Kiteboarding: What You Need To Know About The Exciting Summer Sport
In times past, the wind and waves of the southernmost tip of Africa were something to be feared. To sail around the Cape was a badge of honour. These days, they present the perfect conditions for kiteboarding. Indeed, so perfect are the weather conditions in Cape Town from November to February (warm, sunny days and consistent, strong winds) that kiteboarders from all over the world flock to the region to make the most of it.
But what exactly is kiteboarding? The sport (also known as kitesurfing) is perhaps best described by what it is not: it is not windsurfing, surfing, wakeboarding or paragliding, yet it shares characteristics with all of these.
How It Works
Riders are harnessed to a large hand-controlled kite and make use of a board which might look similar to a surfboard or wakeboard depending on the riding style (Beginner, Freeride, Freestyle, Wakestyle, Wave Riding etc.) to glide across the water.
Although the above states the basics of the sport, the aim is to impress with finesse. Riders take water-gliding to the next level, harnessing nature’s engine to get literal air time. Riders can get up to a reportedly 15 metres of air.
According to Popular Mechanics, the key to kiteboarding is the relaunchable kite. Inflatable battens, or ‘ribs’ allow the kite to float when it crashes into the water, and its shape helps it side slide when one pulls on the kite’s control bar, slowly tipping its to catch wind. Riders also manipulate the control bar to work the kite back up into the air.
Where To Start
New advancements in kite-and-board technology, as well as numerous riding schools in Cape Town, has made the sport accessible to even those with zero board-riding or kite flying experience. (Check out Cabrinha Kiteboarding School, the largest kiteboarding school in Cape Town and is based in Big Bay.)
Check It Out
Interested to check it out? Why not watch a couple dozen of the planet’s most progressive kiteboarders test their mettle against each other at Kite Beach in Cape Town when Red Bull King of the Air returns in early February. With the world’s bets pulling in to the Mother City to test their gear and to train in the Western Cape’s ideal wind conditions. And of course, they come to compete.
Red Bull King of the Air features the most select group of riders, known as ‘big air’ specialists. The idea of this extreme kiteboarding contest is to see who can go the biggest, highest and furthest. It might not be anywhere near what you plan to with a kite and on a board, but action at Red Bull King of the Air will undoubtedly inspire you to try this epic sport. Think: the biggest tricks, the wildest winds and the top riders. Think kiteboarding to the nth degree.
See some of last year’s epic Red Bull King of the Air riders pull off some insane moves below: