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The past week we’ve been teased by light wind conditions. I’ve been spending time on my skim board powered by a 12m never struggling to stay upwind but witnessing fellow kiters not having fun. I took a good look at the conditions and saw my self 9 years ago riding in the same wind strength’s but reminded myself we rode on different kit. For sure, there would have been riders out wearing big grins on their faces as if we had all been introduced to something others just hadn’t discovered yet … what happened? where did everyone go? Downwind ?

Did the conditions change? Have the riders changed? Was it not fun anymore! Then i took note of the kit they were using ? Twintips no bigger than 140cm …

Now when I started, a 140 twintip was barely thought about and probably only for use strong winds. If it had been built the board still had more volume or thickness built into it than what the ones of today have to offer.

At the beginning, kitesurfing offered the same or more excitement than windsurfing due to its efficiency in sub 17 knot conditions and above. I owned one kite, a 6 ft directional until the wind got strong enough for freestyle windsurfing. Though this act only lasted for 6 weeks, before I put all of my windsurf kit to rest only to be replaced by 2 more kites. A rapid taste for stronger conditions!

As the months and years progressed and the addiction grew stronger us riders kept swapping our 6ft’s directionals for smaller more stealth like vehicles, swaying to twin tips some sporting the width of their stance. Like all walks off life we kept pushing the experiment.

This got me thinking … we’re forever experiencing evolving cycles within our sports! With the movement of surfboards & course racing now taking a good chunk of the limelight has everyone forgotten the first vehicles we rode on. Was it just staring us right in the face and we all got sucked in and blinded by the simplicity of the twin tip culture?

I asked myself a few more questions and here’s how I chose to answer them …

Has new Technology and materials dictated our progression and design?

The answer is possibly … it has! At the end of the day as soon as the sport reaches mainstream it’s about making the maths work to keep a company on its feet. So there will be compromise …

Idea’s and thoughts.

Recently we’re witnessing a few ideas for future boards for fun in lighter conditions … lets have a few examples …

  • Surfboards – many designs out there, but the more onshore design with a fuller nose seems to be the hot favourite. May be this is due to the early planning and more rounded qualities for carving and trimming.
  • Course boards –  weird and wonderful stuff out there, though I have to say ‘did anyone not just take a look at the latest windsurfer which had years of technology ahead of them …. And miniturise the design!’
  • Strapless foil boards – not for the faint hearted but apparently there’s a rider who can tack it …planing! juggling too 🙂
  • Skim boards – Do they just need to be thicker with rounded rails ( bit kinder on the shinns) with a touch more rocker …
  • Mutant (directional) wake skate – Recently i witnessed Martin Hogg’s new toy … He rides it well too! looks like a miniture, finless course board with no straps and slightly rounder rails … now there’s a thought?

All of this is great for the progression of the sport and is solid evidence that we are remembering a few basic roots of how the sport grew and where it came from but …

Have we had our heads above water?

Having witnessed the progression of design within several sports over the past 25 years, I do ask myself could we have made this journey a little smoother just by having a wider vision? Are those designs already out there and all we had to do was down size. Or were we too precious about keeping our individuality as kitesurfers, that we dug our heels in only to have to ride similar gogs of time. Easily done …

Whats for the future?

As do all sports! We will carry on exploring specialist corners for kitesurfing, but lets not forget our mainstream rider. Your weekend waterman who may just wish for a 4wd board for light winds …

The Kitesurfing industry may have forgotten about its light wind brother as did windsurfing and so did surfing when the short board was introduced in its early growth days. But are we experincing a full circle of growth and will it be long till we witness the manufacture of a freeride directional boards. Something that has more versatility than a course board.

May be  this could be the ticket to ride in light winds! Something that enables us to have fun again in 12 knots, wouldn’t that be great for a beginner. To have a board that is buoyant enough to support their body mass, allowing them to concentrate on their flying skills, assisting them in their quest to walking on water with smaller safer kites.

There is just one thing though … they’ll have to learn to gybe or tack … Ah! may be that was the sticking point? now there’s a whole new challenge and conversation piece … watch this space!

Thank you for reading my thoughts …


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