The Extreme Sport of Kite Surfing

If you are looking for an adrenaline rush that will have the wind pressed up against your face as you catch some serious air, than kite surfing may be for you.  One of the best places to try out this fairly new extreme sport is on the beaches on the northeast part of Florida, right near Jacksonville.  It is here that waves from Africa can wander clear across the Atlantic Ocean setting up perfect wave ramps to catch perfect jumps off of.  It is a wave riding paradise for kite surfers.  This best kept secret doesn’t have a very crowded shoreline, giving you lots of space for practice and falls. 

What is Kite Surfing?

Kit surfing combines many elements of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, gymnastics and paragliding to form one awesome extreme sport.  With a harness attached around your waist, you are able to capture the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite that it is attached to it.  This power kite will propel you across the water on a board in speeds that will make your heart skip a beat and giving you the ability to jump the waves so high up, your said heart will drop to your stomach.  This is a sport not for the light hearted.

History of Kite Surfing

The pioneers of kiteboarding are said to be the Legaignoux brothers, Dominique and Bruno who are from Breton, France.  They have been credited for inventing the first inflatable kite.  With much experimentation and many different prototypes, they demonstrated their finalized prototype in 1984 at Best International Speed Week.  After they then filed for their first patent.  But they were not alone in the concept of kite surfing.  During this same year a father and son team from the United States began working on their own kite ski.  Cory Roeseler and his dad Bill Roeseler developed a kite ski that became commercially available in 1994.  With their kite surfing equipment you were able to go upwind and it had a fundamental water e-launch system that is still used today.  This kite ski has since then evolved into a single board that draws similarities to a surfboard.

Kite surfing as a sport didn’t really take off until around the late 90s when a man by the name of Joe Keuhl organized the first kiteboarding event which took place in Maui, Hawaii.  There were 25 competitors at the first competition with Flash Austin, a now famous name in the kite surfing arena, taking first place. 

Looking to learn?

If you are interested in taking up kite surfing, it can be an expensive sport to get into.  Including all the equipment that you will need the cost can be anywhere from $1000 to $3000 depending on how new the products are and the quality of them.  You will need to have a traction kite, board, harness, bar and lines, as well as a safety system.  Along with those items you may also need a vest, wetsuit, booties, gloves, hood and different types of kites depending on the different weather conditions. 

If you have prior experience in surfing, kite flying, wind surfing or wakeboarding, your learning curve may be cut a bit shorter but it is a sport that will require a lot of practice and time.  A person who is learning to kite surf should be comfortable with the water and some sort of formal kite surfing training is needed as it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing. 

If you are looking to take lessons, Ocean Extreme Sports is a great place to start.  With private classes to hone in kite surfing skills or the beginner class called Ground School, they will not only provide you with great instruction but they also have the equipment you can rent.  They will teach you what the best equipment to use for your body type as there are various kite sizes that each person will use depending on a student’s weight, fitness level and wind strength.  They will teach you the beginning fundamentals of kite surfing and how to progress safely in the sport.  They teach on St. Augustine Beach which is just 40 minutes south of Jacksonville.

Best Places to Kite Surf

Whether you are a beginner learner or advance there are multiple places near Jacksonville, Florida to kite surf.  One of the best known places among experienced kite surfers is in St. Augustine at Matanzas State Park.  It is here the beaches provide ride-able winds with easy beach vehicle access.  Peak tidal currents are strong and it is best to wait and avoid the inlet an hour after high tide to be on the safe side.  Be sure to check out Barnacle Bills Beachside for food and drinks when you need a break.

Another great spot is Huguenot Memorial Park, right in Jacksonville.  These awesome North to East to South ocean winds provide great waves to kite surf.  They do have a sheltered pond which can be usable from all directions but there is little room for kite surfing launching on land during high tide around this pond.  There are also surfers on this body of water so make sure you pass them downwind.  Captain Cay is a great place for yummy eats that is right near the beach.

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