A Brief History of Kiteboarding

Kiteboarding might not be as old as some of the other water sports but it is growing at a rapid pace. Kiteboarding first came on the water sports scene in the 1980s. It was gaining prominence in France as well as Hawaii at that time. If you have been following it for some time, you will realize that some people call it kiteboarding whereas others call it kitesurfing. Most of the sports enthusiasts are actually confused as to what the exact name of the sport is.

What is the difference between kiteboarding and kitesurfing?

For the layman, these 2 are different names of the same sport. Even in conversations, you will notice that people use both of these names on an interchangeable basis. However, when you ask the professionals, they will disagree. The consequences of choosing any one of the 2 names for the sport are profound.

Before we go into the details, you have to first understand what this sport exactly is.

Definition of the sport:

In order to keep the argument simple, at this point in time, we will assume that both of these are the same. We will go into the differences of these 2 terms after discussing the definition.

Kiteboarding/kitesurfing involves riding a kiteboard on water which is propelled by the force of a kite.

How does kiteboarding differ from kitesurfing?

We will now analyze how a name change affects the sport.

The people who are in favor of calling the sport kiteboarding argue that the kite represents the sail due to which the board is propelled on water. Owing to this very reason, they believe that it should be considered as a winged sport.

This argument is further strengthened by the various aspects which play an important role in this sport like:

• Navigation based on wind direction

• Port and starboard sides of the board

• Tacking and jibing movements used

• Consideration of wind conditions for the sport

All of these aspects are similar in nature to the flight of a kite. This is one of the main reasons why people believe that it is an activity similar to windsurfing.

On the other hand, people who believe that it should be called kitesurfing argue that the surfboards which are used in this sport are the directional surfboards. They address these boards as kitesurfs. To their credit, up until the early 1990s, the sport was practiced with the help of sailboats rather than the kites.

Why does the choice of the sports name matter so much?

You might be thinking why the name of the sport is so important. This is because it will determine the category of sport in various global competitions.

Currently, it has been given recognition officially as kiteboarding which is under the jurisdiction of the World Sailing (WS). Should the name be changed to kitesurfing, it will fall under the jurisdiction of International Surfing Association (ISA).

There are quite a few sports enthusiasts who are not satisfied with the jurisdiction of this sport under World Sailing (WS). A considerable number of sports enthusiasts have a different point of view altogether. They think that there should be a separate jurisdiction for kite-based sports. These would include the sports which are related to kites irrespective of whether they are associated with land or water.

The problem with creating an entirely separate discipline for kite based sports is that there is no consensus on this either. There are quite a few existing disciplines like course racing and other speed-based sports which perfectly suit the term kiteboarding. On the other hand, the niche-based sports like waves, big air, Freestyle are more associated with kitesurfing.

When you look at the normal sports enthusiasts, who indulge in the sport for fun, you will realize that in most of the Western Hemisphere, the name kiteboarding is used. This includes countries like:

• France

• Argentina

• United States

• Czech Republic

• Canada

With that being said, the number of countries using the name kitesurfing is equally large as well. These include:

• India

• Russia

• Europe

• Brazil

• Oceania

Owing to this reason, there is no consensus even on the popular name of the sport. The reason for this is that the sport is so versatile that it combines different aspects from various sports like:

• Wakeboarding

• Surfing

• Sailing

• Snowboarding

• Paragliding

• Skateboarding

• Windsurfing

This is the exact reason why many of the sports enthusiasts are attracted to the sport. Unfortunately, due to this very reason, there is confusion over the name.

One thing is for sure, no matter, what name it is called by, it is pretty exciting and induces an adrenaline rush. It is equally challenging and provides you with the unique opportunity to experience high speed at the seas.

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