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Kitesurfing as a family pastime

kitesurfing family www.kitesafe.orgHow Kitesurfing became a family pastime,
For years kitesurfing has had the reputation as being an extreme sport. This reputation was largely perpetuated by the pioneers themselves that experimented and discovered the limitations of their equipment through a series of adventures and misadventures that were quaintly referred to as “kitemares”. Kitemares are the often humorous anecdotes of bravado and naïveté, combined with hilarious prat falls and physical comedy of man at the mercy of the winds. These stories were the earliest form of kite-Lore, a series of scary bed-time fables that were supposed to keep you from doing stupid and reckless things. Once your were put into a sufficiently scared state of submissive anxiety. You were told the basic survival tips for kitesurfing. “Never let go” was an early one, from before the days of kite leashes. (This one was quickly abandoned because it put more people in trouble than it actually saved). And “the wind can kick your ass”, was another truism which still holds true to this day. However we now see that it is more accurate to say that you can “..easily kick your own butt using the wind”.

The Pioneers were extreme athletes,
The sport initially enjoyed the notoriety of being “extreme”, and the athletes at the developing edge of the sport were constantly trying to push out the limits of the sport in extreme ways, like speed kiting, riding monster waves, doing amazing feats of endurance kiteboarding, and such things. Early kitesurfers took a lot of risks and learned by trying new things and testing their limits. hard lessons were learned through trial and error. Out of necessity Kitesurfers adopted a tradition of learning from each other’s mistakes. It was by sharing their experiences that kept themselves from repeating each-others biggest mistakes. Through sharing their experiences they created a core of useful knowledge that improved the safety and benefited all. This shared knowledge has been passed down to us today in the form of the first proper kiteboarding lessons, and early teaching systems. Once the initial pioneering and discovery phase of the sport was over, better standards of equipment had emerged and safer techniques were established. The sport gradually started gaining a broader appeal, and eventually became more accessible to all.

Kiteboarding evolved into a sport,

All the while there was a growing number of participants (that comprised the growing majority) which desired to participate in the sport in a more approachable and sensible way. It was quickly recognized that anyone considering to get into the sport of kiteboarding should take lessons from a professional instructor. Schools and instruction developed over time, and became more widely available. With this being said, it could take months of struggling to master the basics in the early days, but over time the equipment and methods were improved to where many people could get the sport’s basics in about a week or two. Nowadays after 3 or 4 lessons an athletic water-savvy person might be up and getting some short runs, and have a basic grasp of the fundamentals. Over time kiteboarding equipment has steadily become cheaper and easier to use. More kite sizes have become available which meant that a wider range of people could now participate; bigger kites for heavy guys, and smaller kites for women and children. It seemed that Kiteboarding was becoming more mainstream. Kiteboarding gained wider popularity and appeal and we saw many windsurfing/surfing/sailing families adapting and crossing over to kitesurfing. Watersports industry has shifted its focus too: many windsurfing schools and surfing shops started recommending kitesurfing programs supporting kite schools, and started carrying kite equipment. And the nascent Kite clubs, Associations, and Competitions blossomed into a full-spectrum support infrastructure including professional competitions and internationally recognized kiteboard associations.

Kiteboarding became mainstream

Kiteboarding has quickly become a broad based legitimate  “mainstream” sport that now has has global appeal. Today kitesurfing is less of an extreme sport and would be better described as a “technical” sport. “Sure it can kick your ass, but so can dirt bike riding, or snowboarding”. “But now days we see kiteboarders as young as eight (maybe younger) and older ones over 65 years old. Now how extreme can that be?”.

Kiteboarding families, It is becoming increasingly common for families to get into kiteboarding together. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, generations participating side by side, and sharing their enjoyment of kitesurfing. More importantly it is the participants who are shaping the face of the sport, and making it a healthy pastime that they can share with their families and friends. We have surfing families, windsurfing families and now kitesurfing families. Kitesurfing is now becoming an inter-generational sport, and is something that parents can do with their children, and vice versa. this breaks down some of the age barriers that tend to stratify many extreme sports. kiteboarding is cool and extreme enough that the teenagers want to do it, and also approachable enough that older parents can learn it too. Parents who want younger kids to participate in kiteboarding should also learn the sport so that they can be a support to their younger kids. We recommend that parents learn first so that they can better appreciate the logistics and challenges, and better guide their kids through the learning process. Families can make up a co-dependent team, and the strongest family teams will have and confident accomplished kite-boarders at their core.

When to start?

Parents with young kids 3-4 years old can start to learn the sport today, so that when their kids are ready to begin at age 8 or so, that can do the sport together. We also recommend that kids go to properly trained instructors to learn the basics is a safe controlled manner. After they have masted the core skills with an instructor, the family can practice more safely together.