Kitesurfing or kiteboarding is a surface water sport that uses the wind to pull a rider through the water on a small surfboard or a kiteboard (similar to a wakeboard). Generally kiteboarding refers to a style of riding known as freestyle or wake-style, whereas kitesurfing is more “wave-riding” oriented. These two styles usually require different boards and specific performance kites. A kitesurfer or kiteboarder uses a board with or without foot-straps or bindings, combined with the power of a large controllable kite to propel the rider and the board across the water. In 2006, the number of kitesurfers has been estimated at around 150,000 to 210,000, with 114,465 inflatable kites sold that same year. The sport is becoming safer due to innovations in kite design, safety release systems, and instructions. Riding styles have evolved to suit riders and conditions, such as wakestyle, waveriding, freestyle, freeride, jumping, and cruising. In the 1800s George Pocock, used kites of increased size to propel carts on land and ships on the water, using a four-line control system – the same system in common use today. Both carts and boats were able to turn and sail upwind. The kites could be flown for sustained periods. The intention was to establish kitepower as an alternative to horsepower, partly to avoid the hated “horse tax” that was levied at that time. In 1903, aviation pioneer Samuel Cody developed “man-lifting kites” and succeeded in crossing the English channel in a small collapsible canvas boat powered by a kite. In the late 1970s the development of Kevlar then Spectra flying lines and more controllable kites with improved efficiency contributed to practical kite traction. In 1978, Ian Day’s “FlexiFoil” kite-powered Tornado catamaran exceeded 40 km/h. Through the 1980s there were occasionally successful attempts to combine kites with canoes, ice skates, snow skis, water skis and roller skates. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s Dieter Strasilla from Germany developed parachute-skiing and later perfected a kiteskiing system using self made paragliders and a ball-socket swivel allowing the pilot to kitesail upwind and uphill but also to take off into the air at will. Strasilla and his friend Andrea Kuhn/Switzerland used this invention also in combination with surfboards and Skurfs, grasskies and selfmade buggies. One of his patents describes in 1979 the first use of an inflatable kite design for kitesurfing. Two brothers, Bruno Legaignoux and Dominique Legaignoux, from the Atlantic coast of France, developed kites for kitesurfing in the late 1970s and early 1980s and patented an inflatable kite design in November 1984, a design that has been used by companies to develop their own products. In 1990, practical kite buggying was pioneered by Peter Lynn at Argyle Park in Ashburton, New Zealand. Lynn coupled a three-wheeled buggy with a forerunner of the modern parafoil kite. Kite buggying proved to be very popular worldwide, with over 14,000 buggies sold up to 1999. The development of modern day kitesurfing by the Roeselers in the USA and the Legaignoux in France carried on in parallel to buggying. Bill Roeseler, a Boeing aerodynamicist, and his son Corey Roeseler patented the “KiteSki” system which consisted of water skis powered by a two line delta style kite controlled via a bar mounted combined winch/brake. The KiteSki was commercially available in 1994. The kite had a rudimentary water launch capability and could go upwind. In 1995, Corey Roeseler visited Peter Lynn at New Zealand’s Lake Clearwater in the Ashburton Alpine Lakes area, demonstrating speed, balance and upwind angle on his ‘ski’. In the late 1990s, Corey’s ski evolved to a single board similar to a surfboard. In 1996 Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin were instrumental in demonstrating and popularising kitesurfing off the Hawaiian coast of Maui. In 1997 the Legaignoux brothers developed and sold the breakthrough “Wipika” kite design which had a structure of preformed inflatable tubes and a simple bridle system to the wingtips, both of which greatly assisted water re-launch. Bruno Legaignoux has continued to improve kite designs, including developing the bow kite design, which has been licensed to many kite manufacturers. In 1997, specialist kiteboards were developed by Raphaël Salles and Laurent Ness. By 1998 kitesurfing had become a mainstream sport, and several schools were teaching kitesurfing. The first competition was held on Maui in September 1998 and won by Flash Austin. By 1999 single direction boards derived from windsurfing and surfing designs became the dominant form of kiteboard. From 2001 onwards, wakeboard style bi-directional boards became more popular. Kiteboarding, as a sport, has gained major popularity (especially in the S. Florida beaches).  I mean how fun does getting your body yanked around uncontrollably by the forceful wind as it pulls you to basically china sound!?  Great huh?  In fact, there has actually been various serious injuries from the sport.  Especially when the various tropical storms and hurricanes hit the Fort Lauderdale beaches, crazy ass kiteboarders use the wind from the storms as a way to get seriously “messed up”.  For example, in 2008 Tropical Storm Fay brought wind and rain to Fort Lauderdale.  A CBS news crew caught a kiteboarder on tape, as he was picked up by a violent wind gust and thrown into the ground, and then into a building!  Lesson learned here:  Kiteboarding is a graceful, challenging, and popular sport BUT not in the middle of a tropical storm unless your fate is ….SPLAT, your face on the side of a building like a bug on your windshield. Courtesy of Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia