Kite flying is one of the oldest past-times known to man, dating back thousands of years to ancient days of yore when men were men, women were women and you couldn't get hold of a decent carbon fibre rod or lightweight, zero-stretch, airtight fabric for love nor money (which hadn't yet been invented).
Freestyle flying is dragging kite flying kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Hi-technology, space-age materials and advanced aerodynamic designs have turned the humble kite into a highly tuned instrument, capable of incredible precision, control and accuracy. Trick kites evolved from melting pot of kite design during the 1990's, bringing to life a radical monster capable of incredible, string twisting and mind-warping tricks. Freestyle kites and the freestyle way of flying is the natural progression from that point, being a fusion of trick-oriented, slack-line combinations and classic, controlled flying. It defies accurate definition by its very nature, being entirely free-form and open to interpretation. Anything goes, but on the whole the emphasis is on improvisation, control, clean flying and a good helping of radical moves. It's about freedom of choice and plenty of style.
Go Fly a Kite
There are two kinds of traction kites that are manufactured for kitesurfing:
Ram-Air - This kite style, tends to be narrow and lengthy. The design consists of a series of "cells" that fill with air when the kite is flown. These cells give the kite its form and help keep it powered. Though beginners may experience frustration with the bridle lines getting tangled, the ram-air contains a brake line which can de-power the kite at the Kitesurferers need.
Inflatable Water Re-Launch (LEI)- This design contains inflatable tubes called bladders that assist in keeping the kite afloat. When all the bladders are inflated, the kite forms a semi-arced shape that fills with wind. The inflatable water re-launch design is very appealing to the beginner Kitesurfer because of its ability to float on top of the water, but there is also the downfall of experiencing possible punctured bladders.
Getting On Board
Once Kitesurferers moved away from surfboards and small windsurf boards, two main styles have emerged as the standard:
Directional Kiteboards - This style provides easy use for beginners with the high level of buoyancy . These boards are considered directional because they only go in one direction, the way the nose of the board is pointed, good for experienced Windsurfers.
Wakeboards - Sometimes referred to as bi-directional boards or Twin Tips, Kitesurferers are permitted with these boards to ride in any direction without changing their stance (Gybing). This style comes in a wider range of width and length. This is the way to go in my opinion.
This sport may be intimidating for the non Watersport people out there. If you are already use to other board sports (windsurfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, surfing) it can be an easy transition.