WHO INVENTED KITESURFING?

To give the title of “Inventor of Kitesurfing” to a single person might seem strange considering kites themselves were developed thousands of years ago in Asia and with Surfing going back as early as 1767 by the Polynesians in Tahiti and Hawaii. Here we will look into the origins and notable contributors of kitesurfing and attempt to answer the question of “who invented kitesurfing”.

British Explorers observed Polynesians possibly surfing as early as 1767

Power of The Wind

The harnessing power of the wind is nearly as old as civilization itself

Early on in the 1900th century, the use of kites to pull carts, wagons and boats was utilized for practical purposes by inventors such as George Pocock. Fast forward to the 2000th century we see continued diversity in kite or parachute pulled objects. Solomon Lee Van Meter Jr. invented the first backpack parachute in 1910 which has been used widely to save people from plummeting to their death from great heights such as air-crafts or cliffs. The use of kites and parachutes for sports was pioneered by Dieter Strasilla of Germany and in 1979 he patented the first known “inflatable kite” for use in water relaunches and rigid, light structure.

Dieter Strasilla, pioneer of parachute skiing and the first inflatable kite design

Who Invented Kitesurfing?

The Dutchman, Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise was the first to patent kitesurfing (1977). His patent described a trapeze or bosun’s style belt connected to a kite while standing on a surfboard styled floating board, meant to be pulled through the water. This however was just the rudimentary beginning of kitesurfing.

Who made Kitesurfing what it is today?

Dominique and Bruno Legaignoux with early kite designs

The two gentleman with the biggest contribution to kitesurfing would have to be the Legaignoux brothers of France. Beginning in 1984, they relentlessly drove the sport forward, developing their first inflatable kite design in November of that same year. While experimenting with kite pulled boats, kite pulled skiis they prototyped several methods for lines, harnesses, and kite shapes. With technological improvements in materials being made across the world, they were able to patent the famous Wipika kite in 1997. Some versions featured 2 lines with no depower which posed significant safety issues. Another variations include 4 lines with the bridal on the leading edge which made the sport significantly safer, therefore more marketable.

the Wipika kite

Kitesurfing as a Mainstream Sport

By the late 1990s and early 2000s, Kitesurfing was an international sport, with special kiteboards being designed by Raphaël Salles and Laurent Ness and Improved safety features being implemented by a growing industry. During the 2008 Namibian Luderitz Speed Challenge, Kitesurfing became the fastest windsport in the world by the Frenchman Alex Caizergues who reached a speed 50.57 knots (93.66kmph). Today we see Worldwide Kitesurfing associates such as GKA, hosting international competitive tours for many disciplines. Redbull has sponsored many events and professional riders bringing Kitesurfing to the competitive and popular level we see to this day.

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