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07.8.2019 Jeff Raney

The History of Kitesurfing

From the late 1800’s to present, the invention of kites has evolved into creating the awesome sport of kitesurfing! 


The Beginning 

For thousands of years, the power of wind has been utilized by man for not only recreation, but for business, industry production and much more! Dating back to the Persians in A.D 500 and the Chinese in A.D. 1200, wind energy was used to power grain mills and water pumps. For recreational purposes, sail boats have been the first and most obvious example of making use of wind energy.


The invention of the kite has been claimed by the 5th-century BC Chinese philosophers Mozi and Lu Ban and by 549 AD, paper kites were certainly being flown. Then in the 1800’s, kites were being utilized by George Pocock to propel carts on land and ships on the water enabling them to sail upwind. In the late 1970’s, the development of Kevlar then Spectra flying lines and more controllable kites with improved efficiency contributed to practical kite traction. In 1978, Ian Day's "FlexiFoil" kite-powered Tornado catamaran exceeded 40 km/h.

The Birth of Kitesurfing

In October of 1977, a Netherlands man named, HOK3Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise, patented a water sport named KiteSurfing. But at the time, the patent did not result in any commercial interest. It wasn’t until the late 70’s and early 80’s that two brothers, Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux, from the Atlantic coast of France, developed kites for kitesurfing. They patented an inflatable kite design in November of 1984, a design that has been used by companies to develop their own products. In 1990, New Zealander Peter Lynn pioneered the 3 wheel kite buggy making it popular worldwide. The development of modern-day kitesurfing by the Roeselers in the U.S. and the Legaignoux in France carried on in parallel to buggying. Bill Roeseler and his son Cory Roeseler patented the "KiteSki" system which consisted of water skis powered by a two line delta style kite controlled via a bar mounted combined winch/brake. The KiteSki was commercially available in 1994. The kite had a rudimentary water launch capability and could go upwind. In 1995, Cory Roeseler visited Peter Lynn at New Zealand's Lake Clearwater in the Ashburton Alpine Lakes area, demonstrating speed, balance and upwind angle on his 'ski'. In the late 1990's, Cory's ski evolved to a single board similar to a surfboard.


In 1996-97, The Legaignoux brothers developed and sold the breakthrough "Wipika" kite design which had a structure of preformed inflatable tubes and a simple bridle system to the wingtips. Specialized kiteboards were developed by Raphaël Salles and Laurent Ness. To the frontline came the true pioneers of kitesurfing that include, and not limited to, water sport enthusiasts Laird Hamilton, Manu Bertin and Raphael Baruch. The extreme sport of kitesurfing has now become popular off the Hawaiian coast of Maui.  The first competition was held on Maui in September 1998 and won by Flash Austin. By 1999, Kitesurfing has become a mainstream sport!


In April of 2003, Jeff Raney began kitesurfing :)

21st Century 

In the 21st Century, men and women of all ages are kitesurfing in oceans, lakes, rivers and lagoons all around the world. The power of the kite is also included in other popular sports such as snowboarding, skiing and skateboarding, etc. And not to mention the much needed and improved safety aspects of kites now, harnessing to a kite back then was not nearly as safe which unfortunately led to many bad accidents and casualties.

Each and every year, the kites, kiteboards, bar and lines, harnesses and all the accessories that go with kitesurfing are improving! This extreme sport is now much safer than ever but every kiter must still remain humbled by the power of the kite and wind.



Now in 2019, Kitesurfing has evolved into almost unlimited options such as Inflatable kites and foil kites, twin tip boards and directional surfboards, Strapped and unstrapped riding and the ever growing popular foil boards.

Competitions are being held around the world that include contests for freestyle, wave riding, long distance racing, slalom course racing, and jumping heights. Nowadays, this sport is either referred to as kitesurfing, kiteboarding, kiting, kitefoiling or foiling. There are well known kiteboarding retreats all around the world with hotels, restaurants and kitesurfing schools accommodating to all kitesurfing enthusiasts and beginners.  

The Groove Impact 

Music has been used to inspire and help individuals for centuries.  Studies have shown that music can have a profound impact on an individual and can help them perform at a higher level.  Kitesurfing and music have never had a great opportunity to mesh together.  People have tried to wear headphones only to find them falling out and messing up their ride.  Groove Watersports has invented an impact vest that has integrated speakers.  The vest can protect Kitersurfers from hard falls and deliver loud and clear music during sessions.  The Groove Vest is launching in August!

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Published by Jeff Raney July 8, 2019
Jeff Raney