Kiteboarding - a technical sport reaching new heights
Kiteboarding is a cool sport. It comes with summer vibes, the sense of freedom running through your hair and, of course, some big air!
In case you haven’t heard of it before, kiteboarding is what you get when you combine surfing with flying a kite. It involves using a large, powerful kite to pull you along the open water. Kiteboarding requires skill in kite manipulation, reading and reacting to the wind, along with balance to stay upright on the board.
The humble origins of kiteboarding date back to the 1970s. It, however, took some time and testing until what is now known as kiteboarding took off. By 1999, kiteboarding had become a global mainstream sport.
Over the last two decades, kitesurfing has only grown in popularity. With this, we have seen growth in the feats the pros are pulling off. The height at which they ‘jump’ is one of them.
Record progression of kiteboarding big air
A windsurfer uses the wind to propel themself forward. This wind, however, can also be used to defy gravity. With expert kite control, perfect timing, and a bit of luck from the elements, a rider can be pulled vertically from the water. And as the big air records show, some serious hang time can be achieved!
The data I’m presenting in the infographic is based on Woo sports records. Altitude is measured from a small device mounted on the kiteboard and then uploaded to a live leader board. Woo Worlds is an event where kiteboarders compete in several categories – max height being one of them. The max height recorded in each year is:
- 2000: 17 metres – Tony Cili
- 2015: 21.4 metres – Phil Morstad
- 2016: 26.7 metres – Nick Jacobsen
- 2017: 29.0 metres – Joshua Emanuel
- 2018: 29.6 metres – Gijs Wassenaar
- 2019: 34.1 meters – Michael Mac Donald
- 2020: 34.8 metres – Maarten Haeger
- 2021: 34.4 metres – Aaron Hadlow
- 2022: 34.6 metres – Jamie Overbeek
- 2023: 36.2 metres – Joshua Emanuel
For scale, the current record of 36.2 metres by Joshua Emanuel is equal to a height of eight busses stacked on top of each other!
Imagine what they will pull off in the years to come. For those of us watching from the sidelines, we’re in for a real treat. This sport is evolving rapidly, and we’re lucky to witness it as it unfolds.
The women kiteboarders are smashing it too
The women in the sport of kitesurfing deserve a shout out too. They’re out there pushing the envelope in every competition.
Athletes like Angely Bouillot, Mikali Sol, and Zara Hoogenraad are, in my view, more exciting to watch than the men. Stay tuned for a Techsight infographic on the big air progression of women kiteboarders!
Kiteboarding - a sport for everyone (not just the big air daredevils)
What hooked me with kiteboarding is its variety. From serious disciplines like freestyle and racing, to simply cruising and enjoying the fresh air – it has something for everyone.
It’s also a great spectator sport worthy of more attention. Where most sports are seeing their records stagnate, the progression in kiteboarding feats has been stunning. Since only 2015, the big air record has almost doubled!
While there’s a lot to like about kiteboarding, I find the big air event most exciting. I believe it’s gaining the most attention and providing more direction for the professional development of the sport.
In making this infographic, I wanted to celebrate the amazing achievements of the athletes I look up to. And also, in some small way, help promote the sport I have come to love.