Originally defined as a light framework covered with cloth, plastic, or paper, designed to be flown in the wind at the end of a long string. In our case it is designed to provide traction to pull the rider on his board, skis or whatever. Its area is typically between 6 and 21 square meters and is controlled by a bar via 3 or 4 lines with which the angle of attack (power) and direction is varied.
Inflatable kite or LEI.
Actually, it's the bladder in the leading edge and a few struts which are inflated in this - the most common - type of kite. Their shape can be C (because looks like a C) or bow type (flatter, because supported by a bridle) and everything in between.
Foil (Ram Air).
Called so because its section is actually an airfoil as on airplane wings.
Categorised as well between C type (Peter Lynn) and bridled.
The latter ones are the ones we like at Nautikites, in particular those made by the German firm Flysurfer. They are quite similar to paragliders, with however closed cells preventing water to get inside.
Again many subdivisions, the main one being distinguishing the twintips from the directional. The twintips are the most popular because, being symmetrical (no fore or aft), they make changing directions pretty easy, whereas the directional boards, which look very much like surfboards oblige you to master either the gybe or riding toe-side. Flysurfer produces boards which in spite of being more main-stream than their kites are absolutely first class for any type of riding.
When you start, there are not many options for you to choose: after learning how to get on the board (water-start), you will be a pure down-wind rider, meaning you haven't learned the skills of gaining to the wind as on a sailboat and a lot of walking back to base one. This stage may be as short as one day, and as long as several weeks, but on average, less than a week of practice with the right conditions. Then when having learned how to change direction smoothely, you become a cruiser rider. Some are happy to remain in that class of riders. However, soon you will be itching to jump. It can take several years to manage most the tricks. You are also likely to enjoy wake and free style. Finally if all that doesn't pump enough adrenalin in your blood, or you have a surfing background, you are going to catch another variant of the kite-bug and ride the ocean waves. This is the ultimate as you can blend it with all the skills you acquired previously.
It is worth having a look at videos of Lenten, Mark Shinn, Chasta or Gisela Pulido (search the web for those names) to see the very best of what may be achieved in kiteboarding.
Once you've got nothing to prove in the above disciplines of kiteboarding, you may be tempted to try break speed records and be one of the few to go beyond the 50 knots barrier.
What is it all about ?
More and more people are discovering the thrills of kitesurfing. Once you've mastered the basics, you'll be totally addicted to this sport! All you need is a board that is 4 to 6 feet long and weighs between 2 to 5 kilos, a kite that folds down to rucksack size, the control bar, the kite lines and some wind.
Kiting has it all; there are flavours of surfing, paragliding, wakeboarding and windsurfing, snowboarding, buggying. Kites may drive anything that can support you: surfboards, twintips, skimboards, skateboards, buggies, skates, skis, etc... And for each discipline, you can chose the riding style which suits your prefernces best (cruising, waves, freestyle, speed, jumps, marathon...). Not to mention kite types.
Furthermore, it is practiced mostly in paradisiac places, beit in our Alps or remote tropical islands
Short glossary, biased of course...
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