Our sport is just a bit over 20 years old, but what a rapid evolution it’s been through! Thanks to technical advancements and devoted souls, kitesurfing has gone from an awkward looking daredevil pastime to a graceful activity for the whole family on one side of the spectrum, to one of the most spectacular extreme sport on the planet on the other side.
1999 to 2009 was a decennium of exploration while the sport was still in its cradle. We saw an enormous evolution in kites, control bars, boards and riding styles – It was a true anything goes, blank canvas approach.
Progression has definitely slowed down since then, but even so, I’ve still seen quite a few noteworthy trends and dots on the evolutionary kite timeline since I started kiting in 2009.
These are my personal observations how kitesurfing as a sport evolved between 2010 and 2020 – blatantly obvious and minuscule alike.
- Twin tips got wider. Boards back in 2010 were rarely wider than 39cm.
- We said goodbye to boardshorts on top of our wetsuits. Thank god for that.
- Alex Pastor rode with boots in a PKRA heat and soon after literally everyone followed suit. A year later you could buy boots from pure kite brands rather than wakeboard brands.
- PKRA crashed and burned and left the freestyle circuit in a messy state that still hasn’t recovered. Or has it? Who cares about freestyle anyway?
- The rave went from technical, kite-low handle passes to the re-birth of KOTA and 25m megaloop board-offs.
- Wave kiting grew a lot and strapless boards became the norm.
- Cable riding, park riding, wakeboarding crossover kiting grew a lot.
- Kitesurf edits had a golden era around 2011 – 2014. So many good movies and short edits came out on a monthly basis. Then it stopped. Slick edits still come out, supported by better tech than ever. But it’s different somehow. Do you know what I mean?
- Ride Engine introduced hardshell harnesses and changed the harness industry.
- Open C hybrid kites became the golden middle path for do-it-all kites.
- Instagram and Youtube became the way to consume kitesurf media.
- Windguru and Windfinder got their butts kicked by Windy. Product design matters.
- Foilboards. Everywhere. And now with wings.
That’s it for now. What have you noticed? What do you think the next ten years hold for kitesurfing? Are we replacing kites with drones? Will we put foils on every type of board? Will all the freestyle talent move over to wake boarding where there is some decent sponsorship deals to be had?
Whatever happens, never forgot why you started riding in the first place – go out and enjoy the force of nature and let kiteboarding put a smile on your face for another decade 🙂