Kiteboarding has a range of different styles which are outlined below. Many people start out riding freeride/freestyle with a twin-tip board, and then explore other styles of riding as their skills progress.
Freeride is anything that you want it to be and the most popular aspect of the sport in Australia. Most boards sold today are designed for freeride. They all look pretty similar in shape, but vary dramatically in width, length and depth. This enables a kitesurfer of any ability to take kitesurfing to which ever level they feel like. It’s about having fun. Australia has a great freeride scene and more then likely you can turn up to any good beach on a windy day and see another freerider out.
Freestyle is an extremely popular area of the sport. It use technical skills to perform big jumps, rotations, flips, grabs, and unhooking etc….
There are an endless number of freestyle moves of which the most advanced are handle passes (where you unhook from your harness and rotate your body while passing the bar behind your back at the same time). A smooth landing is the key to making a freestlye move.
Andy Yates hails from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and is the 2011 Freestyle World Champion – check out his riding in this video.
WAKSA runs a Freestyle State competition each year. Feel free to come along and watch the aerial exploits of some of WA’s best riders, you could even help out by volunteering.
Wave riding is explosive, fun, visually impressive and very addictive. The waves are ridden like surfing on a surfboard, but with the added versatility of the kite. Aerials and power tricks can be busted out using the power of the wave. Wave riders also have the option of riding strapped (with foot-straps) or strapless.
Wave riding is easy to get into because riders often begin by practising their balance and sharp turns on flat water before moving on to little waves and working their way up.
While some people use surfboards for kiting, as the popularity increased in the sport companies have developed ‘directional’ kiteboards and surfboards specifically for kiting. They are often shorter, smaller in volume, more rigid and reinforced compared to conventional surfboards.
Western Australia is one of the best wave kite surfing locations on the planet and it’s no surprise that our local talent is amongst the best in the world. Here’s a short video featuring one of WA’s best wave riders, Ryland Blakeney.
Course Racing and Hydrofoiling
Kiteboard course racing has been growing very quickly in popularity. In many ways it is similar to sailing racing. Course racing involves racing around a set course marked by buoys or flags. Courses will vary in length and are usually conducted in relatively flat water on the ocean or on rivers or bays. Kiters into course racing can use the same kite they use for other styles of riding or foil kites, which are much lighter than inflatable kites. The boards used for course racing however are often specifically designed for maximum speed and upwind pointing ability. They are much larger than normal freestyle or freeride twin tip boards to enable the rider to kite upwind in much lighter winds.
Big Air or Hangtime
The most awe inspiring side of the sport to the spectators. Big air is when the kite is used to do massive jumps and remain in the air as long as possible. The current hangtime record is 13 seconds and is held by Adam Koch. Waves are often used as ramps to boost big airs from.
Kickers and Sliders
A high adrenaline new discipline to kitesurfing. Ramps and rails are built and securely placed in the water. They are used to slide up or along and can be combined with freestyle.
If they are not kitesurfed correctly you can seriously harm yourself or damage your kit, so helments must be worn and you must unhook (without a leash) as you attempt them. This side of the sport is for advanced kitesurfers and is taking the sport in the direction of skateboarding.
Any of you who have witnessed kitesurfing know that kitesurfers can go pretty fast. Speed kiting is all about going the fastest in a straight line. The current world record is above 50 knots!
Control of both the board and kite under such speed is vital and wipeouts are extremely painful. Speed kiters wear extra padding to reduce impact from the wipeouts! Obviously speed kitesurfing needs powered up conditions, so force 4 and above is good.
Special equipment is required to reach these speeds – very narrow boards have been specifically developed for this discipline.