Kiteboarding is an action sport that involves a rider being pulled by a large steerable kite across a surface. The sport goes by many names including kite boarding, kitesurfing, snow kiting, and several others. The specifically designed kite can be flown by the rider to generate power, and can even be used to pull the rider into the air. Around the world, the most common style of kiteboarding is done on the water where the rider is pulled by the kite while riding either a surfboard or a board very similar to wakeboard.
In Minnesota, we have unique conditions that make the sport of kiteboarding even more appealing. First, we are lucky to have over 10,000 freshwater lakes in our state. Although not all of these lakes are ideal for kiteboarding, they provide more kiteboard locations than most inland states. Second, here in Minnesota and other colder climates, kiteboarding is also a winter activity where you can be pulled on your skis or a snowboard across the snow. If you learn to kiteboard, you can enjoy it year-round here in Minnesota!
Kiteboarding is for Everybody
From a first glance, it appears you must be strong to hang on to the power of the kiteboarding kite. If you look more closely, most of the kite’s power is actually connected to a harness that the rider wears around their waist. The rider’s arms are used for steering and controlling the power of the kite. This means as long as you are in decent physical shape, you can learn to kiteboard. Come to any kiteboard location in Minnesota and you will see riders of all ages and backgrounds. It is a diverse community and we would love to see you on the water!
Is Kiteboarding Dangerous?
Being pulled by a kite powerful enough to lift you off the ground seems scary, but with proper precautions you can easily mitigate the dangers of kiteboarding. Modern kiteboarding equipment comes with several redundant safety systems to keep the rider safe in almost any situation. That being said, it is extremely important to use appropriate gear, learn from a professional, and ride at the proper location for the conditions.
The Many Different Styles of Kiteboarding
As mentioned earlier, there are many different styles of kiteboarding. Luckily for us, all of them can be experienced here in Minnesota. Our conditions may not be world-class, but they will get you addicted to the point where you are seeking out places that are. So, let’s go over all the different styles of kiteboarding you can experience here.
Kiteboarding – Twin Tip Board
This is the most common style of kiteboarding and usually the way you will learn the sport. The rider uses a board that is very similar to a wakeboard except it typically has less rocker to it so it is easier to get moving on top of the water. The rider’s feet are most often attached to the board via foot straps that are easy to get out of. Although, some riders will choose to use bindings originally designed for wakeboarding which provide better support for certain “wakestyle” tricks.
Kitesurfing – Surf Board
In kitesurfing, the rider will use a board that looks very similar to a regular surf board. You can use a board purely designed for surfing, but most of the time these boards are slightly modified for kitesurfing. These boards can be used with footstraps, or strapless if a rider prefers it to feel similar to surfing. Minnesota may not have the biggest waves for kitesurfing, but you would be surprised how much fun the wind-driven waves can be.
In Minnesota, we are lucky that our kite skills will transition into winter. During the winter, you can swap out your surfboard for skis, ice skates, or a snowboard. Our frozen lakes are typically the best place to snowkite, but a snow-filled field can be just as much fun.
In recent years, there has been a large amount of kiteboarders riding what are called foil boards. These kiteboards feature a hydrofoil that rides under the water to provide lift. Once the riders speed reaches a certain level, the foil will generate lift and the board rises off the water. When this happens, the lack of friction can provide a feeling similar to a magic carpet ride or a powder day on the ski slopes. Experienced local riders have been falling in love with the feeling, and also loving the fact that you can often ride a much smaller kite.