Reinventing kite surfing
Who invented kite surfing?
For me, the concept of kite surfing started on a windy field first sitting, and then standing on pieces of cardboard and skimming across the grass pulled downwind by a stack of Flexifoils. It wasn't more than a couple weeks later that we were trying it on the water with wakeboards.
It was 1986 and we were just making the bridge from skiing to wakeboarding, so when the winds came up and chopped the water, we pulled out the kites and kite boarded. None of us back then really had the appropriate kite equipment. We used 10 foot Flexifoils stacked 3-5 high, and the only wakeboards of quality were Skurfers. We could surf crossing the wind, but only by about 45 degrees.
After that, it was pretty quiet on the water. Cory Roeseler kite skied for a Toyota commercial, a couple kite boats came out in the mid '90s, Scott Aughenbaugh was single-handedly driving the sport on the beaches of Maui, and the X-Games gave a good try of producing a televised race, but the kiting industry never had the money or interest to support such a "satellite to sport kiting".
It wouldn't be until windsurfers finally made the leap that would rebirth modern kite surfing almost completely without knowledge of the sport kiting industry. It's funny, as I talked with some of the top surfers last week at the Wind 2000, I had to be careful to explain just what I meant when I described myself as a kite designer since 1988... "Yes kites, but there are different kinds of kites you see".
It's great to see the energy and playfulness of this "new" sport reflecting the antics that we in sport kiting experienced long ago. I see pictures in kite surfing magazines of people trying the same goofball stunts that we thought were so funny, and experimenting with the same eagerness. I even read a recent article explaining that you could actually stack 2 kites together... amazing!
So, who invented kite surfing? Many people, many times over, and a long time ago. But in my opinion this current sport of kite surfing came honestly from windsurfing enthusiasts and their industry with a subtle yet persistent nudging from the sport kite/traction kite world.
Bob Childs 2000