Kitesurfing is a sport which makes use of a kite to increase speed and defy gravity on the water. The art of kitesurfing is as old as the 13th century when kite sails were used by people as a mode of transportation, with boats using kites to pull them through the water.
Kitesurfing is a form of kiteboarding quite specific to wave riding. It uses standard surfboards or boards that have been specifically shaped for this purpose. The kiteboard used is made of composite wood or foam material. The boards are equipped with sandle-like straps which enable the rider to fasten their foot to the board and also allows to easily detach from the board. Some of the other equipment used for the sport are, wetsuit, helmet, personal flotation device, board leash, signaling devices, a buddy, and a GPS.
The kite system used consists of a kite, flying lines, a control bar, and a kite harness. The kites used come in different types and shapes.
Some of the common styles used in kiteboarding are, freeride, freestyle, wave-riding, wakestyle, jumping, wakeskate, course racing, and speed racing. Most styles are used only for recreation. Competitions usually involve freestyle, course racing and the speed racing styles.
The most popular kitesurfing style is freeride and in fact most of the boards that are currently in high demand are designed for freeride. In freestyle, the board and kite are used for big air jumps and different tricks are performed while still in air. Freestyle is popular in competitive events of kitesurfing.
Speed racing is practiced usually at formal race events along with GPS units. It requires exclusive directional speed boards or race boards that have long fins. The aim of speed racing is to travel at the maximum speed over a 500 meter distance.
Kiteboarding is very popular in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Europe. There are several regional and national level competitions conducted for the sport. Kiteboarding is currently not an Olympic sport but has been accepted to be a part of it from 2020.