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Tip3: Some kitesurfing history

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  • cglazier@home.com
    excerpt from Peter Lynn s history of Kitesurfing http://www.peterlynnkites.co.nz/web/water/kshistory.htm George Pocock, the father of kite traction, made the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 28, 2000
      excerpt from Peter Lynn's history of Kitesurfing

      George Pocock, the father of kite traction, made the first recorded
      kite powered upwind course in a carriage pulled by his patented four
      line controllable kite systems on the back roads of Bristol, 170
      years ago. His intention was to establish kitepower as an alternative
      to horsepower, partly to avoid the hated "horse tax" that was levied
      at that time. George's system proved the principles of kite traction
      but wasn't even nearly practical. After George, kite traction
      progressed very little for 150 years, although showman/aviation
      pioneer Samuel Franklin Cody, kitesailed across the English channel
      in 1901.

      In the late 1970's, the development of high-tech flying lines (Kevlar
      then Spectra) and controllable kites with reasonable efficiency (like
      L/D ratio >3.0) made George's dream possible at last. But "possible"
      isn't the same as actually making it happen in any everyday
      practicable sense. By 1978, Ian Day's FlexiFoil kite powered Tornado
      catamaran had exceeded 40km/hr and through the 1980's there were
      sporadic and occasionally successful attempts to combine kites with
      canoes, ice skates, snow skis water ski's, roller skates, in fact
      with every conceivable thing that slid, rolled or wallowed across the
      face of the earth or sea. By 1988 there was an electric feeling
      amongst those of us working in the field, breakthroughs were
      obviously imminent and passionately sought. The first significant
      success came with the development of practical kite buggying (1990,
      at Argyle Park in Ashburton New Zealand) which rapidly became a
      worldwide sport (more than 14,000 of our buggies sold by 1999 plus a
      considerable number of other makes now.) and put a run on the board
      for me at last after so many years of fairly fruitless striving.

      Kites improved rapidly through the 1990's, driven largely by the
      considerable (and highly competitive) market provided by kite
      buggying but other development carried on almost independently
      towards what we now call kite surfing. Many people had, of course,
      tried using their kites while balancing on surfboards or windsurfers,
      but what seems so easy in hindsight was not at all easy at the time.
      If you think kitesurfing is difficult and crazy in 1999, let me
      assure you it was almost impossible and barely survivable in those
      early days; long sessions of intensely frustrating failure punctuated
      by occasional near death experiences! It wasn't possible to learn
      kitesurfing until the equipment existed but the equipment couldn't be
      designed until we knew how to use it- a circle that was only broken
      open by years of trial and error.

      ...the Roeseler's in Seattle and the Legagnoix's in France are the
      Wright brothers of recent kitesurfing history. Corey and Bill
      Roeseler from Seattle worked away for many years experimenting with
      kite powered sailing boats and buggies then struck success with their
      patented "KiteSki" system; water ski(s) and large delta style two
      line kites controlled via a bar mounted winch/brake. Bill is a Boeing
      Aerodynamicist (now working on the advanced fighter project) and his
      son Corey, also an engineer, is a world class water skier. Available
      commercially from 1994 the "KiteSki" has genuine water launch
      capability accomplished by winding the lines in until the nose of the
      kite is within reach then hand launching on very short lines (while
      lying back in the water) and letting the lines out under brake
      control until the kite is at full height...

      Bruno and Dominique Legagnoix from the Atlantic coast of France also
      put their lives and souls into making KiteSurfing practical, working
      at it full time from, I think, 1983. I first met them and tried out
      their breakthrough "WipiKa" kite design at a kitesailing regatta in
      Italy in 1995. They had a nicely set up sit-on hydrofoil trimaran
      with foot steering and an inflatable sort-of catamaran (the hulls
      were almost touching) which the operator sat or lay on, steering by
      weight balance. History will probably judge their kite design as THE
      breakthrough for kite surfing. WipiKa kites are single skin and semi -
      soft, their structure being blow up tubes of 100mm or more diameter
      around the leading edge and as spines. They can be used with two or
      four lines but are bridled mainly to the wingtips, reducing the
      chance of bridle tangles but currently at some minor cost to
      performance because of the extreme spanwise arch that this format
      demands. Their huge virtue is water re-launching, almost always
      possible without winding in provided that the wind is above a

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