something to say about kite surfing when he kite surfed off Necker Island a couple of years ago. He started when he was 60 years old!
"To me it's the best sport in the world. You can start at eight and keep at it until 80. It’s not as expensive as you might think. You find friends to teach you, and it doesn’t take more than four hours to be up and away. You can share you kites with friends too……"
Sri Lanka has perfect, flat lagoons that are ideal for beginners and advanced riders. There are also International Kiteboarding Organization certified instructors who spend five fun hours teaching the rudiments of the sport to those who yearn to be professional kite surfers. Three days on – you are on the water – an exhilarating experience! Picture yourself racing across the water on a surfboard being towed by a large kite. Watch experienced kite surfers in action – where their body arcs to the flow of the wind. You will be skimming the waves, and flinging yourself up in gymnastic movements, forgetting yourself completely. Now, at this moment, it's your strength against 30+ knot winds! This is kite surfing at Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka.
Learning kitesurfing is no mystery. There is theory, and there is simulation on land. Next, the kite surfer learns the art of handling a kite and board in the water in addition to upwind body dragging along with the board, gently treading water, exercising the first steps of the water start. As with any learning experience there is training, feedback, learning the art of controlling speed and maintaining balance.
Kiteboarding is no ordinary kite flying experience. The first man lifting kite was developed by aviation pioneer Samuel Cody in 1903, who crossed the English Channel in a little canvas collapsible boat powered by a kite. Way after that, in 1984 – 1985, two brothers, Dominique and Bruno Legaignoux from Breton, France were recorded as the first to have invented an inflatable kite, the sort we use today. Not only did they demonstrate a prototype at the Brest International Speed Week, they also filed the first patent of the inflatable kite design in 1984.
Unknown to them, two other brilliant minds were at work across the ocean in Oregon, USA at around the same time, when Cory Roeseler sat with his father, Bill Roeseler and developed a Kiteski. The duo made the kiteski available commercially in 1994. Towards the end of the 1990’s the kiteski developed into a single board, akin to what we see today with Raphaël Salles and Laurent Ness developing specialized kiteboards that brought the various experiments into a fully fledged sport by the end of 1998. Maybe it's not an old sport, but human nature and the search for thrilling experiences ensures that kite surfing is here to stay.