If extreme sports are your style, then you’ll love kitewing. This wing-shaped kite or sail, often shortened to “the wing” due to its shape, blends kite surfing and wind surfing with your skis, mountainboard, snowboard, skates, and more. A kitewing can even be used on water with a board that resembles the board used for surfing or kiteboarding. Basically, you’re using wind power to gain speed and lift.
Why is kitewing gaining in popularity?
Kitewing appeals to everyone ranging from the novice to the most experienced rider. In a mere half hour, beginners may learn to cruise, while more advanced athletes like to develop increasingly impressive tricks and jumps. Keen riders have been known to reach speeds of 100 km/h; on flat surfaces, their jumps have measured 5 metres high and 40 metres long. Such a combination of ease and challenge is drawing new fans daily from around the globe.
How did the kitewing start?
The first wingsail was designed in the late 1980s by ice surfer Sami Turna, assisted by Tapio Manner. It was originally called Skimbat and was intended for sailing on snow and ice. Over time, however, avid skiers and snowboarders discovered that they could sail uphill and perform amazing tricks and jumps. Soon enough, other athletes adapted the kitewing for summer use with a dirtsurfer, mountainboard, or in-line skates. And now, the newest design is aimed at water sports.
Initially produced by Tech Center Ltd, the wingsail found market success from 1988 to 1992. At that point, the technical design was improved and another company, Skywings Ltd, took over production. Subsequently, the company’s name evolved into Kitewing Sports Ltd. Over the last decade, the number of riders has grown rapidly, and dealers have popped up in over thirty countries.
How does kitewing compare to other traction gear?
It’s much easier to learn and master than kitesurfing or windsurfing. It’s much safer for spectators since no lines are involved, and it’s much safer for you because the wing is completely depowerable; you maintain direct control at all times. One kitewing covers two or three kite-sizes or four windsurfing sail sizes, and it doesn’t pull you sideways like a windsurfing sail does. Instead, the kitewing pulls you a bit upwards, so instead of carrying the sail, you’re actually pulling it down a bit.
How safe is kitewing?
As mentioned above, it’s safer than windsurfing – and also many other sports that require lines that may become tangled. The basics can be learned quickly, and because no lines are needed, it’s very safe to use in crowded arenas. Plus, you’re holding the wing directly in your hands rather than using a separate control system; this gives you more stability, control, and depower, which means that it’s much harder to be overrun in strong gusts of wind. To err on the cautious side, it’s best to wear safety equipment such as a helmet, elbow and knee pads, a back harness, and wrist guards.
Would a harness work well with a kitewing?
Absolutely! Nearly all types of kitesurfing or windsurfing harnesses will work well. Kitewing harness-lines are generally a tad longer than windsurfing lines, but the v-line is specific to kitewings.
What king of wing should I get?
That will depend on your abilities and weight as well as the windspeed and surface involved. You can choose dacron material, which is easy to pack by rolling it around the rig, or monofilm material, which feels more responsive because it doesn’t stretch. However, with monofilm, you must remove the sail from the rig whenever you are finished.
For your next holiday, consider kitewing. It offers an exciting adventure without an overdose of risk. It’s easy to learn and easy to advance, and the growing popularity means that now’s your chance to be a trendsetter.